Opera and classical concerts to watch at home: our critics' picks – week seven

Our critics pick a daily highlight from the treasure trove of online music to help get you through lockdown. This week we bring you slo-mo Pärt, a glorious Figaro and Beethoven’s tenth - yes really

Le Nozze di Figaro (Garsington Opera at Wormsley)

Filmed in 2017, John Cox’s Garsington Opera production of Mozart’s Figaro is a superb example of traditional period staging at its best: intelligent without resorting to weighty glosses and marvellous in both its sharpness of social and psychological observation and its subtlety of detail. It’s beautifully sung and acted by a finely integrated ensemble cast that pits Joshua Bloom’s thoughtful Figaro and Jennifer France’s spirited Susanna against Duncan Rock’s dangerously attractive Count. Kirsten MacKinnon is his put-upon Countess, troubled yet tellingly delighted by the attentions of Marta Fontanals-Simmons’s Cherubino, and there are wonderful performances from Janis Kelly, rarely bettered as Marcellina, and Timothy Robinson’s unctuous Basilio. Every second is a real treat. Tim Ashley

Garsington Opera’s production of Mozart’s Figaro

Beethoven/Henry – Tenth symphony

The pandemic may have interrupted his 250th, but even under lockdown Beethoven is everywhere. You’ll never hear his symphonies in the same way again, though, once you’ve heard musique concrète trailblazer Pierre Henry’s eight-movement Tenth Symphony, spliced together – originally on tape loops – from Beethoven’s own nine. The superb 2019 world premiere of its orchestral version by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France is now available on-demand online and is a musical riot (at times almost literally). Three conductors marshal their forces through complex rhythmic layers, endings that are absurdly drawn out or appear at the wrong time and famous tunes that emerge rudely from unfamiliar surroundings only to become newly, shockingly beautiful. Flora Willson

Adam’s Passion (Arvo Pärt)

Filmed in a former submarine factory … Adam’s Passion by composer Arvo Pärt and director Robert Wilson
Filmed in a former submarine factory … Adam’s Passion by composer Arvo Pärt and director Robert Wilson Photograph: http://www.robertwilson.com/

This slo-mo collaboration between director Robert Wilson and composer Arvo Pärt, premiered in 2015 and filmed in a former submarine factory, might have been designed for our slo-mo existence. A naked man inches slowly towards a small piece of foliage which, after about half an hour, he places on his head. Picture an Antony Gormley figure brought to life, moving almost imperceptibly. Other figures glide in and out, poetically and mysteriously. All this is very beautiful, in a Wilson-esque fashion which may madden, but the unmissable treat is Pärt’s haunting music: Adam’s Lament, Miserere, Tabula Rasa and Sequentia, conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste and performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. Starring dancers Michalis Theophanous and Lucinda Childs. (Available on Marquee TV, currently offering 14 days free plus 30% off a year’s subscription.) Fiona Maddocks

Glenn Gould: Beethoven and Bach

Thirty-eight years since the death of the pianist Glenn Gould, it sometimes seems that his idiosyncrasies risk being more noted than his musicianship. That was legendary. Gould was also a great talker – his conversations with Humphrey Burton are particularly revealing – and, in this Beethoven centenary year, his brief introduction to the performance of the D minor Sonata Op 31 No 2 is a good example of his erudite yet almost nonchalant style. It was apparently a boyhood accident that required Gould to sit on a low chair, now an exhibit in Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. These recordings show how that sitting position influenced his technique, in tandem with his fingers’ way of “pulling down” the keys rather than striking them, learned from his teacher Antonio Garcia Guerrero. The Beethoven interpretation won’t be to everyone’s taste, but Gould’s characteristic clarity of line in Bach’s Sixth Partita in E minor is exceptional. Rian Evans

María de Buenos Aires (Opéra National du Rhin)

Cabaret-cum-dance … Opéra National du Rhin’s María de Buenos Aires.

Astor Piazzolla’s fierce, unclassifiable “tango operita” becomes a cabaret-cum-dance piece in Argentinian choreographer Matias Tripodi’s mesmerising 2019 Strasbourg production. Using minimum props and the barest of stages, Tripodi jettisons some of the ornate symbolism with which Piazzolla and writer Horacio Ferrer saddle their heroine, in favour of a clear-minded approach to narrative and emotion in an interpretation that makes up in eroticism for what it sometimes lacks in genuine streetwise grit. The dancers of the Ballet de l’Opéra National du Rhin are very much the stars here, though Ana Karina Rossi sings María’s numbers with just the right mix of bravado and vulnerability as her life, death and eventual resurrection are observed by Alejandro Guyot’s empathetic Duende and Stefan Sbonnik’s more detached Singer. There’s some tremendous bandoneon playing from Carmela Delgado, too. Tim Ashley

Contributors

Tim Ashley, Rian Evans, Flora Willson and Fiona Maddocks

The GuardianTramp

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