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Portrait of War

Manchester Camerata

RNCM Concert Hall, 10 March 2012

Manchester Camerata with Music Director, Gábor Takács-Nagy.  Photo credit: Jonathan Keenan

Manchester Camerata with Music Director, Gábor Takács-Nagy. Photo credit: Jonathan Keenan

The second half of this fine concert was wholly given over to Richard Strauss’s epic Metamorphosen, a requiem to the ravages wrought by the Second World War.

Surely change does not necessarily imply destruction, diminishment and elfin despair.  But for this composer, in this work, it is inevitably so.  And as you listen, Strauss makes you believe it too, such is the force of his vision.

Before Metamorphosen there were three other works, each related yet unlike.  Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin was a kind of happy remembrance, a celebration of friends fallen in war.  The composer is clear that they will live on, in memory and in the music, in lives they’ve touched, not least his own.  There was a new work, Look Me in the Eyes by Aaron Parker, and that too – like the Ravel – turned on an emphatic connection.  Empathy: the impossibility of being simply one person.

Quite my favourite work of the evening was Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.21, which was a thing of wonder, a composition of complex colours.  Man, can Kathryn Stott play the piano: a timely reminder that she’s playing again on Monday 19 March.  This concert, too, will be performed again in a few days, in Leeds this coming Saturday.

Look out also for Manchester Camerata’s forthcoming concert, Portrait Of Faith, at Manchester Cathedral on 4 April (details here).

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