“I T Steven Strugnell selects the week’s best classical music. Reviews below.
I PETER OONOHOE A double dose oi this Tchaikovsky Prize winning pianist. At the Usher Hall with the 0830 in Gershwln's )azzy piano concerto and at the Oueen’s liall tor a solo recital.
Usher Hall (Festival) 225 5756.26 Aug, 8pm. £6; Oueen's Hall (Festival) 668 2019. 28 Aug,11am. 23-28.
I ARLEEN AUGER Populariy known for her appearance at the Royal Wedding three years ago. American soprano Arleen Auger. with pianist Irwin Gage, gives a programme of songs by Mahler. Strauss. Ravel and Well.
Oueen's Hail (Festival) 668 2019. 24 Aug,11am. 23-26.
I BERT MORTENSEN One oi those compulsive rarities only possible during the Festival. Weird and wonderful sounds from Swedish master percussionist Gert Mortensen. Worits by Zenaitls, Norgaard. llolten and Ruders.
Leith Theatre (Festival) 225 5756.29 Aug.11am. 2250—25.
I NOUVEL ORCHESYRE PHILHARMONIOUE A tribute to the Revolution lrom the hand that caused a sensation at last year's Proms. Under conductor Mareit Janowsltl. the programme includes Berlioz' La Marseillaise and Beethoven's Eroica Symphony.
Usher Hall (Festival) 225 5756. 26 Aug, 8pm. £6416.
I CAV AND FAG Latest helping from Scottish Opera Go Round. Out with the piano and in with a small orchestra tor selected performances across Scotland, including a stop ott at the Fringe.
Portohello Town Hall (Fringe) 226 5138/6156 2019.31Aug,8pm.£6(£4).
smell of success
Stephen Strugnell takes a
closer look at Opera North’s 10th anniversary production of Prokofiev’s The Love for Three
Scratch ‘n’ Sniff cards, credits for ﬂatulence and the Brothers Quay are all ingredients which -
highlight the zanier elements in this production of the opera with surely the most farcical of all plots. ‘It’s quite bonkers really’ says director Richard Jones, ‘quite dark and strange. It’s about a hypochondriac prince who can’t laugh’. Still only in his early thirties, Richard Jones has an impressive string of productions to his credit. He is perhaps best known to Scottish audiences for his recent production of Das Rheingold for Scottish Opera, although that particular production, with its blighted yellow staircase, did little to show his genius for the absurd. Prokofiev's The Lovefor Three Oranges, on the other hand, suits his talents admirably, with its eclectic fairy-tale plot and a bevy of dramatis personae all ripe for pantomimic caricature — a monstrous Mrs Beaton of a cook (sung from a salmonella-infested kitchen by a bass), a senile Prime Minister, a farting demon, a court jester,
the evil Fata Morgana herself and various assorted devils, spectators and eccentrics.
The sets, a mixture ofTerry Gillam’s Brazil, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Hockney landscapes, are ambiguously described by their creators as ‘orthopaedic baroque’. For the Brothers Quay, an American team well known for their puppetry and animation work for film and television, it is a brilliant first foray into the world of operatic set design. The equally bizarre costumes are by Sue Balne, also better known for her film work (credits include The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Draughtsman ’3 Contract).
Altogether a veritable visual feast and certainly the operatic highlight of the Festival. Miss it at
I The Love ior Three Oranges (Festival) King’s Theatre, 225 5756. 24-26 Aug, 7.30pm.
‘The ﬁrst complete zarzuela to come to Britain‘, boasts the National Opera of Spain. What's a zarzuela? Simply a light operetta with a strong dash of local colour — a cross between Gilbert
and Sullivan and the Black and White Minstrel Show. The plot, easier to follow and less inconsequential than much G & S, was unfortunately padded out with long periods of dialogue. Although raising a few titters from the large Spanish contingent in the audience, this did little to help the pace of an otherwise extremely slick
if: show in which spectacle and extravaganza were the hallmarks. The soloists and chorus were perhaps not the most adept vocally, but they all shared a superb sense of timing and theatricality. A joy to watch - UK choruses please take note. As in the opening concert, from the National Orchestra of Spain, the genuine flamenco
elements stole the show. Here the impassioned, gutsy singing of Maria La
Coneja. (Stephen Strugncll)
I National Opera of Spain Run finished.
A pity to use a pianist, even one of the calibre of Miguel Zanetti, rather than a small orchestra. A pity too not to include arias from Tosca, Norma, Turandor, Aida or any of the other great roles that have made Montserrat Caballe the justified Diva she is. That said. the voice is still magnificent and just to wallow in the beauty of the sound is rather like being let loose in an exquisitely expensive chocolate shop..
After a rather austere start, the evening took off with Sposa son Disprezzata — true Caballe control as she plumbed the emotional depths of Vivaldi’s re jectcd heroine
~' and left more than one
member of the audience gasping for a Kleenex. After this, she could do no wrong. Arias by Bellini, Rossini and assorted 20th-century Spaniards followed in glittering succession. Five encores from Spanish Operetta, including one cnchantingly sung to the members of the organ gallery, still left the audience crying for more. Run ended. (Stephen Strugncll)
OSLO PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Making the ﬁrst oftwo appearances at the Festival, prior to a tripto the Proms, the Oslo Philharmonic certainly romped home as the best orchestra so far. Much of this certainly has to do with the personality of principal conductor Mariss Jansons, a crystal-clear and inspiring ﬁgure whose brilliantly
visual conducting rose to almost balletic heights for his account ofStravinsky‘s Petrushka.
Still better suited to the stage, this concert performance of the complete ballet at times lacked a sense ofoverall cohesion, although this is a minor criticism in an otherwise sparkling performance, notable for its clarity of texture and superb rhythmic drive. Saving the best till last, Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony was a joy from start to finish. The string playing in the scherzo an especial delight. Two encores ﬁnished the concert in a ﬂourish of strings in Grieg‘s Spring, and to ﬁnish, a stirring account of Elgar’s Wild Bears. (Stephen Strugncll)
I Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra Run finished.
The ﬁst 25“- 31ngst 1989 39