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'People don't like to be embarassed, and Menotti's music can open up subjects that we don't feel comfortable about. Some find this schmalzy, but he is a theatrical man to his fingertips'. But isn't this also to do with the composer and his music versus the critics? 'Yes it is, but some of the barriers are being broken down because of the recordings. Since The Consul records it was staged, as a direct result of The Intendant coming, in Washington, the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, in Helsinki, and Vienna at the Volksoper. I don't believe this would have happened if we hadn't revived it in Spoleto. It will be interesting to see if this happens with The Saint '.

I found his Violin Concerto very impressive. 'Me too, especially the first movement. A very lyrical piece, and I think that Jenifer Koh made a very good case for it.'

Hickox, with his very wide range of repertoire has come a long way since he was in charge of the London Symphony Chorus. 'The repertoire is my choice, and as successor to Arthur Oldham the training I received was invaluable. Working over ten years, first hand with Abbado, Previn, Sir Colin Davis -- who was particularly kind -- Celibidache. With these names regularly, you learn rather a lot!'

'Celibidache drove me mad. The first rehearsal of Fauré's Requiem was the most interesting thing I'd been to all my life, and his knowledge of the music was fantastic. But it seemed to me that he hadn't the slightest idea how to perform the work, only rehearse it. It became slower and slower, and my chorus flatter and flatter because they couldn't breathe it. In the end we had spent a week on a work which normally takes two or three days, and the result was disappointing. We also did the Brahms Requiem with him. I know there was a division of opinion -- some orchestral members would give up everything to play for him, while others deliberately took their holiday when he came '.

This writer disagrees. I have a CD of the Fauré performance from April 1982 with soloists Marie McLaughlin and Gwynne Howell (Exclusive EX92T52) which compares to the very moving account of the BBC Radio 3 broadcast. Replaying it, slight flattening of pitch occurs during the Offertoire following the baritone solo, where chorus high notes have minimum instrumental support lower down. Overall timing (41 minutes) is roughly three to five minutes slower than the norm, but apart from occasional broadenings of pace in quieter, modulatory passages, the basic tempo is remarkably even.

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Copyright © 10 January 2002 Bill Newman, Edgware, Middlesex, UK







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