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
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.
Copyright © 18 September 2006
Robert Anderson, London UK