Poll: Verdi operas

We have just one of the ‘big six’ Wagner operas left to watch in our DVD series (Parsifal remains). These six followed screenings of the four operas of the Ring cycle, so we’ve certainly done Dicky proud.

Getting together for these opera nights has proved to be a highly successful idea. Now, it’s time to move on to other composers. I guess the two most obvious to follow Wagner with are Verdi and Mozart, so shall we think about moving on to Giuseppe Verdi for our next batch? Deciding which operas to watch was very easy when it came to Wagner, since the candidates for the ‘big six’ list were obvious, but it isn’t quite as easy with Verdi. That’s why this poll is here. I’ve listed (in chronological order of composition) all but the most obscure and least seldom performed of his operatic output, and I’m suggesting that anybody interested in the idea of a series of Verdi Nights should choose six operas from the poll list. The poll is set to close at 8.00 pm on Friday 15th May, at which point we’ll see which ones come out on top. Perhaps the process will produce a consensus of which operas we watch.

Over to you guys!

Later note: Following feedback from Bernard, I’ve changed the display style for the poll. I’ve contacted polldaddy.com, who provide the technology behind these polls, pointing out that it’s impossible to read white lettering against a white background. I’ll remember in future not to use the style I originally chose for this one.

Ebène Quartet video

When the Quatuor Ebène was signed to Virgin Classics in early 2008. Alain Lanceron, the label’s President, said: “The Quatuor Ebène is the embodiment of the modern string quartet. The extraordinary way its members craft their sonority, their re-examination of quartet masterpieces, their readiness to engage with music beyond the traditional repertoire, their innovative and creative approach: all these factors have led us to invite them to add their lustre to Virgin Classics’ roster of artists. We welcome them with enthusiasm – the same kind of enthusiasm they bring to everything they do.”

Formed in France in 1999, the Quatuor Ebène took its name from ebony, the precious and exotic wood used in instrument-making. The award-winning ensemble has since achieved an enviable international reputation for refined, dynamic musicianship, minutely responsive teamwork, an adventurous spirit and even a taste for improvisation. The Quartet’s repertoire ranges from Haydn and Mozart, cornerstones of the Classical repertoire, through the 19th and 20th centuries to contemporary composers and jazz.

The Quatuor Ebène’s debut recording on Virgin Classics brings together the string quartets of the three emblematic French composers of the late 19th and early 20tb centuries: Fauré, Debussy and Ravel. The Debussy and Ravel quartets represent a traditional pairing in the catalogue, but they have rarely been coupled with the Fauré, his final work, composed in his late seventies. As it happens, Ravel dedicated his own quartet to Fauré, who was his teacher.

Gramophone Magazine Editor’s Choice December 2008
BBC Radio 3 ‘Building a Library’: 1st Choice, March 2009
BBC Music Magazine Awards 2009: Newcomer of the Year

The reviews, the general critical acclaim, the awards — all of that immediately attracted me to this recording of string quartets by Ravel, Debussy and Fauré. Watching this 16-minute video was the final icing on the cake which made me do what’s now a very rare thing and order a physical CD. It’s coming from Presto Classical, which is where the blurb and the video come from. I’m looking forward to its arrival.

Let’s have a Theme Day!

I’ve taken the liberty of noting on the web schedule that there’ll be a theme for the session in my place on 13th June. ‘And what’, I hear you ask, ‘will the theme be?’ Aha! Glad you asked. The theme will be Myth, Magic, Mystery.

We don’t have as many themed sessions as we used to, so let’s give this a whirl. You’ve all got lots of notice, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with something appropriate. Over to you.