tue 12/12/2017

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Salonen conducts Sibelius, RFH/Oramo conducts Salonen, Barbican review - Finnish psychedelia

David Nice

After Sakari Oramo's dazzling Sibelius rattlebag with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on the centenary day of Finnish independence, things weren't looking so good for Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia at half time last Thursday (★★★).

Capuçon, BBCPO, Mena, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - awesome unity

Robert Beale

Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto is a big work in every sense: four movements, plus a solo cadenza before the last one that makes it seem almost like five; a soloist’s role that even David Oistrakh (for whom it was first written) found taxing; symphonic construction and instrumentation which make the orchestral contribution at least as important as the solo one.

Johnston, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican review - sheer...

David Nice

As the Parliament of the Autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire declared independence on 6 December 1917, Sibelius had his head...

Christian Tetzlaff, Lars Vogt, Wigmore Hall...

Gavin Dixon

Sonata no 1 – Sonata no 2 – Sonata no 3 – that’s barely a recital programme, it’s just a list. Fortunately, violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist...

Classical CDs Weekly: Sollazzo Ensemble, Barbara...

Graham Rickson

Sollazzo Ensemble: Parle Qui Veut - Moralising songs of the Middle Ages (Linn)Here, Anne Stone’s fascinating sleeve essay does get a bit Dan Brown at...

Darius Battiwalla, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester review - improvisation extraordinaire

Robert Beale

Remarkable resources of organ and player bring a classic silent film to life

Batiashvili, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican review - electricity in Sibelius and Hillborg

David Nice

UK premiere holds its own between elusive and sparely tragic symphonies

Mitsuko Uchida, RFH review - Schubert from rough to heavenly

David Nice

Personality papers over some technical flaws on the way to a sublime G major Sonata

theartsdesk in Stockholm - HK Gruber and sacred monsters

David Nice

Viennese composer, conductor, chansonnier and double-bass player is a force of nature

Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival review - new generation throws down the gauntlet

Helen Wallace

Confidence and challenge from young composers and performers alike

theartsdesk in Katowice - energy and imagination at the Fitelberg Conducting Competition

Gavin Dixon

Talented young conductors from around the world compete for a coveted prize

Labèques, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Kings Place review - good-natured Schubert and Mozart delight

Bernard Hughes

French pianists battle a noisy audience but the music wins out

Radically different: Horn player Anneke Scott on The Prince Regent's Band

Anneke Scott

Serpents, slides and valves: a journey into the history of brass instruments

Classical CDs Weekly: Sofya Gulyak, The Prince Regent's Band, Esmerine

Graham Rickson

A piano recital from the Leeds competition's only female winner, period brass instruments, new music from Canada

Hough, Basel CO, Holliger, Cadogan Hall review - heavenly lengths in Schubert

Peter Quantrill

A well-drilled Swiss band takes on the ‘Great’ C major Symphony – every note of it

Singcircle, Barbican review - veteran ensemble bids farewell with Stockhausen

Gavin Dixon

Two-work memorial proves the composer still radical ten years after his death

Classical CDs Weekly: Howells, Karayev, Lotichius

Graham Rickson

Lush orchestral music from Azerbaijan, plus a pair of offbeat keyboard discs

Frang, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - an Elgar tradition renewed

Richard Bratby

Great Brit goes Nordic Noir, while Beethoven dances for joy

Messiaen & Shostakovich, St John's Smith Square review - Osborne and Gerhardt anchor 1940s masterpieces

David Nice

Lucidity, violence and transcendence in wartime meditations and combats

András Schiff, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review – rigour and honesty

Robert Beale

Full value in a Bach programme from a master pianist

Florian Boesch, Justus Zeyen, Wigmore Hall review - power, intimacy and atmosphere

Gavin Dixon

The Austrian baritone is an imposing presence, but expressive and sensual too

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Granados, Steven Isserlis

Graham Rickson

A romantic symphony, emotionally-charged Spanish pianism and cello music for Remembrance Sunday

Schubert Ensemble, Kings Place review - spot-on introductions, dazzling performances

David Nice

Metaphysical ants-in-pants from Martinů and exuberant Dvořák

Tabula Rasa, Traverse Theatre review - honest, compassionate, but not always convincing

David Kettle

Unflinching music theatre show on the messiness of death, inspired by Arvo Pärt's music

'Their DNA is forever ingrained in the keys' - Roman Rabinovich on playing composers' own pianos

Roman Rabinovich

Cobbe Collection revelations compared with the same works on a modern Steinway

In search of Proust's 'Vinteuil Sonata': violinist Maria Milstein on the writer's musical mystery

Maria Milstein

How French composers' works for violin and piano complement 'In Search of Lost Time'

LSO, Alsop, Barbican review - Bernstein 100 opens not with celebrations but existential angst

Alexandra Coghlan

Birthday boy Bernstein doesn't quite emerge from Mahler's shadow in this anniversary concert

LPO, Renes, RFH review - solid Bruckner lacking in nuance

Gavin Dixon

A hefty Eighth Symphony, but with little detail or shape

BBCSO, Storgårds, Barbican review – Jolas intrigues, Mahler 4 disappoints

Gavin Dixon

The French composer, working with Roger Muraro and Håkan Hardenberger, is still radical at 91

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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