Sunday, March 25, 2012

Roger Daltrey performs The Who's 'Tommy' at the Auditorium Conciliazione

Roger Daltrey performing on stage in Rome - 23 March 2012

The Who's legendary front man Roger Daltrey was in Rome last week to perform the band's rock opera masterpiece Tommy. On arriving at the Auditorium Conciliazione on Friday evening to see the second of his two Roman tour dates it was already clear from the buzz of excitement in the foyer that this was going to be more than a mere concert - this was an event – with fans of all ages posing for souvenir photographs in front of the advertising billboards. After all, this was one of those “you had to be there” opportunities to hear The Who's 1969 album played live in its entirety, and sung by Roger Daltrey.

As the lights dimmed and Daltrey appeared on stage to thunderous whoops and cheers, and the opening notes of the Tommy Overture began, it became instantly clear that he had brought a stunningly good backing band with him (including Simon Townshend on guitars, looking and sounding remarkably like his older brother Pete). Moving swiftly on through the original recording with no banter - It's A Boy, 1921, Amazing Journey – it was also clear that Daltrey, who has been beset with throat problems in recent years, was in fine voice. Effortlessly charismatic and with his trademark microphone swirls, double tambourines and poses, he was clearly enjoying himself, whilst the enthralled audience was noisily appreciative - Pinball Wizard raised the roof - but curiously remained sitting, as if in respectful reverence throughout the whole Tommy performance, until very suddenly as the “Listening to you” chorus of the final track We're Not Gonna Take It began, the audience got to its feet and there was a rush, en masse, to the stage for Tommy's exhilarating finale.

Cue the second half of the concert, where freed from the discipline of the Tommy presentation, Daltrey now chatted and joked between songs during an amazing set of Who classics. Opening with I Can See for Miles, what followed was a eminently satisfying mix of both early songs - The Kids Are Alright, Pictures of Lily, a bluesy My Generation - and later rock anthems, with blisteringly good performances of Who Are You, Baba O'Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, which had most of the audience singing along, as well as The Who's frequent live cover version of Mose Allison's Young Man Blues.

To send us on our way from the concert two songs closed this unforgettable evening - Without Your Love from the soundtrack of the film McVicar, and Blue, Red and Grey, on which Daltrey played the ukulele.

Absolutely unmissable!

Full band:
Frank Simes (guitar)
Scott Deavours (drums)
Jon Button (bass)
Loren Gold (keyboard)
Simon Townshend (guitar)

Full setlist:
It's A Boy
Amazing Journey
Eyesight To The Blind
Cousin Kevin
The Acid Queen
Do You Think It's Alright?
Fiddle About
Pinball Wizard
There's A Doctor
Go To The Mirror
Tommy Can You Hear Me?
Smash The Mirror
I'm Free
Miracle Cure
Sally Simpson
Tommy's Holiday Camp
We're Not Gonna Take It
I Can See For Miles
The Kids Are All Right
Behind Blue Eyes
The Way It Is (solo by Simon Townshend)
Pictures Of Lily
Who Are You?
My Generation
Young Man Blues
Baba O'Riley
Without Your Love
Red Blue And Grey

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

John Banville in Conversation at Rome Literary Festival

Ranieri Polese and John Banville at Libri Come book festival
Award-winning Irish author John Banville joined Ranieri Polese on stage in Teatro Studio at the Auditorium Parco della Musica on Sunday morning for a literary discussion entitled “How I write my books” presented as part of the annual Rome literature festival Libri come: Festa del Libro e della Lettura. Now in its third year, the four-day book festival has become a hugely popular event in the Roman cultural calendar with a varied selection of lectures, discussions, book presentations, and writing workshops, as well as encounters with important international authors.

I first fell in love with John Banville's writing when I read The Book of Evidence some twenty years ago, so was excited to see his name on this year's programme. It was a huge delight to discover that in person John Banville is warm, witty and disarmingly down-to-earth. Ranieri Polese conducted an informal and intimate conversation, leaving Banville - clearly a born raconteur - plenty of space to ragale the small but attentive audience with anecdote after anecdote.

