RLPO Northern Lights/ Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, tonight
THE Scandinavians seem to have arrived. First we read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and watched Wallander from Sweden. Then in Denmark Sarah Lund snared killers, before we found ourselves unexpectedly fascinated by their politics in Borgen. There was even the hilarious Night Shift from Iceland about life in a filling station.
Antennae always on the twitch for new trends, the Liverpool Phil tonight welcomes the Swedish trombonist Christian Lindberg in a Scandinavian programme in which he is not only the soloist but also conductor. Highlight of the evening will be his partnership with our own Simon Cowen in Echoes of Eternity for Trombone and Orchestra by his fellow Swede Jan Sandstrom.
The symphony is No 2 of the Finn Sibelius and this may revive memories for some of the outstanding performance given some years ago by Paavo Berglund, who has just passed away. The concert opens with a burst of sunshine from Denmark in the Helios Overture by Carl Nielson.
He wrote six symphonies and there might be an idea for Vasily Petrenko to consider: having completed his journey through the Mahler canon, he might give us the Nielson cycle, which was first heard complete 60 years ago in Birmingham under the guidance of Harold Grey. Anyway, a fine smorgasbord at the Phil tonight.
Verdi: Macbeth/ Royal Opera House DVD
MANY opera buffs feel that Verdi improved on Shakespeare when he produced his Othello and Falstaff. But I’m far from sure he had the same success with Macbeth. I have to admit that I am at a disadvantage in having lived with the play during school days.
Verdi made his setting from an Italian prose translation, and I find that Macbeth is turned to murder too quickly by his wife. Also we have to have a rousing chorus about the subjugated Scots, doubtless to inspire the Italian audiences restless for the arrival of Garibaldi. And there are far too many witches. At least there are in Opus Arte’s new DVD of last year’s Covent Garden revival.
Opera lovers tell me this is a fine opera in its own right, and certainly this is worth seeing for the fine performance of Simon Keenlyside in the lead, also conductor Antonia Pappano brings a spirited and driving rendition.
Lady Macbeth is sung by the Russian Liudmyla Monastyrska, who makes a good recovery after finding her opening aria a little low for her. There are also good interviews with Keenlyside about his role and with Banquo, sung by Raymond Aceto.
The Organ Music of William Wolstenholme/ Michael Harris
THE organ of Christ Church Port Sunlight is heard to good advantage in rather tepid music by the Blackburn-born composer William Wolstenholme.
Blind from birth in 1863, Wolstenholme became an internationally renowned recitalist. Michael Harris plays 12 of his works on a CD released by Priory Records.