mon 28/11/2022

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

A Child of Our Time, LPO, Gardner, RFH review - the spirit still moves

Boyd Tonkin

Half a century ago, Michael Tippett’s A Child of our Time felt inescapable. For a youth-choir singer in the London of that period, his wartime “modern oratorio” supplied a reference-point of ambition and achievement to which our exasperated elders always seemed eager to refer – and to defer.

Basel Saleh, Sansara, United Strings of Europe, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - music of sanctuary and solidarity

Bernard Hughes

This collaboration between two young and exciting ensembles, the choir Sansara and the United Strings of Europe, had its heart in a good place.

Hewitt, Hallé, Schuldt, Bridgewater Hall,...

Robert Beale

If there was a certain doom-laden dimension to Clemens Schuldt’s Bridgewater Hall programme with the Hallé ( … Requiem … Mozart in D minor … Strauss...

Kristian Bezuidenhout, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra...

Boyd Tonkin

A dream pairing of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and early-keyboard wizard Kristian Bezuidenhout marked St Cecilia’s Day at the Wigmore Hall with a...

Leif Ove Andsnes, Wigmore Hall review - brooding...

Gavin Dixon

Leif Ove Andsnes has a distinctive voice at the piano; clear, controlled and powerful. He sits upright; his body barely moves, and his head sways...

Roderick Williams, Nash Ensemble, Wigmore Hall review - sunshine and serenity

Boyd Tonkin

A quicksilver 'Trout', and both Mahlers in mellow mood

Mahler 9, BBC NOW, Stenz, St David's Hall, Cardiff review - passionate without bloodshed on the rostrum

Stephen Walsh

Superb orchestral playing loud and soft, and a touching award

Watts, Williams, The Bach Choir, Philharmonia, Hill, RFH review - Vaughan Williams, from decadence to metaphysics

David Nice

VW anniversary celebrated with a popular overture, an early rarity and a masterpiece

Classical CDs: Masses, maths and memories

Graham Rickson

Big-hearted violin playing, English song and prime numbers in sonic form

Psappha, Hallé St Peter’s, Manchester review - pioneers of today’s music undaunted

Robert Beale

Premieres and rewarding new experiences from champions of creativity

El Gran Teatro del Mundo, St John's Smith Square review - a diverting tour of an unusual musical form

Rachel Halliburton

This 'Conversation' was almost like watching a murmuration of birds

Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective, Wigmore Hall review - nine haute cuisine courses, twelve happy musicians

David Nice

Sensuous and joyous French delights in two daytime concerts

Pioro, Julien-Laferrière, BBC Philharmonic, Schwarz, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - joy on a Saturday night

Robert Beale

Mainstream music making has its own rewards

'We wanted to emphasise the “ordinariness” of people affected by torture': Sally Beamish on her new work for Ex Cathedra

Sally Beamish

The composer and viola-player on her collaboration with writer husband Peter Thomson

Ott, LSO, Stutzmann, Barbican review - highways to hell (and back)

Boyd Tonkin

A bold and bracing ride through Romantic landscapes

First Person: composer and co-founder of The Multi-Story Orchestra Kate Whitley on car-park creativity

Kate Whitley

Enabling young people from all walks of life to be themselves in a wonderful environment

Kavakos, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Harding, Barbican review - elegance without poise

Gavin Dixon

Amsterdam's best sound gorgeous as ever, but conductor and violinist push too hard

The Hermes Experiment, Purcell Room review - familiar objects, unfamiliar sounds

Bernard Hughes

Scenes from modern life explored by high-class experimental ensemble

Classical CDs: Bells, birthdays and elephants

Graham Rickson

Rediscovered French composers, contemporary Americana and a 20th century giant letting his hair down

Britten Weekend, Snape review - diverse songs to mostly great poetry overshadow a problem opera

David Nice

Pianist Malcolm Martineau marshals 10 committed singers for the complete song cycles

An Anatomy of Melancholy, Barbican Pit review - stunning journey into an Elizabethan heart of darkness

Rachel Halliburton

Iestyn Davies' tone ranges from subtle vibrato to pure liquid gold

Australian Chamber Orchestra, Tognetti, Milton Court review - from Beethoven to didgeridoo

Bernard Hughes

Combining indigenous Australian music with reimagined European classics

Orfeo ed Euridice, Opera North review - more than a concert

Robert Beale

First night in the theatre for new take on Gluck's operatic myth has its own rewards

Mulroy, Aurora Orchestra, Kings Place review - old and new worlds of song

Boyd Tonkin

Soulful melody unites a musical meeting of London, Leipzig and Latin America

Classical CDs: Death, dragons and sea shanties

Graham Rickson

A rediscovered comic opera, orchestral froth and a spectacular 20th century symphony

Path of Miracles, Tenebrae, Short, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - a modern choral classic

Bernard Hughes

Joby Talbot’s compelling evocation of medieval pilgrimage thrills and moves

Ax, LPO, Canellakis, RFH review - from the soil to the stars

Boyd Tonkin

Pianistic warmth and wisdom anchors a journey from earth to the heavens

Vaughan Williams Anniversary Concert, Wigmore Hall review - choices, choices

David Nice

All fine performances, but question-marks over length and arrangements nag

Orpheus, Opera North review - cross-cultural opera in action

Robert Beale

Monteverdi and South Asian classical tradition come together with enchanting success

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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