In this week's programme Petroc Trelawny talks to harpsichordist-turned-conductor Christophe Rousset about playing Baroque music the French way, and the secrets behind the success of his group Les Talens Lyriques.
Petroc also explores the viola, taking as a starting point a new biography of Lionel Tertis by John White, and looks at Britten's 'forgotten opera', Owen Wingrave, conceived originally for television but about to hit the stage of the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House.
In this programme
Benjamin Britten's television opera, Owen Wingrave, received its world premiere on BBC2 in 1971. That first broadcast was watched by a quarter of a million people, but the opera has since been produced again for Channel 4 television, and in a number of stage versions. Petroc Trelawny talks about Britten's adaptation of this Henry James short story with David Matthews, who has prepared a new chamber version of the score for the Royal Opera House, the co-director of the original tv production, Brian Large, and the author of a study of television opera, Jennifer Barnes. With archive recordings of Benjamin Britten himself, and co-director Colin Graham.
Owen Wingrave opens at the Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre on 23rd April and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Afternoon on 3 on 7th June.
The French harpsichordist and conductor Christophe Rousset worked with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants before founding his own ensemble in 1991. With Les Talens Lyriques, he has staged operas by composers from Monteverdi to Mozart, Lully to Cimarosa. However, his first and continuing passion is for the harpsichord. In conversation with Petroc, he explains his approach to promoting this instrument for modern audiences. He also reflects on the friendly rivalry to find undiscovered works on the competitive early music scene.
In his long lifetime, Lionel Tertis (1876-1975) became Britain's first viola virtuoso, trailblazing a change in attitude towards an instrument formerly perceived as the Cinderella of the string family and the ugly duckling of the orchestra. He not only developed new techniques for performing on the instrument, but his playing inspired leading composers to write works for him and he even designed his own 'Tertis Model viola'. His biographer, John White, explains Tertis' achievements, alongside archive of Tertis himself in an interview from 1962.
Tertis' legacy has led to his being described as the father of modern viola playing. Composer and former violist Sally Beamish, co-principal viola at the LSO, Paul Silverthorne, and solo violist Lawrence Power, explain why the viola should no longer be the butt of so many jokes.
John White: Lionel Tertis - The First Great Virtuoso of the Viola. Pub. Boydell and Brewer. h/b £25.