mon 26/02/2018

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Brantelid, LPO, Petrenko, RFH review - orchestral excesses redeemed by graceful Elgar

Gavin Dixon

The London Philharmonic, conductor Vasily Petrenko and cellist Andreas Brantelid are just back from a tour of China, so they’ve had plenty of time to get to know each other. That affinity is apparent in the ease with which Petrenko (pictured below by Chris Christodoulou) marshals the orchestral forces, directly transmitting his trademark energy to every section.

Classical CDs Weekly: Tchaikovsky, Fred Hersch, Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Graham Rickson

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis (Sony)

Explore Ensemble, EXAUDI, St John's Smith...

Helen Wallace

This was an evening of silence and shadow, a chill, moonlit meditation, where each sound demanded forensic attention. Enter the world of Luigi Nono...

Kaufmann, Damrau, Deutsch, Barbican review -...

Alexandra Coghlan

Schubert’s winter wanderer had Wilhelm Muller to voice his despair, while Schumann’s poet-in-love had Heinrich Heine. The lovers of Hugo Wolf’s...

Classical CDs Weekly: Diethelm, Grieg, Tippett

Graham Rickson

Diethelm: Symphonic Works Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Rainer Held (Guild)Swiss composers? There's Honegger, and Frank Martin… add to that list...

Weilerstein, Czech Philharmonic, Netopil, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - drama and feeling

Robert Beale

Like their homeland’s beer: rich, mellow and full of character and body

Theatre of Voices, Kings Place review - fluidity and dynamism in Stockhausen

Gavin Dixon

Danish ensemble balances ritual, drama and comedy in 'STIMMUNG'

Classical CDs Weekly: Shostakovich, Christoph Prégardien, Nataša Mirkovič

Graham Rickson

Chilly orchestral music from the USSR, plus a pair of brass-accompanied vocal recitals

Jansen/Maisky/Argerich Trio, Barbican review - three classical titans give chamber music masterclass

Alexandra Coghlan

Musical personalities shift but Argerich's generous musicianship remains the constant

Baráti, Lyddon, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - Stravinsky's bright but derivative beginnings

David Nice

Fine programme in principle, but lacking a significant core

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Sterndale Bennett, Fieri Consort

Graham Rickson

Two discs of 19th century pianistic fireworks, plus a collection of Italian madrigals

Capuçon, Philharmonia, Järvi, RFH review - Dvořák in blazing focus

David Nice

Centrist conductor and cellist strike a perfect balance between passion and precision

Clare College Choir, Manchester Camerata, Takács-Nagy, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review – romance and drama

Robert Beale

Pace is everything in an expressive Mozart Requiem

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Milton Court review - Arvo Pärt plus

David Nice

Startling masterpieces by Jonathan Harvey and Veljo Tormis follow a familiar first half

Hagen Quartet, Jörg Widmann, Wigmore Hall review – proportion and elegance

Gavin Dixon

Widmann’s new quintet a study in reserve and intimacy

Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Stravinsky, Tallis

Graham Rickson

Symphonies transcribed for piano, a lost work from a Russian master and Tudor music for troubled times

Royal Academy of Music SO, Knussen, RAM review – vibrant, varied Stravinsky

Gavin Dixon

The composer's early and late works proves an ideal showcase for the young orchestra

Grosvenor, Filarmonica della Scala, Chailly, Barbican review - Tchaikovsky’s force of destiny shines bright

Jessica Duchen

Dramatic flair and sonic luxury from the Italians in a night to remember

Bell, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - life and imagination

Robert Beale

Peter Pan soloist has kept his enthusiasm, enjoyment, humour and musicality

Louise Alder, James Baillieu, Wigmore Hall review - sensual heat thaws a winter's evening

Alexandra Coghlan

Superb young lyric soprano's voice only grows in breadth and beauty

Colin Currie Group, Kings Place review - dynamism and detail in Steve Reich

Gavin Dixon

All-Reich programme offers intensity and focus, but surprising nuance too

BBCSO, Pons, Barbican review - love hurts in vivid Spanish double bill

David Nice

Flamenco singer in Falla and dramatic mezzo as Granados's heroine cue vibrant passion

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Bennett, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn

Graham Rickson

High-octane baroque concertos and music from a versatile British composer, plus a pair of banjos

Weilerstein, Platt, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - insight and passion

Robert Beale

Special light shed on a great symphony and a noble concerto by Shostakovich

Alexander Melnikov, Wigmore Hall review - three pianos, four monsterworks

David Nice

Crazy programme taxes even this Russian master of orchestral pianism

Feng, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - pulling it out of the hat

Richard Bratby

Ligeti brings the house down, and he wasn't even on the programme

Lortie, BBC Philharmonic, Gardner, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review – whipping up a storm

Robert Beale

Brisk, brash and exciting music-making blows away the cobwebs

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Janáček, George Martin, Dmitry Masleev

Graham Rickson

Autumnal wind sonatas, orchestral music from a celebrated record producer, Russian pianism

Kožená, LSO, Rattle, Barbican Hall review – springing surprises from Schubert and Rameau

Peter Quantrill

A fresh attitude yields revelation in a familiar symphony

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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