Haydn’s music spoke louder than the script

John Bell, as Haydn, proper, with the Australian Haydn Ensemble at Albert Corridor (October 20).

Music / “Haydn Speaks”, John Bell with the Australian Haydn Ensemble. At Albert Corridor, October 20. Reviewed by HELEN MUSA.

A NEAR-capacity home at Albert Corridor greeted John Bell and the Australian Haydn Ensemble as they carried out “Haydn Speaks”.

Regardless of the promise of a night that will be a “musical/theatrical/biographical” leisure, it was pretty untheatrical night because the centre-stage act was the Haydn Ensemble itself, directed by violinist Skye McIntosh.

As she and her ensemble – Matthew Greco on violin, Karina Schmitz on viola Daniel Yeadon on cello and Melissa Farrow on flute – labored their manner by a number of main Haydn compositions, the pleasure they took in performing and their interactions rubbed off on the delighted viewers.

This was the strongest function of the night and their selections included acquainted symphonies similar to “Roxelane”, “London” and “Army“ and string quartets “The Seven Final Phrases of Christ on the Cross”, “The Hen” and “Emperor”, augmented by music chosen for the ensemble by composer Alan John.

Musically, there was a lot to study from this efficiency, the choices highlighting “Papa” Haydn’s deserved popularity as the daddy of the symphony and his extraordinary originality, the latter, Bell/Haydn telling us, attributable to his enforced time spent within the palaces of Eisenstadt and Eszterháza in rural Hungary the place there have been no distractions.

Staged by famous Shakespeare director Damien Ryan, the theatrical parts have been minimal – low gentle with John Bell nicely over to stage left, a number of props suggesting Haydn’s examine, no periwigs, no powder and in all, a suggestion of Haydn talking from the grave in 2022.

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Bell was the glue who certain the musical choices collectively, often partaking immediately with the instrumentalists whereas masterfully stopping the viewers from applauding between compositions by stepping at simply the best second.

He slid over Rachel McDonald’s lacklustre script in a sotto voce efficiency that solely reached a dramatic excessive level when Haydn arrives in London and realises that he’s really a star.

However, all the time a talented comedian actor, he additionally rendered a number of fleeting vignettes – the Viennese music director Georg von Reutter paying a go to to Haydn’s father to ask permission for his son to have the operation to change into a castrato. Haydn Senior exhibits him the door.

There are additionally sketches of his patron Prince Paul Esterházy and of King George III – ”a superb German”, we heard.

The weak level of the night was the script itself, a wierd potpourri of impersonation of the composer, narrative purportedly based mostly on Stendhal’s written account of Haydn’s life, actual letters, and a few imaginary correspondence with a pal.

This meant that the narrative wavered inconsistently between first individual, the place Bell “was” Haydn, and third individual the place the narrator/correspondent made remark.

Due to this, there was little sense of Haydn himself, apart from a few feedback about his unprepossessing look and his inexplicable success with ladies.

The script is laced with anachronisms. There’s a reference to “dad jokes” and Haydn even says “ouch” at one level, a fast manner of getting fun, however destroying the second.

There are unresolved dramaturgical issues, too. Early within the night Haydn tells us how his marriage failed and the couple separated, however later he purports to be returning to Vienna to be by his spouse’s aspect, and opining that she really liked him.

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Luckily, a lot of the narrative disappeared into the background, dominated by the magnificence of the music, so the viewers was left glad.

This challenge has been a dream of Haydn Ensemble director Skye Waterproof coat, three years within the making. She wanted a playwright as a collaborator.





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Ian Meikle, editor