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Prince lgor I SLOVAK NATIONAL OPERA Borodln’s Prince Igor and Gounod's Faust are the two operas this week trom Slovak National Opera's tour productions In Edinburgh. Both also involve the National Ballet, the tamed Polovtsian Oanceaot Prince Igor appearing with Fokine's original choreography. Prince Igor, 22 and 23 August; Faust, 20, 24 and 25 Aug. Both Playhouse Theatre, Greenslde Place, (Festival) 225 5755, 7pm, 25-21750.
I MONTSERRAT CABALLE This lntemational opera star, now in her late 50s, perlorms with pianist Miguel Zanetti in a programme 01 Italian and French arias and operatic highlights, including some Oonizetti, one ot the composers she is most closely identitied with. Montserrat Caballe, (Festival), Usher Hall, 225 5756.19 August, 8pm, 26-21350.
I TERESA BERCANZA The second tamed Spanish opera star this week, again at the Usher Hall, but in a programme 01 mainly Spanish music including La Maia Oolorosa by Granados. She is still raved about lor her celebrated Carmen at the Festival in 1977. With Juan Alvarez playing the piano.
Teresa Berganza, Usher Hall (Festival). 225 5756, 23 August, 0pm, its-£13.50.
I SCOTTISH SINFONIA Brahms Symphony Cycle is played over two Sundays- nos 1 and 2 in the Iirstand nos 3 and 4 the lollowing week. Nell Mantle conducts this excellent amateur and ever ambitious orchestra. Scottish Slnlonia, St Mary's Cathedral, Palmerston Place, 447 7408. 19 and 26 August. 5.15pm, 22.50—24.50.
I CHOPINIANA An unusual one-man show with actor/pianist Michael Lums portraying the lite ol composer Frederic Chopin.
Edinburgh Society at Musicians (Fringe) 3 Beltord Road. (Venue 94) 226 5138. 21-25 Aug, 7.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50).
The Festival‘s classical music programme is criticised often for turning a deaf ear to the claims of Scottish composers. It is encouraging then, that this year features two concerts devoted to a survey of recent Scottish music, and an index of past neglect that it does so for the first time.
The prime mover, as in so much new music activity in the city, has been ECAT. Set up in 1980 by composers Peter Nelson and Geoffrey King, it is now into its second decade of championing new music in Scotland. In 1988, ECAT’s duo of Artistic Directors was expanded when James McMillan was invited to share that role.
McMillan returned to Scotland after a sojourn in Manchester and discovered that ‘The new music scene in Scotland has become very fertile ground, capable of widespread cultivation by those with the determination, goodwill and vision to find an integral place within it for Scotland’s composers.‘
His music theatre work, ‘Busqueda’, which interweaves poems written by the mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina with extracts from the Latin Mass, is emblematic of his major concerns, fusing political and religious themes in a vibrant, highly exciting whole.
James McMillan. Peter Nelson and David Home
The poems will be read by actress Diana Rigg, while McMillan will conduct.
The afternoon concert will also feature four electro-acoustic works in collaboration with Birmingham Electro-Acoustic Sound Theatre, by William Sweeney, Peter Nelson, Geoffrey King, and John Maxwell Geddes, whose ‘Leo, dreaming. . .’ featuring John Kenny on trombone, replaces Lyell Cresswell‘s piece listed in the Festival brochure.
The morning concert, which will be conducted by the precocious Mark Wrigglesworth, widely tipped as another Simon Rattle, features pianist David Horne‘s ‘towards dharma. . .‘ and Judith Weir’s humorous piano quartet ‘A Serbian Cabaret‘. In an even more radical policy departure , Scottish Opera will premiere Weir‘s ‘The Vanishing Bridegroom’ in the autumn.
The main piece, Peter Maxwell-Davies’s ‘Miss Donnithorne‘s Maggot’, is sung by
SOprano Jane Manning. a staunch supporter of new music with an incredible list of premieres to her name. Based on the real-life model for Dickens’s Miss Havisham in ‘Great Expectations‘, it is a lively, over the top creation by a composer born in England, but who has made his home and found much of his inspiration, in the island of Orkney. It is a varied and fascinating survey, and an appetite whetter for September‘s Musica Nova Festival in Glasgow. Who knows, next year the
, Festival may even commission some . new work from Scottish composers.
That might be the most practical way to help ECAT in their aim. as McMillan put it, ‘to place Scotland at the centre of the contemporary map. with a musical life that is fearless. dangerous, controversial and full of imagination.‘ More power to them in that pursuit. (Kenny Mathieson)
I ECAT Contemporary Scottish Music Queen‘s Hall. 18 Aug. 11am & 2.30pm.
— PIANO CIRCUS
No, it’s not a big top with clowns jumping in and out ol Steinways, but a series at six dliterent programmes, three at them involving six pianos (most notably in the work ol that name by Steve Reich) and two inviting members ol the audience to join in. Terry Riley’s In C welcomes the public and any other musicians who might be around tor the Festival tor two jamming sessions, a virtually unknown happening In conventional classical music circles. As well as these established composers, there are also new works by young composers, including Max Richter, Martin Eastwood and Chris James, all ex-Edlnburgh students. And il it leaves you wanting to hear more, look out for Piano Circus’ two lorthcoming albums to be released by Decca in the autumn. (Carol Main)
Piano Circus (Fringe) Marco's Leisure Centre, 51 Grove Street (Venue 98) 20 Aug—1 Sept, 12.30pm, £3.50 (£2.50).
THE LIGHT OPERA
creative wellspring, W. Pennell Rock grinned: ‘Somewhere in my spiritual bowels.‘ None of this spiritual bullshit should blind you to the tact that his latest work is a unique and intriguing improvised opera.
The simple plot consists at a conllict
between light and darkness, which, in this ecclesiastical setting, resembles a morality play, and becomes lused with Broadway musical. This odd combination benefits from an edge at humour which debunks potentially intolerable pomposity.
While admiring the technical co-ordination ol the singers and musicians, who improvise each show,l lound much of their performance turgid, even schmaltzy. Butthe overture and the climactic battle-scene show the evocative and dramatic power 01 Rock’s musical discipline. As ‘Soul', Valentine Bezar uses a stunning vocal range to create compelling theatre.
But it won't move you, or inspire the mystical revelation promised by the programme. Not so much neo-Wagnerian as neo-Rodgers-and- Hammerstein. (Tom Johnstone)
The Light Opera (Fringe) Cathedral Church at St. Mary & Chapter House, Palmerston Place (Venue 91) 225 6293,17,18 Aug, 7pm, £4 (£3).
The List 17 — 23 August 1990 57