Saturday, March 6, 2010

In Memoriam: Philip Langridge

I heard this terrible news last night and my immediate reaction was one of horror and utter disbelief. I have always been a fan of this great man and artist and his amazing artistry - all the way down to his marrow. I join others in thoughts of sympathy and prayers for his beautiful wife and their family and friends at this time of great loss.

I had pretty much grown up with Vickers and Pears as "Peter Grimes" and was therefore unprepared for the almost entirely different perspectives - both musically and dramatically - that Mr. Langridge brought to the role. The characters he created onstage were always so actorly and believable in a way that is all too rare in the world ofoera. I'd always felt a sympathy for Grimes, but Langridge tore my heart out with his portrayal.

Loge, Vere, Aschenbach, Idomeneo, Laca, Tito, Paris ("King Priam) and countless other roles became vivid theatrical creatures through his work - coming through powerfully even sometimes only through recorded sound (which was how I first encountered him). Concert and oratorio work, lieder, baroque, classical, contemporary - the man did it all - and did it all brilliantly. With his passing, a major light has gone out in the world of music. He will be missed.

Thank you Mr. Langridge for bringing so much of the joy of music to the world. May your loved ones be comforted in the knowledge of how well loved you were the world over, and may you, good sir, rest in peace.

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Attila & The Nose@ The Met

In less than 24 hours The Met has had two of the season's most exciting broadcasts on Sirius and I, for one, am one deliriously happy man!

Last night I was glued to Shostakovich's "The Nose" - so much so I was two hours late to a party - I didn't care! I'm surprised that an eighty-plus year old work would still meet with "it's too modern" or it's "all wrong notes" type of comments - and that seemingly most or all of the few comments I've so far read have been so negative (though I shouldn't be surprised by that at all).

I found the entire affair - even just over the radio - to be absolutely mesmerizing; a a glorious romp of sound with contrasts of darkness and light that overlapped perpetually in a manner that grabbed on and never let go.

Friends who attended said it was a major event and a "must be seen" live experience. I would gladly have given up half of this years HD transmissions to have had "The Nose" and "From the House of the Dead" on the HD roster. Hopefully one of the companies sharing the production will have it telecast and become available on DVD. Even if it doesn't, I'll cherish and smile at the memories of this score so beautifully - and entertainingly played over the airwaves last night.

The follow up of the Attila of Verdi this afternoon makes it al - to me at least - all the more sensational. The already typically amazing Met band sounded - from the very opening notes of the prelude to the prologue - breathtaking - amazing. The richness of the string sound was particularly lovely.

I feared what might happen when Ms. Urmana was announced as suffering from and struggling through a cold. I was not prepared for the way she hurled her voice out in "Santo di Patria" - it wasn't necessarily "pretty" singing, but it thrilled me right to the core. Later in her Act I aria she nailed a perfectly executed trill and through in a pianissimi that Caballe would have been proud of!

Vargas sounded a bit frantic - but in a good, slightly unhinged way that is not typical of him. He seemed to be - like everyone else - caught up in the fervor and the fever of it all. Even the intermission features today seemed of a higher level, with nice interviews and blurbs from Messrs. Muti, Abdrazakov and Ramey (with some nice clips of Ramey's Met debut in Rinaldo).

I read what seems to be perpetual criticism of Mr. Gelb and The Met - but too little praise for the things that go right. Last night and today show him and
his company doing things very, very right. Two so very different, contrasting works of different eras masterfully performed. Bravi!

The sun is shining bright and the past two days my home has been filled with glorious sounds orchestral and vocal from The Met. What a wonderful world this can be when we let it!

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