The second week and final days of the Aldeburgh Festival

Ensemble a Cumpagnia roaming through the audience at Blythburgh Church

Ensemble a Cumpagnia roaming through the audience at Blythburgh Church

The second week began with a pair of concerts focussing on Corsican polyphony at Blythburgh Church. Ensemble A Cumpagnia looked at sacred and traditional music from the Mediterranean island on Monday, while Ensemble Organum under the direction of Marcel Pérès explored ornamentation on the Tuesday.

The BBC’s Ten Pieces took over the entire site at Snape Maltings and the Red House on Wednesday. Suffolk schoolchildren performed and took part in workshops as well as stepping into see the BBC Symphony Orchestra rehearse Storm from Peter Grimes. The orchestra finished off the day with a briny programme of Sibelius, Helen Grime, Mahler (with Alice Coote), Frank Bridge and Britten.

George Benjamin and London Sinfonietta at Aldeburgh Festival

George Benjamin calls composer Saed Haddad down for a bow with the London Sinfonietta

Thursday saw the return of London Sinfonietta who had nearly finished their run of The Corridor and The Cure at the Royal Opera House. Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, their concert contained a very concentrated version of the contemporary presence at the Festival, with Artist-in-Residence George Benjamin conducting a piece by one of his group of young composers, Saed Haddad, Pierre-Laurent Aimard performing the Ligeti piano concerto, a piece by BPO conductor Oliver Knussen, and the London Sinfonietta performing one more piece of Birtwistle.

The Doric Quartet at Aldeburgh Festival. Photo by Matt Jolly 380

The final weekend was now upon us. The Doric Quartet presented the first of their concerts, in Snape Maltings Concert Hall, on Friday night, which was recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3. The next morning they played in Aldeburgh Church, with a programme that included Britten’s second string quartet, which the Doric Quartet found especially poignant.

In fact, this weekend was particularly focussed on Aldeburgh with Gabriela Montero’s improvised accompaniments to 2 classic films, and the Bandstand on the Beach and the Pumphouse with a packed schedule of acts.

Aldeburgh Festival - Pierre-Laurent Aimard in recital Photo Sam Murray-Sutton001

On Saturday night, it was finally the turn of the Festival Director to take to the stage for a full recital of his own. In another of his ingenious programmes, Pierre-Laurent Aimard combined Bach’s Art of Fugue and Well-Tempered Clavier with selections of Játétok by Kurtág.

aldeburgh-festival BPO with Oliver Knussen Photo by Sam Murray-Sutton

The last day, Sunday, completed our look at The Prince of the Pagodas. Young people from our Fludde Choir, Lowestoft Sixth Form College and Suffolk Youth Dance Company working with choreographer Sarah Lewis and beatboxers Testament and Jason Singh presented their own response to Britten’s only full-length ballet in an event titled Rebuilding Pagodas. Finally, the Britten-Pears Orchestra, under the baton of Oliver Knussen, performed extracts from the ballet, alongside Gunther Schuller’s Seven Stories on themes of Paul Klee. In a moving tribute, Knussen talked to the audience about the composer, his friend and teacher, who had died earlier in the week. It was an inspiring end to the Aldeburgh Festival, seeing the huge orchestra of talented musicians embrace the programme, and this was noted in the Telegraph, who gave it 5 stars.