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Music Matters

10 April 2005

Sunday 10 April 2005 17:45-18:30 (Radio 3)

Tom Service talks to director Peter Sellars, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and video artist Bill Viola about their extraordinary new production of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde which opens in Paris this week, promising to deliver fresh insight into Wagner's operatic masterpiece.

In the UK, a new play Tristan and Yseult opens at the National Theatre and Music Matters calls on psychologists and philosophers to explain why the Tristan myth has endured so strongly since the middle ages - and is still relevant today. And leading musicians talk about their make-or-break career decisions.


45 minutes

In this programme

 Tristan and IsoldeThe Tristan &Yseult Myth
One of the earliest romantic myths in western literature, Tristan and Yseult tells the story of doomed adulterous lovers. Their illicit passion transcends every social convention and is a powerful source for the human obsession with romantic love. Originating in Cornwall, the story has been told through music from the 12th century Balladeers to Wagner's notorious opera. Christopher Page explains the mediaeval origins of the Tristan saga.

Tom with Bill ViolaTristan & Isolde
Perhaps the greatest love story ever told, and set to the music of Wagner, Tristan Und Isolde is an opera of passion and tragedy. The Opera Bastille in Paris is about to stage one of the most enticing operatic collaborations in recent seasons: a new production of the opera. Conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, directed by Peter Sellars and set against the designs of video artist Bill Viola. The story has been brought up to date through this multi media production. Tom met all of the collaborators in Paris and asked them to explain their vision.

Tristan Und Isolde opens on 12th April at Opera Bastille. 

Dame Janet BakerEstablishing a Career
Forging a career in music is far from a formulaic process, presenting the young artist with endless decisions and challenges: there is no guarantee of success. The difficulties inherent in establishing a career in music are fully recognised by those who have survived the pitfalls. The legendary mezzo Dame Janet Baker, violinist Vadim Repin, tenor James Gilchrist, cellist Bernard Greenhouse and pianist Helene Grimaud talk about their own experiences.

Brett DeanBrett Dean
Australian composer and viola player Brett Dean joined the Berlin Philharmonic in his early 20s. Fifteen years later he left the orchestra and returned to Australia in order to devote himself to composition. Now he's about to combine the two disciplines in a performance of his new viola concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London this week. Tom asked Brett how he'd found the strength to give up one of the most coveted viola jobs in the world for the even riskier business of composition.

You can hear Brett Dean's new viola concerto in Performance on 3 here on BBC Radio 3 on 11th May, and live at the Barbican on the 15th April.

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