Funeral fun with Franui at the Holland Festival

Florian Boesch/Franui: Mahler/Schubert/Schumann et al.

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam, 21st June 2017


Innervillgraten, East Tyrol, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A concert hall is the wrong venue for Franui. The “musicbanda” from East Tyrol belongs on a bandstand in a park or on a breezy pier. Their audience should be eating ice-cream and drinking beer instead of sitting quietly in the dark. Franui’s bittersweet folk arrangements of German art songs, with elements of jazz and klezmer, call up village fêtes, weddings and, especially, funerals.

Full review on Bachtrack.



Starkly powerful Jephtha at Dutch National Opera

Handel: Jephtha

Dutch National Opera & Ballet, 9th November 2016


Jephthah’s Daughter (1876) by Édouard Debat-Ponsan, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes the price of peace is war, but the price of war is always ruinous. Claus Guth’s pessimistic new staging of Handel’s last oratorio, Jephtha, illustrates this with scenes of military carnage clad in smoky darkness. However, Guth is probably less interested in such overarching conclusions than in the destructive collision of public ambition and private life.

Full review on Bachtrack.

Asmik Online

Asmik Grigorian — what a wonderful singer and actress she is! No wonder she has been named Young Female Singer of 2016 at the International Opera Awards. At the moment two of the Lithuanian soprano’s exciting performances are available online.



At this concert performance of Wozzeck from the 2016 Holland Festival, Grigorian’s affecting and beautifully sung Marie was a triumph. This thrilling performance stars Florian Boesch in the title role.

Over on The Opera Platform, Grigorian is a hypersensitive, brittle Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, although there is nothing brittle about her secure, silvery singing. Her letter scene is almost too painful to watch, as is her humiliation by Onegin. Barry Kosky’s story-telling is straightforward and the production looks gorgeous. Its filmic character makes it especially suitable for online viewing.




Savage and noble: Wozzeck at the Concertgebouw

Berg: Wozzeck

Concertgebouw, 4th June 2016


Johann Christian Woyzeck’s beheading in Leipzig

Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck is a perfect amalgam of music and text and, as such, cries out for a worthy staging to maximise its theatrical impact. Although neither Georg Büchner’s unfinished play Woyzeck nor Berg’s setting of fifteen of its scenes can be given a single-genre sticker, one way to describe them is as psychological thrillers. Even without stage direction, this concert performance played out like a thriller, with shudders aplenty.

Full review on Bachtrack.



Boesch and Quasthoff dissect the poet’s soul

Schubert/Schumann/Liszt: Florian Boesch, Thomas Quasthoff, Justus Zeyen

Concertgebouw, 23rd February 2016

Wandering in a mythical wood, a poet encounters a seductive sphinx. As he succumbs to her kisses, she shreds his body with her leonine claws. This grisly tale is the foreword to the third edition of Heinrich Heine’s best-selling poetry collection, Buch der Lieder, and it also preambled the all-Heine evening with baritone Florian Boesch in musical settings by Schumann, Schubert and Liszt. Thomas Quasthoff, retired singer but active performer, recited poems between the song sets.


Florian Boesch © Lukas Beck | Wiener Konzerthaus

Full review on Bachtrack.