Monday, 11 January 2010

The Immies 2009; my cultural highlights of the past year...

It's been a quiet day at work.

Thinking about "Les Patineurs" I was reminded of how, a bit less than a year ago, I came out of Covent Garden after seeing "Isadora" (a muddle, I'm afraid, and a waste of the very considerable talent performing it) and the magically wonderful "Dances at a Gathering", practically walking on air because the second piece had been so brilliant. It was definitely one of my highlights of 2009, and I have been wondering what, with hindsight, I would classify as the others.

I must emphasise that this is a purely personal collection of things I attended during 2009 which have stayed with me and which spring to mind instantly when I think "What were the big highlights of last year?" SO - not necessarily the greatest, just the particular things that hit my cultural g-spot; highly influenced by my current tastes and passions and by the fact that for some reason, I went to a lot of concerts and relatively few exhibitions last year; and certainly not selected through democratic decision-making processes. And if I had to think too long about why something was good, then I didn't count it; it had to be right there in my memory, leaping about like a spring lamb, bleating "Remember me?!"

So here, anyway, are the winners of the Imogen Awards - The Immies 2009.

Albums of the Year (by which I mean, the top-played recordings among those I bought in 2009; I'm excluding things bought in the past but played a lot last year, like "The Cunning Little Vixen"):
Spiro "Lightbox"
Michael Nyman "MGV"
Edgar Meyer, Joshua Bell and friends "Short Trip Home".

Exhibition of the Year:
"Wild Thing" at the Royal Academy. The Gaudier-Brzeska and Epstein works are simply astonishing (though Eric Gill I can walk away from without a backward glance).

Concerts of the Year:
Mahler "Symphony no. 2" in Westminster Cathedral; Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Benjamin Zander.
Berg "Violin Concerto" & Mahler "Symphony no. 6"; Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Janácek "Sinfonietta", Lindberg "Graffiti", Stravinsky "The Firebird"; Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Orchestra of the Year:
The Philharmonia (in case you hadn't guessed).

Theatre Performance of the Year:
"War Horse"; Royal National Theatre. Unmissable.

Dance Performances of the Year:
"Dances at a Gathering", "DGV" and "Ondine" - all at the Royal Ballet, all terrific, all perfectly cast, perfectly danced, and perfectly played in the pit. "Dances at a Gathering" even gave me three gorgeous ginger men all on stage at once.
"Akademi Daredevas '09" at the Purcell Room - breathtaking Indian classical dance and contemporary dance drawing on Indian classical models.

Opera Performances of the Year:
Verdi "Don Carlo"; Royal Opera.
Adams "Dr Atomic"; English National Opera.
Berg "Wozzeck" (concert performance, part of the "Vienna, city of dreams" series at the South Bank); Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Esa-Pekka Salonen, soloists inc. Favourite Baritone in heartbreaking form.

World/Folk Performances of the Year:
WOMAD 2009 at Charlton Park. Sheer music-festival-bliss, despite the rain, and so much good music it is hard to single out individual performers or groups.
Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers at the Royal Festival Hall.

Unclassifiable Cultural Event of the Year:
Re-Rite at the Bargehouse.

Individual Performers of the Year:
Instrumental; Nikolai Lugansky playing Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no. 3 at the Royal Festival Hall.
Vocal; Stuart Skelton in "Peter Grimes" at English National Opera.
Roderick Williams in "The Magic Flute" at English National Opera.
Dance; Miyako Yoshida and Edward Watson in "Ondine", Royal Ballet.
Melissa Hamilton and Gary Avis in "DGV", Royal Ballet.
Theatre; The horse-puppetry teams in "War Horse", Royal National Theatre.


Opera said...

Hello! Love the Immies. You had an astonishing 2009, of which I am quite jealous.

Completely unrelated, no, we have no Asterix in the States. Which is a shame. We also have precious few Imogens.

Very glad to find you. Thanks for stopping by!

Imogen said...

I had a very nice 2009, indeed. The cultural possibilities in London are simply amazing and are the big compensation for living in a city (ie the dirt, the traffic, the cronky public transport systems, etc). Best of all, there are cheap seats in most places (I love Kew dearly but the pay here is peanuts...).
What were your Cultural Highlights of '09? (the Betties?)
Thanks for popping in, and have a good time at your next opera-going!