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BBCSO/Weilerstein review - Dean's Hamlet 'diffraction' whets the appetite

11.02.16
Joshua Weilerstein
The Guardian

Brett Dean’s opera based on Hamlet – note the composer’s own “based on” formulation – premieres at the Glyndebourne festival in June 2017. Dean has been building towards the finished work in a number of recent compositions, with From Melodious Lay, a treatment of Hamlet and Ophelia’s relationship, the latest. This BBC Symphony Orchestra performance under the assured direction of Joshua Weilerstein more than whetted the appetite.
 
Weilerstein began the evening with his fellow American Joseph Hallman’s atmospheric ricordi decomposti, an enticingly scored chamber orchestral setting of vocal music by Shakespeare’s contemporary Carlo Gesualdo. Here too, nothing was quite as it seemed, as harmonies flickered and dissolved, cymbals shivered amid the apparently assured renaissance tonalities and the string players whispered and sighed spookily to themselves as they played. After all this instability and fragmentation, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, after the interval, felt like exactly what it was: a blaze of orchestral light. It also gave the impressive Weilerstein the opportunity to showcase the crispness and rhythmic control of his conducting in an established part of the repertoire.
 
Read the rest of the review here