The Four Seasons, Philharmonic Hall
AFTER his death, Vivaldi went completely out of fashion. He was in any case regarded as a bit of a lightweight by his contemporaries in England. Then in the mid 1930s there was a revival of interest, led in Italy by the American poet Ezra Pound, and the momentum has continued to this day. As a young lad I heard one of the very first performances of The Four Seasons in this country, and listening to their recording today, the Virtuosi di Roma still sounds plush and romantic. But styles change, and today, especially from Italian musicians, the famous concertos receive a much more dramatic and dynamic treatment.
No doubt last night at the Phil the audience will have heard modern Italian thinking from Ottavio Dantone and violinist Guiliano Carmignola, and there will be another chance to hear them tonight together with the archlute, which makes a rare appearance in the Orchestra. A Bach Suite and a Harpsichord Concerto complete the programme.
Gordon Stewart: The organ music of Noel Rawsthorne
FOR an 83rd birthday present, organist Gordon Stewart invited Noel Rawsthorne to a recital of his own organ music at Huddersfield Town Hall, and as an additional surprise a CD of the programme was presented to him afterwards. Now it is on sale. It includes a Fantasy on Sleepers Awake written for Ian Tracey’s 25th anniversary recital at Liverpool Cathedral.
Then there is a sortie on Now Thank We All Our God, also written for Liverpool Cathedral, a fanfare to commemorate the 90th birthday of colleague Francis Jackson and Three Preludes on Christmas Carols. Enjoyable concert pieces include Celtic Lament, based on Will Ye No Come Back Again? Prelude on Londonderry Air, a hilarious Hornpipe Burlesque, and the Dance Suite, with strong whiffs of On Ilkla Moor Bah’t ’Al, written for Stewart and the reopening of the revived Huddersfield Organ. Finally there is a gently lilting Aria. This an enjoyable programme, and is available from sales@ allegro.co.uk – it doesn’t seem like 33 years since Noel Rawsthorne retired after 25 years at Liverpool Cathedral.
Maestro or Mephisto - The Real Georg Solti (Arthaus Musik)
THE screaming skull some call him, and certainly when I met him there was no doubt of the constantly bubbling life force within Georg Solti. This tribute broadcast by the BBC is now on DVD and mainly praises him, with contributions from Domingo, Gergiev, Murray Perahia, Kiri te Kanawa, Angela Gheorghiu, our own Graham Johns and Valerie Solti, who I knew as Valerie Pitts in her TV days. There are critical words (he conducted with his elbows says one) but altogether this is a fine tribute to one of the great conductors of our time.