sat 22/01/2022

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Sandrine Piau, David Kadouch, Wigmore Hall review - the joy is in the detail

Sebastian Scotney

“It mustn’t be a surface thing. You have to put in the work,” Janet Baker once said. Sandrine Piau’s Wigmore recital of German song followed by French song was the perfect demonstration of that credo in action.

Liebeck, Bournemouth SO, Hasan, Lighthouse, Poole review - evergreen gifts of melody

Ian Julier

Having conducted two Discovery programmes with the LSO after being a finalist in the 2016 Donatella Flick competition, London-born Kerem Hasan went on to win the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award in 2017.

Classical CDs: Violins, timpani thwacks and a...

Graham Rickson

 Gidon Kremer: The Warner Collection (Warner Classics)The words of dedication in Gidon Kremer’s autobiography, Between Worlds (2003) are chosen...

Lise Davidsen, Leif Ove Andsnes, Barbican review...

David Nice

After a too-much-too-soon debut disc, Lisa Davidsen has just rolled out the gold on CD with her great fellow Norwegian Leif Ove Andsnes in songs by...

Best of 2021: Classical music concerts

David Nice

As the catastrophe unfolded in 2020, it seemed reasonable to speculate that the biggest orchestral works – Mahler and Shostakovich symphonies,...

Voces8 Live from London Christmas online review – seasonal favourites and new discoveries

Bernard Hughes

A typically varied festival offers everything from seasonal kitsch to baroque pantomime

Best of 2021: Classical CDs

Graham Rickson

Ten of the year's best releases, plus a bonus Christmas disc

First Person: young composer Nicola Perikhanyan on a new immersive reality experience at London Wall

Nicola Perikhanyan

Multilayered work for clarinet is part of 'HARMONY' in the City

Solomon's Knot, Wigmore Hall review - festive music for uncertain times

Bernard Hughes

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio offers joy and revelation in an uplifting performance

Messiah, Dunedin Consort, Butt, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh - period clarity infused with love

Simon Thompson

A seasonal fixture returns to its home two years on

Classical CDs: Christmas 2021, Part 2

Graham Rickson

Five more succulent yuletide treats

The Sixteen, Christophers, Cadogan Hall review - polished and impeccable but slightly sedate

Bernard Hughes

Top-quality singing in seasonal programme ticks lots of boxes but never quite hits fifth gear

L’Enfance du Christ, Monteverdi Choir, ORR, Gardiner, St Martin-in-the-Fields review – clear-cut Christmas story

David Nice

Berlioz's singular take on the early adventures of the Holy Family in experienced hands

Classical CDs: Christmas 2021, Part 1

Graham Rickson

Six seasonal treats, with more to follow next week

Semenchuk, Skigin, Wigmore Hall review - compelling Tchaikovsky songs

Sebastian Scotney

A great mezzo partnered by the perfect pianist for this repertoire

MacMillan Christmas Oratorio, LPO, Elder, RFH review – a new star for the season

Boyd Tonkin

Eclectic, epic, accessible: this musical feast deserves to last

Hanslip, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Stoller Hall, Manchester review - lyricism and challenge

Robert Beale

Top violinist puts conductor-less orchestra through its paces

Feng, CBSO, Wilson, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - effortless expression

Richard Bratby

Big emotions and unexpected connections, played with matchless style

Tchetuev, LPO, Larsen-Maguire, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne review - sunshine by the sea

Ian Julier

Recreative energy from a conductor to watch, fantasy from a fine Ukrainian pianist

Imogen Cooper, Wigmore Hall review - calm waters run deep

Boyd Tonkin

A piano journey down the river of musical time

Kim, RSNO, Stockhammer, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - bold programming survives a replacement

Christopher Lambton

Fascinating sequence culminates in heartrending Brahms from a young master

Scenes from the Wild, Morgan, CLS, Paterson, Southwark Cathedral review - a cornucopia of the seasons

David Nice

Cheryl Frances-Hoad's 90-minute song cycle should be a winner when the words emerge

Classical CDs: Weak heartbeats, bell foundries and French froth

Graham Rickson

An epic German symphony, American song and Gallic wind music

Giltburg, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - back to glorious normal?

Robert Beale

Adventure and attractiveness in plenty with a master of Rachmaninov

First Person: composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad on a musical love letter to the natural world

Cheryl Frances-Hoad

Dara McAnulty's 'Diary of a Young Naturalist' is the basis for a new song-cycle

Kolesnikov, Sinfonia of London, Wilson, Snape Maltings review – volcanic Britten and Vaughan Williams

David Nice

Coruscating pianist and super-orchestra in abundant masterworks

Soweto Kinch, LSO / 'London Third Stream', London Sinfonietta, EFG London Jazz Festival review - projects from the political to the loop-y

Sebastian Scotney

Thoughtful provocation from Soweto Kinch

Balsom, Daniel, Poster, Britten Sinfonia, Stroman, Milton Court review – kinds of blue

Boyd Tonkin

Virtuoso trumpet leads a journey through musical America

Die schöne Müllerin and The Alehouse Sessions, Middle Temple Hall review - overflowing musical energy and joy

Alexandra Coghlan

Bjarte Eike and his musicians turn 21st-century concert hall into 17th-century tavern

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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