fri 20/10/2017

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Angela Hewitt, Wigmore Hall review – Bach Partitas shine and sing

Bernard Hughes

On paper this was a fairly austere piece of programming. No variety in composer, genre or style, just four Bach Partitas in a row, works of similar approach, length and technique. And yet in performance, in the hands of Angela Hewitt, there was sufficient variety, not to mention poetry, humanity and wit, to make for a completely satisfying recital.

Ensemble InterContemporain, Pintscher, RFH review - a visit from the gentle ghost of Boulez

Peter Quantrill

The Royal Festival Hall rather belied its name for a visit to London on Saturday of France’s premier new-music ensemble. It can’t be helped that the more intimate space of the Queen Elizabeth Hall next door is presently closed for renovation, but with the balcony and back of the stalls both empty and unlit, the place presented a more dismal aspect than usual.

Jonas Kaufmann: Tenor for the Ages, BBC Four...

Jessica Duchen

Now we know who sent Jonas Kaufmann the Union Jack boxer shorts for the Last Night of the Proms. Whether the sender’s identity is the bigger surprise...

BBCSO, Brabbins, Barbican review - commanding...

Gavin Dixon

Dances of earth and songs of sea – the BBC Symphony Orchestra's latest programme offered an inspired coupling, where similar inspirations balanced...

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Morton Feldman, Maria...

Graham Rickson

Bach: Keyboard Concertos, Italian Concerto Sonya Bach (piano), English Chamber Orchestra/John Mills and Stephanie Gonley (leaders) (Rubicon)There's...

Uchida, SCO, Ticciati, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - Berlioz steals the show

David Nice

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra's Principal Conductor begins his last season in style

London Piano Festival, Kings Place review - feasts of fearless fingerwork

Jessica Duchen

A galaxy of great repertoire, world premieres included

Guy Johnston on his 1714 Tecchler cello - 'every day I start again and explore the possibilities within'

Guy Johnston

The cellist on taking a special instrument on tour from Cambridge to Rome

Classical CDs Weekly: Guy Johnston, Joyce El-Khoury, Michael Spyres, The Chanteuse

Graham Rickson

A cello celebrates its 300th birthday, bel canto arias, and erudite light music from 1960s France

Widmann, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - when Mirga met Jörg

Richard Bratby

Echoes of early Rattle, as Brahms and Mozart square up against a modern maverick

Roman Rabinovich, Hatchlands review - poetry from Chopin's very own Pleyel piano

David Nice

Transcendent Haydn, Chopin and Rachmaninov on three remarkable instruments

Anne Schwanewilms, Charles Spencer, Wigmore Hall review - going deep in Schubert

David Nice

The great soprano and her regular pianist give a masterclass in Lieder

Goode, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - tender Mozart, dynamic Bruckner

Gavin Dixon

Power meets detail in a compelling and distinctive performance of a great symphony

Santtu-Matias Rouvali on conducting in Gothenburg - 'they just want to make music. No bullshit'

David Nice

Electrifying Finn on Sibelius, national identity and feeling at home in Sweden

Classical CDs Weekly: Sibelius, Vivaldi, Weill

Graham Rickson

Neglected piano music, baroque violin concertos and songs from the Weimar Republic

Kuusisto, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review - Icelanders fare better than Sibelius

David Nice

Frozen symphonies partly redeemed by animated violinist in an Icelandic concerto

Pogostkina, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican review - human emotions in Sibelius's heaven

David Nice

Death transcended, and a blaze of light and love in a great symphony

Lammermuir Festival 2017 review - rich and deeply rewarding

David Kettle

Plenty to prokove, surprise and inspire in the East Lothian event

BBCPO, Mena, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - Mahler's Third lovingly realised

Robert Beale

Chief conductor puts a characteristic stamp on opener of his final season

The Tallis Scholars, Phillips, Cadogan Hall review - intimacy in late Renaissance music

Gavin Dixon

A diverse and vibrant tour of Italian choral music

Classical CDs Weekly: Antheil, Barsanti, Handel, Laks

Graham Rickson

Fun sounds from a self-confessed bad boy, a snapshot of musical life in 18th century Scotland, and beguiling chamber works from an Auschwitz survivor

Reger Cello Suites, Richard Harwood, Malling Abbey review - Bach with a dash of acid

David Nice

A revelation of solo-cello masterpieces resounds in a fascinating convent church

Stravinsky Ballets, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - the big three burn with focused energy

David Nice

Perfect teamwork in miracles of song, rhythm and colour

La Damnation de Faust, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - infernal dynamite

Peter Quantrill

Adrenaline levels still running high for the second instalment of #ThisisRattle

Grenfell Tower Benefit Concert, Cadogan Hall - stellar line-up for a vital cause

Sebastian Scotney

A message went out. And then the scale of the event started to grow...

Classical CDs Weekly: Cage, Mahler, Satie

Graham Rickson

American experimentalism, vintage recordings from a fiery conductor and more oddities from a Parisian maverick

Tetzlaff, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - a triumphant homecoming for the maestro

Bernard Hughes

British music takes centre stage at the start of new musical era for London

Podium nitrate: Conductors at the 2017 Proms


Feast on our annual treat: BBC photographer Chris Christodoulou's action shots

Bridgewater Hall 21st Birthday review - from voice and guitar to four pianos

Robert Beale

Party time in Manchester brings fun, invention and a romp in unusual form

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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