Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Cleo from 7 to 8.30

I've made my homage to Friday's special event on The Arts Desk, and I don't have many more words to add; I just want the excuse to add a couple more photos taken at Friday evening's astonishing event by Patrick Anderson. J and I, reeling out stunned by the high level of the 90-year-old's delivery in four songs - that's technique and soul for you - and by her obvious Menschian qualities, recalled that La Laine was always in the background as we grew up - her jazz and scat-singing, endlessly impersonated, at a more sophisticated level than that of a torchsong belter like Shirley Bassey (often watched at home with the sound down, my parents' idea of fun). Yet she is undeniably one of the greats.

I see I've already told how when I shared a flat in No. 32 Dundas Street in my second year at Edinburgh University, we wore out a budget-price reissue of Cleo singing in the 1950s. And in the review I mention the sensation, at her appearance in Michael Tilson Thomas's LSO series The Gershwin Years, of feeling as if she was singing to me alone, so direct was her communication. Those flashing eyes roving round the audience and fixing on individuals were still at work on Friday. Kudos to Jude Kelly, again, for choosing so well in the Southbank's (B)Old - as in 'Be Old', creatively - festival. Sorry to have missed Julie 'Going to the Zoo' Felix in the Clore Ballroom earlier.

Feeling dizzy from ten days of spectacular events. This would have to be the greatest, but the reminder of what peerless ensemble acting is all about in the Maly Theatre of St Petersburg's meticulously observed double whammy was wondrous and has sent me back to Grossman's Life and Fate to try again (this time I'll stay the course).  Cédric Tiberghien's exquisite and encyclopedic Chopin playing redeemed Paul Kildea's narrative in the spectacular setting of Brighton Pavilion's Music Room (more on that little excursion anon). The accompaniment to the 1926 silent film all too loosely based on the operatic Der Rosenkavalier in the carefully renovated Queen Elizabeth Hall was a treat - the first real sugar rush of the week.

The second was the opera itself, on Sunday at Glyndebourne. I've written up my second visit to the Richard Jones production, with a very different revival cast, here on The Arts Desk. But I ought to add here the interesting perspectives given by my companion, artist friend (and mother of our youngest goddaughter Mirabel) Edwina and her friend Christine. Here's Edsy before our picnic in blissful seclusion.

They found the opera spooky, weird and unsettling - the Jones effect, but it's definitely there in the music's queasy gearchanges and timeleaps. As Bill Knight took a special batch of photos for The Arts Desk, it's a pleasure to have the excuse of using more than the original four over there. Here are Rachel Willis-Sørensen, a redhead taking very well to the raven-haired look of original Marschallin Kate Royal, and Kate Lindsay, the most lustrous of Octavians (Tara Erraught first time round was funnier in the cross-dressing comedy, but not quite on the same level vocally).

No question about this Leopold, bastard son of Ochs and acted once again by Joseph Badar  as a crucial component of the drama, presenting the silver rose.  Here he is flanked by Brindley Sherratt as his feckless dad and Willis-Sørensen.

Erraught's and Lars Woldt's were the faces made for comedy last time: on Sunday the winning mug belonged to Elizabeth Sutphen as a feisty Sophie.

Rose-presentation: again unforgettable the slight swaying, prefaced by raised heels from all which get a laugh, but the seriousness kicks in again very quickly.

Time for Sherratt to step forward fully in his visual transformation (gammon make-up and hideous wig). Ochs and Annina (Stephanie Lauricella, classy casting),

delight in the letter as the retinue unfold girlie cards to parallel the fashion pictures for the Marschallin's levée in Act One

and payup time in Act Three (oddly Bill doesn't have any pics of the big stuff thereafter).

After that claustrophobia it was good to get out into the gardens in a blissful evening light overlooking the fields and downs.

I don't always make the first Glyndebourne weekend, so I'd forgotten what flourishes in the garden at this time. Irises everywhere, of course

complemented by alliums

and the yellow variety by the lake.

Wisteria still flourishing by the house

and the first roses along the wall.

Dicksonia antarctica springing up from its winter sleep

and one final shot of picnickers with the mulberry in the foreground. What a lush time of year.

Lovely weather for the wedding, too, the previous day. Yes, I watched the service live, switching off rapidly as the coach hit Windsor town and the blether of the BBC commentators became too much (only Kirsty Young kept it real). Loved the contrast between Tallis's 'If Ye Love Me' and the Gospel choir. Both performances were excellent, but I'm glad that cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason had the limelight. He'll stay calm and centred now that he's a megastar, and no-one deserved the success more; he's a natural.

