tue 28/01/2020

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Oriole Ensemble, Conway Hall review - sublimely peculiar chamber music

Bernard Hughes

When I reviewed the Philharmonia’s Weimar season last year I expressed a hope to hear more Hindemith performed in London. When, also last year, I reviewed chamber music at Conway Hall I looked forward to my next visit. So a Conway Hall programme including Hindemith’s Clarinet Quartet was like a magnet.

Shostakovich 24 Preludes and Fugues, Igor Levit, Barbican review - an eagle's-eye view

David Nice

"Citizen. European. Pianist," declares Russian-born, Berlin-based Igor Levit on the front page of his website. One should add, since he wouldn't, Mensch and master of giants.

Cargill, BBCSO, Saraste, Barbican review - less...

Gavin Dixon

Jukka-Pekka Saraste doesn’t visit London much these days. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and there were rumours that...

Classical CDs Weekly: Ginastera, Messiaen, Saint-...

Graham Rickson

 Ginastera: Harp Concerto, Variaciones concertantes Sidsel Walstad (harp), Norwegian Radio Orchestra/Miguel Harth-Bedoya (Lawo Classics)Alberto...

Miloš Karadaglić, Birmingham Town Hall review -...

Miranda Heggie

Dubbed “classical music’s guitar hero”, the 36-year-old London based Montenegrin guitarist  Miloš Karadaglić – more commonly known by just his...

Bach Sunday with the Suzukis, RAM / Appl, AAM, Milton Court review - father, son and Holy Ghost

David Nice

From the grandest beginnings of the B Minor Mass at lunchtime to solo cantatas at night

Blomfield, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review - sounds of a troubled truce

Boyd Tonkin

Three idiosyncratic works tell one story of the world in 1945

Beethoven Discovery Day, Batiashvili, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review – reassessing a rarity

Gavin Dixon

Soloists, chorus and orchestra shine in a rarely heard oratorio

Mahler's Eighth, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - a symphony of 600

Richard Bratby

A rite of spring as a great orchestra launches its centenary year in epic style

Currie, Jordan, NCO, Stoller Hall, Manchester review - major marimba music

Robert Beale

Tales of mystery and imagination from the 21st century and beyond

Classical CDs Weekly: Elgar, Scarlatti, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Graham Rickson

Enough sonatas for a year, a young cellist faces the inevitable, and festive fun from Vienna

Watkins, Clayton, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review - a rainbow cornucopia

David Nice

A modest new masterpiece by Mark-Anthony Turnage fits snugly in a perfect programme

Elisabeth Leonskaja, Wigmore Hall review - pure musical essence

David Nice

A thousand things learned, and felt, in Mozart - and Schoenberg - from a master pianist

Röschmann, LSO, Rattle, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - passion with precision

Miranda Heggie

Flawless interpretations in music from first and second Viennese Schools

Gautier Capuçon, Yuja Wang, Barbican review - spellbinding moments in circumscribed programme

David Nice

It takes Piazzolla to ignite an audience after sophisticated Franck and Chopin

Kanneh-Mason, LMP, Martín, Fairfield Halls review – modest mastery on show

Peter Quantrill

French polish from the cello star of the moment

Bridging the cultural divide: Armenian conductor Sergey Smbatyan on marrying east and west

Sergey Smbatyan

As the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra arrives in London, its artistic director reflects

Bowers-Broadbent, Theatre of Voices, Kings Place - grit needed in the oyster

David Nice

Meditative magic for the Nature Unwrapped celebrations, but some conflict is necessary

Classical CDs and Vinyl Weekly: Beethoven, Holst

Graham Rickson

Symphonies and concertos from this year's birthday boy, and a British orchestral classic gets a spectacular airing

Ibragimova, LSO, Stutzmann, Barbican review – grace and gravity

Boyd Tonkin

Memorable Mendelssohn, bookended by hearty but classy Brahms and Wagner

Clarke, Ränzlöv, The Mozartists, Page, Wigmore Hall - young Mozart among the giants

David Nice

1770 is this year's focus in 'Mozart 250,' showcasing two bright young singers

Suzman, London Schools Symphony Orchestra, Edwards, Barbican review - a cabaret from hell

David Nice

Great speeches and fine conducting hold a cornucopia of devilish tales together

Planting seeds for change: Helen Wallace on a year of seminal events at Kings Place

Helen Wallace

Women composers to the fore in the innovative arts centre's 'Nature Unwrapped'

National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Martín, Barbican review - songs of protest and resilience

David Nice

Singing phrases carry huge emotion as 164 teenagers make their voices heard

Classical CDs Weekly: Schubert, Shostakovich, Berlinskaya-Ancelle Piano Duo

Graham Rickson

An epic 19th century symphony, historic recordings from a 20th century giant and neglected repertoire for piano duo

Best of 2019: Classical CDs

Graham Rickson

All wheat and no chaff: twelve of the year's best classical recordings

Best of 2019: Classical concerts

David Nice

From vital youth at the Proms to septuagenarian pianists and a 90 year old conductor

theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Olari Elts in Tallinn

David Nice

From contemporary ensemble to top orchestra, the latest major Estonian has arrived

Classical CDs Weekly: Christmas CDs 2

Graham Rickson

A classical CD isn't just for Christmas: seven more seasonal discs with staying power

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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