Enescu: Oedipe

Georga Enescu: Oedipe
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski
Choir of the George Enescu Philharmonic, Romanian Radio Children’s Choir
Royal Festival Hall, 23 September 2017

A pupil of Faure and a teacher of Yehudi Menuhin, the Romanian composer and violinist George Enescu occupied a key, but usually overlooked, position in the musical world of the first half of the last century, a time of musical experimentation that he, by and large, avoided. Oedipe was his only opera and has been largely forgotten since its first performance in 1936 in Paris. It took him around 2o years to write. According to Menuhin, he kept the score by his bed so that he could jot down ideas easily.

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Unusually amongst the many tellings of the Oedipus myth, Enescu covers the whole of Oedipus’s life, from birth to apparent death. Edmond Fleg’s libretto (much reduced from his original version, which would have entailed an opera spanning two evenings) draws on Oedipus Rex for Act 3 and uses part of the plot of Oedipus at Colonus for Act 4.  Continue reading

OAE. Mahler: Resurrection Symphony

Mahler: Resurrection Symphony
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Philharmonia Chorus, Vladimir Jurowski
Royal Festival Hall. 12 April 2016

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is a remarkable institution. They are equally at home as a tiny Baroque trio sonata format, a string quartet in a crowded pub or, as they were on this occasion, with nearly 120 players fronting a choir of more than 130 singers in one of the major works of the late Romantic repertoire. They bring an extraordinary wealth of knowledge and expertise of period instruments and performing styles, and nurture, support and influence the conductors that they invite to direct their concerts. With Sir Simon Rattle soon to lead them in Bruckner, this was Vladimir Jurowski’s chance to put them through their paces with Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, the so-called ‘Resurrection’.

This often performed giant of the repertoire is very rarely, if ever, heard with the instrumental sound of Mahler’s time. And although that is only just over 100 years ago, the sound difference to the modern orchestra is almost as great as that between Mahler’s time and Mozart’s, 100 years before. The most Continue reading

The Divine Poem: Knussen, Sibelius & Scriabin

The Divine Poem: Knussen, Sibelius & Scriabin
London Philharmonic Orchestra,
Vladimir Jurowski
 conductor, Leonidas Kavakos violin
Royal Festival Hall, 3 October 2015

Oliver Knussen: Scriabin settings for chamber orchestra
Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto
Alexander Scriabin: Symphony No.3 in C (The Divine Poem)

In a cleverly designed programme featuring two of this year’s anniversary composers, we had the chance to compare the music of Sibelius and Scriabin, born just seven years later. The contrast between the two could not have been greater.

From the very first murmuring of the muted strings of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, the clear image was of the wistful forests and endless lakes of his beloved Finish landscape. Continue reading