July 2018 Concert Reviews

August 2018 Concert Reviews
Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart – Louis Langrée conducts Tromba Lontana & Brahms 2 – Joshua Bell plays Bruch
Tuesday, July 31, 2018 |  A fanfare is usually a rousing affair. Not so with John Adams’s enigmatic Tromba Lontana. As the ‘Distant Trumpet’ title suggests, this short work never rises above mezzo piano... ... Louis Langrée led a graceful rendition... ... Joshua Bell was in splendid form for Max Bruch’s G-minor Violin Concerto... 
Greenwich Festival 2018 – Delius, Mahler, Barber – world premiere of Robert Matthew-Walker’s April in Appalachia
Saturday, July 28, 2018 |  This concert was given in St Alfege’s Church, whose magnificent acoustics have remained unchanged for almost 300 years. In earlier times, Thomas Tallis (who is buried here) was in charge of music there... ... The Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is well-known... ... Robert Matthew-Walker’s April in Appalachia was preceded by a short talk from the composer. Written for bassoonist Matthew Petrie (the conductor’s brother), this fifteen-minute one-movement fantasy is based on the opening of Delius’s Appalachia... ... Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings was equally expressive in this acoustic, but the surprise was Eric Fenby’s transcription of Delius’s 1916 String Quartet... 
Longborough Festival Opera – Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea – Sofia Troncoso, Anna Harvey, Maria Ostroukhova, Matthew Buswell; directed by Jenny Miller; conducted by Jeremy Silver
Saturday, July 28, 2018 |  Jenny Miller’s production of Monteverdi’s unflinching portrayal of the amorous and political machinations at the Roman Imperial court of Nero is a rather confused affair with little sense of any particular period and place. ... They are also inanely called upon to write down on a board as graffiti various words and phrases which appear important to the director and apparently need to be brought to the attention of an addled audience failing to engage with a cast of other characters who are not much distinguished from each other... ... Fortunately the vitality of Monteverdi’s score remains more or less intact in Jeremy Silver’s reading with the Instruments of Time and Truth. 
Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart – Richard Egarr conducts Handel & Bach
Friday, July 27, 2018 |  Richard Egarr, making his debut with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, led this high-spirited program of Baroque favorites. ... Then seven selections from Water Music were given with vitality and elegance... ... For J. S. Bach a septet of players delivered an especially lithe and sprightly account of the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, supposedly written to show the Margave of Brandenburg what a splendid keyboard player Bach was. Taking on that role, Egarr gave a performance that was absolutely breathtaking... 
Castalian String Quartet at Wigmore Hall – Haydn – the last three Quartets of Opus 76
Wednesday, July 25, 2018 |  This was the final concert in Wigmore Hall’s Haydn String Quartet Series in which a considerable number of these compositions have been given by various performers, and many reviewed here on Classical Source (search “Haydn String Quartets Wigmore Hall Classical Source”). Differences of approach by distinguished ensembles have helped to illuminate the essence of these masterpieces. The Castalian String Quartet previously performed the first three of Opus 76 – memorable for a superb interpretation of the ‘Emperor’ Quartet – and its completion of the set was of a similar high standard and full of insight. 
Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart – Louis Langrée conducts Candide Overture & An American in Paris – Emanuel Ax plays Mozart K453
Tuesday, July 24, 2018 |  The “Americans in Paris” theme of this concert offered a salute to the Leonard Bernstein centennial celebrations, Louis Langrée and the MMF Orchestra opening with a joyful and rhythmically seductive account of the brilliant Overture to Candide. ... Next, Emanuel Ax delivered a tender and highly expressive rendering of Mozart’s mercurial G-major Piano Concerto... ... The final offering was a dazzling outing for George Gershwin’s An American in Paris, using a recent edition including more-dissonant taxi horns. 
Igor Levit at Wigmore Hall – Bach/Brahms, Busoni, Schumann, Wagner/Liszt, Liszt/Busoni
Saturday, July 21, 2018 |  In this demanding Wigmore Hall recital, searching-inward pieces comprised the first half, and works that exude outwards filled the second. Igor Levit’s almost diabolic mastery of tone production and his meticulous voicing of polyphony mark him out. ... Liszt’s Solemn March to the Holy Grail is not a transcription but rather it plucks out some Parsifal motifs. 
