Music highlights from the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival
Including Sweet Mambo, Czech Philharmonic, Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, Inala, Les Troyens and Kronos Quartet
This article is from 2014.
Five years on from her death, Pina Bausch’s reputation as one of the most important choreographers of our age is only strengthening with time. Tanztheater Wuppertal, the dance ensemble she led from 1973, are carrying on her work and taking that jaw-dropping oeuvre to new audiences. Featuring music from the diverse likes of Brian Eno, Tom Waits, Portishead and Lucky Pierre, Sweet Mambo is sure to be a blazingly innovative highlight of this year’s International Festival.
Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, 0131 473 2000, 23–25 Aug, 7.30pm, £10–£32.
Two concerts from the orchestra conducted by Jiri Belohlavek. The first features Nicola Benedetti as they tackle Janácek, Korngold and Martinu together, while the second has mezzo soprano Bernarda Fink singing the powerful ‘Biblical Songs’ from Dvorák.
Usher Hall, Lothian Road, 22 & 23 Aug, 8pm, £12–£44.
A story about reclamation plus a play within a play, it begins with the elephant-headed god Ganesh travelling through Nazi Germany to win back an ancient Hindu symbol for his people. Back to Back Theatre is a group of actors who, ‘in a culture obsessed with perfection and surgically enhanced “beauty”, are the real outsiders’.
Lyceum Theatre, Grindlay Street, 9, 11 & 12 Aug, 7.30pm; 10 Aug, 2.30pm, £10–£32.
Featuring dancers from Rambert and the Royal Ballet with music by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Inala (Zulu for ‘abundance of goodwill’) is sure to be a truly striking spectacle enhanced with costumes designed by expert in taxidermy, Georg Meyer-Wiel.
Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, 10–12 Aug, 8pm, £10–£32.
Written as an anti-war statement rather than anything remotely resembling patriotic fervour, Benjamin Britten’s work was also dedicated to four of his friends, three of whom were killed in the war, the other later committed suicide. Andrew Davis conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Usher Hall, Lothian Road, 14 Aug, 8pm, £12–£44.
Influenced by post-war film noir, this multimedia thriller from Canadian Stage features a cast of misfits: we meet a bookie, a boxer and the titular blonde, who is on a mission to throw their plans into disarray.
King’s Theatre, Leven Street, 24–26 Aug, 8pm; 25 Aug, 3pm, £12–£32.
From Virgil’s epic poem, Hector Berlioz’ opera has been compared to The Ring Cycle for scale and ambition, taking as its starting point the moment after Troy’s destruction. The Trojan warrior Énée sets out on a journey to found a new dynasty, but will his love for the Queen of Carthage prove stronger than his sense of duty?
Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, 28–30 Aug, 5pm, £20–£95.
This ever-popular foursome offer up a night featuring the product of collaborations with Philip Glass and Clint Mansell. With the former, they return to his ‘String Quartet No 6’ which they premiered last year while with Mansell, they worked on the soundtrack to two Darren Aronofsky movies, The Fountain and Requiem for a Dream.
Usher Hall, Lothian Road, 19 Aug, 8pm, £10–£34.
Harry Partch operated on a non-mainstream level and many of the sounds he composed could only be played on instruments he built himself. See what the Ensemble musikFabrik make of the work by this ‘philosophic music-man seduced into carpentry’.
King’s Theatre, Leven Street, 29 & 30 Aug, 8pm, £15–£35.
A unique and exciting event even by EIF standards, as Europe’s colonial history in Africa is explored through a mixture of performance and exhibition. Created by South African artist Brett Bailey, Exhibit B analyses the disturbing ‘human zoos’ of the late 19th century.
Playfair Library Hall, South Bridge, various dates and times, £14.
This spectacular finale to the entire festival season is never anything less than a musical and pyrotechnical extravaganza, and this year Richard Wagner, Claude Debussy, Felix Mendelssohn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky will be helping the month end with a bang (or two). It certainly doesn’t get more fireworky than the stirring ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ and ‘1812 Overture’, let’s be honest about it.
Princes Street Gardens, 31 Aug, 9pm, £12.50–£28.50. For tickets call 0131 473 2000.