The last entry of Max Mandel’s tour diary from Brussels and Cologne on the Bach Christmas Oratorio tour.Read More
Our co-principal Violist Max Mandel blogs from Rotterdam on the Bach Christmas Oratorio tour. A blow by blow account of the 1st 24 hours:
We’ve already had a week of rehearsals and concerts of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio so it doesn’t feel like the usual beginning of a tour where you’re not sure how it’s going to go. Instead we feel like quite a close group already, in part thanks to Maestro Masaaki Suzuki’s generous spirit. He’s the kind of director who is very insistent on what he wants from the music but the way he gets after it never feels like nagging. His humility and endless enthusiasm for the music has made the project a joy for everyone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group so eager to get on a plane first thing in the morning.Read More
Bach’s joyous and exuberant Christmas Oratorio, a stalwart of the festive season.Read More
Here are some reviews from our recent tour of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio:
The Guardian on 10 December concert at St. George’s Bristol
Bristol Evening Post on 10 December concert at St. George’s Bristol
Classical Source on 12 December concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall
Classical Music Blog from Robert Hugill on 12 December concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall
If you were at one of our performances in London, Southampton, Bristol or Southwell, let us know what you thought!Read More
John Butt is currently with us conducting our tour of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio which has its last performance tonight, in Southwell. We put our speed interview questions to him:
What/when was your big breakthrough?
Well, I’ve had some fortunate opportunities in several aspects of my career, but I suppose as a conductor, the most significant was the first recording I did with the Dunedin Consort (Messiah in its Dublin version, 2006), which got a couple of major awards.
What do you fear the most?
In terms of performing, about which I tend to be quite intensive, it’s probably about having a complete energy block. This does happen often in everyday life (owing to an underlying condition) but never, so far, in performing or rehearsing. I suppose, in general, I fear most a decline in physical and mental abilities.
Which mobile number do you call the most?
My wife, Sally’s, by a long way – she’s very fond of the phone.
What – or where – is perfection?
Difficult one – I tend to think of it as an infinite process rather than as something that’s ever achieved. Bach’s attitude to composition is an obvious example of this – I’m sure that if he were still alive he’d still be working on the same pieces. And, if perfection ever seems to be achieved, isn’t it often a little dull? Performing with period instruments is an excellent case in point: you give up some of the perfections of what some might see as technical ‘progress’ (in terms of both instruments and the playing techniques), but gain other types of perfection in terms of tone, intonation, articulation (and, not least, the enquiring attitude of the performer). With older types of tuning you get some intervals that are acoustically close to perfect, but others that definitely aren’t, and these often have expressive connotations – thereby heading in the direction of yet another type of perfection…