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Michael White’s classical & jazz news: Wigmore Hall; Cosi fan tutte; London’s Centre for Young Musicians

04 June, 2020 — By Michael White

Enjoy Glyndebourne’s Cosi fan tutte… virtually. Photo: Mike Hoban

SOMETHING happened this week that, in all the circumstances, felt miraculous: the Wigmore Hall reopened, sort of.

It began a series of lunchtime concerts that will happen every weekday throughout June.

And OK, there’s no audience physically present: the musicians are performing to an empty hall.

But… you can be there virtually, through a video link on the Wigmore website (www.wigmore-hall.org.uk) or in sound alone on BBC Radio 3, which is sharing the project.

And it’s a chink of light in an otherwise dark musical world: a hopeful sign of things beginning to edge back toward normality.

No one knows how long normality will take to reassert itself, and forecasts vary.

On the gloomy side, the Southbank Centre thinks it might take until next April to open again – by which time the centre would in any case be insolvent.

And for all the noise the BBC has been making about salvaging the 2020 Proms, the truth is they’re hardly happening at all: they’ll basically be archive performances from past years shown on TV, with the vague possibility of a few live events in September.

But if we’ve learned one thing from Covid it’s to grasp whatever straws of comfort are on offer and be grateful.

And the Wigmore season offers good reasons for gratitude.

This Friday has pianists Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy playing Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes: pieces better known as songs for mixed voices and keyboard duo, though Pavel tells me he thinks they sound better when you ditch the singers and just keep the pianists (I agree).

Monday has cellist Steven Isserlis; Tuesday pianist Benjamin Grosvenor with violinist Hyeyoon Park; Wednesday June 16 pianist Paul Lewis… and so on. The concerts start at 1pm, so settle for a late lunch, sit down with the laptop open/radio on, and enjoy. It’s all free – generously from the Wigmore to the world.

MEANWHILE, Glyndebourne’s gift of free operas continues with its classic 2006 Nicholas Hytner staging of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte – accessible for one week only, as from Sunday, on the website: www.glyndebourne.com

And while most country-house operas are streaming old shows, Grange Park Opera is going further with a virtual programme of entirely new work, specially filmed.

Having originally announced 2020 as a “Lost” season, Grange Park’s feisty founder/director (and Kentish Town resident) Wasfi Kani decided this wasn’t good enough and set to work on creating a substitute “Found” season which starts this week. Entirely free.

Check the website, www.grangeparkopera.co.uk, and you’ll find a brand new show of Poulenc’s heartfelt if hysterical one-woman opera La Voix Humaine.

From Saturday there’s a recital by Bryn Terfel, filmed on his farm in Wales. And the rest I’ll flag as it arrives in future weeks.

LASTLY, a plea for London’s Centre for Young Musicians, which provides subsidised teaching for youthful players aged 5-18 and has been doing so for 50 years.

It had planned to celebrate its anniversary with a fund-raising gala at the Barbican, but that got cancelled.

So the gala has gone virtual, with contributions from students past and present; and you can watch at 7pm on June 10.

Details on the website, www.cym.org.uk

Guaranteed to be uplifting.

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