Karita Mattila, Thomas Hampson, LPO, Vladimir Jurowski/ Karim Said, Southbank Centre
Monday 21 January 2013
Alex Ross’s The Rest Is Noise has shining virtues, but it offers no startling insights, and as a social-political study of 20th century music it follows a well-established tradition.
So why its phenomenal success? Its timing and infectious enthusiasm must be part of the explanation, and its catchy title has entered the cultural bloodstream: hence the Southbank Centre’s festival of the same name. And while that may be a nifty way of rebranding concerts which would have happened in the normal course of events, anything which gets people thinking about - and listening to - classical music in a politically-engaged way deserves a welcome.
The initial Southbank event was devoted to four works by Strauss which prefigured the music the new century would produce. And when the London Philharmonic under Vladimir Jurowski launched into the Sunrise theme of ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ – later to become the signature tune for Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ – one did indeed have the sense of a great beginning.
Deploying string and brass sounds so intense as to create a hyper-real effect, Jurowski and co did full justice to this monumental work, which was followed by ‘Four Early Songs, Opus 33’ for which the Finnish soprano Karita Mattila and the American baritone Thomas Hampson took the stage. Win some, lose some.
While Hampson’s sound had a rounded fullness which allowed him to project his words with effortless clarity, Mattila just whooped: she could have been singing in any language, or none. But after Hampson had replied with a graceful rendering of ‘Notturno Opus 44 No 1’ she saved herself with an unforgettable performance – by turns furious, exhausted, hysterical, and sweetly lyrical - of the aria which Salome sings to her beloved’s severed head. Unstaged this may have been, but no staged performance could have been more electrifying.
The festival’s second concert was a coolly intellectual event in which Karim Said presented and played piano music by Schoenberg, Debussy, Janacek, and Berg, whose first sonata gave a vivid sense of territory being explored for the first time. But the real discovery was Said himself, who wrong-footed everyone’s expectations by playing a lovely Handel arrangement as an encore. A protégé of Daniel Barenboim, this young Palestinian is still studying at the Royal Academy, but he has the skills of a born communicator. The next Barenboim?
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Hard line on immigration could cost Tories the election