Edinburgh International Festival 2012 | Classical music reviews, news & interviews
Edinburgh International Festival 2012
The full guide to this year's landmark arts festival for music, theatre, dance and opera
The Edinburgh International Festival runs this year from 9 August to 2 September, with an energetically global look. Forty-seven nations - around a third of the world's countries - are represented in a conscious reflection of the focus of the London Olympics.
A new unorthodox theatrical space has been added with the conversion of the Royal Highland Centre’s Lowland Hall for three unconventional stagings: Grzegorz Jarzyna’s Macbeth, Ariane Mnouchkine's Les Naufragés du Fol Espoir (Aurores) and Christoph Marthaler's comic adaptation of My Fair Lady, Meine faire Dame – ein Sprachlabor.
Other theatre directors making rare appearances in the UK at the Edinburgh International Festival this year include Tadashi Suzuki with his version of Electra and Dmitry Krymov with his A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It). Romanian director Silviu Purcărete has created a staging of Gulliver’s Travels with Irish folk and rock musician Shaun Davey,
2008: Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) and The Rape of Lucrece performed by Camille O’Sullivan and Feargal Murray make up a trio of World Shakespeare 2012 productions. Scotland is highlighted in a new James MacMillan work with the Hebrides Ensemble and Synergy Vocals as part of a series of early evening concerts in Greyfriars Kirk and three opera premieres from Scottish Opera. World-famous Scottish performers Nicola Benedetti, Malcolm Martineau and Steven Osborne are among those who feature in the classical music recital programmes.
Major operas include Opera North's new staging of Janáček’s The Makropulos Case and Welsh National Opera in a concert performance with Ben Heppner of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Valery Gergiev conducts four concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra of Brahms and Szymanowski symphonies, and then turns to the Mariinsky Ballet who dance Alexei Ratmansky's new Cinderella.
Other visiting orchestras include the Cleveland, Les Arts Florissants and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, visiting dance companies include Ballet Preljocaj from France with a Stockhausen double bill, Deborah Colker's Brazilian company and Juilliard Dance from New York's top conservatoire. Folk music from Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, court dance from Japan and 16th-century Scottish music are among rareties heard.
The Queen's Hall morning concerts include Maria João Pires, Leif Ove Andsnes, the Calder Quartet, Leonidas Kavakos, Nikolai Lugansky, Daniil Trifonov, Rebecca Evans, John Williams, John Etheridge, Llŷr Williams and the Emerson String Quartet, and 14 of the concerts will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
Thousands of runners and walkers will become the audience and also the performers in NVA's visual light installation created by human activity throughout the festival on Edinburgh's mountain Arthur’s Seat - at the foot of which the first International Culture Summit will be hosted in the Scottish Parliament. Culture Ministers from around the world will join in discussing the power and role of culture in international dialogue in the two days following the closing of the Olympic Games.
Public booking is now open.
WEEK 1: 9-17 August
NVA's Speed of Light, 9 Aug-1 Sep (except 13-14, 20-21, 28 Aug), Arthur's Seat, Holyrood Park
Outdoor public art installation is unveiled which uses mass crowd-walking and running to create dramatic lighting effects (pictured above) on Edinburgh's famous little mountain. The public takes part via guided walking groups that will become part of the action and create it, through their staged interventions (some physical fitness required). Creative director is Angus Farquhar, sound design is by Resonance Radio Orchestra (2hr 30m)
TR Warszawa, 2008: Macbeth, 11-13 Aug, 15-18 Aug, Royal Highland Centre
Grzegorz Jarzyna's TR Warszawa return to the Edinburgh Festival (4.48 Psychosis in 2008 was his work) with a contemporary relocation of Macbeth into a modern Middle Eastern conflict, using pyrotechnics, video effects and a rich soundscape. Part of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012. (2hr 10m)
Gate Theatre, Watt by Samuel Beckett, 11-14 Aug, Royal Lyceum Theatre
Dublin's Gate Theatre production of a one-man staging by Barry McGovern from Beckett's novel, Watt, with McGovern (pictured right) as an itinerant character on the road from the train station. Directed by Tom Creed (1hr) [see 13 Aug, Conversations with Artists]
Opera North, The Makropulos Case, 11 & 13 Aug, Festival Theatre
Janáček’s mysterious thriller of an opera concerns a woman whose age is deceptive, and a will over which lawyers have been disagreeing for a century. Richard Farnes conducts, Tom Cairns directs this premiere of a new production, with Ylva Kihlberg and Paul Nilon leading the cast. (2hr 30m) [see 12 Aug, Conversations with Artists]