Chineke! and Wayne Marshall at Queen Elizabeth Hall – Julian Joseph premiere, Stewart Goodyear plays Rhapsody in Blue
Saturday, July 21, 2018 |  There was an exuberant and theatrical vibe at the Queen Elizabeth Hall for Chineke!’s most-recent outing; this time the emphasis was on jazz. The curtain-raiser was Aaron Copland’s Music for the Theater... ... George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue followed, in its original scoring for Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra. ... ...Stewart Goodyear thrilled... ... Julian Joseph’s Carry that Sound encompasses the musical language of symphony orchestra, big band and chamber ensemble...  
Bampton Classical Opera – Isouard’s Cendrillon
Friday, July 20, 2018 |  Rossini had a knack for taking on and ousting established favourites of the operatic repertoire. Just as his settings of The Barber of Seville and, to some extent, Armida, knocked earlier versions of those dramas firmly into the shadows, so his treatment of the Cinderella story (La Cenerentola) quickly and comprehensively overtook the earlier and celebrated setting by Nicolo Isouard (1810) whose libretto was also the source for Rossini’s stage-work. 
Blackheath Community Opera – Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas
Friday, July 20, 2018 |  With Blackheath Halls undergoing its transformation (the refurbished facilities are due to open in September), this year’s Community Opera moved down the road to the Albany Theatre, Deptford and marked the UK debut of German mezzo Idunnu Münch as Dido. I noticed on the walls of the Albany a poster for Wynton Marsalis, proudly announcing that he made his UK debut at the venue, so may the auspices be good for Münch. 
Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2018 – Handel’s Saul – Markus Brück, Iestyn Davies, Allan Clayton, Karina Gauvin; directed by Barrie Kosky; conducted by Laurence Cummings
Thursday, July 19, 2018 |  Conducted with period panache and punch by Laurence Cummings (who led the 2015 Glyndebourne Tour of the production), Barrie Kosky’s colourfully detailed staging of Handel’s Saul makes a relatively speedy return to the Glyndebourne Festival and can be greeted as a long-lost friend. 
Gabriela Montero at Wigmore Hall – K330, Waldstein Sonata, Kreisleriana
Thursday, July 19, 2018 |  In choosing three such well-known works, this fiery and politically-charged Venezuelan seemed set on showcasing her credentials as a ‘serious’ artist. Yet the Mozart failed to make much impression, Gabriela Montero’s take-it-or-leave-it approach short on charm... ... But it was a far more idiomatic Montero we heard in Beethoven. The ‘Waldstein’ started with rugged authority. ... Given the huge performance-history of Kreisleriana (Horowitz, Argerich, Lupu, to name but three giants), it was hard to see Montero’s reading as more than work in progress. 
Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart – La Fura dels Baus’s production of Haydn’s The Creation; directed by Carlus Padrissa; conducted by Laurence Equilbey
Thursday, July 19, 2018 |  Lincoln Center’s venerable Mostly Mozart Festival has reduced its concert offerings and added some adventurous theater and dance projects, such as this performance of Haydn’s magnificent 1798 oratorio, The Creation, a multimedia staging by Carlus Padrissa of the Barcelona-based La Fura dels Baus, which has already toured much of Europe and reaches North America for the first time. 
Opera Rara at Royal Opera House – world premiere of Donizetti’s L’Ange de Nisida – conducted by Mark Elder
Wednesday, July 18, 2018 |  It isn’t every day that we get a world-premiere of a Donizetti opera – 180 years after it was written! – one requiring detective work and archaeology to reconstruct it from various source materials. ... L’Ange de Nisida, commissioned by Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris, was not staged because the house had gone bankrupt... ... Mark Elder and the Royal Opera House Orchestra certainly give the piece every chance to shine... 
Opera Holland Park – Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos – Mardi Byers, Kor-Jan Dusseljee, Jennifer France, Julia Sporsén; directed by Antony McDonald; conducted by Brad Cohen
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 |  With German repertoire not looming large at Opera Holland Park (apart from Mozart, only Fidelio, and Hansel and Gretel), there is an inescapable sense of confidence saturating the company’s first foray into Richard Strauss with Ariadne auf Naxos, for many his most beautiful stage-work. 
Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart – Leonard Bernstein’s Mass; Nmon Ford as Celebrant; conducted by Louis Langrée
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 |  With the cancellation of the Lincoln Center Festival, Mostly Mozart, now in its fifty-second year, has partially filled the void by expanding this summer’s repertoire, adding theater and dance productions to its customary fare, including Leonard Bernstein’s gargantuan Mass... ... Conducted by Louis Langrée and featuring over two-hundred participants, the nearly two-hour marathon showcases some of the strengths and many of the flaws of its creator... 
Robin Tritschler & Jonathan Ware at Wigmore Hall – Family Ties
Sunday, July 15, 2018 |  It has been some years since I’ve heard Robin Tritschler, and memories of an elegant, attractive tenor were rapidly updated to take in a voice and style impressively more layered, substantial, open to suggestion and earthed. He had devised a programme on the theme of related composers... ... Tritschler had a lot to compete with – Wimbledon, World Cup and sizzling heat – but he didn’t hold back on well-served, back-of-the-net communication and involvement. 
Opera Holland Park – Mascagni’s Isabeau – Anne Sophie Duprels, David Butt Philip, Mikhail Svetlov, George von Bergen; directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans; conducted by Francesco Cilluffo
Saturday, July 14, 2018 |  One of the pleasures of Opera Holland Park has been its scheduling of Italian stage-works that have little or no performance history in the UK (or, for that matter, outside of Italy). Isabeau is no exception: the tenth of Pietro Mascagni's sixteen operas, successfully launched in Buenos Aires in 1911, it was warmly received in Italy (as well as the United States) and stayed in the repertoire there until the Second World War. 
Tanglewood – Andris Nelsons conducts Puccini's La bohème – Kristine Opolais & Jonathan Tetelman
Saturday, July 14, 2018 |  At Tanglewood Andris Nelsons conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Puccini’s La bohème, Piotr Beczala withdrawing to replace Roberto Alagna in Bayreuth’s Lohengrin, and Elliot Madore taking Schaunard in place of Davide Luciano, who encountered a visa-related issue. ... Jonathan Tetelman and Kristine Opolais gave touching portrayals. 
Bennewitz Quartet at Wigmore Hall – Haydn
Friday, July 13, 2018 |  The Bennewitz Quartet has a notably warm sound which makes exciting forte passages glow brightly. There is a unified quality to this ensemble and on the occasions where the leader had solo moments, his sound rose above the others because of colourful tone – not by mere loudness. ... Haydn’s Opus 1/2, notable for his use of pizzicato in the central Adagio, still shows signs of Baroque influence... 
Longborough Festival Opera – Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos – Helena Dix, Jonathan Stoughton, Robyn Allegra Parton, Clare Presland, Darren Jeffery; directed by Alan Privett; conducted by Anthony Negus
Friday, July 13, 2018 |  Richard Strauss’s conflation of buffa and seria could have been written with summer festivals in mind, with an entertainment specifically planned for post-dinner-interval uplift mirrored by the Opera’s unseen guests dining during the short Prologue in the 1916 version – the 1912 original started with Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s version of Molière’s Le bourgeois gentilhomme leading into Strauss’s opera seria about Ariadne abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos, and it apparently lasted six hours. 
Buxton International Festival 2018 – Verdi’s Alzira – Kate Ladner, James Cleverton, Jung Soo Yun; directed by Elijah Moshinsky; conducted by Stephen Barlow
Friday, July 13, 2018 |  Succinctness is usually a positive quality of Verdi’s operas, with a fine balance struck between musical interest and dramatic efficiency. In the case of his eighth stage-work, Alzira (1845), concision has been pushed too far, as any detailed psychological examination of the characters is rather lacking. ... Based on a play by the unorthodox Enlightenment thinker, Voltaire, it is an odd scenario for both him and the sceptical, anti-clerical Verdi to have chosen... ... Elijah Moshinsky’s production does its best to restore something of a political bearing by projecting BBC, CNN and ABC news footage of a Latin American uprising in the 1980s... 
