Thursday, 11 February 2010

Faites vos jeux

I'll wager my precious Prokofiev collection that The Gambler at the Royal Opera, opening tonight, can't fail to be a surefire hit. My esteemed colleague Anthony Phillips, who was at the final rehearsal, wrote that he hadn't enjoyed himself so much at the theatre in years. Even the difficult-to-set-up first act apparently flew by. And my own punters at the City Lit were well and truly hooked by the third of our five classes.

There are intelligent previews here: in an interview with an unusually forthcoming Richard Jones on classicalsource and in a Guardian article by Tom Service which, uniquely, gets all its facts right and captures a real flavour. I can't wait.

In the meantime, a reminder that you can catch my Building a Library on the complete Romeo and Juliet this Saturday morning (CD Review, Radio 3, 9.30am, and thereafter on the iplayer for a week). Of course trying to cover the 52 numbers in 45 minutes was always going to be a headache; and sadly my anticipated self-editing was realised - two piquant examples of the second mandolin dance and another excerpt had to be shorn.

Yet what a pleasure to be working with a Radio 3 producer, Kevin Bee, who really knows his stuff and can crack a joke or two to keep it all buoyant. Had he needed to take editorial decisions of his own over what we recorded, I'd have been in safe hands. So let's hear it for these hard-worked producers. Some of them think, and write the scripts, for certain presenters, who then take all the credit.


Will said...

The Gambler was quite a success in New York when the MET did it. The score is a fine one, with sharply detailed characters. Enjoy!

Poor Jon, our little conversation hijacked his comment thread, so I'm bringing it back here. I found the MacMillan on Amazon. I know nothing of him but am always happy to hear an opera totally unfamiliar to me, and to hear a composer I don't know. If you recommend it, I'm more than willing to give it a try.

Amazon also offered me what looks to be a just released set of Edward German's Tom Jones. German is not well known here except for the Henry VIII dances which are beloved by "elevator classical" radio stations -- highly melodic, not too long, no challenging harmonies and no opera singers involved. I know he did work to finish The Emerald Isle and that German was actually his first name. Is Tom Jones an opera or an operetta?

David said...

Well, it might encourage him to post again...I had to post there because I can't on You Know Where.

German I've always avoided - though a fanatical G&S admirer - since my dear old dad rammed home 'We are the yeomen' from Merrie England' all through my childhood. It was the only piece of music he ever professed to liking. Maybe I should investigate.

JVaughan said...

Here we go off topic again, but hopefully you know that Radio 3's stream sounds _GHASTLY_ today, and it _COULD_ be for that reason that last week's _CD_ _Review_ seems still to be available on IPlayer. I tried to listen to most of your feature, but all that sputtering made at least some of what you said near incomprehensible.

Since Amazon has been openly mentioned in these commentss, I will tell you that Ermler may be had there for under $14, so, if you are permitted and would care to say, and if you indeed did listen to it as part of this survey despite not being permitted to include it, might I be better served by going for it instead of your recommendation of this morning since, if I understood your garbled speech aright, it includes some touches to Prokofiev's orchestration, though seemingly with your approval?

J. V.

David said...

Maybe you should wait until you can hear it properly. If you don't mind old recordings and the familiar Melodiya sound, Rozhdestvensky '59 has SO much character and so much knowledge of pace and narrative that he really does leave all others behind.

I don't, however, know how much he sells for nor where he can be found (not on Amazon when I last looked). There's been a lot of reaction to the programme favouring the idea of buying the new Acosta/Rojo Royal Ballet/MacMillan DVD. And Gergiev Mk 2 (LSO Live) is a tremendous bargain, too.