August 2018 Concert Reviews

September 2018 Concert Reviews
Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture – world premiere of Aħna Refuġjati: a Maltese Opera
Friday, August 31, 2018 |  “An unassuming family, whose members, through no fault of their own, find themselves caught up in the eye of the storm. The grief of a man who loses his wife, the pain of a youth who watches his people suffer, a young woman who cannot stand to see more injustice … profoundly touching themes because we are, after all, made of the same flesh and blood, the same pain, the same joys and hopes.” The film producer and director Mario Philip Azzopardi, the librettist of Aħna Refuġjati (We are Refugees) agrees his subject matter is “very difficult” – his backcloth “politics, religion, war, the past, beliefs and faith”, his arena “one of the biggest tragedies of our time: the plight of refugees.” 
Berliner Philharmoniker/Kirill Petrenko – Opening concert of 2018-19 season – Richard Strauss & Beethoven [live webcast]
Friday, August 24, 2018 |  A year away from becoming the next chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, following Rattle, Abbado and Karajan, designate Kirill Petrenko was able to open the current season, and did so with Richard Strauss’s Don Juan (based on Lenau’s telling of the tale), measured but purposeful, honed and precise... 
I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical – Alexander S. Bermange at The Crazy Coqs
Wednesday, August 15, 2018 |  Composer and lyricist Alexander S. Bermange is noted for producing topical comic songs and singing them on radio and latterly on cruises. During of one of his shows at sea, Bermange observed how interested the audience was in the lives of his performers... ... The result is I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical, in which four characters go through the motions of telling it like it really is. ... Suzie Mathers has Wicked and Mamma Mia! under her belt, Madalena Alberto has done Piaf, Cats and Les Misérables, Lucas Rush we know from Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cabaret, Grease, and Fame, and Cedric Neal was in the original London cast of Motown, as well as King, and Porgy and Bess. 
Grimeborn Opera Festival – Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek
Monday, August 13, 2018 |  The two previous times I’ve been walloped by Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek, I thought it would have gone better in a smaller space – it is definitely not an opera-house opera. The Arcola’s Studio 1 certainly provides that, and the result is claustrophobic, to put it mildly. It suits the work, but you’d think twice about sitting in the front row with the performers only a couple of feet away. Greek is now a venerable thirty years old, and although it’s specifically set in working-class London (references to Islington and Arsenal abound) in the 1970s, it had its premiere in Munich and has thrived internationally. Turnage and Steven Berkoff have reworked the Oedipus myth among the ‘loveable’ rogues of east London, with the plague of Sophocles’s original replaced by evil capitalist greed, and the piece as a whole is a frothing Berkoffian rant against Thatcherism. 
Snape Proms – Trio Isimsiz – Haydn, Mendelssohn & Brahms
Friday, August 10, 2018 |  Nuzzled by the shallow boats of the River Alde, the occasional Thames barge, sails furled, tied up by the Plough and Sail, looking out across the wilderness and reed-beds of Snape Marshes to the leafy secrets of Iken Hoo, Aldeburgh and the German Ocean to the east – there's nowhere quite so atmospheric as Snape Maltings for concerts or recording... ... To what extent, if at all, the Trio Isimsiz responded to the light and breath of this landscape (Turner loved this countryside famously) is debateable. Occasionally, yes, you'd catch glimpses of smoke and magic hidden away among the curtains of notes and repeats, Brahms benefitting the most, Mendelssohn to a lesser extent. 
Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart – Louis Langrée conducts Meistermusik & Requiem – Stephen Hough plays K467
Friday, August 10, 2018 |  In the penultimate concert of this year’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Louis Langrée opened with Meistermusik, a somber and austerely beautiful piece for male chorus and orchestra, composed for a Masonic installation ceremony during 1785... ... Also from 1785 but in a more lyrical vein was Stephen Hough’s eloquent, fresh and graceful rendition of the C-major Piano Concerto, its slow movement so memorably used in the 1967 film Elvira Madigan. 
Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart – Mark Morris Dance Group – Love Song Waltzes | I Don’t Want to Love | The Trout
Thursday, August 09, 2018 |  The Mark Morris Dance Group performed three works choreographed by its founder, with varying colors and intensity of lighting set against a plain backdrop. ... Love Song Waltzes is set to Brahms’s first set of Liebeslieder-Walzer. ... A rather different, but equally excellent, array of voices and instrumentalists accompany the dancers in I Don’t Want to Love, a translation of ‘Non voglio amare’, the first of the seven selected Madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi. ... Following intermission the premiere of The Trout, inspired by Schubert’s eponymous composition, given a notable reading by Inon Barnatan and friends. 
Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart – Louis Langrée conducts The Chairman Dances & Beethoven 1 – Daniel Lozakovich plays Mozart K216
Tuesday, August 07, 2018 |  The joyfully syncopated The Chairman Dances (Foxtrot for Orchestra), John Adams’s 1985 elaboration of material from Nixon in China, was the invigorating opener of this Mostly Mozart program. ... Next, seventeen-year-old Daniel Lozakovich playing Mozart. 
Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2018 – Samuel Barber’s Vanessa – Emma Bell, Virginie Verrez, Edgaras Montvidas, Rosalind Plowright; directed by Keith Warner; conducted by Jakub Hrůša
Sunday, August 05, 2018 |  Apart from a Barbican concert performance under Leonard Slatkin in 2003, Samuel Barber’s Vanessa has received scant high-profile exposure in the UK. ... Keith Warner does not alter the plot. However, he does supply apocryphal hints and suggestions to supply motivation... ... The cast is strong, even if the age gap between Vanessa, expertly incarnated by Emma Bell, and the Erika of Virginie Verrez seems implausibly slight... 
Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart – Christian Zacharias & Rosa Feola
Friday, August 03, 2018 |  This nicely balanced program, representing Mozart’s work in Vienna and Prague, opened with a refreshing account of the majestic and expansive C-major Piano Concerto. Christian Zacharias was the meticulous soloist... ... Rosa Feola sang the lover’s lament with the perfect balance of sophistication and passion... ... The concert ended with a graceful reading of the ‘Prague’ Symphony. presented in that city as an envoi to Le nozze di Figaro. 


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