Hampstead and Highgate Festival, Various locations, London
Hurricanes hardly ever happen
Monday 20 May 2002
In Hertford, Hereford or Hampshire – as Professor Higgins has it – hurricanes hardly happen. But a minor one hit Hampstead and Highgate this week in the form of the twin suburbs' intriguing and adventurous music festival.
Barry Millington's programming is fresh and original and, frankly, a gift for BBC audiences. So where was Radio 3 for some of the funkier events on offer: a frolicsome satirical opéra bouffe premiere, London, Here I Come!; the Andrusier Ensemble premiering young Hans Rott, much admired by Mahler; or Moonlight Revels, a Shakespearean tryst for trumpet, saxophone and orchestra that would be a surefire hit at the Last Night of the Proms?
Take the first, a rarely heard gem by Jean Françaix, brilliantly updated and Londonised by John Sidgwick, delivered with aplomb and polished verve by Huw Rhys-Evans (as the Paris Jedermann, updated to Dave, a Harry Enfield Essex lad), Thomas Guthrie, a terrific baritone (as the toff who treats Dave as his own Eliza Doolittle) and the superb Gillian Keith, backed by the punchy Vasari Singers under Jeremy Backhouse. Such French operetta is a genre yet to be plumbed.
Earlier, Vasari had ventured into Massenet's rare Chansons des bois d'Amaranthe; while the recently formed New Millennium Saxophone Quartet (the instrumental backbone of the Françaix) twiddled and parped gloriously through the Suite on Popular Romanian Tunes by the avid folk-collector Jean Absil.
Dove's showpiece came in the opening concert at St Jude on the Hill: the Lutyens acoustic worked marvels for the Britten Sinfonia strings, whose warm legati matched peerless Tippett (the Double Concerto) and alluring Richard Rodney Bennett (Reflections on a Theme by William Walton) with Walton himself (two pieces from Henry V, ravishingly played).
"Trite but terrific" could sum up Dove's new concerto, which stems from his score for Stratford's recent production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It too is a causerie, a stand-up row and reconciliation between Oberon and Titania. Dove's music mimics Bartok and apes Adams, and at times the sax sounds more like Puck or Bottom. At the Sunrise, fuzzy strings just outweighed the soloists. But what a joyous showpiece! The Calland sisters, Deborah (trumpet) and Beverley (saxophone), are stunning performers. The piece lifts off like a James MacMillan potboiler. You won't get much better TV viewing than two feisty women battling it out on male-aura instruments. Some smart advertising exec should snap it up quickly.
Continues to 25 May (020-8423 4121; www.hampsteadandhighgatefestival.co.uk)
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake online report claiming artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure'
James Blunt finally admits the truth: 'You're Beautiful' is annoying
Downton Abbey review series 5, episode 5: Period drama falls disappointingly flat
Star Wars Episode 7 has almost finished filming
Fury, film review: Brad Pitt is intriguing as unsympathetic war hero
Batman v Superman: Side-kick Robin to be 'woman played by Jena Malone'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
Lord Freud hangs on as MPs of all parties 'call for his head' over disability comments