sat 29/04/2017

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Laurence Crane, Martinů, Prokofiev

Graham Rickson

Laurence Crane: 6 Trios, 2 Solos and 1 Quintet The Ives Ensemble (RTF Classical)

theartsdesk in Tallinn: From Dusk to Black at Estonian Music Days

David Nice

Many other top Estonian musicians, performing among other works 30 premieres of music by their compatriots in just over a week, might have been equally deserving candidates for the lead image. But perhaps an even more appropriate image might have been a black rectangle.

in vain, London Sinfonietta, Lubman, Royal...

Alexandra Coghlan

If Georg Friedrich Haas’s in vain was a work of political protest when it premiered in 2000, in 2017 it’s a piece that reads more like a commentary...

Janina Fialkowska, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

You wouldn’t guess it from her name, but Janina Fialkowska isn’t actually Polish. You wouldn’t guess from her Chopin either, which is sensitive and...

Stoller Hall Opening, Chetham's School of...

Robert Beale

The opening of a new concert hall offers two options for opinionizing: the venue itself – or the performances in it? Review the acoustics – or the...

Tamestit, LSO, Roth, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Gently radical readings, elevated by spellbinding viola virtuosity

Classical CDs Weekly: Harald Genzmer, Mendelssohn, Nicholas Phan

Graham Rickson

Early German electronica, teenage chamber music and stories told through song

Kim, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Robert Beale

A new British symphony is born, surrounded by lashings of romantic style

theartsdesk Q&A: Horn-player Alec Frank-Gemmill

David Nice

Four horns, four pianos, one CD; an original among musicians tells us why, and more

Classical CDs Weekly: Chopin, Glass, Alec Frank-Gemmill

Graham Rickson

Polish dances, minimalist piano music plus multiple horns

Dvořák Requiem, BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, Bělohlávek, Barbican

David Nice

Fascinating, desolate, fragmentary at first, this setting eventually hits the heights

First Person: 15 years of Tenebrae, a lifetime of choral music

Nigel Short

As his choir prepares to light up Holy Week, its founder Nigel Short looks back

Mahler 8, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

Peter Quantrill

Sex, God and music: the symphony of a thousand ideas

Classical CDs Weekly: Haydn, Vaughan Williams, Johannes Pramsohler

Graham Rickson

Classical piano sonatas, a British ballet score and a child-friendly baroque anthology

Debussy Préludes, Alexander Melnikov, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Philosophical depth and rainbow colours from a great pianist

Brighton Festival 2017: 12 Free Events

Thomas H Green

Brighton Festival CEO Andrew Comben's guide to this year's best free stuff

Ma, New York Philharmonic, Gilbert, Barbican

David Nice

Berlioz amazes, Adams flies and Salonen goes nowhere in generous tour programmes

Landshamer, New York Philharmonic, Gilbert, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Steady accounts redeemed by a vibrant orchestral sound

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Bruckner, Poulenc

Graham Rickson

Romantic orchestral music and life-enhancing sounds from a master melodist

Trpčeski, LSO, Roth, Barbican

Bernard Hughes

Triumphant Mahler symphony more successful than an eccentric Bartók concerto

Alceste, Early Opera Company, Curnyn, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Joy unalloyed in Handel's far from tragic incidental music for a classical drama

Jonathan Biss, Milton Court

David Nice

Intellectual rigour guides a range of last thoughts, but the hall is forbidding

Classical CDs Weekly: Alnæs, Granados, Kelly, Mompou

Graham Rickson

Rediscoveries from Norway and Australia, plus a pair of poetic Spaniards

Buchbinder, Philharmonia, Hrůša, RFH

David Nice

Ideal orchestral Brahms under an already great young Czech conductor

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Sibelius, Temple University Wind Symphony

Graham Rickson

Baroque violin music, rare Finnish songs, and a set of wind and brass concertos

Bryars and Reich, London Philharmonic Orchestra, RFH

Bernard Hughes

Excitement and emotion in an evening of minimalist classics

Andreas Scholl, Accademia Bizantina, Barbican

Alexandra Coghlan

Newly discovered works got a bit lost in the fuss and fog of this performance

Maurizio Pollini, RFH

Gavin Dixon

The old Pollini magic shines through despite ailing technique

thertsdesk in Oslo: Mozart beneath a Munch sun

David Nice

A great Norwegian pianist and a live-wire chamber orchestra collaborate with fresh results

Footnote: a brief history of classical music in Britain

London has more world-famous symphony orchestras than any other city in the world, the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra vying with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Royal Opera House Orchestra, crack "period", chamber and contemporary orchestras. The bursting schedules of concerts at the Wigmore Hall, the Barbican Centre and South Bank Centre, and the strength of music in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff, among other cities, show a depth and internationalism reflecting the development of the British classical tradition as European, but with specific slants of its own.

brittenWhile Renaissance monarchs Henry VIII and Elizabeth I took a lively interest in musical entertainment, this did not prevent outstanding English composers such as Thomas Tallis and William Byrd developing the use of massed choral voices to stirring effect. Arguably the vocal tradition became British music's glory, boosted by the arrival of Handel as a London resident in 1710. For the next 35 years he generated booms in opera, choral and instrumental playing, and London attracted a wealth of major European composers, Mozart, Chopin and Mahler among them.

The Victorian era saw a proliferation of classical music organisations, beginning with the Philharmonic Society, 1813, and the Royal Academy of Music, 1822, both keenly promoting Beethoven's music. The Royal Albert Hall and the Queen's Hall were key new concert halls, and Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh established major orchestras. Edward Elgar was chief of a raft of English late-Victorian composers; a boom-time which saw the Proms launched in 1895 by Sir Henry Wood, and a rapid increase in conservatoires and orchestras. The "pastoral" English classical style arose, typified by Vaughan Williams, and the new BBC took over the Proms in 1931, founding its own broadcasting orchestra and classical radio station (now Radio 3).

England at last produced a world giant in Benjamin Britten (pictured above), whose protean range spearheaded the postwar establishment of national arts institutions, resulting notably in English National Opera, the Royal Opera and the Aldeburgh Festival. The Arts Desk writers provide a uniquely rich coverage of classical concerts, with overnight reviews and indepth interviews with major performers and composers, from Britain and abroad. Writers include Igor Toronyi-Lalic, David Nice, Edward Seckerson, Alexandra Coghlan, Graham Rickson, Stephen Walsh and Ismene Brown

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