sat 04/07/2020

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Holst, Nielsen, Piatti, Tchaikovsky

Graham Rickson

 Holst: The Planets; Nielsen: Helios Overture Mythos (Bjarke Mogensen and Rasmus Schjaerff Kjøller, accordions) (Mythos)

‘We are still standing and planning for the brightest future we can’: Svend McEwan-Brown on the survival of a festival

Svend McEwan-Brown

They say that you discover who your true friends are when you find yourself in direst need. East Neuk Festival, our success story on the Fife coast, which should have been happening this week, faced the deepest crisis in its 16-year history this spring when, due to the pandemic, 2020’s festival was cancelled.

Mark Padmore, Mitsuko Uchida/ Benjamin Baker,...

Boyd Tonkin

Of course, we just had to end with a midsummer Winterreise. The Wigmore Hall’s month of lockdown concerts for BBC Radio 3 had begun with a legendary...

Classical CDs Weekly: Enescu, Mendelssohn, Tuur,...

Graham Rickson

 Mendelssohn: Octet, Enescu: Octet Gringolts Quartet & Meta4 (BIS)Mendelssohn began work on his delicious Octet at the age of 16. He’d been...

'Composing supports children to understand...

Nancy Evans

Next month (July 2020) marks 20 years since I started work at Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, initially as their first Education Manager and...

Live from Covent Garden 2, Royal Opera and Ballet online review - heaven and earth in a nutshell

David Nice

Mahler's 'Song of the Earth' in Schoenberg's chamber arrangement, plus heavenly Gluck

Alina Ibragimova, Kristian Bezuidenhout/Iestyn Davies, Elizabeth Kenny, Wigmore Hall online/BBC Radio 3 review - two perfect pairings

Miranda Heggie

An uplifting pull to melancholy music in both of these splendid recitals

'We must channel the energy and pain that is being expressed right now': Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE on time for action on diversity in classical music

Chi-chi Nwanoku

Chineke! founder and double bassist explains an open letter to the Prime Minister

Ailish Tynan, Iain Burnside/Allan Clayton, James Baillieu, Wigmore Hall online/BBC Radio 3 review – alone together

Boyd Tonkin

Fine singing and dramatic flair in hours of sweet solitude

Classical CDs Weekly: Franck, Holger Falk, Ursula Paludan Monberg

Graham Rickson

Belgian orchestral music, plus a trip to Venice and a journey into the horn's past

Classical music/Opera direct to home 16 - putting freelancers first

David Nice

Young musicians celebrated, and two major festivals online

The power of resilience: flautist Noemi Gyori on positive ways to face adversity

Noemi Gyori

How performers, and others, might best deal with the current crisis

Roderick Williams, Joseph Middleton, Wigmore Hall online/BBC Radio 3 review - gender roles in song examined

Miranda Heggie

A strong case for egalitarianism in all art song

Classical CDs Weekly: Chopin, Rimsky-Korsakov, John Bullard, Fred Thomas

Graham Rickson

Flamboyant piano studies, orchestral fireworks and a pair of banjos

Paul Lewis/Hyeyoon Park, Benjamin Grosvenor, Wigmore Hall online/BBC Radio 3 review - tranquil Schubert, fiery Franck

Jessica Duchen

Locked-down stars take to an empty Wigmore Hall with fervour and equanimity

'This experience has revealed just how much I love music': pianist Paul Lewis on life in lockdown

Paul Lewis

On the eve of his return to an empty Wigmore Hall, a very individual artist reflects

The music of isolation: conductor Ian Page on 18th century 'Sturm und Drang'

Ian Page

Inspiring mind behind the Mozartists marks the launch of a seven-volume series

Classical CDs Weekly: Berlioz, Markus Reuter, The Mozartists

Graham Rickson

A seminal French symphony, a contemporary string quartet and stormy music from the 18th century

Stephen Hough/Lucy Crowe, Anna Tilbrook, Wigmore Hall online/BBC Radio 3 review - the end of the beginning

Richard Bratby

Comfort and joy as live performance returns to top chamber music venue - at a distance

First Person: Gabriel Prokofiev on 14 years of his Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra

Gabriel Prokofiev

The composer reflects on a 21st century classic, newly recorded

Philharmonia, Channel 4 review - death on the podium

Adam Sweeting

Music, mayhem and madness as Parisian orchestra gets a new conductor

Classical CDs Weekly: Korngold, Gabriel Prokofiev, Barbara Hannigan

Graham Rickson

Concertos and chamber music, plus an opera production from conception to performance

Classical music/Opera direct to home 13 - piano marathons and string masterclasses

David Nice

Igor Levit meditates on Satie for 20 hours, while Nicola Benedetti educates with joy

Andsnes, Eriksmoen and friends, Bergen International Festival online review - from Mozart to Widmann

David Nice

Youth and experience perfectly blended in three outstanding chamber concerts

Tuning the focus inward: violinist Esther Yoo on performers facing their demons in a crisis

Esther Yoo

A timely reflection in Mental Health Awareness Month

'Artists' online rivalry feels stronger': pianist Joseph Moog on the difficulties of performing in lockdown

Joseph Moog

Fascinating interpreter of Liszt and others on where musicians find themselves now

Classical CDs Weekly: Bizet, Gounod, Liszt, Heinz Winbeck

Graham Rickson

French elegance, an epic piano sonata and a contemporary symphonic cycle

'In a country of marvellous communicators': violinist Katherine Hunka on life with the Irish Chamber Orchestra

Katherine Hunka

The ICO's leader/sometime music director for 18 years shares the wonder of life in Ireland

Classical CDs Weekly: Bruckner, Holst, Piazzolla

Graham Rickson

Austrian symphonic gravitas, English exotica and tangos from Ireland

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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