wed 20/09/2017

Royal Albert Hall

Last Night of the Proms review: Stemme, BBCSO, Oramo - international array, abundant blue and gold

The Last Night of the Proms is always a beautifully choreographed event, and this year’s was no exception. The format changes little, but each year a new selection of works is chosen to fill the slots. The BBC Symphony Orchestra, always the backbone...

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Prom 74: Ax, Vienna Philharmonic, Tilson Thomas review - elegance without passion

The Vienna Philharmonic makes a beautiful sound, no question about that: the question is what to do with it. Michael Tilson Thomas has some ideas, but they are mostly low-key. He is currently touring with the orchestra, and seems to have been chosen...

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Prom 72 review: Vienna Philharmonic, Harding - uncertain Mahler Six partly redeemed by brass

Outlines of a real face had begun to emerge in Daniel Harding’s conducting personality. His youthful rise to the top initially yielded neutral concerts with the LSO and a glassy, overpraised recording of Mahler’s Tenth in the Deryck Cooke completion...

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Prom 73 review: The Well-Tempered Clavier - Book 1, Schiff - glorious solo voyage across Bach's universe

Amazingly, last night Sir András Schiff scored a Proms first with his performance of Book One of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. Never before has even half of the sublime and seminal “48” taken the Royal Albert Hall stage in unmutilated form...

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Prom 70 review: Denk, BBCSO, Canellakis - high, lucid and bright

It can’t be too long before “women” no longer needs to prefix “conductors” to define what’s still a rare breed. Yet seven at the Proms is certainly an improvement, with many more coming up through the ranks. And American Karina Canellakis turned out...

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Proms 64 & 66 review: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Gatti - halfway to paradise with Bruckner and Mahler

How do you get to heaven, especially if you need to reach the pearly gates by way of the earthbound acoustics of the Royal Albert Hall? With Chief Conductor Daniele Gatti as their spirit guide, the sumptuously arrayed pilgrim band of the Royal...

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Prom 63 review: Gerstein, BBCSO, Bychkov - total mastery of orchestral sound

No-one, least of all the players, will forget Semyon Bychkov’s 2009 Proms appearance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a poleaxing interpretation of Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony. They had already made the history books this Proms season with a...

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Prom 61 review: Fleming, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Oramo - heliotropic ecstasies

No sunshine without shadows was one possible theme rippling through this diva sandwich of a Prom. Even Richard Strauss's chaste nymph Daphne, achieving longed-for metamorphosis as a tree, finds darkness among the roots; and though Renée "The...

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Proms at... & Prom 56 reviews: Multi-Story Orchestra / BBCSO, Hrůša - the best of all possible worlds

There we had it, in one extraordinary Proms day: the brave new world of contemporary classical music for all in a repurposed Peckham car park followed by the consolidation of the old order in all-Czech programming of remarkable originality and...

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Prom 54 review: Kavakos, Filarmonica della Scala, Chailly - cool Milanesi mute Roman exuberance

Last night was one of those rare occasions when I'd rather have heard Respighi's gaudy-brilliant Roman Festivals than Brahms's Violin Concerto. It wasn't just that concerts like Charles Dutoit's 2014 Prom had shown us that the Italian's Roman...

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Prom 53 review: Buckley, Metropole Orkest - extravagantly entertaining jazz

Think Charles Mingus, and it’s unlikely that a neon-coiffed saxophonist playing acoustic house while doing a solo can-can around the stage will come to mind. A highly original, introspective figure whose best music is a thrillingly rumbustious...

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Prom 50 review: Josefowicz, Clayton, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla - personality in every bar

Everything you may have read about Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla's wonder-working with her City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is true. Confined to a Turkish hospital bed when their first Prom together took place last August, I wondered from the radio...

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