Vladimir Martynov: La Vita Nuova - LPO / Jurowski - Royal Festival Hall, 18 February 2009
Oh Vlad, Vlad, where do I begin? You and your efforts for make better cultural understanding of British peoples. We know you care. If you'd never had a musical training, you'd have ended up as one of those nerdy boys forever foisting unwanted mixtapes on reluctant girls. Come to think of it, tonight's opera was sort of like a mixtape, wasn't it? Or perhaps mish-mash. Vladimir Martynov chucked in every style from Gregorian chant to tone-row. All filtered through a mesh of workaday minimalism to remove unwanted lumps of originality.
But how hard you worked to make it sound fresh and exciting! How rigorously you drilled your troops! I can't remember the last time I heard the LPO play with such brilliance and precision, though it was probably the last time I heard them conducted by you. The EuropaChorAkademie too, not only singing immaculately, but mastering all that shuffling around, trooping in and out to some baffling choreographic purpose.
And how kind of the LSO to lend you Carmine Lauri to lead the band - what an undervalued musician he is, and how inspiring.
All the soloists were simply brilliant - Mark Padmore was your best catch (though whenowhen will he grow out that hideous Danny Dyer's Deadliest Men haircut?). He sang the lumpy recits and bellowed the leaden chants with grace and conviction, though he didn't reach full steam until the second half's faux-Liebestod with lovely Tatiana Monogarova. This was my favourite bit, even if "sweet death come to me" repeated over and over with syrupy violins behind doesn't start to capture the redemptive power of the ultimate sacrifice, the triumph of love over life itself. But we can't all be Richard Wagner, eh?
I quite liked the mini-requiem that came after too. Très Fauré. What a pity a chunk of the already-sparse audience left at half-time and missed it. But I expect you noticed that yourself anyway, Vlad. After all, you started each half facing the audience. Was there a reason for that? But at least it added some visual interest. As did placing Mark Padmore and the three sweet little boy trebles around the auditorium now and again. Is that what you'd call semi-staging? I was happy just contemplating the adorable way your hair kinks where you've taken out your ponytail elastic, but others are less easily pleased, so thanks for your consideration. By the way, you have such lovely shiny hair - what conditioner do you use? (Email me privately if you're shy).
I've heard one new operatic masterpiece this week, though you won't be surprised to hear, Vlad, it wasn't this one. I never even worked out what it was all about.
But I don't want you to stop trying. London desperately - desperately - needs you and your vision. We cannot live on Mahler alone. We need you to bring us stuff of all sorts, music we'd never get a chance to hear otherwise. So thank you. Sorta.
Hay look, it's Saint Vlad:
~~~~~~more photos over teh page~~~~~~~~