Decca issued this photo (uncredited) to celebrate big sales for his debut album, also far from the usual bits and pieces (it includes a complete performance of his signature Shostakovich First Cello Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by the superb Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla - her CD debut too, I think I'm right in saying).

We're a long way now from Cleo. Or perhaps not... The title, by the way, homages one of my favourite films, which I wrote about here.


Susan said...

Thank you for the wonderful cyber tour of all your latest doings. So, you, too, succumbed to the Royal Wedding, eh? As Mom is here for her State Visit, who is an aficionado of all things Royal, I had to scramble to figure out how our cable/Apple TV interface worked so she could watch without us all having to get up before the crack of dawn. I succeeded, but it took several hours, by which time I was fit to be tied. Nonetheless, I watched along side Mom, and it was certainly an interesting cultural moment. The Curry sermon took top prize for me—what an irony that the best of what the US can be was to be witnessed at the Royal Wedding across the pond. All that said, I was also tremendously excited to see Kennah-Mason perform—what a brilliant choice! After, I pulled up his CD so Mom could listen in. It’s quite possible he’s supplanted Yo-Yo Ma as top cellist in her book. (PS: thank you also for the heads up on the Turnage opera com8ng to BAM.)

David said...

I'd always intended to watch the service - and no more - to see how Sheku came across to the world (result - that CD tops the charts in the USA, though which ones I'm not sure. It was already No. 1 Classical here). Shame Camilla was caught nattering to her squeeze during it: caption 'How long is this going on? The horses need feeding'. The sermon was fab for how it seemed to bewilder the stuffier royals - though what the Queen thought throughout, who knows? It was said here that she had her 'resting bitch face' on... But wasn't it too long? Reminded me of agonies in church when he said, 'but we need to get you married', and then thundered on again.

SKM also worth watching in the BBC Young Musician of the Year final - the latest, where he returns to play the finale of the Elgar Cello Concerto. The standard overall is totally professional, pure communication, great bond from all three finalists with Wigglesworth and the CBSO. I can see why Laura Zhang took everyone by storm - making so light and clear of a monster concerto. Hope you're able to see it over there.

And yes, don't miss Greek. We haven't had that production in London yet - it was a hit of the Edinburgh Festival. I well remember the UK premiere. It's a very engaging opera.

Unknown said...

Thank you David for your detailed review on the arts desk of deer rosrncavalier and your beautiful flower photos
From Glyndebourne .
I remember the 2014 premier so well. Magic bar the sets.

The swaying in act two was not funny to me but rather the esthetics stopping of time as the two young people are lost in mutual bliss

I can't beleive that my first der rosrncavalier was 1977 ,41 years ago in Paris . Time stood still there also with Lucia popp and Brigette fassbender.

I now listen to it with my golden rose on my lap and a glass of champagne.

David said...

Thanks, Liam - I didn't say the swaying was funny, just the way everyone on stage went up on their heels to mirror the two young people before it.

Also don't understand why so many disliked Paul Steinberg's brilliant sets. They're supposed to be queasy, a bit Wonderlandesque. But ugly they are not, and the lighting is superb.

My first Rosenkav would have been at ENO one New Year's Eve in the late 1970s - not superb by any means, but I do remember the blizzard and the car getting stuck in the snow and ice.

David Damant said...

On the wedding, remember that nothing happens in the Royal Family without the Queen's agreement ( and often at her suggestion). And remarks about her face and about Camilla talking point to what is the main and onerous job of the Royals - behave appropriately in every detail. They do that very well (in most cases). As for the sermon it was commendable ( the diversion about fire did not really fit). Its success was the result of the cadences of thought and the cascading delivery, since if one analyses it purely logically it was repetitive

I do not know what Camilla was saying - what I would have said was " This is powerful stuff" Another possibility is " Thank goodness he has avoided the J C Flannel stuff"

David said...

Camilla's chat was during Sheku's playing - hardly powerful stuff anyway, but done at the highest level, and deserving of full attention. The service wasn't long; the royals knew that cameras would be on their every move. While Meghan's mum behaved perfectly and looked involved, the Queen just didn't. But maybe she just has to keep her interested look for meeting people. Anyway we know she's not musical.

At this distance, anyway, it all seems small beer.

David Damant said...

As I said, the real job of the Royals is never to fail on words actions or faces even for a minute. If from time to time they are not perfect, they are only human. And maybe the Queen was watching over the arrangements to see if anything might be wrong as the service evolved. Anyway Royalty is a marvelous trick to keep our republic in order

David said...

