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Bampton's delightful venue was adorned with a raised stage that presented an ingenious all-purpose set, a bright red ornamented frontage with windows and doors, which became a street, the house of the Syracusian Euphemio, and the Duke's court. The orchestra on the side suffered some inaudibility, but enough was detected to enjoy the colourful wind writing, which was influenced by Mozart's example.

Whilst Storace cannot match Mozart in expressive depth and complexity, his dramatic pacing equals any of his contemporaries. Attractive melodic writing and scoring, and the adept ensembles show both Viennese classical charm and the inflection of English and Scottish folk-song characteristic of his many ballad operas. The use of woodwinds is Mozartian, yet in general Storace's structures are simpler in harmonic and thematic development, revealing some weaknesses expected of a lesser talent alongside Mozart. Storace does provide appealing textures and buoyant rhythms, spiced with occasional surprises. Especially effective is the overture with its vivid depiction of a storm that shipwrecks the Syracusians Euphemio and his servant Dromio in Ephesus, and Storace's evocations of thunder and lightning reminiscent of Idomeneo.

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Copyright © 20 August 2000 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




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