Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra premieres Easter Passions

Debussy/Ali-Zadeh/Živković: RCO/Brabbins

Concertgebouw, 7th April 2017


Saint Sebastian by Mattia Preti (1613-1699), Sarria Church, Floriana, Malta

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra continues its recent tradition of commissioning a new Eastertide passion every four years. This year they commissioned two new works, Mystical Sacrifice by Djuro Živković and Nasimi-Passion by Franghiz Ali-Zadeh. Symphonic fragments from Debussy’s incidental music for a mystery play about Saint Sebastian completed the programme.

Full review on Bachtrack.


Elizabeth Watts braves the flu in Amsterdam French song recital

Elizabeth Watts/Roger Vignoles: Berlioz/De Falla/Bizet et al.

Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 4th October 2016


Théophile Gautier

Deep scores under penetrating eyes, thick wild locks and artfully loose-fitting clothing – Théophile Gautier is one of the most arresting portrait subjects of the 19th century. A painter and professional Bohemian in his younger years, Gautier became a pluriform writer, producing plays, novels, travelogues and poems. He was also an art, music, dance and literary critic. He wrote the scenario for Giselle and surrendered his heart to the role’s creator, the great ballerina Carlotta Grisi. She did not reciprocate, so he logically married her sister. Soprano Elizabeth Watts constructed her French song programme around Gautier’s poetry.

Full review on Bachtrack.

Degout and Planès near-perfect in French fables

Stéphane Degout/Alain Planès: Debussy/Poulenc/Satie/Ravel

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam, 20th April 2016


Can one overdose on Debussy songs? Not when Stéphane Degout delivers them so emphatically, yet with such refinement. Too much languid Debussy, however, can act as a mild opiate, inducing a half-dream state. Perhaps this was the baritone’s intention — an evening split into two distinct halves, the first misty with melancholy, the second spiked with soft-touch irony. His baritone of suede was highly gratifying in both modes. In the second half, however, Poulenc’s Le Bestiaire (The Bestiary) and Ravel’s Histoires naturelles (Stories from Nature) not only showed off his dramatic gifts better, but seemed a natural fit for his vocal temperament.

Full review on Bachtrack.