Sir Simon Rattle. Photo: Opera Today

If Simon Rattle can achieve such excellence in the cramped confines of the
Barbican Hall, imagine how Britain’s cultural life would be transformed if
a world class concert hall with state of the art facilities were built. The
arts are central to the nation’s economy and prestige. Britain cannot
afford to slip.

As Rattle has said, the London Symphony Orchestra have the potential to do
a lot more repertoire, given the chance. Berlioz The Damnation of Faust is
an extravagant work. The stage was crowded with performers, and the volume
projected into the shoebox that is the Barbican Hall threatened at times to
overwhelm. On the BBC Radio 3 re broadcast and on the sound balance
might be better, but the live experience was intoxicating, despite the
acoustic. Wisely, Rattle held his forces back, emphasizing instead the
intricate orchestration and textures that make this piece so exciting. It
is a sprawling drama, whose theatrical effects are embedded in the music.
In Berlioz’s time audiences didn’t need literal realism. They paid
attention to the music. This performance was so vivid that the Barbican
Hall seemed transformed as if by magic, as Berlioz’s music came alive.

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Source: Opera Today