Deborah Colker Dance Company, Tatyana, 11-14 Aug, Playhouse
A contemporary dance version of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, set in modern Brazil. Colker is known for overblown staging tricks and noisy physicality. (1hr 35m)
Suzuki Company of Toga, Waiting for Orestes: Electra, 11-13 Aug, King's Theatre
Suzuki Company of Toga stages the Greek myth of Electra who waits in vain for her brother Orestes to help her avenge their mother's murder of their father. This Japanese/Korean version (with English supertitles) uses text drawn from Euripides's classic play and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, librettist for Richard Strauss's Elektra opera. (1hr)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Runnicles, Alpine Symphony, 11 Aug, Usher Hall
Donald Runnicles conducts Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony and Strauss's Alpine Symphony (1hr 50m)
Ferrier Centenary Celebration Concert, 11 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am)
To mark the centenary of the great contralto singer Kathleen Ferrier, a concert by two winners of the annual singing award set up in her name: Kitty Whately and Njabulo Madlala, alongside two established stars, baritone Sir Thomas Allen and pianist Roger Vignoles. [see 11 Aug, Reflections on Song]
Reflections on Song: Sir Thomas Allen, 11 Aug, The Hub
International English baritone talks about his life and career in opera and music [see 11 Aug Queen's Hall]
Deborah Voigt (soprano), Brian Zeger (piano), 12 Aug, Usher Hall
American soprano Deborah Voigt since songs by Amy Beach, Verdi, Richard Strauss, Respighi, Ben Moore and Leonard Bernstein (1hr 35m)
Conversations with Artists: Tom Cairns, 12 Aug, The Hub
Director of Opera North's The Makropulos Case talks about his new production [see 11 & 13 Aug, Festival Theatre].
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Norrington, A Midsummer Night's Dream, 13 Aug, Usher Hall
Sir Roger Norrington conducts two works of summer nights: Berlioz's Les nuits d'été, with Angelika Kirchschlager, and Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Trio Zimmermann, 13 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3
Formed in 2007 by violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, violist Antoine Tamestit and cellist Christian Poltéra, this acclaimed new trio performs Schubert, Schoenberg and Mozart trios.
His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts/Concerto Palatino, 13 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk
Two top early brass ensembles in a celebration of Giovanni Gabrieli in the 400th anniversary year of his death
Conversations with Artists: Barry McGovern, 13 Aug, The Hub
Actor-director McGovern, a Samuel Beckett specialist, talks about his adaptation of Beckett's Watt
Theater Basel, Meine faire Dame - ein Sprachlabor ("My Fair Lady - a Speech Laboratory"), 14, 15, 17-19 Aug, Royal Highland Centre
Theater Basel under director Christoph Marthaler perform a new (and loose) comic take on My Fair Lady, where students in a language laboratory try to learn English from an eccentric professor, and expert in southern English accents, who finds a menacing note in a bouquet of flowers. Performed in English and German (with English supertitles) (2hr) [see 15 Aug, Conversations with Artists]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jurowski, 14 Aug, Usher Hall
Vladimir Jurowski conducts an all-Russian programme with a theme of bells - Rachmaninov's The Bells, Denisov's Bells in the Fog, Myaskovsky's Silentium and Shchedrin's Concerto for Orchestra No 2 The Chimes.
Antonio Meneses (cello), Maria João Pires (piano), 14 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am)
Outstanding Portuguese pianist Pires plays Brahms's op 117 intermezzi and Mendelssohn Songs Without Words, and joins Brazil's Meneses, formerly one of the Beaux Arts Trio, to play Schubert's Arpeggione and Brahms's First Cello Sonata.
Dialogos/Kantaduri, Dalmatica, 14 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk
Very early Middle Ages music from Dalmatia sung by the female Dialogos ensemble from Paris and the male Croatian vocal group Kantaduri.
Welsh National Opera, Tristan und Isolde (in concert), 15 Aug, Usher Hall
Concert performance under Lothar Koenigs with two eminent Wagnerian voices, Ben Heppner and Jennifer Wilson, as the doomed lovers of Wagner's great love tragedy. Sung in German. (5hr 10m)
Les Vents Français, 15 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3
Festival debut for a quintet of top wind players, flautist Emmanuel Pahud, oboist François Leleux, clarinettist Paul Meyer, bassoonist Gilbert Audin and horn player Radovan Vlatkovic, in a programme of music by Ibert, Ravel, Milhaud, Barber, Zemlinsky and Taffanel.
Conversations with Artists: Graham Valentine, 15 Aug, The Hub
Scots-born actor Graham Valentine talks about performing in Theater Basel's Meine faire Dame - ein Sprachlabor.
