sun 22/09/2019

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Eleanor Alberga, Parry, Blondel

Graham Rickson

 Eleanor Alberga: String Quartets 1, 2 & 3 Ensemble Arcadiana (Navona Records)

Ólafsson, Hallé, Mäkelä, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - exciting new faces

Robert Beale

The Hallé Orchestra has a good track record when it comes to bringing in young talents with exciting prospects, and its 2019-20 season begins with the newly appointed Finnish chief conductor designate of the Oslo Philharmonic, Klaus Mäkelä, on the rostrum, and the young Icelander Víkungur Ólafsson as solo pianist.

Kolesnikov, Britten-Shostakovich Festival...

Miranda Heggie

Celebrating the friendship between the two great 20th-century composers, the Britten-Shostakovich Festival Orchestra launched this year. Founded by...

Beethoven Festival Weekend, Wigmore Hall review 1...

Jessica Duchen

While the Proms were ringing out the old season, the Wigmore Hall ushered in the big celebration of 2020: the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van...

Beethoven Festival Weekend, Wigmore Hall review 2...

David Nice

Any festival would be proud and honoured to end with the great Elisabeth Leonskaja playing the last three Beethoven piano sonatas. Here the Everest...

LSO, Rattle, Barbican Hall review – visions of the beyond

Gavin Dixon

Serene meditations from Messiaen, energised by the joyous sound of birdsong

Last Night of the Proms, Barton, BBCSO, Oramo review – woke not broke

Gavin Dixon

Traditional revelries, but with a strong focus on diversity and inclusion

Classical CDs Weekly: Haydn, Korngold, Philippe Manoury

Graham Rickson

Classical symphonies transcribed for piano, a late, late romantic symphony and an electro-acoustic piano duo

Prom 72/3: Aurora Orchestra, Collon review – Berlioz not quite lost in showbiz

Boyd Tonkin

Stagey stunts but fine music in dramatised 'Symphonie fantastique'

Prom 71: Dunedin Consort, Butt review – Bach to the drawing-board please

Sebastian Scotney

Solo moments were all too brief

Prom 69: Stikhina, Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov – dark textures and powerful passions

Gavin Dixon

Distinctive sound expertly shaped by the Prague players' new conductor

Prom 68: Goerke, Gould, RPO, Albrecht review - the art of transition

Peter Quantrill

Wagner Night at the Proms set ablaze by orchestral splendour and vocal lustre

Prom 66: In the Name of the Earth review - John Luther Adams's ambitious choral spectacular

Bernard Hughes

Massed choirs fill the Albert Hall with ecological contemplation and rattling coffee-cups

Classical CDs Weekly: Albert Roussel, Roy Budd, Propellor

Graham Rickson

A great French composer gets his due, an iconic film score remastered and an aquatic journey from ocean to sky

Prom 63: Wang, Staatskapelle Dresden, Chung review – private passions

Boyd Tonkin

An intimate journey through a showpiece concerto

Prom 60: Ax, Vienna Philharmonic, Haitink review - moving mountains at 90

David Nice

Time becomes perfectly-managed space in a great conductor's official UK finale

theartsdesk at the Southrepps Music Festival - world-class young musicians return to North Norfolk

David Nice

Pianist Martin James Bartlett and guitarist Sean Shibe help celebrate a big 10th birthday

Prom 55: Jephtha, SCO & Chorus, Egarr review - shock of the new in sacrificial oratorio

David Nice

Handel's searing response to Old Testament horror strikes afresh

Classical CDs Weekly: Saint-Saëns, Yolanda Kondonassis, Konstantin Reinfeld & Benyamin Nuss

Graham Rickson

A travelogue disguised as a piano concerto, plus music for harp and harmonica

Prom 53: Connolly, Gregory, Tappan, BBCSO & Chorus, Davis review - citizens of the world unite

David Nice

Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Hugh Wood transcend national boundaries

Manchester International Piano Competition, Chetham’s review - stars in the making

Robert Beale

Gifted young soloists show their worth in concerto performances

Prom 47: Schönheit, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Nelsons review - Bruckner doesn’t quite take flight

Bernard Hughes

Ravishing sounds from thoroughbred Germans, undermined by sluggish tempos

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Christophersen, Mr McFall's Chamber

Graham Rickson

Baroque keyboard suites and Norwegian brass virtuosi. Plus penguins and a musical saw.

Edinburgh International Festival 2019: Bach's Multiple Concertos/ Manon Lescaut reviews - dancing harpsichords, perfect Puccini

David Nice

A day of pleasure and pain crowned by Sondra Radvanovsky and Donald Runnicles

Prom 46: Kanneh-Mason, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla review - brilliant programme, brilliant playing

Bernard Hughes

Blend of familiar Elgar with undervalued Weinberg shows the Proms at its best

Prom 44: Finley, LSO & Chorus, Orfeó Català, Rattle review - lurid inter-war triptych

David Nice

Less could sometimes have been more in blockbusters by Varèse and Walton

Prom 43: Haefliger, BBCSO & Chorus, Oramo review – the frisson of the new

Jessica Duchen

Two exciting premieres and a valuable old chestnut in an uplifting evening

Prom 41: Ghindin, LPO, Jurowski review - perfect sound in a Russian spectacular

David Nice

An unwieldy early piano concerto is the curious pachyderm in a rainbow parade

Edinburgh International Festival 2019: MacMillan birthday concerts - searing world premiere

Christopher Lambton

Triumphant new choral symphony for our rudderless times

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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