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Sunday, October 06, 2013

Thoughts on the Prazak Quartet and Fidelio

I have a pile of photos but they'll wait to tomorrow.

I've been in London today for a musical extravaganza.

The first part was at the Wigmore Hall where the Prazak Quartet played

Haydn's String Quartet in Bb Op 71 No
Beethoven String Quartet in F Op 59 No Razumovsky

It was a bit surreal, firstly there was a woman a couple of rows in front who started polishing one of the pillars before the concert started. A chap next to Trish fell asleep and snored! Oh and as the third movement of the Beethoven was interrupted a few seconds in by what sounded like a watch alarm, seemed to be in front of house and went on for a good minute before the Wigmore Staff went out and turned it off. The quartet stopped and waited.

That said the Prazak were excellent and those of us who didn't rush for the door were rewarded with an encore... second movement of another Beethoven quartet.

Part two was at the Coliseum to see English National Opera do Beethoven's Fidelio.

The ENO describes director Calixto Bieito's vision as unique and the programme states that no one polarises opinion like Bieito.

Essentially this is a modern setting with the action taking place in a striking set designed by Rebecca Ringst. You will find this either haunting or depressing. I have no problem with Bieito's moving the setting in time but I do find it odd that he has chosen to use a different overture to the one Beethoven finally settled on or that he changed the text or that he has chosen to have a string quartet descend from the the flies in cages and play part of Beethoven's slow movement from the A minor String Quartet Op 132. Oh and despite the cast being in 21st century suits and ties he ends it with Don Fernando appearing in archaic dress. Bizarre

The thing is that the singing is top notch and the music is of course sublime. The string quartet shouldn't be there but if it must be then let it be played by the Heath Quartet, one of the best young quartet's in the country. But you know I want to see Beethoven's Fidelio not Bieito's and if Ludwig had wanted the overture or that string quartet he'd have used them....

I was of course in the balcony which was about half full? And I didn't think the audience were mesmerised. On my journey home I have wondered if I really enjoyed it and on balance I did. As I say the singing was superb (the finale was rousing) and Beethoven was a wonderful composer but I think I enjoyed it in spite of the set and Bieito's re-imagining.  I'd definitely go and see Fidelio again but I don't think I'd go and see a Bieito production.

Anyway i'm back at ENO in 3 weeks to see Madam Butterfly.


oldcrow61 said...

Sounds wonderful Pete. Jealous that you're going to see Madame Butterfly.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful,review! Really,funny. It's always annoying to spend for a great orchestra seat at the metropolitan in NYC and find some one in the vicinity snoring. The Fidelity sounds really wacky. I hope you'll write about these things more often.

Pete Duxon said...

a few coming up :)