The programme for this year's Edinburgh International Festival was unveiled earlier today. Its 'Asian' theme seems to have had little impact on the music side of the programme, and is limited for the most part to vaguely 'oriental' subject matter. The few distinguished Asian guests include Ravi Shankar and Amjad Ali Khan.
This year's staged operas are Die Frau ohne Schatten from Gergiev and the Mariinsky Opera, and Rossini's Semiramide from Vlaamse Opera. In concert are Haydn's Orlando paladino from René Jacobs and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and Thaïs from the RSNO and Andrew Davis.
An impressive bunch of recitalists include Bo Skovhus, Angelika Kirchschlager, Simon Keenlyside, Magdalena Kožená, Sophie Koch, Karita Mattila, Diana Damrau and ..... Martha Argerich! She duets with the under-appreciated Nelson Goerner.
The orchestral programming comes courtesy of expensive imports like the Montreal and Philadelphia orchestras as well as native bands, and seems directed more at getting bums on seats than expanding horizons. The most interesting-looking evening is from Jonathan Nott, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra with Messiaen's Chronochromie, Sept Haïkaï and Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin (complete ballet).
Anyone needing a refuge from full-on Festival going will appreciate Godfrey Reggio's contemplative Qatsi film trilogy, presented here with a live score from the Philip Glass Ensemble, featuring Philip Glass on keyboards making his Festival debut.