London Handel Players toast the Music and Beyond Festival in Ottawa for a fantastic series of concerts and workshops
A toast from the London Handel Players to Music and Beyond Festival in Ottawa for inviting them to bring their dance project, A Baroque Rebellion!, to the festival in July this year. Joined by the internationally renowned baroque dancers, Mary Collins and Steven Player, the ensemble performed three concerts of music of English, French and German dances.
The Times: Dance review: Elizabeth at the Barbican (Raphael Wallfisch, cello)
Former Royal Ballet principal Zenaida Yanowsky is radiant in a show that explores the Virgin Queen’s relationships with the men in her life
She arrives on stage, dolled up in her regal finery, her red hair fabulously coiffed, every inch of her dressed to rule. Suddenly the layers are stripped away and Elizabeth I is no longer a monarch but a feeble flesh-and-blood woman. The year is 1603, the year of her death. Will Tuckett and Alasdair Middleton’s dance-theatre collaboration then takes us back to the beginning of her reign, in 1558, in a show that explores Elizabeth’s relationships with the men in her life.
The Virgin Queen didn’t have much luck with the opposite sex, but that wasn’t from a lack of trying. Her list of “favourites” included Robert Dudley (Earl of Leicester), Sir Walter Raleigh and Robert Devereux (Earl of Essex), but she was betrayed by them all. Even the Duc d’Anjou, the French toy boy she was supposed to marry, abandoned her by dying prematurely.
Middleton draws on poems, songs and letters of the time (some of them written by Elizabeth) to flesh out the story. Tuckett’s articulate pointe shoe choreography is classically vibrant with a tinge of period flavours, a sheen of regal authority and bursts of acute emotional pain. Martin Yates’s score for solo cello (played wonderfully by Raphael Wallfisch) draws on the music of Elizabethan composers such as John Dowland and Thomas Tallis. A trio of actresses, led by the marvellous Samantha Bond, deliver the words; the baritone Julien Van Mellaerts brings the songs to life with warmth and wit.
Zenaida Yanowsky, the former Royal Ballet principal (this revival is presented by the Royal Ballet), inhabits the many faces of the Tudor queen, from the coquettish but headstrong young woman who loved to sing and dance to the embittered old woman ravaged by time. Yanowsky is radiant throughout the 90 minutes; passionate, tempestuous, melancholic and majestic. A statuesque presence on stage, she looks gorgeous in a succession of beautiful frocks designed by Fay Fullerton.
Yanowsky is well matched by her brother Yury, who brings humour and pathos to the proceedings as the feisty peacock Leicester, the foolish Duc d’Anjou, the rogueish and randy Raleigh and the treacherous Essex.
Debra Craine, The Times, 18 May 2018
Raphael Wallfisch and NCO, Stoller Hall, review
Neil Sowerby enjoys a fitting end to the Northern Chamber Orchestra’s 50th anniversary season
WHAT a fitting end to the Northern Chamber Orchestra’s 50th anniversary season, consummating their residency in the acoustic heaven that is the new Stoller Hall inside Chetham’s.
NCO president Raphael Wallfisch took centre stage as soloist in Elgar’s Cello Concerto, which has its own anniversary (100) next year. Under-rehearsed for its 1919 premiere, its elegiac intensity lukewarmly received by audiences struggling to resolve their own grief over the Great War, it was Elgar’s last full length work.
I’ve listened to most of the stellar performances that finally established it in the concerto repertoire – Du Pre, Casals, Tortelier – and to occasional florid takes. That would be the last adjective to describe Wallfisch’s taut, passionate interpretation, where the heartbreak of the Adagio feels like a bereft quest for resolution rather than any wallowing. All aided by those Stoller acoustics.
…it is still a shock to see veteran artistic director Nicholas Ward arranging affairs from his leader’s chair
There was a wonderful stripped down clarity, too, to the post-interval Beethoven’s Fifth. What a fiercely compressed piece this remains, those opening four hammer blow notes reassembling themselves across the symphony with fragmentary horn-led echoes even in the lyrically tender slow movement. More than usual you note, too, how the scherzo echoes Mozart (whose jaunty Magic Flute overture opened the afternoon).
Thirty years since the NCO became one of the first ensembles to dispense with a conductor, it is still a shock to see veteran artistic director Nicholas Ward arranging affairs from his leader’s chair. Now the Stoller seems the perfect home for such an approach.
After their usual involvement in the Buxton Festival the NCO will resume their Stoller Hall residency on Friday, September 28 with more Beethoven – the Eroica and Piano Concerto No.3, Freddy Kempf the soloist.