Music: April 2011 Archives

The Unthanks

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You can only hope that the current Unthanks' tour must surely be coming to an end very soon. Their website suggest a few days time.

The reason I say that is that Rachel Unthank is currently very heavily pregnant!

She and her sister Becky shared the singing duties last week at The Junction in Cambridge in a set that was built to a certain extent around their recently released album, Last.

The Unthanks are from the North East and make the most of their heritage in their music, seeking out old songs from the area as well as writing new ones.

The last time I saw them, they were playing at Latitude last year early on during the day on the main stage. I must admit that their music was fairly lost in the surroundings (this year, Bellowhead are playing the festival circuit and I wonder if they'll work better).

But in the intimate confines of The Junction with a seated audience it worked a lot better. And their support band, The Trembling Bells, were pretty decent too.

Piccard in Space

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A couple of weeks ago, saw the premiere of Will Gregory's Piccard in Space at the Southbank.

Before you think anything else: no this is not about Jean-Luc Picard, the fictional Star Trek character, but August Piccard (although if Wikipedia is to be believed, there is a link).

In 1931, Piccard and Paul Kipfer attempted to reach the upper atmosphere in a specially constructed balloon. In that respect, they became very early space pioneers. In that first flight they went up nearly 16km in a flight that lasted a large part of the day.

Will Gregory - one half of Goldfrapp - has written an opera based on this story and it was pretty entertaining. As well as the two explorers in the capsule, Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein play characters, with a scientific subplot explaining the fundamental changes in understanding coming from Einstein that meant that Newton had been wrong.

I must admit that the opera wasn't the best thing I've heard, although I was relatively satisfied with it. I watched the recent Anna Nicole opera on BBC Four recently, and it shares a certain number of stylistic devices (a large chorus permamently on hand). But I'd have liked it to be more electronic and the music closer to the kind of things that Goldfrapp ordinarily do.

The staging was good with a number of projections be well used - for example the dials of the capsule as it ascends. But the music just needed to be a little more - out there.

Anyway, you can hear the opera on Wednesday on Radio 3.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Music category from April 2011.

Music: March 2011 is the previous archive.

Music: May 2011 is the next archive.

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