mon 16/01/2017

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Gavin Higgins, Christopher Simpson, Pina Napolitano

Graham Rickson

 Gavin Higgins: Dark Arteries and other works Tredegar Town Band/Ian Porthouse (Tredegar Town Band)

Hardenberger, CBSO, Nelsons, Symphony Hall Birmingham

Richard Bratby

Birmingham audiences are a supportive bunch. There was never much likelihood that they’d greet Andris Nelsons’s first Birmingham appearance since he departed for Boston in 2015 with less than the same warmth that they keep for other former CBSO music directors.

Gerhardt, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Kings Place

David Nice

What's not to like, or love, would have to be the sensible response to both the opening programme of Kings Place's year-long Cello Unwrapped festival...

Classical CDs Weekly: Fauré, Poulenc, Franui,...

Graham Rickson

Aubade – Music by Fauré and Poulenc Västerås Sinfonietta/Howard Shelley (piano and conductor) (dB Productions)January blues? Those afflicted should...

Natalie Clein: 'The cello is part of my...

Natalie Clein

The cello is so deeply engrained in my fingers, my imagination, it’s part of my being – my life would feel amputated without it. You fall in love...

Classical CDs Weekly: Glazunov, Dunja Lavrova, Norwegian Radio Orchestra

Graham Rickson

A pair of outstanding violinists, plus a sizzling orchestral anthology

Best of 2016: Classical

David Nice

Bird music from dawn to midnight crowns another outstanding year

Classical LPs Weekly: Corker, Sveinsson, Tchaikovsky

Graham Rickson

An eclectic blend of old and new in this week's all-vinyl selection

Kanneh-Mason, Fantasia Orchestra, Fetherstonhaugh, St Gabriel's Pimlico

David Nice

BBC Young Musician of the Year isn't the only major junior talent on show here

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Gatti, Barbican

Peter Quantrill

Death and transfiguration in a richly textured Austro-German programme

Crowe, La Nuova Musica, Bates, St John's Smith Square

David Nice

Pure ecstasy from one of the world's most stylish lyric sopranos

In Search Of Julius Eastman, London Contemporary Music Festival

Peter Culshaw

Unholy minimalist crashes the canon

Classical CDs Weekly: Christmas 2016 (part 2)

Graham Rickson

Six more of the year's best seasonal discs

St Lawrence String Quartet, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Haydn outstrips John Adams for the shock of the new

Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner, Barbican

David Nice

A bright stream of Bach occasionally blocked by some under-par soloists

Corkin, Siglo de Oro, Allies, Shoreditch Church

Peter Quantrill

Choral light in midwinter darkness

Gerald Finley, Antonio Pappano, Barbican

Alexandra Coghlan

A polyglot recital in which nothing was lost in translation

theartsdesk in Budapest: Prophecy in the world's best concert hall

David Nice

Great Hungarian musicians look outwards as the country's government closes the door

Classical CDs Weekly: Christmas 2016 (part 1)

Graham Rickson

Six of this year's most entertaining and life-enhancing seasonal discs

Josefowicz, LSO, Adams, Barbican

David Nice

Scheherazade re-imagined as freedom-fighter in an ideal interpretation

Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

Fiery, bold readings delivered with precision and focus

El Niño, LSO, Adams, Barbican

David Nice

Light and darkness balanced in a great oratorio music-drama

Classical CDs Weekly: Prokofiev, Daniel Röhn, Ayreheart

Graham Rickson

A great ballet score gets a definitive reading, a nostalgic violin recital, and an American quartet tackle the hits of the English Renaissance

Uchida, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, RFH

Bernard Hughes

British pianist successfully follows a tried and tested recipe

Douglas, LSO, Søndergård, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Russian classics energised by clean lines and precise textures

Total Immersion: Richard Rodney Bennett, Barbican

Sebastian Scotney

This 'completely natural musician' would have enjoyed this tribute for his 80th year

Carols From King's: How a tradition was made

Alexandra Coghlan

The pioneering BBC broadcast that first brought us Nine Lessons and Carols

Classical CDs Weekly: Elgar, Mahler, Georges Prêtre

Graham Rickson

Three hefty box sets, each one a winner

Large, Hudson Shad, BBCSO, Gaffigan, Barbican

David Nice

Storm-force Brecht and Weill means lumpy Korngold is worth enduring

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

Close Footnote

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

Le Grand Macabre, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

The Big Mac – as in Ligeti's music-theatre fantasia on the possible death of Death – is here to stay. Back in 1990, three critics (I was...

Sunday Book: James Lee Burke - The Jealous Kind

In the heat of a Texas summer, Aaron Holland Broussard comes of age. It’s 1952:  the two world wars still cast their long shadows and, far...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Roy Acuff

In 1942, Roy Acuff set up Acuff-Rose Music in partnership with Nashville-based songwriter and talent scout Fred Rose. The new publishing company...

CD: Petite Meller - Lil Empire

God knows we need originality in pop, and French singer Petite Meller delivers it. At least, she does visually, which, in 2017, is 50 percent of...

Written on Skin, Royal Opera

There’s a passage in Martin Crimp’s impeccable libretto for Written on Skin that describes a page of illuminated manuscript. The ink, he...

Interview: Marius de Vries, musical director of La La Land

La La Land needs no further introduction. A homage to the golden age of the movie...

Sound of Musicals with Neil Brand, BBC Four

"Oh what a beautiful morning! Oh what a beautiful day!" Curly the cowboy sang in the opening scene of Oklahoma!, the first...

CD: Brian Eno - Reflection

Eno pioneered ambient music way back in the 1970s, in...

When Snowdon starred in Peter Sellers' home movie

On screen, two hoodlums in macs and homburgs debate the best way to waste a victim. One of them, played by Peter Sellers, proffers a revolver. The...