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Saturday, July 25, 2009

England Study Tour 1975 - 7

Friday, June 20
It continues--more opera at Covent Garden!
Today a reading session at Oxford Music--picked up some interesting things--The opera tonight, Verdi's Falstaff, John Matheson conducting and Geraint Evans in the title role--This is one of Evan's titular roles and he was excellent--[Zeffirelli both directed and designed costumes and scenery]--Matheson's conducting was also excellent--very clear and, as with Solti, very much in control--Actually, the best conductors I think we have seen (from a gesture viewpoint) have been opera conductors--I wonder if the conductor for Death in Venice will keep the record intact? This seems to bear out Sam Krachmalnick's statement that the opera house is the best place to learn how to conduct--he says that with all the things that can (and do) go wrong in opera (as well as conducting lots of recitative) a conductor, if he is to survive, must develop a technique that communicates--with all this in mind, I wish we could see Norrington work with an orchestra or opera.

Saturday, June 21
to Wye again--a concert with the Stour Festival Choir--Handel's Dixit Dominus (interesting because we're doing it this year) and CPE Bach's Magnificat conducted by Mark Deller--really not a very good performance, but choir really seems to be made up of locals and this could be a huge accomplishment for them--announced the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers for next year--Mark Deller is an absolutely awful conductor--waves his arms furiously, always ahead of the beat, ritards not subdivided, the baton where no one can see it, etc., etc., etc.--I have a feeling the Festival will die when Alfred leaves [not true! see the link to the Stour Festival above with a lovely article by Mark Deller, also including some very nice pictures near the time we were there]--Neil Jenkins [tenor soloist] sang absolutely beautifully--we went to congratulate him after the concert since he had been so nice to us at Norrington's second rehearsal [he'd sung in the Norrington Monteverdi] and he ended up offering us a ride--he's really extraordinarily friendly--tea at the Dellers--an absolutely beatiful Tudor home--everyone, Jenkins, Paul Elliot, Honor Shepherd, etc.) very friendly, interested in what we were doing, etc.--very enjoyable time.
As you can tell, Bob again outdid himself. And as with David Munrow (and later Benjamin Britten) we managed to see Deller work not too long before he died (1979). Our experience that evening was even more special:

Olantigh--an historic occasion!! madrigals from five countries with the Deller Consort and lutenist Robert Spencer at a beautiful mansion, only 100 or so people there--the last year these concerts are at Olantigh (economic pressure--an absolutely incredible (and long) speech by the owner and lady of the house complaining at the government's policies that made it impossible for them to continue in this house)--the retirement of Alfred announced from Stour, Mark taking over--Neil Jenkins singing Rule Brittania and almost laughing during each verse, etc., etc.--It was an experience both sublime and ludicrous--it was like being in the middle of a family quarrel in which you don't belong [we arrived in our coach, while the other audience members came dressed to the nines]--certainly an experience that can't be duplicated!

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