Wednesday 30 April 2008

Masaaki Suzuki in London tonight

A besuited, rather severe Stravinsky: what a contrast with the joyous, entertaining music of Pulcinella.

We have our second concert with Masaaki Suzuki tonight, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. There are still some tickets available: book here. Music by Mozart, Britten and Stravinsky, including a complete performance of the aforesaid Pulcinella. There is also a London premiere: Stravinsky's arrangement of Bach's Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor.

The concert bursts with wonderful tunes and larger than life characters, ranging from the dishonest hunchback Pulcinella, the stupid but aspirational Tom Rakewell and his alter ego Nick Shadow, and the lively characters that appear in Mozart's opera Don Giovanni.

Singers Rachel Nicholls, Toby Spence and Roderick Williams join Britten Sinfonia.

Tuesday 29 April 2008

Golijov in Stevenage

We are performing Osvaldo Golijov's Last Round in Stevenage on 11 May. I mention this because there is an intriguing interview with him in the Guardian. I am not sure whether his music has been heard at the Gordon Craig Theatre before, but this is likely to be a local premiere. Check out the rest of the programme and book tickets online.

Friday 25 April 2008

Rachel Nicholls

Unfortunately, Carolyn Sampson is indisposed, and cannot take part in our concerts with Masaaki Suzuki on Monday (Cambridge) and Wednesday (London). We are very pleased that Rachel Nicholls can take her place. Rachel has worked before with Suzuki-san, most notably on his BIS recording of Bach's Mass in B minor.

Saturday 19 April 2008

The Warsaw - Berlin Sleeper

David Butcher and I spent last Wednesday working in Warsaw, exploring possibilities for extending Britten Sinfonia's work in Krakow to the capital. After a splendid meal - traditional pierogi - near the Royal Castle we took the overnight sleeper to Berlin - very John le Carre, very Len Deighton, and certainly more fun than a flight.

The Konzerthaus in Berlin is hosting this year's International Artist Managers' Association conference: many productive meetings which should lead to more touring in the coming seasons, and a chance to catch up on some of the issues affecting the music business at present.
John Bickley

Saturday 12 April 2008

4 Lunchtime Broadcast Premieres

Four Britten Sinfonia commissions receive their broadcast premieres on BBC Radio 3 this coming week. They were recorded during our recent At Lunch series in Cambridge. Each programme goes out at 13.00 (GMT+1): on Monday you can hear Richard Causton, Tuesday Helen Grime, Wednesday Robin Holloway, and on Thursday Pawel Lukaszewski. Full details of the music are on the Afternoon at 3 website.

Saturday 5 April 2008

Insight into Stravinsky and neo-classicism

Audiences attending our Pulcinella concert on 28 April in Cambridge will have the opportunity to join Ryan Wigglesworth and John Hopkins – lecturers at Cambridge University’s Faculty of Music – as they lead a discussion offering an insight into a fascinating period of 20th Century music. The two works by Stravinsky in the programme - Pulcinella and The Rake’s Progress – herald the beginning and end of what is widely known as his neo-classical period, when he turned consciously to the music of his predecessors, reviving musical language and structures from earlier times. This event will introduce audiences to the historical and musical context behind this stylistic development, with musical examples to illustrate the discussion.

The event will begin at 6.15pm at West Road Concert Hall, and will be open to all concert ticket holders. At 7.00pm, you will be able to stay on for our usual 'In conversation' event in which conductor Masaaki Suzuki and soloist Carolyn Sampson will give their perspective on the evening’s music. This will finish at 7.30pm, with the concert starting at 8.00pm.

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Via Crucis recording

The response of our audiences at the two performances of Paweł Łukaszewski’s Via Crucis we gave last Friday and Saturday in Norwich and Cambridge was unprecedented. It is one of those great contemporary works with a searing spirituality which people respond to, whatever their faith or beliefs, right up there with James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross, Arvo Pärt’s Passio and Miserere, and John Tavener’s Veil of the Temple. Not that Via Crucis is in any way ‘like’ these latter pieces in form: it is rather its impact, and its ability to cut through any cynicism about the reality of faith which should establish it as a repertoire piece. It was certainly a privilege to introduce the work to UK audiences. We recorded it for Hyperion, so watch this space for news of its release.

Having unleashed this maelstrom of a work on us, Paweł sat calmly with Adrian Peacock, the CD producer, as you can see in the following photos, which also show Stephen Layton and Polyphony.