Nope, it was 'resting bitch face'. And Camilla is clearly a Philistine. If I'd been Charles I'd have raised a finger to my lips - but that would have been seen too.

Not that I care much. But we would not have been welcome at Royalist Sophie's gathering, where mockery had been outlawed in advance. Standing for 'God Save the Queen'? Perish the thought. Yet I enjoyed so much and have no criticism at all of Ms Markle (as I shall continue to call her).

Clearly despite claiming knowledge of our 'republic', you are really an American who prefers the transatlantic spelling of 'marvellous'.

Howard Lane said...

Cleo at 90 is remarkable and it was lovely to hear her on Front Row yesterday evening. She and John Dankworth created a formidable industry at The Stables and a great jazz dynasty, not only by being enormously gifted and talented but also by widening their cultural reach far beyond jazz without losing its origins. And also I suspect by being relentlessly commercial and ruthless despite the warm cosiness of their image. Another great but less well known jazz singer is Maggie Nichols, partly because she now tends towards the more eclectic and avant garde regions, but she's still going strong at a mere 70. I once had the amazing luck to be treated to an impromptu duo recital of jazz standards by her and Phil Minton (equally unstoppable at 77) on a tube train coming back from an improv gig in Cockfosters we had all been performing at.

David said...

Good, at last a comment that lets us get back to the main subject. You're right, Howard, about the 'ruthless commercial' aspect, but it paid the way to let them carry on the high-level stuff - which she was still doing in this event. Classy indeed. Shall investigate Maggie Nichols. Do you know Maria Joao of Portugal, whom I saw leading improvisationsq with a mixed-ability group of outstanding young players in Setubal a couple of days ago?

Howard Lane said...

No to my shame, but I do now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4boy-eXQBHg

She's great! It's one thing to improvise like that with an instrument but when your only instrument is your voice there is no safety net. It doesn't really compare with scat singing, which I'm not all that keen on despite the talents of Ms Laine and Ms Fitzgerald.

Geo. said...

Nice to read that you thought well of Kate Lindsey's Octavian @ Glyndebourne. Things seem to have settled well for her in the UK. (Full disclosure; she's a friend, from her time with OTSL and guest appearances with the SLSO, the latter all with David Robertson, of course.) Unfortunately have never had the pleasure of hearing Dame Cleo or her husband live anywhere.

Hopefully all the hype won't go to SK-M's head, as he has a lot of hype to deal with. I believe that his US debut is to be with the Seattle Symphony, so Ms. Markle unintentionally deprived the Los Angeles CO of that singular privilege with her schedule change for SK-M. But any time that a classical musician makes good news in the USA is great, so one certainly doesn't begrudge him his fame.

David said...

I must investigate Maria Joao on YouTube, too, Howard. I was busy looking up another discovery of the festival, folk singer from the Alentajo Celine da Piedade, whom you will love if you care for the style.

I don't think Sheku will change, Geo. He seems to have a naturally calm and equable temperament, though that of course becomes something quite different when he plays. And in the latest interview with him I read, he spoke total sense. The family background will always serve him in good stead. He has a sensible, 'bespoke' agent, too, who knows how to handle all this. So far...

Kate Lindsey is a treasure. I loved interviewing her before she first sang the Composer in the Glyndebourne production of Ariadne.

Howard Lane said...

Going further off-topic (but still on the subject of great musical dynasties) this is Eliza Carthy's favourite Watersons story: "They'd buy a load of vegetables from the market on the way to Topic [studios], put on a pot of soup, record the first half of the album - not just the first song, but the first half of the album - eat the soup, then go back and record the second side!".
'Anchor' the new album by Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy with the Gift band is released today. Probably took a bit longer to record...

David said...

You might like this anecdote from last night, when I was interviewing great photographer Kaupo Kikkas at the Estonian Embassy. Was talking to a young Estonian pianist I'd heard out there, now at the Royal College of Music. 'Wonderful things happen here,' he said, 'I was outside the college and this chap said, "do you want this ticket for a country music concert in the Albert Hall". So I went, and it was great'. So who was it? 'Someone called Joan Bay-ez, I think'. How we laughed, perhaps somewhat condescendingly, but he IS young...

Howard Lane said...

HaHa! Never was much of a Joan Baez fan, I found her voice too strident. I once did some radio and live work with an American folk singer who repeatedly asked if she sounded too much like Joan Baez, but actually I preferred her voice. She made a children's songs tape that we played for years when the girls were little and they loved.

David said...

And I must confess I heard JB a year or two ago on Woman's Hour, and thought she sounded dreadful. As for children's songs, that brings us back to Julie Felix and 'Going to the zoo'.