The London Philharmonic Orchestra is Outstanding in Tippett: The Midsummer Marriage – album review
The period following a composer’s death can be difficult in terms of musical legacy. Michael Tippett passed away in 1998 and his music doesn’t often feature in live performances anymore, so it’s good news that a new champion has arrived on the scene.
For his first concert as principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Edward Gardner chose Tippett’s opera The summer weddingpremiered in 1955. He did an uplifting work and a live recording of that concert from September last year has now been released on disc.
Like all of Tippett’s operas, The summer wedding is a work problem. Following in Wagner’s footsteps, albeit with more dubious success, Tippett enjoyed writing his own librettos and the result was quirky, to say the least, a Mozart mash-up Die ZauberfloteJung, and his own artisanal philosophy.
Which makes The summer wedding special is the music. We enter an otherworldly wood populated by elders and soothsayers, a symbol of eternal rebirth, which inspired Tippett to create some of his most ecstatic music. The orchestra is its lifeblood, teeming with a feverish flood of ideas that carries the opera to a ravishing finale.
The cast of the opera’s premiere at the Royal Opera House notably included Joan Sutherland. There are no obvious stars here, but a decent cast includes strong performances, particularly from Toby Spence and Ashley Riches, as well as Jennifer France and Robert Murray bravely tackling tough roles. Above all, Gardner and the LPO are remarkable. Tippett’s music seems poised for a heartwarming revival.
‘Tippett: The Summer Wedding‘ is published by the LPO