Monday, 3 August 2015

Prohaska/Arcangelo/Cohen - Lachrimae, 2 August 2015

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Dowland – Lachrimae Pavane
Tarquinio Merula – Hor ch’e tempo di dormir
Purcell – The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation
Cavalli – Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne: ‘O più d’ogni richezza’
Giovanni Felice Sances – Usurpator Tiranno
Purcell – Sonata in G minor, Z.807, from Ten Sonatas in Four Parts
Strozzi – Diporti de Euterpe, op.7: ‘Lagrime mie’
Dowland – Flow my Tears
Strozzi – Che si può fare
Salomone Rossi – Sonata terza sopra l’aria romanesca
Purcell – The Fairy Queen: ‘The Plaint: O let me weep’
Scarlatti – Sonata in D minor, K.90, arranged for violin and continuo
Cavalli – La Calisto: ‘Restino imbalsamate’
Purcell – An Evening Hymn

Anna Prohaska (soprano)
Jonathan Cohen (director)

I apologise that this will not be a ‘review’ as such. That is not primarily because Anna Prohaska, the soloist, is a friend of mine. (I think a lot of nonsense is spoken about such things. It is the nature of things that, sometimes one has to write about a performance, a book, a musical work by someone one knows. It may in some ways render the task more difficult, but it may also afford insights. Honesty is the best policy here – and indeed anywhere else.) However, I was unable to buy a programme – the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse ran out very soon, and only offered them again for the second half, which struck me as extortion – and was thus unable to follow the texts and translations, and indeed in many cases was unaware what was being performed. Quite a good test of one’s ear in many ways: I was delighted to recognise one of Cavalli’s two arias and to guess that he was the composer of another (from a work I thought I knew, but which I clearly do not know well enough!) I was still more delighted to hear works by Barbara Strozzi, whose music I have long admired, but whom we hear far too little: alas, we all know why. I wanted simply to post the programme, discovered from Arcangelo’s website after the event, to remind me what I had seen and heard.
If you will permit me – and even if not – I should like to say that Anna gave an intensely dramatic performance, quite befitting the theatrical location. I very much liked the way the various works fitted together and suggested moods and even narratives greater than the sum of their parts. A hint, and sometimes more than that, of the wilder world of the Mediterranean was sometimes present, especially in Strozzi’s music. (I know I am being ungrateful, but a little Monteverdi would have been greatly appreciated too. When, however, would that not be the case?) Moreover, whilst I am, as any regular readers will know, anything but a paid-up member of the period-instrument lobby, I found Arcangelo’s performances, on their terms and indeed often on mine, mostly highly convincing, even if I could not quite work out what an arrangement of a Scarlatti keyboard sonata was doing there. The Playhouse is, whatever its acoustical problems for the performers, an interesting and, yes, beautiful space; I look forward to seeing a play or an opera there. I shall stop now, lest this turn into an actual review, whatever that might be…

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