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October 2017

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01APR17: Adams / Berlioz, Barbican Hall -- New York Philharmonic cond Alan Gilbert
John Adams 'Absolute Jest' (incorporating excerpts from Beethoven string quartets)
Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
I was there for the Berlioz, and did not care for the Adams at all. It had interesting textures, but increasing discord.
Berlioz didn't flinch from discord but used it sparingly. I'm used to sitting in the cheap seats behind the orchestra: on this occasion, at this venue, we were in the circle, and the threatening rumble of the bass was lessened.
Gloriously vibrant performance, with an excellent encore which none of us could place but which turned out to be Berlioz again, 'Hungarian March' from Faust.

05APR17: Bach, Handel -- Goldsmiths Choral Union / Musicians of London (cond. Brian Wright), Cadogan Hall
Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum & Te Deum in A
Bach’s Magnificat.
My friend M often sings in Goldsmiths Choral Union: on this occasion she was in the audience and had a spare ticket. The Handel was joyful, the Bach electrifying. On average, though, a little too restful ...

07APR17: Tamburlaine (Marlowe), Yellow Earth Theatre Co, Arcola Theatre
Primarily female , British East Asian cast: some doubling-up on roles, which occasionally confused me. Tamburlaine (Lourdes Faberes) was enthralling, with a macho swagger (she reminded me, sometimes, of a punk girl gang tough), fierce pride, and a ringing alto voice. Having the role played buy a woman gave added resonance to Tamburlaine's 'chip on shoulder' lines about mighty kings being conquered by someone like him. His lust for power and conquest is tempered by his love for Zenocrate: and it's her death that conquers him, in the end.

Minimalist staging, words and images projected behind the stage, and continuous drumming. I kept thinking of the young man who wrote this, barely out of his teens, ignorant of the cities and countries that Tamburlaine lists as conquests.

Occasionally hard to follow -- this adaptation is beat after beat after beat -- but riveting.

14APR17: Bach, St John Passion -- Britten Sinfonia / Mark Padmore, Barbican
Bach heard this only four times in his life. I've heard it more than four times in the last year: but this was the first live performance, I think, that I've experienced. Beautifully presented, with a reading from T S Eliot's 'Ash Wednesday'. There are few big dramatic moments but gentle, thoughtful, meditative.

16APR17: A Quiet Passion, Greenwich PictureHouse
I'd heard good things about this film: the actors were amazing, especially Cynthia Nixon (Emily) and Jennifer Ehle (her sister Lavinia). However, this is a long slow film with no music and little in the way of events. Beautifully shot, beautifully acted, terribly claustrophobic.

21APR17: Hayseed Dixie, Junction, Cambridge
A gig where I knew most of the words! Particular highlights included Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin'', and 'Highway to Hell'.

26APR17: In a Strange Land (religious music from C16/17, from Europe and Americas) --Ex Cathedra, Cadogan Hall
A selection of Baroque music from Europe and the Americas, sung exquisitely and with precision by Ex Cathedra (to whom, as A pointed out, I had introduced her via their compilations of Latin American Baroque music). Discovery of the day: Thomas Weelkes' 'Thule, the Period of Cosmography' . Flying fishes! Cochineal! Hecla!

Fun fact: until I attempted to find a Youtube video of my very favourite piece (here, done by someone else) I was unaware that Ex Cathedra was also the name of a black metal band.

30APR17: Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Greenwich PictureHouse
Another Marvel film about daddy issues. This one was immensely good fun, from the opening sequence (Baby Groot dancing to 'Mr Blue Sky' while the rest of the team battled a Kraken-esque Tentacled Horror) to the multiple mid-/post-credits scenes. Passes the Bechdel test, kind of (does it count if it's sisters talking about their father?)
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