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23 June 2007

Saturday 23 June 2007 12:15-13:00 (Radio 3)

Tom Service talks to early music virtuoso Jordi Savall, focuses on the Glyndebourne Opera House as they stage Katie Mitchell's dramatic vision of Bach's St Matthew Passion, and explores the dangers of being a practising musician.


45 minutes

In this programme

Bach St. Matthew Passion    
J.S Bach
The opera house at Glyndebourne is this summer's backdrop for Katie Mitchell's staging of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. The St. Matthew Passion was composed as a liturgical work 250 years ago, but this production brings a sacred work to a secular setting. Enthralled by Bach's music, the director Katie Mitchell has been inspired to realise the subtle imagery brought to mind when she hears the Passion. Tom went along to rehearsals at Glyndebourne to talk with Katie about her response to the St. Matthew Passion, and to the General Director of Glyndebourne, David Pickard, about why he's programmed the work this season. The tenor Mark Padmore, who sings the role of the Evangelist, and the conductor Richard Egarr explain their involvement and illustrate with music performed specially for the programme.
The St. Matthew Passion is at Glyndebourne 1st July - 26th August.

Jordi Savall
Jordi SavallPerforming on the soundtrack to Tous Les Matins du Monde for the character played by Gerard Depardieu helped Jordi Savall to define the sensual sound of the viola da gamba internationally. Spanish-born Savall is renowned not only for his solo playing, but also for the group he founded in 1974, Hesperion XX - now Hesperion XXI. Their repertoire incorporates 700 years of music and it is Savall's passion for music as music, rather than pigeon-holed as 'early music' which brings a unique vibrance to their concert performances. At the centre of his musical life is Savall's instrument, the viola da gamba, and he explains to Tom why this is the driving force.
Jordi Savall will be performing at this summer's Edinburgh Festival.

Tension in Performance
Focal Distonia suffererFew musical instruments require a natural posture to play, and the stress of performing in public can create all sorts of tensions which can ultimately cripple the performer. These psychological and physical difficulties and treatments for them were the subject of a recent conference in London. ISSTIP, or the International Society for Study of Tension in Performance, brought together a team of eminent medical specialists, musicians, actors, psychologists and complementary medicine therapists to consider a variety of conditions. The director, Carola Grindea, has developed her own holistic technique for rescuing the careers of suffering concert soloists and her deceptively simple methods have the scientific backing of the world's leading microsurgeon, Professor Earl Owen. To find out exactly how the Grindea technique works, Tom becomes the guinea-pig as his pianistic technique is scrutinised in the studio.

Julian Joseph
Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata was premiered in Vienna in1803 by the black violinist George Bridgetower with Beethoven at the piano. In fact, Beethoven loved Bridgetower's playing and had promised to dedicate the Sonata to him, until they had a falling out over a woman following a drunken night out after the performance. Bridgetower eventually returned to England and died in obscurity in Peckham in 1860. However, during his lifetime, he had been a celebrated violinist and composer who had been taught by Haydn and had become one of the Prince of Wales' favourite musicians. His story is the subject of a new opera composed by the jazz pianist Julian Joseph. Tom went over to Peckham to visit the area where Bridgetower spent his last years and to ask Julian Joseph and the director of the opera, Helen Eastman, about this violinist's remarkable life.
Bridgetower: A Fable of 1807 - 5th-7th July at The City of London Festival.

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