thu 16/09/2021

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Our Future in Your Hands, Peckham School Choirs, Multi-Story Orchestra, Stark, Bold Tendencies review - blazing community epic

David Nice

What a way for the Multi-Story Orchestra, conductor Christopher Stark and composer Kate Whitley to celebrate 10 years of pioneering activity in Peckham and beyond.

Last Night of the Proms, BBC review - a feast of unusual morsels in a traditional wrapper

Christopher Lambton

In some deep imagined past, watching the Last Night of the Proms on telly was one of those national collective experiences, like watching the Morecambe and Wise Christmas special.

Devieilhe, Tharaud, Wigmore Hall review - French...

Sebastian Scotney

Soprano Sabine Devieilhe (pronounced Devielle) and pianist Alexandre Tharaud are both well on their way to becoming "Monuments Nationaux" in France....

First Person: pianist Filippo Gorini on head,...

Filippo Gorini

A past work of art either still speaks to us in the present, or it is dead. To try and understand a masterpiece, we tend to look at its past: we...

Classical CDs: Star sopranos, forest spirits and...

Graham Rickson

  Die stille Stadt: Songs by Alma Mahler, Franz Schreker and Erich Wolfgang Korngold Dorothea Herbert (soprano), Peter Nilsson (piano) (7...

St Matthew Passion, Arcangelo, Cohen, BBC Proms review – journey to the end of night

Boyd Tonkin

Bach's great Gospel tragedy crowns a Proms season of hope and healing

Through hoops and hurdles to sheer joy: BBC Proms Director David Pickard on a season like no other

David Pickard

It isn't over yet, but an international institution has already triumphed against the odds

Proms Festival Orchestra, Wigglesworth, BBC Proms review - brilliant work in progress, perfect Adagietto

David Nice

Freelance musicians prove an army of generals, marshalled by a great British conductor

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, RLPO, Hindoyan, BBC Proms review - wood magic and swashbuckling show-offs

David Nice

The cellist meditates, the Liverpudlian orchestra lets rip with its lively new chief conductor

Chiejina, Sinfonia of London, Wilson, BBC Proms review - a musical arrival for a special favourite

Alexandra Coghlan

Arresting musicianship finally gives Korngold his due

Hallenberg, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner, BBC Proms review - a vindication of voices

Boyd Tonkin

Choral singing at its finest roars back to the Proms

Aimard, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin, BBC Proms review - a revealing composer portrait

Gavin Dixon

George Benjamin's new Concerto for Orchestra alongside works exploring his roots

Kopatchinskaja, BBCSSO, Volkov, BBC Proms Review - the spirit of the dance in Bartók

Sebastian Scotney

Folk roots joyously explored

Classical CDs: Viols, violas and symphonies from a Latvian polymath

Graham Rickson

Latvian orchestral music, baroque transcriptions, guitar and two accordionists

Crowe, BBCSSO, Volkov, BBC Proms review - shining light on history and heritage

Peter Quantrill

A big premiere shaded by music that’s always new

Jeneba Kanneh-Mason, Chineke! Orchestra, Bovell, BBC Proms - a star danced

David Nice

Outstanding conductor finds lithe personality in Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Symphony

First Person: composer Joseph Phibbs on rescoring Britten

Joseph Phibbs

Tonight at Snape: chamber arrangement of an early masterpiece, 'Our Hunting Fathers'

LSO, Rattle, BBC Proms review - dazzling Stravinsky showcase

Gavin Dixon

Humanity and warmth behind severe facades

Elisabeth Leonskaja / Goldmund Quartet, Edinburgh International Festival review - established and emerging stars shine bright

Miranda Heggie

Jubilant Brahms and dramatic Schubert in two bite-sized chamber concerts

First Person: theartsdesk writer Bernard Hughes on composing for the BBC Proms

Bernard Hughes

Classical music reviewer on sitting on the other side of the artist-critic fence

Baker, Chineke! Orchestra, Eddins, Edinburgh International Festival review - women's stories told by women

Miranda Heggie

A powerful and poignant performance of an epic song-cycle by Judith Weir

Esfahani, Gibson, Manchester Collective, BBC Proms review – variety, but not always in proportion

Bernard Hughes

Music for harpsichord and strings ranges from the fierce to the festive

Voces8 Live from London Summer online review - choral excellence and more besides

Bernard Hughes

Another barnstorming festival ranges from singing to symphonies to silence

Ólafsson, Philharmonia, Järvi, BBC Proms review - a ravishing Proms debut

Alexandra Coghlan

Musical time-travel from top Icelander, Estonian and great London orchestra

Classical CDs: Soviet symphonies, popular classics and percussion

Graham Rickson

Neglected French orchestral music, a guitarist's Euro-jaunt and a dark, sober box of symphonies

Isserlis, LPO, Jurowski, BBC Proms review - a final hand full of aces

Boyd Tonkin

A typically adventurous mix, beautifully performed, marks Jurowski's farewell to the LPO

Kolesnikov, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, BBC Proms review - dazzling musicianship and insight

Alexandra Coghlan

Who knew being back in the classroom could be this much fun?

Brahms Piano Concertos, Tsoy, Philharmonia, Emelyanychev, Bold Tendencies - rich epic mastery in concrete surroundings

David Nice

Brilliant pianism, ravishing orchestral playing, vivid conducting under a car-park roof

BBCNOW, Bancroft, BBC Proms review – American music from across the spectrum

Bernard Hughes

Entertaining programme juxtaposes old and new

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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