Buxton International Festival 2018 – Brescianello’s Tisbe – Julia Doyle, Hilary Summer, Robert Murray & Morgan Pearse; directed by Mark Burns; conducted by Adrian Chandler
Thursday, July 12, 2018 |  Indefatigable in its championing of rare repertoire, Buxton International Festival has brought out from oblivion the only opera by the little-known Giuseppe Brescianello on the occasion of its tercentenary anniversary. Adrian Chandler goes so far to claim that it is “a candidate for the finest Baroque opera ever”. It is hardly that: although boasting an imaginatively varied and well-written series of arias, and two fully-fledged choruses, the numbers do not quite reach the same level of inspiration of Handel’s operas, even the weakest of which can always muster at least one or two memorable pieces. The duet for Tisbe and the dying Pyramo, for example, with its attractive lilting rhythm in compound time is comparable to ‘Per le porte’ from Handel’s Sosarme, but fails to ravish to the same degree. 
Tanglewood – Bernstein Centennial Summer – including Trouble in Tahiti
Thursday, July 12, 2018 |  This program of Leonard Bernstein’s vocal music was highlighted by Trouble in Tahiti, directed by Jamie Bernstein, the composer’s daughter. ... Beforehand she introduced nine of her father’s songs, for which Alexandra Silber and Nathan Gunn were joined by the other singers, with Craig Ketter on piano. 
Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret at Barbican Theatre
Thursday, July 12, 2018 |  Having temporarily retired his alter egos, Dame Edna Everage, Sir Les Patterson, Sandy Stone, et al, Barry Humphries has turned to the music of the Weimar Republic in order to revive interest in this long-forgotten period that was so rich in what it produced between the end of World War One and the rise of Hitler in 1933. ... The word ‘cabaret’ has perhaps lately lost its true meaning and become associated solely with the title of the Kander & Ebb musical based on John Van Druten’s play I Am a Camera which in turn was taken from the Goodbye to Berlin stories of Christopher Isherwood. ... The programme begins with probably the most famous tune by the least-forgotten of these composers, ‘Mack the Knife’ from Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, which completely sums up memories of the Weimar Republic... 
Grange Park Opera – Novaya Opera’s production of Konstantin Boyarsky’s Pushkin – Peter Auty, Julietta Avanesyan; directed by Igor Ushakov; conducted by Jan Latham-Koenig
Wednesday, July 11, 2018 |  Pushkin’s writings have given rise to over a hundred operas, most of them Russian, to which tally this newcomer by Konstantin Boyarsky and Marita Phillips can be added. Their opera covers the last decade of Pushkin’s life – his return from exile (imposed for his radical and divisive Ode to Liberty, which incidentally saved him from the Decembrist Uprising); the vain efforts by the new Tsar, Nicholas I, to use Pushkin’s popularity; and, above all, the circumstances leading to his death (in the winter of 1837), as the result of a duel he fought with his brother-in-law, Georges d’Anthès, whom he suspected of infidelity with his wife Natalya. The project has been some fifteen years in the making, and Phillips’s libretto has gathered extra authenticity from the fact that she is the great-great-great-granddaughter of both the Tsar and Pushkin. Boyarsky, a viola-player in the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, became involved in 2012, and Pushkin had its premiere in a concert performance by Novaya Opera in February last year. 
Tanglewood – Jeremy Denk at Seiji Ozawa Hall
Wednesday, July 11, 2018 |  In a spoken introduction, Jeremy Denk said he juxtaposed the first three works to contrast their composers’ different perceptions of time. He began with Mozart... ... and he then threw himself into Visions fugitives – twenty varied vignettes – with great intensity... ... Following intermission, Denk announced that he would not play Liszt’s transcription of Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte (his Opus 98), but explained why he “would have played” that work, illustrating the connection between the song-cycle and Schumann’s Fantasy... 
Grange Festival 2018 – Leonard Bernstein’s Candide
Sunday, July 08, 2018 |  The austere magnificence of The Grange sits a little oddly with the eclecticism and informality of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide but if this one-off, not-quite concert performance fell between several stools no-one seemed to mind. The last event in this year’s Grange Festival it was rapturously received by a packed house... ... Candide is famously a problem piece whose dissemination was boosted by an original Broadway cast recording starring Max Adrian, Robert Rounseville and the much-missed Barbara Cook. ... Veteran Richard Suart took on the narrating as well as the roles of Pangloss and Martin. 
