2012 Festival Newsletter
Issue 16, June 2012
Lindsay Kemp, Artistic Director writes -
Well, the training shoes are back in the cupboard, the heat of competition has cooled, and only the warm glow of harmony remains. The 2012 Lufthansa Festival has passed without alarm or mishap (unless you count the night my car broke down and I had to be towed home up the M1 at 3 in the morning), only one enforced change of artist (Lisa Milne a superb replacement for Rosemary Joshua on the final evening), and even a few days of summery weather. Not only that, but I can honestly say that I personally enjoyed this year's Festival more than any other so far. The concerts were all that I hoped for, with some of them truly exceeding my expectations, and everyone involved bought into this year's somewhat playful theme of 'Contests, Competitions and the Harmony of Nations'.
I suspect my longest-held memories may well be of the look on Lisa Milne's face during the Early Opera Company's witty exploration of the rivalry between Handel's operatic sopranos as actor Christopher Benjamin read out an 18th-century account of the singerly virtues she was supposed to display as the famous Faustina Bordoni ('her trill was perfect', 'her high notes were unrivalled in clearness and sweetness', 'her notes were so perfect that she seemed incapable of singing out of tune', etc - no pressure, Lisa!); the grippingly dramatic but also richly beautiful singing (and harp-playing) of ensemble savādi; and Jordi Savall's quietly charismatic presence before a sold-out house with his orchestra Le Concert des Nations on the opening night.
But what has been consistently making Lufthansa more enjoyable for all of us on the Festival team in recent years has been the feeling that we are really managing to create a community. Our Friends organisation is really helping with that - and it is great that so many of our artists have been pleased to come and have a post-concert drink with us - but I hope that even if you have not joined up, you are genuinely finding us a friendlier festival. After all, we want you to come and enjoy this great music and its wonderful performers as much as we do, and the more we can see that you are happy, the happier we are.
So I hope you will be returning to see us again next year. Planning is well in hand with a theme exploring Baroque attitudes to nature, but for the time being I'm going to leave it to you to guess what that might entail...
In the meantime, have a good summer.
Details of the 2013 Festival will be announced in September.
FESTIVAL REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS
Le Concert des Nations / Jordi Savall
"Savall's interpretations are so elegant, sensuous and surprising that two hours, plus three encores, passed in a trice."
- The Times
"Le Concert des Nations brought out the onomatopoeic excitements of Biber's 'Battalia' ... there were moments when we might have been listening to Stravinsky, so crazy was the polyphonic discord, while Boccherini's evocation of street sounds in Madrid in his 'La musica notturna' was also way ahead of its time."
- The Independent
"... there is a humanity in this group's music-making, and a rich vein of fantasy, which are completely captivating."
- The Daily Telegraph
"In Savall's ensemble there is no artificiality masquerading as Baroque style. The players sing on their instruments, they breathe with their musical lines, they inspire us to want to dance with their rhythms, and they entertain with discretion. They achieve perfect harmony."
- Musical Criticism
La Serenissima / Adrian Chandler
"Ravishment came from the music, in which Vivald's attention was on the strings, as was Chandler's. The difference in attack between La Serenissima and other orchestras is immediately felt, lending vigour to the drama ... Mhairi Lawson's effortless fioritura, Sally Bruce-Payne's playfulness and Rachel Lloyd's intensity were unstinting, while Stephen Gadd excelled ... "
- The Independent on Sunday
"... it was Mhairi Lawson as Aminta who stole the show, demonstrating a flawless technique throughout and dispatching the fiendishly difficult 'Siam navi all'onde algenti' with effortless style ... concert performances of this quality should be welcomed."
- Financial Times
"A lively cast, led by Stephen Gadd ... and the racy alert musicians of La Serenissima ... brought the piece to burgeoning life."
- The Observer
"... suavely presented by the period ensemble La Serenissima under the joint direction of violinist Adrian Chandler and harpsichordist James Johnstone."
- The Guardian
Handel and the Rival Queens
Early Opera Company / Christian Curnyn
"A fascinating evening on the theme of Handel's 'rival queens' ... Lisa Milne ... a stunning performance of 'Se Pieta' from 'Guilio Cesare' ... Mhairi Lawson ... a captivating account of 'Lusinghe piu care' ... an evening which mixed erudition, humour and superb performances into one profoundly satisfying whole."
- Opera Today
"... mellifluous singing, finely supported by Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company. Christopher Benjamin provided often hilarious contemporary readings"
- Music OMH
"... the duet 'Placa l'alma, quieta in petto' from Handel's 'Alessandro'. This was undoubtedly the jewel in the excellent concert's crown, Milne and Lawson blending together exquisitely, and the players accompanying them with just as much sparkle."
For your further interest...
The English Concert Master Class
Next week four aspiring young harpsichordists from around the world will learn just how hard it is to keep the show on the road and play the harpsichord at the same time. The English Concert Master Class for young harpsichordist-directors takes place at the Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ.
Thomas Foster (UK), Jeffrey Grossman (USA), Tamar Halperin (Israel) and Pawel Siwczak (Poland) will work under the direction of Harry Bicket (pictured) with TEC and singers Rachel Wheatley and Joshua Ellicott in music by Corelli, Handel, Bach and Rameau.
Tuesday 26 June - Thursday 28 June
10am - 5pm MASTER CLASSES in the Museum Picture Gallery, FREE to Museum visitors
Friday 29 June
2pm - 5pm OPEN REHEARSAL
7.30pm FINAL CONCERT - concert tickets £18 (box office 020 7841 3600)