wed 25/04/2018

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Matthias Goerne, Seong-Jin Cho, Wigmore Hall review - slow and slower Strauss

Sebastian Scotney

Matthias Goerne has an exceptional ability to sustain evenness and legato through a vocal line. His breath control and his tone production are things to be marvelled at. He is able to function at impossibly slow tempi, and to make an audience hold its collective breath in admiration. The problem comes when he performs a recital programme which sets out to prove that point. Again and again. All evening.

LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - incandescent swansongs by Mahler and Tippett

David Nice

Why would any conductor resist Mahler's last great symphonic adventure? By which I mean the vast finale of his Tenth Symphony, realised in full by Deryck Cooke, and not the first-movement Adagio, fully scored (unlike most of the rest) by the composer and puritanically regarded as the end of the line by supposed Mahlerians.

Wang, RSNO, Oundjian, Usher Hall, Edinburgh...

Miranda Heggie

Featuring two Russian composers, the two halves of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s programme could hardly have been more different. In the...

Ibragimova, Tiberghien, Wigmore Hall review –...

Gavin Dixon

The Brahms violin sonatas make a perfect spring evening recital. The Second and Third were inspired by a summer retreat, but all three are light,...

Classical CDs Weekly: Hans Abrahamsen, Lully,...

Graham Rickson

Hans Abrahamsen String Quartets No. 1-4 Arditti String Quartet (Winter & Winter)The opening section of Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen’s 2012...

Andsnes, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - dazzling symphonic contrasts, plus oddities

David Nice

Stunning articulation in generous helpings of Stravinsky with Shostakovich and Debussy

theartsdesk in Bremen: 150 years of A German Requiem

David Nice

Paavo Järvi conducts Brahms's dramatic masterpiece in its original cathedral location

Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review – cosmic perspectives

Gavin Dixon

Unsuk Chin explores man’s relation to the universe in new oratorio

Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall review – music for the ages

Gavin Dixon

New work for Rzewski’s 80th a puzzling affair but performed with dedication and authority

Classical CDs Weekly: Collins, Gershwin, In Echo

Graham Rickson

Contemporary violin music and a pair of American classics, plus trans-European repertoire from the 16th and 17th centuries

Dickson, SCO, Swensen, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh review - world premiere of a bold new work

Miranda Heggie

James MacMillan takes the saxophone into uncharted territory

Chineke!, Parnther, QEH review - a joyful re-building of the house

Boyd Tonkin

Not so Brutal: the South Bank's concrete palace reopens in jubilant style

Robin Ticciati on conducting Brahms: 'trying to understand the man through his music'

David Nice

A masterclass in the preparation and performance of a great symphony

Gulyak, Orchestra of Opera North, Stasevska, Leeds Town Hall – uncommonly exciting

Graham Rickson

Impressive UK debut from a young Finnish talent

Bernstein's MASS, RFH review - polymorphousness in excelsis

David Nice

Vibrant diversity in this ever-topical 'theatre piece for singers, players and dancers'

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Handel, Mozart

Graham Rickson

German symphonies, English baroque suites, plus a pair of Viennese wind serenades

theartsdesk in Kraków - Easter music with a British focus

Miranda Heggie

Edinburgh’s Dunedin Consort in residence at one of Poland’s flagship music festivals

theartsdesk at the Lucerne Easter Festival: Haitink, Schiff and an alternative Passion

David Nice

Greatest living conductor lights the way as mentor in three days of musical excellence

Gerhardt, RPO, Payare, RFH review - personality muted by faceless conducting

David Nice

Cellist-knight can't completely rescue an evening more about sound than expression

Haveron, BBC Philharmonic, Wilson, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - spirit of the 1940s

Robert Beale

Bright, clear sounds in three pieces of welcome post-war relief

Martín, SCO, Ticciati, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - farewell to the best of chief conductors

Miranda Heggie

Electrifying Dvořák 'New World' from a dream team

Classical CDs Weekly: Borup-Jørgensen, Mahler, Philippe Grisvard & Johannes Pramsohler

Graham Rickson

An amazing Danish musical seascape, moving Mahler, French baroque violin exhumations

Donohoe, LPO, Orozco-Estrada, RFH review – wit aplenty in rare Stravinsky

Bernard Hughes

Creative programming deserved a better audience turn-out

Classical CDs Weekly: Prokofiev, Philip Sawyers, Andrew Matthews-Owen

Graham Rickson

Russian violin concertos, plus two discs of contemporary music

Faust, LSO, Gardiner, Barbican review - Schumann as never before

David Nice

An elusive violin concerto reassessed in victory for a misunderstood orchestral master

Ruthless Jabiru, King's College London / Arditti Quartet, Wigmore Hall review - delicate, dedicated modernism

Gavin Dixon

Australians in refugee-themed concert, radical new sounds from avant-garde veterans

Hallenberg, LSO, Gardiner, Barbican review - palpitating Schumann and Berlioz

David Nice

Supreme communication from conductor, mezzo-soprano and an orchestra on top form

Classical CDs Weekly: Hindemith, Cantelli, Karajan, Peabody Cello Gang

Graham Rickson

One of the 20th century's greatest tunes, plus treasures from the BBC archives and lots of cellos

Sonoro, Ferris, St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate review - intriguingly programmed launch concert

Bernard Hughes

New choir on the block delivers the promised passion and polyphony

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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