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Satisfying the Quest

'The Nightingale and the Rose' by Oliver Rudland,
appreciated by ROBERT ANDERSON


Attendance at a new opera is usually a protracted exercise in sado-masochism, so I responded with weary reluctance to the offer of a Royal College of Music ticket to a première concert performance on 6 July 2006. I did not even know the title of the work when I arrived at the College, though the Oscar Wilde story on which it is based has long been on my shelves. The programme made clear at once what a triumph of organisation lay behind the occasion, and the gradual procession of players on to the platform at once raised the question whether a 22-year-old composer still at the College could possibly handle such forces convincingly. The answer was a resounding 'yes'.

Andrew Padmore (left) and Oliver Rudland at the Royal College of Music. Photo © 2006 Keith Nisbet
Andrew Padmore (left) and Oliver Rudland at the Royal College of Music. Photo © 2006 Keith Nisbet

Oliver Rudland is a student of Joseph Horovitz, but already two years ago the Cheltenham Festival commissioned a violin sonata from him. If this was a first attempt at opera, another is fermenting in his mind and I for one would anticipate its performance with interest and fascination. Schoenberg as pied piper leading so many an unmerry dance into obscurity has meant nothing to him, and for all I know Darmstadt may signify for him only one of the towns suggesting themselves enthusiastically to Wagner as an alternative to the Bayreuth he was unaccountably favouring somewhere in the back of beyond. If Rudland's main musical mentors have been Bach, Wagner and Debussy, rival mastersingers made the essential point some time ago when Walther von Stolzing claimed Walther von Volgelweide as his teacher. 'A worthy master!', said Sachs; 'And long since dead', replied the carping Beckmesser. And of course Stolzing wins the bride.

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Copyright © 18 September 2006 Robert Anderson, London UK


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