Kozena/Rattle/Kirchschlager/Bostridge/Knussen, Aldeburgh Festival
Wednesday 15 June 2011
People had come miles to hear Magdalena Kozena at the Maltings, and when Simon Rattle announced that his wife was sick and liable to conk out half-way through ‘Das Lied von der Erde’ – and that a relief mezzo was on her way – disappointment was palpable. And as Kozena answered tenor Michael Schade’s jubilant drinking song with her autumnal plaint, she did indeed sound as overwhelmed by life as her fictional character: her low notes were barely audible.
But as Mahler’s Chinese song-cycle swept on, she got caught up in its magnificence: the colour returned to her voice and she began to smile, bringing an excited fizz to Li Tai Po’s paean to youth and beauty. The doom-laden horn-calls at the start of the work’s farewell summoned an answering resonance from her, and though her voice was not its pristine self she carried the song with sheer charisma through its majestic valedictory landscape.
With Rattle making his first appearance in Aldeburgh for many years, the first half of this concert saw the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra give a performance of Messiaen’s ‘Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum’ whose monolithic power must have been what Messiaen dreamed of, with the giant tam-tams pulverising everything around: the contrast with the following night’s offering – which delicately exploited the sensitivity of the hall’s brick acoustic – could not have been greater.
Britten’s early chamber opera ‘The Rape of Lucretia’ contains the seeds of masterpieces to follow and, though its libretto is problematic, Ian Bostridge and Angelika Kirchschlager - as the male chorus and protagonist – gave it a searing, declamatory force. But its chief glory lies in the menacing beauty of its orchestral sound: the string and woodwind textures which Oliver Knussen extracted from the Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble repeatedly took the breath away.
Day three focused on the music of Ligeti – erstwhile mentor of Aldeburgh’s artistic director Pierre-Laurent Aimard – and started with a children’s workshop inspired by Ligeti’s ‘symphonic poem’ for a hundred metronomes, before climaxing in a series of Ligeti standards performed by Aimard and his co-pianist Tamara Stefanovich, plus horn-virtuoso Marie-Luise Neunecker and Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto. Meanwhile, in a rousing Balkan-Finnish-Hungarian melange in Aldeburgh church, Kuusisto had proved he possesses all the talents of Nigel Kennedy, and none of the pretention. Such pleasures are typical of this festival, which still has two weeks to go.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Ed Miliband deemed less influential than One Direction's Louis Tomlinson by official Doncaster power list
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Kurt Cobain's life and death: New film uses unseen footage to tell Nirvana frontman's story
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Drugs Live: Twitter responds to Jon Snow and Jennie Bond smoking cannabis
Jimmy McGovern's new TV series 'Banished': Why Australia's past has such resonance today
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'