Sunday 28 June 2009

Aldeburgh 2009: A rather good year

As the train rattles its way towards Edinburgh (and I struggle to comprehend how National Express managed to brew quite such an awful cup of coffee), I'm struck that, overall, it's been a very good year. I've not been to anything I would describe as a turkey (though there have been one or two patchy things, and one or two things not to my taste).

Aimard has done well his first year, and I have high hopes for what he will go on to do in the future. There have been many interesting strands to this year's programme. There has also been some very compelling programming and some very good talks from the artistic director.

If I did have one note it would be this (and it is a general one, not simply for M Aimard, particularly since he did largely avoid it): why do we so often only celebrate composers in their anniversary years? Haydn is one of the great symphonists, his work should be found in programmes more frequently. I'm rather grateful that Aimard avoided the Mendelssohn celebrations, not because I dislike the composer, but because everyone else seems to be celebrating him like there's no tomorrow. Conversely, as a lover of Janacek, it seems a depressingly long time before we're due any sort of celebration. Let's celebrate composers because they're good, because we feel like it, and because it seems like they haven't been celebrated in a while. Programming by anniversary is lazy.

However, I want to highlight just a few things that really stand out for me. Coincidentally (and unusually), the BBC has chosen to broadcast almost all the things I have enjoyed most. Note, this list is mainly of use to people in the UK, since the links to the BBC's iPlayer service will not work for others.

  • The Quator Diotima playing Janacek's second string quartet, Intimate Letters, broadcast here (available until Thursday lunchtime), full review here.

  • Thomas Ades and Steven Isserlis playing his new cello sonata, from the Ades/Isserlis/Marwood recital, broadcast here (available until Tuesday evening), full review here.

  • Aimard and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra playing Beethoven's Emperor concerto
  • , to be broadcast on Monday evening (see here), full review here.
  • Tamara Stefanovich playing Bartok's 14 Bagatelles, op.6 (sadly this was not taped by the BBC), full review here.

Of course, there was much more than this, and much of it was broadcast. (A full list of Aldeburgh broadcasts can be found here, iPlayer listen again streams remain available for seven days afterwards.)

It has been a great privilege to have the Mahler Chamber Orchestra at Aldeburgh for two concerts, marking a rare UK visit. I hope we'll hear them again soon, and since Aimard does work with them elsewhere, doubtless this may be the case. I also tentatively hope we might hear them in Edinburgh. Also in the audience last night, Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan Mills could be spotted. Let us hope he was there to book Aimard, the MCO, or both for next year. Perhaps their performance might also temper his apparent aversion to the orchestra's ancestor, the superb Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester. A comment to a post here a while back indicated that the Edinburgh festival has turned them down for the past three years. A request for comment to their press office has gone unanswered (without even the civility of a no comment).

I also find I can't help but end on the slightly smug note that, having written about no fewer than fourteen concerts at this year's festival, where's Runnicles can boast the most comprehensive review coverage of any media outlet. Indeed, for a significan number of concerts we appear to have provided the only reviews. I may take a brief break (though the Edinburgh festival is just round the corner and I have one or two CDs that need reviewing......)

Ten days seems to have gone very quickly. Hopefully the same will be true of the next 350 or so.

1 comment:

Edinburgh Flats said...

Very good blog post.Genuinely happy! Fantastic.

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