Sunday, March 5, 2017

Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood

09 December 2016 at Stamford.

Jacqui Dankworth is the daughter of Cleo Laine and John Dankworth.  Charlie Wood is her American husband and a terrific pianist. A thoroughly accomplished pair, and a highly enjoyable evening. I think "Autumn in New York" has become one of my favourites.

Sarah Connelly and Joseph Middleton at Leeds, Howard Assembly Rooms

If there were dreams to sell
Sarah Connelly, mezzo-soprano, and Joseph Middleton on piano.

Leeds,  Howard Assembly Rooms, Grand Theatre.

26 November 2016

A programme of songs. First there were four poems by Hans Christian Andersen set to music by Robert Schumann.  Next Ravel's Scheherazade, settings of Tristan Klingsor's poems inspired by the Arabian nights.

After the interval came English songs by John Ireland, from poems by Harold Monro, Thomas Hardy and Thomas Lovell Beddoes.  Then four songs by ivor Gurney, and lastly A charm of Lullabies by Benjamin Britten. Some unusual lullabies here.

All wonderfully performed by the two musicians.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ulysses' Homecoming at Buxton

Ulysses' Homecoming, by Monteverdi, performed by English Touring Opera in the splendid Buxton opera House, Derbyshire, on Friday 18 November 2016.  A different experience from later operas, but very enjoyable.

We combined this with a meal at the Lone Star Grill.  The following day a walk over the Roaches, and a meal in the local Thai restaurant made for an excellent weekend.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Billy Budd - Opera North

21 October 2016 at Leeds Grand Theatre.

A great performance by an all-male cast. Striking scenery, stirring music, superb singing. It's a grim tale told as a flashback by a captain with a moral dilemma.  The three main characters, Captain Vere (Alan Oke), Claggart (Alastair Miles) and Billy Budd (Roderick Williams) were excellent, along with the supporting cast and the orchestra. 
I loved the piccolo playing during one of Billy's long arias. 
I thought the performance was magnificent.

Winter Cabaret by the Harborough Collective

Winter Cabaret
Wind, Sand and Stars
 5 November 2016 - 7.30pm
The Jubilee Hall, Congregational Church, High Street, Market Harborough, LE16 7JD

“I am entering the night. Sailing. Nothing left to me now but the stars….”
Antonine de Saint-Exupéry - poet, pilot, explorer of the air.

In a fascinating and beautiful weave of music and readings from Saint-Exupéry, the evening explores the pre-war world of the pioneer pilot, when to be a pilot was a thing of wonder: from the velvet minimalist chords of Satie to the brightly polished and exquisite whirring world of Ravel; from the exotic flavours of Debussy to the grit and pathos of Montmartre Chanson. Join The Harborough Collective for this entrancing cabaret-style concert complete with candlelit tables and a bar.

David Le Page & Catherine Leech violins
Morgan Goff viola
Clare O'Connell cello
Elena Hull bass
Graham Padden narrator

Beautiful playing of a varied programme, and as a bonus the narrator's voice was clear and commanding.

The whole concert was a delight, and we especially liked the Satie, and the arrangements of Trenet's La Mer and Piaf's La Vie en Rose.

The Harborough Concerts

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Japanese Lover - Isabel Allende

Finished 19:10:2016

Reading Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune led me to another book by the same writer - The Japanese Lover.  This covers topics such as Jewish refugees from Hitler's Germany, the internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor, child sexual abuse, and love, marriage and homosexuality, all wrapped up in a compelling story, with strong characters.

Daughter of Fortune - Isabel Allende

Finished  07:10:16.

Eliza Sommers is found as a baby on the doorstep of a wealthy English brother and sister, and brought up by them in their fine house in Valparaiso, Chile, and traces her story as she grows up, and falls in love and is deserted by her lover who goes to California to make his fortune in the gold rush.
She follows in search of him, smuggled into the hold of a ship, with the help of a Chinese cook Tao Chi'en. 
In the end what she finds is her own way in life.
This is a book with some great characters, and I learned a lot about nineteenth century Valparaiso and San Francisco.