Michael Tippett meant to be excitingly contemporary when he wrote The Knot Garden in the late Sixties, but the issues that seemed so lively then - psychoanalysis, gay liberation, the emancipation of African-Americans, political protest - now seem worn out. The music, too, sounded modern to us at the time. Free atonality, jagged vocal lines, mixed with rock'n'roll and boogie; this was all terribly naughty and relevant.
Nowadays you try not to cringe. Tippett, like Tchaikovsky, was so sincere. And sincerity, alas, dates quickest. But this composer deserves respect, too; he was genuinely humane and he went to prison for his beliefs. Suddenly, the opera is generous, timeless, grown-up. The scene is even funny, when the marvellous Andrew Shore, as Faber, lapses into stage cockney.
The trivial engagements of the contemporary characters give way to fantasy and colour. All considered, this production by Scottish Opera will count as one of the most important events of Tippett's centenary year. There is nothing routine about it. In a simple way, the director and designer, Antony McDonald, has evoked the claustrophobic modern household, the empty fuss of modern life, as well as the mystery of Prospero's island with its symbolic shipwreck.
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Richard Armstrong, the conductor, is equally serious - too much so, perhaps, in the moments of blues and pop. The artists vary from good to excellent.
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Peter Savidge, as the psychoanalyst Mangus, is a poised and refined singer, but he did not dominate the way that this Prospero lookalike should. You didn't have to be gay to feel their tendernesses and sadnesses, their absurdities, their feelings of loss. Dov's aria in Act 2, "Come with me to the warm South", was sweet, persuasive and touching.
There are two hysterical women in this piece. The neurotic Flora, in bobbysox and Alice blue, was pictured by Rachel Nicholls as a squeaking, screaming teenager in a sort of studied panic. Rachel Hynes, lurching on crutches, was the torture-victim Denise, her long solo in Act I showing powerfully how coloratura can be used to suggest derangement. But centenaries are the time for verdicts.
So here is an interim verdict on Tippett: he was musically prodigious, but intellectually shallow. We can firm that up in 50 years, though I shall not be around to do it. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Start your Independent Premium subscription today. Independent Premium Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Premium.
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Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. Subscribe Now Subscribe Now. Final Say. Hidden gems well worth a visit. Beautiful borders, with hanging baskets and a tiny knot garden will welcome visitors into Harvington Hall. Gardens in full bloom as sun finally shines.
This iconic timber framed Tudor manor house features a moat and manicured knot garden. Nine incredible Cheshire country estates you MUST visit for a great day out; Cheshire is full of enchanting properties. Because there are no set rules for this type of garden, potagers come in all shapes and sizes, and vary drastically from the freestyle flow of a cottage garden, to the geometric rigidity of a knot garden , and everything in between.
The fine example at Little Moreton Hall Cheshire features a Knot garden which became a standard feature in many Tudor and Stuart gardens.
Knot gardens: A lifetime of pleasure - Telegraph
Tear gives his character ''a homosexual in pink socks! Barstow is even finer: an electric presence with a visionary intensity to her aria of remembered anguish. Minton and Herincx are both excellent, Gomez touchingly vulnerable, while Hemsley's immaculate diction and gentlemanly tones are perfect for Mangus, the psychiatrist Prospero who ''puts them all to rights''. Davis is as eloquently urgent in the opera as in the oratorio, A Child of Our Time , which, in a generally fine, rather opera-scaled reading, makes an ideal coupling: two complementary aspects of Tippett the maker of healing images.
In the opera the voices sound a little further forward than I recall from the LPs, the sound a bit harder-edged; the oratorio, appropriately, is placed in a warmer acoustic.
The knot garden planting combinations
R1 ''. If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information. Skip to main content. Composer or Director:. Michael Tippett. Magazine Review Date:.
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