One of the Famous Five

March 18, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC |

Rimsky-Korsakov by Ilya Repin

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, 18 March 1844 to 21 June, 1908 R-K is placed with the so-called ‘Mighty Five’ Russian Composers – Modeste Mussorgsky, Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin and César Cui. Neither hidebound by convention nor restrained by the strictures of an academy, they created an original and inventive ‘Russian’ sound. Mussorgsky is regarded as the best, and while Borodin is often ranked second, The Varnished Culture disagrees: “It is regrettable, perhaps, that many today know Rimsky-Korsakov mainly for the ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’, an orchestral interlude from the opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, which was written as the century…

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Screaming Jets

March 10, 2018 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Modern Music, MUSIC |

Songs in Our Heart # 90 Screaming Jets (Johnny Warman) (written by Johnny Warman; released June 1981) [A one-hit wonder par excellence, Warman’s fable of a nuclear dawn still resonates (“there’s a ring around the sun…and it looks if we’re going back to where it all begun…”) and the sound effects are sensational, including some inspired back-wailing by Peter Gabriel.  A great one-off.] x

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Hamlet Sings! We Laugh!

March 7, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Hamlet, Glyndebourne Festival Opera production, Adelaide Festival Theatre, 6 March 2018 You know the story, or perhaps you can condense it into one word, as did the English stage director Tyrone Guthrie: “Mummy!”  But you might prefer to concentrate on the post-modern man Shakespeare seems to have had in mind with Hamlet: “the revolutionary whose manners and ways of life are attached to the old régime, whose ideals and loyalties belong to the new, and who, by a kind of courageous exhibitionism is compelled to tell the truth about both.”*  Bloom calls the play (which admittedly, has its own structural…

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Venetian Voices

Photo by Jörg Bittner (Unna)

(by Christine V. Courtney) (2017) Venice is of a set, in that it is a Great City, but it is also sui generis, a brilliant bauble set amid a swamp, a rococo castle in the air, an ornate pagoda floating on water. Venice and its inhabitants, whether citizens or arrivistes, spell romance on a myriad levels, and pose a historical jigsaw of massive scope and complexity, so it makes sense to wander its narrow streets and sail its intricate waterways clutching some sort of evocative Baedeker.  Our favourite Venetian history is the massive Folio tome (merging two volumes) by John Julius Norwich…

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February 25, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA |

Enrico Caruso born 25 February 1873 (died 2 August 1921) The great operatic Napolitano was one of the first tenors to ‘cut a disc’ and it made him world famous. Even now you can divine his strong, clear voice and range on scratchy phonograph records (see below).  Although primarily based at the Met in New York, he sang all over and had a big repertoire (including Lohengrin in Buenos Aires). Melba wrote of him: “As a voice – pure and simple – his was the most wonderful tenor I ever heard.” Toscanini, it is said, said of him: “If this Neapolitan keeps singing…

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