Friday, 17 July 2009

Festival finale

Although the Cheltenham Music Festival doesn't end till tomorrow night, I've been to my last event now - a performance by the Australian String Quartet this morning: they put across their compatriot, Peter Sculthorpe's Quartet no 8 well - an interesting piece - but overall did not appear quite to be in the medal category from where I was sitting. The competition has however been fierce in Cheltenham, these last 14 days. Perhaps they were a bit handicapped by playing with a guest cellist.

Last night there were a couple of hiccoughs at the end of Christianne Stotijn's recital, with Julius Drake, but overall that was definitely a medal performance: this 31-year-old mezzo certainly deserves to be going places: the opera stage, I'd hope, with a voice so full of drama and power to colour the phrases. "Das Mädchen fing zu weinen an," she sang in Mahler's celebrated Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen - and we could have wept too I guess, at that and also at other moments during the evening. Great stuff, and great too to be reminded of how difficult it is to sustain a recital of this intensity by the young singer's reluctantly-admitted frailty.

So, a big thank you to Meurig Bowen and to all those who have been responsible for providing us with such a musical feast during this year's Festival!

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