Concerto Caledonia, 15 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk
Leading Scottish early-music ensemble performs work by the little-known 16th-century Scot Tobias Hume.
London Symphony Orchestra/Gergiev + Benedetti, Spence, Kavakos, Matsuev, Brahms and Szymanowski, 16, 17, 18, 19 Aug, Usher Hall
Four concerts conducted by Valery Gergiev pairing the four symphonies by Brahms and Szymanowski, with Nicola Benedetti (16 Aug) and Leonidas Kavakos (19 Aug) playing Szymanowski's violin concerti 1 & 2, Toby Spence and Edinburgh Festival Chorus in Szymanowski's Symphony No 3 (18 Aug) and Denis Matsuev as the soloist in Szymanowski's Symphony No 4 (19 Aug) [see 30 Aug for Gergiev and the Mariinsky Ballet] [see 17 Aug, Conversations with Artists]
Leif Ove Andsnes, 16 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3
Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes performs two Beethoven sonatas, op 53 Waldstein and op 54, and a group of Chopin waltzes, ballades and nocturnes.
Arcangelo/Iestyn Davies, 16 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk (5.45pm)
Countertenor Iestyn Davies leads a young period instrument group in its Festival debut in vocal fireworks by Handel and Porpora.
Leonidas Kavakos (violin), Nikolai Lugansky (piano), 17 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3
Two star performers together in Janáček, Brahms and Respighi violin sonatas, and Stravinsky's Duo Concertante. [See also 19 Aug, LSO/Gergiev]
Radu Stanca National Theatre of Sibiu, Gulliver's Travels, 17-20 Aug, King's Theatre
Romania's Radu Stanca National Theatre of Sibiu has inspired an epic visionary staging of Jonathan Swift's story in Romanian (with English supertitles) by Silviu Purcarete, whose Faust was acclaimed at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival. Irishman Shaun Davey's music drives the imaginative journey for this world premiere (2hr)
Ballet Preljocaj, And then, 1000 years of peace, 17-19 Aug, Playhouse
France's contemporary dancemaker Angelin Preljocaj performs a recent collaboration he made with the Bolshoi Theatre, now adapted, that aims to "reveal what lies in the darkest depths of being". Words aside, this may be worth catching, for Preljocaj has a genuine combination of choreographic imagination and theatrical sense. (1hr 45m) [see 18 Aug, Conversations with Artists]
Les Arts Florissants, David et Jonathas, 17, 19, 20 Aug, Festival Theatre
The celebrated early opera specialist William Christie conducts his renowned orchestra in Charpentier's opera of 1688, which interprets the Old Testament tragedy of King Saul and his suspiciousness over his son Jonathas's close friendship with David (the killer of Goliath). The King's steps to break the friendship up result in his and his son's tragic deaths. Jonathas is sung by a soprano (Ana Quintans) in this opera, David by a counter-tenor (Pascal Charbonneau), Saul by Neal Davies. This is a new production from the Aix-en-Provence Festival. (2hr 45m) [see 17 Aug, Conversations with Artists]
Conversations with Artists: William Christie, 17 Aug, The Hub
Celebrated US conductor and founder of Les Arts Florissants talks about Charpentier's opera David et Jonathas
Conversations with Artists: Nicola Benedetti, 17 Aug, The Hub
Scottish violinist talks about performing with the LSO and Valery Gergiev at this year's festival [see 16 Aug, Usher Hall]
Homayun Sakhi Trio, 17 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk
Afghanistan's maestro of the rubab, a plucked stringed instrument, Homayun Sakhi gives a rare opportunity to hear the expressive music of his country. [Masterclass 16 Aug, The Hub]
Next page Week 2: 18-24 August
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more Classical music
Choral uplift, Soviet-era string music and a fictionalised account of a London orchestra at war
A communicative Venezuelan pianist who dares to be different and to invent her own traditions
As the Strauss 150th concludes, Sir Mark's protégé comes of age with Beethoven 7
Fin-de-siècle delights from France, contemporary British chamber music and vocal treats from the Italian Renaissance
A Russian orchestral partnership of long standing keeps its voice, and a top violinist excels
Eclectic mix as Iceland fields a host of native composers for a four-day festival
One of the world's great soloists discusses Tchaikovsky, MacMillan and his native Siberia
A Russian with Elgarian sympathies is slow to kindle in a great symphony
Nine epic symphonies, French choral music and all the wind quintets you'll ever need
Joyous music-making in the UK's most amenable classical venue
Weinberg's sonatas and concerto for violin
Contemporary orchestral fireworks, a Baroque choral blockbuster and a pair of weighty piano concertos