wed 22/05/2019

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

First Person: Liam Byrne on bringing Versailles to the City's 'Culture Mile'

Liam Byrne

When you dedicate your life to studying and performing on a musical instrument that essentially went extinct at the end of the 18th century, nostalgia plays a certain unavoidable role in your daily routine.

Classical CDs Weekly: Mahler, Schumann, Tamara Stefanovich

Graham Rickson

 Mahler: Symphony No 7 Budapest Festival Orchestra/Ivan Fischer (Channel Classics)

Benjamin Grosvenor, Barbican review - virtuosity...

Jessica Duchen

It’s 15 years since Benjamin Grosvenor first strolled onto our TV screens as a prodigiously gifted child in the BBC Young Musician Competition. Today...

Takács Quartet, Wigmore Hall review – strong...

Boyd Tonkin

When critics praise a first-rank string quartet, convention demands they claim that the whole adds up to more than the sum of its parts. True enough...

theartsdesk in Tallinn and Tartu: Estonian Music...

David Nice

First under Soviet rule, then in the remarkable flourishing of a liberated nation, Estonian contemporary music has held its independent head high and...

Hardenberger, Pöntinen, Wigmore Hall review - superstar trumpeter shows his class

Bernard Hughes

A challenging programme was enjoyable - but less would have been more

Mullova, Philharmonia, Järvi, RFH review – clear paths through the forest

Boyd Tonkin

Familiar works refreshed as precision joins passion

10 Questions for Cellist Raphael Wallfisch

Gavin Dixon

On composers in exile, the forgotten beauty of English cello concertos, and why you shouldn’t mess with Beethoven

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Jess Gillam, Neeme Järvi

Graham Rickson

The bible for cellists, Gallic balletic rarities and colourful music for saxophone

LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - inner magic eventually joins outward mastery

David Nice

Mahler's Adagietto sounds fresh in a never less than impressive Fifth Symphony

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Clara Mouriz, Roderick Williams, Joseph Middleton, Wigmore Hall review - the song recital as mixtape

Sebastian Scotney

A bold programme of Ravel with off-piste adventures

LSO, Rattle, Barbican review – a brace of souped-up symphonies

Peter Quantrill

Dynamic pairing of Adams's 'Harmonielehre' and Berlioz's 'Symphonie Fantastique'

I Fagiolini, Hollingworth, St George's Bristol review - Leonardo and music, immortal, invisible

Stephen Walsh

Brilliant polyphony of sound and image, matched and opposed

Classical CDs Weekly: Chaplin's Smile, Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments, Sollazzo Ensemble

Graham Rickson

Film themes from a 20th century icon, plus two collections of early music

10 Questions for Musician Will Gregory

Thomas H Green

The Goldfrapp mainstay talks physics, Moogs, Morricone and his work with the British Paraorchestra

Bronfman, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - weight and wit

David Nice

Semi-comic turns from Brahms, Strauss and Elgar made to seem effortless

Benedetti, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican review - Elgar challenges, Dvořák soothes

Gavin Dixon

Expressive intensity in the Elgar concerto, despite its pressing technical demands

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Shostakovich, Johannes Pramsohler

Graham Rickson

Chamber music inflated, turbulent symphonies and baroque violin concertos

First Person: Robert Hollingworth on I Fagiolini's 'Leonardo - Shaping the Invisible'

Robert Hollingworth

Images reflected in music 500 years after the ultimate Renaissance man's death

CBSO, Volkov, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - Mahler goes Bauhaus

Richard Bratby

A Ninth Symphony stripped bare of schmaltz, in a thought provoking programme

Mitten wir im Leben sind, De Keersmaeker, Queyras, Rosas, Sadler's Wells review - Bach-worthy genius

David Nice

Outwardly austere, inwardly vibrant life-and-death journey through the six Cello Suites

Brockes-Passion, AAM, Egarr, Barbican review - fleshly Handel for our earthbound times

Alexandra Coghlan

Neglected oratorio offers a seasonal alternative to Bach

St Matthew Passion, Ex Cathedra, Skidmore, Symphony Hall Birmingham - powerful, poignant Bach

Miranda Heggie

Simple and nuanced performance of a supreme masterpiece

Classical CDs Weekly: Gabriel Jackson, Lansing McLoskey, 12 Ensemble

Graham Rickson

Two new choral works and a disc of contemporary string music

Javier Perianes, QEH review - not a Spanish fire-eater but a world-class poet

David Nice

Chopin and Debussy imagined afresh, Falla not quite set ablaze

Philharmonia, Blomstedt, RFH review - gravity and grace

Boyd Tonkin

A masterclass in quiet authority from the veteran Swede

Ehnes, BBC Philharmonic, Wilson, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - contrasts from the 1930s

Robert Beale

Walton’s Violin Concerto makes a deep impact alongside angst-ridden Vaughan Williams

Classical CDs Weekly: Mozart, Poulenc, Jeremy Denk

Graham Rickson

Strings and winds from Vienna and Paris, plus eight centuries of keyboard music

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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