Britten Sinfonia/Aimard, Aldeburgh
Wednesday 16 June 2010
Although the Aldeburgh Festival has an obviously intelligent artistic director in Pierre-Laurent Aimard, it was three days before a cogently planned event took place in the riverside hall at Snape. Despite the inclusion of several interesting items in preceding concerts, there was a glaring lack of focus. It wasn't until the appearance of the legendary Leon Fleisher, and his wife Katherine Jacobson Fleisher, with a fascinating and well thought-through recital for two and four hands at one piano, that the festival achieved lift-off.
I missed the open-air Garden Beach Band but I doubt if even the most eloquent interpretation on spades, pots and hose-pipes would have compensated for the lack of joined-up thinking in a concert given the night before by the Britten Sinfonia with Aimard as pianist/director.
Since both Pierre Boulez and George Benjamin are featured composers in the Festival, it made sense to pay homage to both. Boulez's Derive 1 resembles a brilliant fireworks display of instrumental squibs and rockets in which the pyrotechnical choreography has gone awry. Brilliantly interpreted by just six players from the Britten Sinfonia, it was followed by an early and no-less-dazzling piece by Benjamin, his Turner-inspired At First Light.
It was distinguished by breath-taking contributions from oboist Nicholas Daniel and piccolo trumpet Paul Mayes against a kaleidoscopic background created by the other 12 players. But even this extraordinary work seemed out of place at the end of a programme otherwise devoted to Bach (a Brandenburg concerto and the D minor keyboard concerto played rather too assertively by Aimard) and arrangements of Bach by Luciano Berio and Benjamin himself. Benjamin's transcription of a canon and fugue from The Art of Fugue, in its UK premiere, was scored for flute, two horns, three violins, two violas and cello. Craftsmanlike, as well as highly imaginative, it was slightly over-shadowed by Berio's riveting, cinematic dissolve into harmonic weirdness at the end of his arrangement of Bach's final, unfinished fugue from the same keyboard collection. If only the programme order had remained as advertised, with Bach framing the Benjamin and the Boulez, the concert would have made more sense.
Festival continues until 27 June ( Aldeburgh.co.uk)
Review: Of Mice and Men
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Arts & Ents blogs
The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
Record Store Day 2014: Best exclusives coming to a UK independent record shop near you
Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
Lady Gaga and Ozzy Osbourne's lyrics named hardest to understand
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark