Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Behind Closed Doors: Recitals in a Time of Coronavirus

Behind closed doors  in Drogheda (via Susan on twitter)
In the immediate aftermath of the pandemic shutdown, major cultural centres responded  by opening up their digital archives. I had hours of  free entertainment sifting through performances from around the world.  It wasn't unusual to find myself scrambling to catch the end of a Wagnerian epic at breakfast time before it disappeared to make way for another must-see production. While it was a thrill to watch big lavish productions from the Met and Glyndebourne,  more intimate smaller scale events proved an even more effective antidote to the self-isolation blues. Even better if they were filmed in a beautiful historic location like this one from Caramoor, a historic house in Westchester County, USA. Still available to watch here

In the UK, the Wigmore Hall has been doing a fabulous job in extending the walls of the chamber music venue in London's city centre to audiences around the globe. On 26th June, director John Gilhooly broadcast a thoughtful address on the WH digital platform. What a star this man is! Watch it here. At the conclusion, Gilhooly credits the 'exceptional digital production abilities' of Darius Weinberg at WH. After an initial period that saw artists reaching out to their base with home produced videos that helped to keep us connected but suffered from poor sound quality, recent weeks have seen some exciting new ventures with the experience transformed by professional sound reproduction and camera work.

There is a realisation too among the public that there is no such thing as a free event and that it is time to pay the pipers for the tunes. This article by Karlin Lillington in the Irish Times is timely and insightful.

Here are some of the events, I 'attended' this week.

Piano and Wind Quintets in Drogheda: Drogheda Classical Music launched a new initiative spearheaded by director Pauline Ashwood.  A concert filmed at St Peter Church in Drogheda was broadcast live and available to watch on demand for a stated fee on vimeo for three days. On their website, you were directed to buy a ticket for €10 and you could access the performance via the society's web page. Drogheda is a bit far from my base at the best of times and I had never visited this venue, a 19th century Gothic Revival Church. Pianist Finghin Collins was flanked on either side by a quartet of first rank Irish wind players in an hour long programme of sparkling quintets by Mozart and Beethoven. If you want catch that, you'll have to be quick as it is available for just one more day. Details here

Song Recital at Russborough House: 
Fiachra Garvey and Gavan Ring in Russborough House 

The Music Room in the historic house that is home to the Beit Art Collection made an attractive  venue for a recital of popular arias performed by tenor Gavan Ring and pianist Fiachra Garvey with introductions by Liz Nolan of RTE. Again I enjoyed the virtual visit to an unfamiliar venue as much as the musical offering. In a engaging introduction, Garvey informed us that the piano was in fact Alfred Beit's own instrument and being heard for the first time at a West Wicklow Festival event and very fine it sounded too.

With both recitals, the opportunity to nosey around an unique venue was a big part of the attraction. I would have  like the camera to pan around a little more to have a look at the immediate surroundings and maybe to linger a little on some of the pictures in the famous collection that was stolen no less than four times. Here patrons were invited by the host to make a donation to the West Wicklow Festival. That is available to watch indefinitely here

West Cork Chamber Music Festival: This time last year, like  many music fans, I was heading to Bantry. This year 'to soften the blow of losing the 2020 festival' the West Cork Chamber Music Festival has a series of recitals filmed in various European and one American location and is releasing one each evening until July 5th. Looking forward to catching some of the events.
See our Music Archive releases here
See our latest COVID-19 updates here
Yike's: Is this an oboe reed I see before me!

TV Philharmonia: I watched all six episodes of the French TV drama available on Channel 4. A corny whodunnit set in a Parisian Symphony Orchestra with a liberal chunks of classical music woven in to the mix. One reviewer described it as 'hilariously OTT- Acorn Antiques with subtitles'. D'accord! In the later episodes, French horn player Agathe announces her pregnancy to her rival by blasting Helene with a few bars of  her lover's new piece and the appearance of a spurious oboe reed in the main protagonist's dressing room is a portent of murder. 'An ill wind indeed!.  Stuart Jeffries entertaining Guardian review here

I caught the second of Cristín Leach's 4 part programme on the exploration on Ireland and  Irish identity in visual  art  during the last three hundred years. The second episode covering the  representation of famine and the land wars in 19th century was good listening even if it was crying out for the visual dimension of television. Listen here John Bowman delved into the archives to recall Dickens' visits to Ireland

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