I confess that whilst I know and love the novels of John Banville I'm not at all familiar with the work of his crime fiction writing alter ego Benjamin Black, who writes a series of thrillers set in 1950s Ireland centred around pathologist Quirke. With the fifth episode A Death in Summer recently published in Italian (incidentally in Italy this series is issued under his own name, rather than his pseudonym) the talk began with a discussion about the very different writing techniques of Banville and Black – the slow and painstaking process of the former, and the fast, spontaneous writing of the latter – and how he tries to keep them totally separate, admitting that sometimes one of the two will “peer over his shoulder” and try to influence him when he is writing as the other. Talking about the 1950s Ireland where the crime books are set, he spoke forcefully about the oppressive and abusive power of the Catholic church in those times, words which could not help but resonate amongst a Roman audience.

A lesser known side to John Banville is that of his work as screenwriter and a great deal of the conversation was dedicated to cinema talk. Banville clearly loves cinema and his enthusiasm for not only the movies, but also movie stars was refreshingly honest – there was no faux nonchalance here, and instead he acknowledged the special place film stars and celebrities have as modern day “gods”. At the same time, however, he was under absolutely no illusions as to what happens to a script once Hollywood gets its hands on it – total rewrites are, it seems, par for the course. He recently co-wrote the movie Albert Nobbs with Glenn Close: “Glenn likes to tell people she wrote it – which is fine by me!” he joked.

Sadly the talk was over way too soon – I could have listened to John Banville talk for hours! The end of the discussion was met with warm applause, with the author signing copies of his books for several admirers who approached the stage.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Vadim Repin and the Philharmonia Orchestra | Auditorium Parco della Musica | 10 March 2012

The Philharmonia, one of the UK's most important and critically respected orchestras, was in Rome on Saturday evening, to perform a program dedicated entirely to the 19th century German Romantics, at a special gala performance in the Santa Cecilia Hall at the Auditorium Parco della Musica. Under the direction of guest conductor Antonio Puccio the Philharmonia was joined for the occasion by an outstanding soloist – Russian-born violin virtuoso Vadim Repin.

The concert got off to a rousing and enjoyable start with Beethoven's Coriolan Overture, before the charismatic Vadim Repin – all twinkling eyes and smiles - strolled on stage and greeted his fellow musicians, conductor and audience. Repin's reputation rests not only only his technical brilliance, but also his passionate musicality and style, and this performance of Max Bruch's perennially popular Violin Concerto No. 1 was the perfect illustration of why he's considered one of the world's greatest living violinists – the sounds he drew from his Guarneri del Gesù 1743 Bonjour violin were achingly beautiful; I was enthralled.

Repin was cheered back on stage for a show-stealing encore – accompanied by the orchestral strings playing pizzicato, he performed a series of variations on Paganini's Carnival of Venice, a dazzling showcase of every virtuoso trick in the book, yet played with warmth and humour. An unmissable performance!

The concert was rounded out with a dramatic and hugely enjoyable performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 4, which saw both the Philharmonia Orchestra and energetic conductor Puccio enthusiastically applauded at its close, cheers which were rewarded with a further generous encore - an exhilarating rendition of Beethoven's Egmont Overture op. 84. A wonderful evening!

Full Programme:
Coriolan Overture
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
Carnival of Venice 
Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Egmont Overture op. 84

Sponsored by Q8 to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary, part of the proceeds of the event were donated to the Francisville charity project in Haiti run by Fondazione Francesca Rava – N.P.H. Italia.

András Schiff – Bach Project | Auditorium Parco della Musica | 9 March 2012

András Schiff, the Hungarian-born classical pianist and world-renowned Bach interpreter, was back in Rome at the Auditorium Parco della Musica on Friday evening for the third and final recital in a recent series of concerts dedicated to the Baroque composer presented as The Bach Project.

There was very little showmanship when András Schiff walked out onto the stage in the Santa Cecilia Hall – standing almost discreetly beside the piano for a brief bow, he then sat quickly at the keyboard, and without further ado, started to play. It was then that the magic began. Schiff is without doubt an enthralling Bach performer of exquisite elegant – I've never listened so keenly to the left hand part during any piano recital. And what an extraordinarily generous performer – after a tour de force of focus and stamina, in which he played not only the entire French Suites, but also the Overture in the French style, thundering applause from the audience at the concert's close brought him back on stage for an encore. Sounding as fresh and spontaneous as if he had just begun the recital, Schiff then proceeded to play the Italian Concerto, taking everyone by delighted surprise when he hushed initial applause at the end of the first movement and played the concerto in its entirety. Outstanding!

Full programme:
The Six French Suites, BWV 812-817
Overture in the French style, BWV 831
The Italian Concerto, BWV 971

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...