Anita Lasker-Wallfisch at Wigmore Hall
Sunday, July 08, 2018 |  Wigmore Hall’s director John Gilhooly is to be commended for conceiving this bold event. "After I saw Anita Lasker-Wallfisch's address to the Bundestag, I felt it had to be heard in London... This is such an important message to hear, as history has shown, time and again, that where anti-Semitism, racism and extreme views are on the rise, dark times are usually never far behind.“ ... Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, herself a fine cellist, quite literally owes her life to music. 
Steven Osborne at Wigmore Hall – Debussy, Berg, Prokofiev
Saturday, July 07, 2018 |  With Steven Osborne you get a no-frills pianist of integrity and enquiry, willing to explore and take risks, no repertory too little or too large, no style beyond his understanding. ... On the face of it, a couple of prefatory French Preludes, and three uncompromising Sonatas, landmarks of the twentieth-century though they might all be, make for unlikely planning. ... Thus the vertical C-major cadence of 'La cathédrale engloutie' transmogrified into the horizontal G-C opening of the Berg. The lingering, tonally conflicting Zarathustrian C/B close of the Berg morphed into the rapid C-B quavers at the start of Prokofiev Seven. 'Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir' led directly, inevitably even, into the A-major of Prokofiev Six... 
The Royal Opera – Robert Carsen’s production of Verdi’s Falstaff – Bryn Terfel; conducted by Nicola Luisotti
Saturday, July 07, 2018 |  The second of this year’s revived Shakespeare-in-opera offerings from Robert Carsen (after English National Opera’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Spring), is the second revival of The Royal Opera’s co-production of Verdi’s valedictory Falstaff... ...  
Tanglewood – Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town – Brandon Victor Dixon, Andy Karl, Christian Dante White; Boston Pops conducted by Keith Lockhart
Saturday, July 07, 2018 |  It is fitting for Tanglewood to host a celebration of the Leonard Bernstein centennial, since he played a major role in the development of this great music center, and it in turn was instrumental in his career development. His Tanglewood activities spanned a half-century, from his joining the inaugural class of the Berkshire Music Center in 1940 as a student of conducting (with Serge Koussevitzky) and composition (with Aaron Copland) ... Keith Lockhart conducted members of the Boston Pops Orchestra in a delightful production of On the Town, Bernstein’s first Broadway show. ... Brandon Victor Dixon was outstanding as Gabey... ... Broadway veterans Andrea Martin and Marc Kudisch also gave terrific performances... 
Boston Symphony Orchestra Opening Night at Tanglewood – Andris Nelsons conducts Magic Flute Overture & Tchaikovsky 5 – Lang Lang plays Mozart K491
Friday, July 06, 2018 |  This was the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s “Opening Night at Tanglewood”, beginning with Andris Nelsons leading a lively rendition of the Overture to The Magic Flute. Lang Lang, sidelined for a year and a half by an arm injury, then entered. There was nothing flamboyant in his appearance, demeanor or playing, and he gave a restrained reading of K491. ... Following intermission, Nelsons led an account of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony (included to mark Leonard Bernstein’s centenary, he conducted the work three times at Tanglewood) that brought out its variety of rhythm and tonal colors and the unifying impact of the thematic material. 
Cheltenham Music Festival – BBCNOW/Martyn Brabbins – Higgins, Howells, Holst, and Parry’s Jerusalem – Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays Elgar, Daniel Pioro plays The Lark Ascending
Friday, July 06, 2018 |  The opening concert of this year’s Cheltenham Music Festival appeared more attractive on paper than it proved to be in performance – at least, as broadcast by BBC Radio 3. ... ...in purely musical terms Velocity was overshadowed by the first public performance in over ninety years of Herbert Howells’s Pastoral Rhapsody, dating from 1923. ... ...Martyn Brabbins was superb in building the later growth and inner life of this unfairly neglected score... ... Elgar’s Cello Concerto followed, with Sheku Kanneh-Mason. ...  
