Monthly Archives: June 2014

Gilliam, Gregynog, Wingrave, Barenboim’s Elgar

First published in The Big Issue, 1-6 June, 2014

Back in 2011, Terry Gilliam made his debut as an opera director to whoops of glee from Python fans and sceptical grunts from factions of the opera world. What could this national treasure bring to the august opera stage? Quite a bit, it turned out. His take on Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust for English National Opera was vibrant, off-the-wall and perceptive. Gilliam infused Berlioz’s dramatic legend with fun and fresh ideas – he made it a romp through German history, from romanticism to Nazism, and didn’t fall into the standard trap of directors new to opera (over-directing the singers). Now he returns to the Coliseum and to Berlioz with the rarely-staged Benvenuto Cellini; expect grand spectacle. London, June 5-27

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Review: BBCSSO’s Elliott Carter retrospective

First published in the Guardian on 29 May, 2014

Elliott Carter: A Celebration
City Halls, Glasgow

How to sum up a composer like Elliott Carter in just two concerts? America’s great modernist had a staggering eight-decade career and produced some of the most intricate and vivid works in contemporary classical music. Any retrospective could only ever scratch the surface, but the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra have paid valiant tribute with theirs. Focusing on the effervescent late works plus a couple of major early-period examples, they grasped – crucially – that the complexity of Carter’s music shouldn’t ever be cold or alienating, but rich, expressive and brimming with life.

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