Sunday, October 20, 2002


If you didn't manage to catch Boulez conducting Stravinsky or Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic in London (Mahler/Haydn), you missed some real treats. And then there was the often-patchy-but-sometimes-brilliant Keith Emerson/The Nice re-union at the Royal Festival Hall. More about both anon...

Harrison Birtwistle: The Woman and the Hare, Duets for Storab [and other songs]; Brabbin & Nash Ensemble w. McFadden, Watson etc. (Black Box, £12.99)

Yeah, yeah.... I know. I bash on about Birtwistle too much. And some of you still think that he's obscure, overrated and generally squeaky-gateish. The thing is, you're wrong. And this excellent collection of first recordings shows why. The Woman and the Hare lasts only 15 minutes and squeezes in more musical freshness and ideas than most composers will come up with in a lifetime. Earlier in NewFrontEars I reviewed a collection of Birtwistle's ensemble pieces, most of them instrumental [see below, somewhere or other]. This set complements them perfectly. An ideal instroduction to the music that emerges from the man. Text and sonority are intertwined in perfect harmony, and for once you get a glimpse of their musical origins -- so often carefully disguised in Birtwistle's arcadian universe. A joy. Honest. Buy one and stop me...

Sunday, October 13, 2002


BAC OctoberFest
28 September - 27 October

Kombat Opera Songbook
Fri 18 Oct, 8pm

The Kombat opera songbook consists of hundreds of songs lasting between 15 seconds and 2 minutes and 27 seconds. Richard Thomas, fresh-faced, cherubic composer of Tourette's Diva and the infamous Jerry Springer opera, tries out songs 1 - 202 of his future epic song cycle, A Thousand and Wun. If needed, there are 33 encores held in reserve. There will be five of the best singers you've ever heard in your life: Adey Grummet, Benjamin Lake, Lore Lixenburg, Valda Aviks and Wills Morgan. Described by one audience member as 'stand-up opera', the first 101 songs were hits in BAC Opera 2002. If these work out, Richard might write the other 799.

Tickets £4.75 Concessions £3.50
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To BBC Music Magazine on it 100th issue. The cover CD is Purcell, plus Purcell remade by various contemporary composers. Well worth that trot down to your newsagent....