sun 26/05/2019

Sir Charles Mackerras Memorial Concert, Royal Festival Hall | reviews, news & interviews

Sir Charles Mackerras Memorial Concert, Royal Festival Hall

Sir Charles Mackerras Memorial Concert, Royal Festival Hall

Happy, energetic tribute to the long-serving master conductor

Sir Charles Mackerras during rehearsals for his final Philharmonia concert last DecemberClive Barda

In the last year of his life he was, as a colleague noted when we learned of Charles Mackerras’s death, the wise old gamekeeper in the spring forest of Janáček's Cunning Little Vixen. No wonder Mackerras, we were told last night by his conductor nephew Alexander Briger, wanted that most ecstatic celebration of the natural order for his memorial, just as Janáček had had it played at his funeral. Was it trivialised by an encore number from Mackerras’s deliciously arranged Sullivan potpourri-ballet, Pineapple Poll? Not a jot, mate.

While I didn't shed the expected tears at Mackerras's last, rather fraught performance of the Vixen at Covent Garden, they flowed freely last night

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Lets hope that Pineapple Poll appears in full at he 2011 Proms - and with the Royal Ballet as well. I have my doubts though as the 2010 Proms chose not to include any Gilbert & Sullivan at all and I believe that the BBC have decided to forget all items of G&S. It never appears on BBC, so thanks to Sky Arts and G&S Annual International Festival at Buxton for their well appreciated efforts.

By the same token, it was a crying shame that Telarc deeemed it too expensive to complete the Mackerras G&S operettas recordings. Charles was so keen to see Iolanthe through to its studio realisation, and was sad it didn't happen. Still, what we have is a marvel, and there are some earlier BBC archive recordings of the ones we didn't get, which might in due course be commercially released.

Dear David, I don't often do this but I wanted to say thank you SO much for your wonderful review! I can tell you, the whole family are very touched by your words. Best wishes, Alex Briger

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