Monday, August 02, 2010

Behind the makeup

A few weeks ago we attended a double bill at the Buxton festival of Luciano Berio's Recital I and George Benjamin's Little Hill. I'd never been to the Buxton Opera House before, it's a lovely little building a bit cramped but fits very nicely with that era of spas and opera going.
I don't think I'd heard the Berio work before - maybe performed on the radio by Cathy Berberian back in the 70's(?) - it was written for her in 1972 -as the preliminary write up said it is rarely heard - and a real tour-de-force by the soloist. The work tells of the reaction of the singer as she reacts to the events around a recital, her accompanist not turning up. The singer is instructed to include some works from her repertoire - so a typical Berio-ish 60's pastiche but moving in its portrayal of someone attempting to find her voice. Susan Bickley brought over the inner struggle of the performer wonderfully.
I'd not heard the Benjamin work before but I loved the sound world he conjoured up, the strings forming most of the sound. A retelling of the story of the pied piper. More than a dash of political corruption! Here's a review of the double bill from Snape.

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