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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester music reviews

Christine Tobin: Sailing to Byzantium

Sailing to Byzantium at the RNCM

A collection of 12 poems by W B Yeats, set to music by Christine Tobin for the Manchester Literature Festival

Reviewed by Helen Nugent October 2012


If you ascribe to the view that song lyrics are essentially lines of poetry, it should come as no surprise that someone has set the works of one of Ireland’s most respected poets to music.

 

A lesser artist might have baulked at the prospect of scoring the literary canon of W B Yeats but, judging by yesterday’s performance at the Royal Northern College of Music, Christine Tobin relished the opportunity. Part of the hugely diverse Manchester Literature Festival, Tobin tackled one of poetry’s modern greats and, for the most part, succeeded in capturing Yeats’ passion and intensity.

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - Jephtha

Jephtha by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe October 2012


Cast includes
Jephtha: Robert Murray
Zebul: Alan Ewing
Storge: Diana Montague
Iphis: Fflur Wyn
Hamor: Robin Blaze (ex 7 Nov); Andrew Radley (7 Nov)
Angel: Claire Ormshaw

Katie Mitchell’s operatic staging (this Revival Director: Robin Tebbutt) of Jephtha was first produced in 2003, was first revived in 2006 and WNO have thankfully felt it worthy of restaging.

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Manchester music reviews

Cry Baby at Helium Records

Cry Baby - EP & Album

Reviewed by Yvonne Cawley September 2012

 

I’m not quite sure what is going on at the moment, but there seems to be a definite 60s revival in the air. Now maybe I am a little bit more sensitive to this having, just hosted a 60s themed Murder Mystery Party (which was well ‘groovy’ by the way) with the fantastic music of the time helping to set the mood. What with the current Sainsbury’s advert with the ‘Hey, Hey, we’re the Monkees’ track and, on my recent trip to Primark, being hit with the abundance of black and white mod style clothing plus lots of psychedelic prints and short pink and blue bobbed wigs, I wondered if I was perhaps missing something.

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Manchester music reviews

Red BaraatRed Baraat at The Bridgewater Hall

Reviewed by Emma Short September 2012

 

The Bridgewater Hall played host to Sunny Jain and his 8 piece Brooklyn based collective Red Baraat on their debut UK tour as part of the London 2012 Festival. Supported by the Asian Arts Agency whose vision is to mainstream high quality Asian arts in the UK increasing cultural diversity in the creative industries, they hit the hall with force. A veritable explosion of the North Indian Bhangra rhythm, funk, salsa, go-go hip hop style syncopation and audience call and response, within a strong grounding of jazz, brought their fusion flavour alive to the eagerly awaiting audience.

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Manchester music reviews

Linda Chatterton

Concert: Linda Chatterton and Matt McCright

at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation

Reviewed by Denis Joe August 2012

 

The prospect of two musicians of the calibre of Chatterton (Flute) and McCright (Piano) presenting a programme of rarely heard pieces, as well as a world premiere of a work by Ailís Ní Ríain, would excite any music lover.

 

Linda Chatterton has been awarded prizes and grants from such institutions as The McKnight Artist Fellowship, The Jerome Foundation and The American Composers Forum. She has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra and is a member of the contemporary music group, Ensemble 61. Five of her recordings are available on CD; the latest, the critically acclaimed Diverse Voices – American Music for Flute, includes the first recording of Edie Hill’s This Floating World.

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Manchester music reviews

Manchester Jazz Festival Radio

Manchester Jazz Festival 2012

Some reflections by Charlotte Starkey July 2012

 

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible, is music.” (Aldous Huxley, Music at Night and Other Essays, 1931)

If you find a note tonight that sounds good, play the same damn note every night.” (Count Basie - recalled by Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, trumpeter in Count Basie’s Orchestra)

 

In a key policy for urban renewal UNESCO defined a vision for humanising the city at the turn of the millennium, placing the individual at the centre of public policy and realising opportunities for cooperative action in the urban space (Brigitte Colin, Unesco’s Vision for Humanising the City – 14th June 1996). Whilst she was a specialist in Unesco’s involvement in the Arabian region, the vocabulary occurs frequently in discussions of urban regeneration globally: ‘inclusiveness’, cosmopolitanism, cultural access, the significance of the ‘informal spaces’ within the city environment – those spaces, events and situations where the initiatives arise from individual and group aspirations, rather than through recognised official and semi-official regulated social, political, educational and/or cultural formal arrangements.

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Manchester music reviews

Manchester Jazz Festival Radio

Manchester Jazz Festival: Preview 2012

in Manchester from 13th July to 21st July

by Charlotte Starkey July 2012

 

In just a few days’ time the 17th Manchester Jazz Festival opens. Each summer for the past sixteen years Manchester city centre, at different venues, has come alive to the sounds of the saxophone, clarinet, guitar, keyboard, percussion and vocals – all the voices of jazz. Like the water that endlessly bubbles from the Jubilee fountain in Albert Square (marking Queen Victoria’s sixty years), drawn from the ever–flowing streams that feed the great lakes and reservoirs of Cumbria, the rhythms of jazz pulse, whine, fill the air with waves of sound around Albert Square, St Anne’s, the musical venues of concert halls and bars.

 

You can get married in the Town Hall, step outside and forget the expensive hotel you booked, buy your drinks and food from the numerous stalls and enter into the groove; there’s your reception laid on, inside and outside the big Festival Pavilion, shared by every passer-by drawn in, en route from the office, the shop, the train station, just like the wedding-guests of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, captivated by some haunting lonely horn.

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

A Wagner opera production is always an event unmatched by any other. The passion displayed on stage is generally reflected by the audience. Perhaps no other opera produces greater feeling than Tristan and Isolde.

 

Based on the 13th Century poem of Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg, Wagner took one section of the story and rewrote it. The result was an opera that casts a giant shadow over all aspects of musical composition, even to this very day. As the conductor of this performance says in the programme notes “With its expansion of harmony, its achievement of chromatic independence, and its ‘emancipation of dissonance’, Tristan ultimately leads the way to atonality and to twelve-tone composition.” We can certainly feel the hand of Wagner’s Tristan on the early Schoenberg and throughout Mahler’s works.

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - La bohème

La bohème by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

For its Summer 2012 season, Welsh National Opera presents two of the greatest and most famous operas on the theme of love. But the two could not be more different: Puccini’s classic, La bohème, gives us a real-life approach to love, with all its irrationality and heartache. Wagner’s masterpiece, Tristan and Isolde, meanwhile, positions love in the realms of a virtue that is even higher than valour or duty.

 

Are you put off the idea of opera by all those hysterical protagonists, highbrow plots and sky-high prices? Well, watch this myth busting video by Tim Rhys Evans on the WNO website. But if I could recommend one single opera, above all others, to the uninitiated it would be La bohème. An opera replete with the most beautiful melodies that combine with a simple tale to melt the blackest of hearts.

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Manchester music reviews

Halle Orchestra, photo by Joel Chester Fildes

Fanfare for H.M. the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Hallé Orchestra at The Bridgewater Hall

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

Thirty-five years ago, as a 19-year old, spotty-faced youth, I bought myself a copy of the Sex Pistols’ single God Save The Queen. It was the latest landmark in an exciting youth movement and like many others of my age we were caught up in the Punk scene. It was rebellious, exciting and struck an anti-establishment pose. We didn’t examine the more reactionary facets, such as the sneering manner in which Johnny Rotten, and the rest, viewed the masses with a patronising contempt for their celebrations of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. More than a third of a century later, I find myself at a concert celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and enjoying it immensely.

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