wed 05/08/2015

Stephen Walsh

stephen.walsh

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Bio
Stephen is a former Observer music critic and a regular contributor to The Times, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Independent and the BBC. He is the author of a major biography of Stravinsky and other books on Stravinsky, Bartók and Schumann. He holds a chair in music at Cardiff University.

Articles by Stephen Walsh

Xerxes, Longborough Opera

One hardly expects operas about historical figures to bother much with the actual facts of their lives. But Handel’s Xerxes must nevertheless rank as an extreme case. Instead of bridging the...

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A Midsummer Night's Dream, Garsington Opera

We’re so used these days to theatre music as aural torture – blasts of pop music on the tannoy, assorted electronics or, if you’re (moderately) lucky, a snatch of too-loud Chopin or Grieg before the...

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Rigoletto, Longborough Festival

The gable end of Martin Graham’s converted barn opera-house at Longborough is surmounted by statues of three composers: pride of place, not surprisingly, to Wagner – the festival’s raison d’être –...

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The Rape of Lucretia, Glyndebourne

Britten’s first chamber opera is very much a Glyndebourne piece; its world premiere in the old festival theatre in July 1946 was also the festival’s inaugural post-war production. It brought into...

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Tristan und Isolde, Longborough Festival

It’s well-known that Wagner shelved The Ring two thirds of the way through in favour of Tristan with the aim of producing something that could be put on quickly in a conventional theatre. Of course,...

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Pelléas et Mélisande, Welsh National Opera

Debussy completed only one opera (though he started plenty), but it’s the most perfect work imaginable, not only in sheer musical refinement and narrative precision, but in psychological penetration...

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Peter Pan, Welsh National Opera

I must have been one of the few in Saturday’s audience for Richard Ayres’s new opera who had never seen Barrie’s play or read the book, so I’m unable to judge how faithfully it renders the original...

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Die Walküre Act 3, WNO, Koenigs, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

There’s a lot to be said for concert performances of Wagner. Not only are you spared the post-prandial lucubrations of aspirant directors – the moonmen and the fighter pilots, the jackboots and the...

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Fitzwilliam Quartet, Hay Chamber Music Festival

If the thought of the annual trek to Hay-on-Wye for the literary festival in May fills you with as much gloom as it does me (and I don’t have to go as far as most of our readers), you might do worse...

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Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, CBSO Centre, Birmingham

You might imagine that composers in general would write songs. On my way to the BCMG’s programme of pieces from the songbook assembled by John Woolrich and Mary Wiegold for the Composers’ Ensemble 30...

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Hansel and Gretel, Welsh National Opera

After 16 years one might expect a revival of a repertory opera like Hansel and Gretel to come up with a dusty look and frayed edges. But Benjamin Davis has done a brilliant job pumping the life back...

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Rachmaninov Vespers, Maryinsky Chorus, Llandaff Cathedral

Anyone whose affection for Rachmaninov is bounded by the Second Piano Concerto or the Paganini Rhapsody might be surprised to learn that his own favourite work of his was his setting for...

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Betrothal in a Monastery, Maryinsky Opera, Cardiff

It’s one of the ironies of life and art that Prokofiev’s tenderest and most romantic opera was composed at a time when he was abandoning his wife in favour of a Moscow literature student half his age...

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The Fall of the House of Usher, Sound Affairs, Malvern

At least three composers have set about turning The Fall of the House of Usher into operas, including most famously Debussy, whose abortive attempt, completed by Robert Orledge, was brilliantly...

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Moses in Egypt, Welsh National Opera

So easily parcelled up as a master of opera buffa, Rossini is a composer who constantly surprises by the emotional and intellectual range of his best work. William Tell, which opened WNO’s current...

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Carmen, Mid Wales Opera

It’s only a few days since I was remarking, à propos the WNO revival, that Carmen usually survives its interpreters. Now WNO’s humble neighbour, Mid Wales Opera, are proving the same point, but in a...

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