Wednesday 30 July 2008

Berio, Bartok, Prokoviev, Stravinsky.....chamber works on BBC Radio 3

You can hear some great chamber music - some familiar works, some less well-known: all taken from concerts we gave in Cambridge back in the 2006-07 season - next week on BBC Radio 3. During Afternoon on 3, when five of this year's Proms get early repeats, the interval slots will include Berio's Folksongs (at c.4pm on Monday 4 August), Prokoviev's Overture on Hebrew Themes and Stravinsky's Three Songs from William Shakespeare (at c.3.45pm on Tuesday 5 August), Falla's Harpsichord Concerto (c.4.10pm on Wednesday 6 August), works by Bach and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (c.4.05pm on Thursday 7 August), and Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale Suite and Bartok's Contrasts (at c.3.55pm on Friday 8 August). If you miss these gems when they are broadcast they will be available for a further seven days on iPlayer, and I'll put the links up as next week progresses in our Recent Broadcasts slot.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Dr Who Prom

Our principal horn Stephen Bell conducts the Dr Who Prom on Sunday morning at the Royal Albert Hall: it's a family concert featuring music from the BBC's Doctor Who series, and including a specially filmed scene, written by Russell T Davies and starring David Tennant. There's also a selection of classical favourites with a strong flavour of time and space. Join Freema Agyeman (aka Martha Jones), and others from the Doctor Who cast, for an intergalactic musical adventure - with a little help from Daleks, Cybermen and other aliens from the series. It's not all Murray Gold: Copland, Holst, Wagner and Prokoviev are included, plus the premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's The Torino Scale.

Monday 21 July 2008

Poulenc airplay

More coverage of our recording of Poulenc's Gloria on BBC Radio 3's CD Review last Saturday morning: you can listen to Andrew MacGregor's comments and a full performance on the iPlayer at 1:55.30 - available until next Saturday morning.

Made with Polyphony, the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, conducted by Stephen Layton, and available on Hyperion.

Friday 11 July 2008

The Traveller in Lichfield

'The literary patchwork was fluently stitched together, and Roth's score, which had both Brittenesque moments, and highly accessible anthem-like choral writing, nicely varied the pace'. So wrote Andrew Clements in today's Guardian of the last of the performances of Alec Roth's The Traveller which we have been giving at the festivals in Salisbury, Chelsea and Lichfield.

For the texts, Vikram Seth wrote six new poems and translated some 25 Indian texts from a rich variety of traditions and languages, including Sanskrit, Pali, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Tamil. Here is an extract:

Child of son, of daughter,
Tombed and wombed in water,
Flesh to bind and bound me,
Darkness all around me,
Neither seen nor seeing,
Being and not being,
In my world's cessation
Lies my re-creation.

© Vikram Seth

Mark Padmore was the tenor soloist, in what was the last concert project of our season. He joins us again in the first tour of next season in October, in an enticing project with Katie Mitchell: Night Music.

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Follow that cab...........

Alina Ibragimova arrives in the Britten Sinfonia taxi

I went to a conference at the John Innes Centre in Norwich yesterday. There is always a slight thrill as the train approaches the station: will the Britten Sinfonia taxi be in the queue and if it is, will it reach the front of the queue at the same time as me? I’m not sure how many taxis there are in Norwich, so I can’t even begin to calculate the probability of this happening, but yesterday, yes, it was there, and no, somebody one place ahead of me stepped into it. Amazingly, for the next 20 minutes, my taxi followed the Britten Sinfonia taxi, to the same destination: I could, for once, have said ‘follow that cab’.

Monday 7 July 2008

Pushing the boundaries

Wearing another hat as Chair of the Early Music Network, I spent 24 hours at the weekend enjoying the opening of the Cheltenham Music Festival. New festival director Meurig Bowen had included three concerts by ECM artists: Trio Mediaeval, the Rolf Lislevand Ensemble and John Potter’s The Dowland Project. I guess ECM is one of the labels which most closely matches the eclectic interests and enquiring minds of the majority of our Britten Sinfonia fans, so you are probably aware of Manfred Eicher’s brilliance as the founder of ECM and creative genius behind the label. If you don’t know the label, you could do worse than start exploring it through these three groups’ recordings. Trio Mediaeval – three Scandinavian sopranos – have found a unique way to meld exquisite medieval English pieces, with commissions and Norwegian traditional folksongs; Rolf Lislevand overlays early baroque music with jazz and folk-like fantasies – continuo heavy, it is both laid-back and intense; and John Potter’s collaboration with saxophonist John Surman has moved on from Dowland to works by Lassus and Josquin. Try them all!

Thursday 3 July 2008

Britten Sinfonia eBulletins

We continue to try to find easier and more effective ways of spreading the word about our activities. Approaching 2000 people will have received our July eBulletin in the last few days - it is really simple to sign up for this monthly e-mail, and we promise not to bombard you with too much material. Do keep reading the blog, though.............!