Skip to content


Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2010
Bach to the Future
Published on Saturday, 14 August 2010

2.5 stars

The Jazz Bar (venue website)
9 - 13, 16 - 20 Aug, 2:00pm (3:00pm)
Reviewed by Lee Zhuo Zhao

Bach? In a jazz bar? What on Earth? It might just work, I thought. So guess how I felt when I turned up to the venue and realised I'd been misled by the title: there is no Bach.

When I'd read their listing in the Fringe programme more carefully, I realised I should have picked up on what this show essentially is: a recital of classical songs and opera arias. OK, I'd been expecting something other than just vocal pieces, but no worries - recitals of songs aren't uncommon. And all four singers were in good voice, clearly having a fun time too. Alex Ashworth in particular has a stunningly rich sound together with good projection.

But this show is trying to be more than that. To paraphrase their Fringe listing, they aim to demystify classical masterpieces by moving them out of the concert hall.

Alas, I think Bach to the Future have totally failed to do that; if anything I feel it's made the pieces even more stuffy and inaccessible. The Jazz Bar, by its very name, is at its best staging late-night jazz, with a buzzing atmosphere helped along by a dash of alcohol. So it was quite amusing observing this early afternoon slot, with a dead silent audience (like in a concert hall) and the poor sheepish bar staff trying to go about their business without disturbing the music. I wonder if they were thinking: "wow, classical music is a mood killer."

Worse, the "insights" designed to illuminate amounted nothing more than a two minute spiel for each piece, things you'd expect to find in any good programme for a concert hall recital. Speaking of which, translations would have been appreciated. Also, if their target audience was really the "classically curious" then the choice of music is utterly baffling to me. Very few of the pieces suit the venue and I can't quite describe some of the pieces as easily approachable for the classically curious, full of peculiar dissonances and rhythms to the uninitiated.

It is unfortunate that the execution of this demystification is so half-baked. It makes it appear that the performers failed to find a conventional venue for their recital, and instead came up with a gimmick to justify the location (though I sincerely hope that is not true and MuzikWorx were honestly aiming at a non-aficionados from the very start). Nevertheless, save for the venue's dry acoustic, this is still a reasonable classical vocal recital. And it does have something on those recitals in proper classical music venues... the tickets are much cheaper.

<< Fitzrovia Radio Hour   'Underneath the Lintel' b... >>


These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

Edinburgh 2013

Coming to the Fringe this year?  We can help you make the most of your time.  Learn about Edinburgh's summer Festivals and plan your visit around the city's major events. 

Find out more >>