Guildhall School of Music & Drama – Fiddler on the Roof
Friday, July 06, 2018 |  Fiddler on the Roof is a musical set in 1905 in the village of Anatevka in the Pale of Settlement, a western region of Imperial Russia within which Jews were allowed to live. Some (educated) Jews and others resided outside the area; but otherwise residency was restricted to areas beyond the Pale (the derivation of the term). ... It opened with Zero Mostel as Tevye, while later in London it starred with Topol and ran for over 2,000 presentations. ... It is a show that needs a star performer in the role of Tevye, and in Alex James-Cox this Guildhall School production has certainly found one. ... Written in a Jewish style and played by both an orchestra and a Klezmer band, they come over as an important part of the proceedings, such as ‘Tradition’, ‘If I Were a Rich Man’, ‘To life’, ‘Do You Love Me?’ and ‘Sunrise, Sunset’. They are played and sung with great vivacity... 
Sandrine Piau & Susan Manoff at Wigmore Hall – Chimère
Friday, July 06, 2018 |  Baroque specialist Sandrine Piau turned her attention to more-recent repertoire with an emotionally probing and vocally sparkling Wigmore Hall recital, a spellbinding and intimate programme entitled “Chimère”, of nineteenth- and twentieth-century song by European and American composers exploring the sublime joy of physical love and the despair of abandonment, with all the dizzying stages in between. 
Garsington Opera at Wormsley – The Skating Rink
Thursday, July 05, 2018 |  A murder mystery doesn’t necessarily sound like an idea that will work, but there have been stranger inspirations for opera plots. Rory Mullarkey has adapted Roberto Bolaño’s novel skilfully. ... Since there is a murder we also need to know who stabbed the mezzo-soprano and that is revealed at the end (in opera it’s never over until…). The plot revolves round the differently focussed desires of two men, Remo and Enric, for the ice-skater Nuria. ... Within the structure imposed by the libretto David Sawer has also woven in some clever stylistic repetitions, adding a satisfying cohesiveness. 
[email protected] – Schiff’s Surprise – András Schiff plays and conducts Haydn, Surprise Symphony & Harmoniemesse)
Wednesday, July 04, 2018 |  Apart from single works such as The Creation, Haydn concerts with orchestra are surprisingly rare. The chamber music fares slightly better, but the keyboard music is still on the specialist end of the spectrum. András Schiff, newly appointed as a Principal Artist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, continues to be a tireless promoter of the Sonatas. Haydn’s irresistible, slightly maverick sophistication is hardwired into his musical psyche – Schiff well knows the music’s capacity to beguile, amuse and move. 
Bartlett Sher’s production of The King and I at the London Palladium
Wednesday, July 04, 2018 |  To really enjoy The King and I it is probably best to put the politics to one side and instead marvel at Rodgers & Hammerstein’s immortal music and lyrics. ... In Kelli O’Hara the production has arguably the best casting it has ever had... 
Kensington Symphony Orchestra/Russell Keable at St John’s Smith Square – Delius, Bridge, Sibelius
Tuesday, July 03, 2018 |  The Kensington Symphony Orchestra blew hot and cold in this its final concert of the 17-18 season: hot in Delius contrasted by the “cold water” (the composer’s description) of Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony, and in between a variety of moods from Frank Bridge’s impressions of The Sea, Russell Keable in complete musical control, such is the typicality of the KSO’s enterprising programmes. 
Royal College of Music double-bill – Huw Watkins’s In the Locked Room and Peter Maxwell Davies’s The Lighthouse; directed by Stephen Unwin; conducted by Michael Rosewell
Monday, July 02, 2018 |  Huw Watkins’s In the Locked Room first cast its bleak, ambiguous spell in 2012, and it does more of the same in the Royal College of Music’s production, a primitive affair with a door standing alone on the stage, the scene changes slickly managed by the stage crew. The story is a blur of obsession, violence, fantasy and reality, a chip off the Pelléas et Mélisande block. ... The staging is marginally more elaborate for Peter Maxwell Davies’s The Lighthouse, the business end of the lighthouse itself, with the keepers’ quarters underneath. Maxwell Davies’s treatment of the true story of the three men who vanished from the Flannan Isles lighthouse for no discernible reason 118 years ago has become a classic. It is nearly forty years old, and one can only marvel at the eloquence of his libretto... 


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