Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Aldeburgh sea interludes
* The photo above was taken before the very fine Aldeburgh Festival concert by Exaudi in Orford Church last weekend. It may be deepest rural Suffolk, but the concert received a glowing review in the New York Times, and is being broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Early Music Show on September 9th. As well as Gesualdo the concert includes a UK premiere by Salvatore Sciarrino, and works by Niccolo Castiglioni, Monteverdi, Giacinto Scelsi, and Luigi Nono. Don't miss it.
* Nuria Schoenberg Nono, widow of the composer Luigi Nono and daughter of Arnold Schoenberg, gave a moving introduction to a performance of her husband's 'Hay que caminar' soñando' for two solo violins yesterday in the Jubilee Hall. Madame Schoenberg Nono was also pretty impressive with her laptop. Her use of PowerPoint in her talk would have put most record industry chief executives to shame.
* The critical acclaim for Yoshi Oida's new production of Death in Venice at Snape is all the more remarkable when you remember that the Maltings has neither proscenium arch nor scenery flies. Britten insisted on the interior space of the hall being kept uncluttered to provide the best acoustics. He succeeded triumphantly, the reverberation time of the hall is two seconds when filled to its 800 seat capacity. This reverberation is the same as many modern concert halls with twice the audience capacity.
* Praise is due for the Aldeburgh Festival programme, or that should really read book. The 292 page full colour book, edited by Jane Bellingham, has articles from a range of authors including Paul Griffiths and Colin Matthews. The lavish £9 volume is worth getting hold of, even if you didn't attend the Festival. How many programme books can you say that about?
* The new Death in Venice was stunning, both musically (especially Alan Oke's Aschenbach and Paul Daniel's conducting) and visually. The crab and samphire salad in the Snape Maltings restaurant after the performance was also stunning. Samphire is a delicacy found here in East Anglia. The Maltings restaurant sums up the whole Aldeburgh Festival. It serves wonderful local fresh food at reasonable prices. It has the best view of any restaurant in the world across the marshes to Iken Church. And it employs a lot of local young people. The young lady who served us last night was a second-year archeology student from Southampton University. The restaurant also does a very nice Chardonnay.
* Yesterday was one of those days that can only happen at the Aldeburgh Festival. In the morning there was the amuse bouche of Nono's 'Hay que caminar' soñando', followed by a picnic lunch. Picnics at Aldeburgh have not yet become the ostentatious style statements seen at Glyndebourne, and my picture below shows the only meal I have ever eaten on a Cold War airbase. Following our picnic the afternoon brought a truly memorable double-header. At 2.00pm it was Luchino Visconti's film of Death in Venice in the sold-out Aldeburgh Cinema. It finished at 4.15pm, and there was then a fifteen minute drive to Snape for the 5.00pm start of the new production of Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice, which was also sold-out.
* You can't get more beautiful that two Deaths in Venice in one afternoon. But what happens when beauty grows old? Björn Andrésen became a gay poster boy when he was cast as Tadzio by Visconti in his 1971 film. After that role he lived in Japan, where he appeared in a number of television commercials and also recorded two pop songs. Andrésen now lives with his wife and daughter in Stockholm, and performs regularly with the Sven Erics dance band.
That's just the first few days of the 2007 Aldeburgh Festival, stay tuned for more Aldeburgh sea interludes.
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