mon 10/08/2020

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: William Dawson, Ulysses Kay, Janáček, Norwegian Trombone Ensemble

Graham Rickson

 William Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony, Ulysses Kay: Fantasy Variations, Umbrian Scene ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/Arthur Fagen (Naxos)

A masked elegy: portraits of string players at the Fidelio Orchestra Café

David Nice

Out of a silent and empty City of London, unusually still even for a Sunday afternoon, it felt surreal to come upon a centre of light and activity. Raffaello Morales, Renaissance man, conductor of the Fidelio Orchestra and owner/impresario of its eponymous café which has played host to great performances over the past month, had mustered 23 of the finest London-based players to tackle the ultimate in works for string orchestra.

'Rehearsing Beethoven with Barenboim felt...

Kelton Koch

Joining the Vienna Philharmonic as a student and young professional was an absolute thrill. I had begun to play with the orchestra as an academist in...

Classical CDs Weekly: Bruckner, Elgar, Prokofiev

Graham Rickson

 Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 Australian World Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle (ABC Classics)I love Bruckner’s mature symphonies, but they still baffle...

Louis Schwizgebel, Fidelio Orchestra Café review...

David Nice

A front-rank pianist only takes on Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in full confidence of being able to handle the massive bells and blazing...

Pavel Kolesnikov, Fidelio Orchestra Café review – a Chopin cosmos

David Nice

The finest one-act musical drama at close quarters

theartsdesk at the Pärnu Music Festival 2020 – great live orchestra, ecstatic audience

David Nice

Estonia’s summer capital buzzes again with electrifying music-making under Paavo Järvi

Classical CDs Weekly: Sir John Barbirolli

Graham Rickson

A much-loved British conductor gets an anniversary tribute

BBC Lunchtime Concerts from Glasgow's City Halls, BBC Radio 3 review - a feast for ears if not for eyes

Miranda Heggie

Four very special live broadcasts from Scottish artists

First Person: Christopher Glynn on how the Ryedale Festival flows on

Christopher Glynn

Artistic director and pianist defines his hopes for an online journey

Classical CDs Weekly: Ives, Plakidis, Shostakovich

Graham Rickson

Visionary Americana, Latvian orchestral music and a pair of Soviet violin concertos

Classical music/Opera direct to home 21 - from large-scale memories to chamber-music streaming

David Nice

Giant Proms, Wagner, a violinist in a chapel - there's still much to enrich evenings indoors

Kanneh-Mason, Philharmonia, Wilson online review - light in darkness

Jessica Duchen

With starry soloist and sky-high production standards, this is a sure-fire winner

Alina Ibragimova, Samson Tsoy, Fidelio Orchestra Café review – cataclysms and calm on the Clerkenwell Road

David Nice

Febrile Beethoven and Janáček, unadvertised profundity from Pärt and Messiaen

First Person: Royal College of Music Director of Programmes Diana Salazar on a transformation in learning and teaching

Diana Salazar

The RCM’s corridors are quieter than usual but commitment to musical learning resounds

This House is Full of Music, Imagine..., BBC One review – a spring dream of a lockdown concert

David Nice

Sheku Kanneh-Mason is only first among equals in this perfect home recital

theartsdesk Q&A: horn player Sarah Willis

Graham Rickson

Midnight recording sessions and late-running buses; playing Mozart in Havana

Classical music/Opera direct to home 20 - more signs of musical life around the UK

David Nice

Pavilion gala in the Buckinghamshire countryside, plus concerts live and recorded

Classical CDs Weekly: Coriún Aharonián, Beethoven, Humphrey Procter-Gregg

Graham Rickson

Uruguayan modernism, iconic piano concertos and violin sonatas from an influential Mancunian

Steven Isserlis, Fidelio Orchestra Café review – distilled reflection, joy and wit

David Nice

Bounding back from lockdown with superlative Bach and Walton

'She spoke through her violin': Steven Isserlis on extraordinary meetings with Ida Haendel (192?-2020)

Steven Isserlis

One great and characterful instrumentalist remembered by another

Classical CDs Weekly: Holst, Nielsen, Piatti, Tchaikovsky

Graham Rickson

An accordion duo, operatic arias on solo cello and a fiery Russian symphony

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

Svend McEwan-Brown

East Neuk Festival Director finds generosity, humanity and a hunger for culture in a crisis

Mark Padmore, Mitsuko Uchida/ Benjamin Baker, Timothy Ridout, Wigmore Hall online/BBC Radio 3 review – hail and farewell

Boyd Tonkin

A landmark series closes with majesty, and mischief

Classical CDs Weekly: Enescu, Mendelssohn, Tuur, Sara Stowe

Graham Rickson

String octets, Estonian orchestral music and an avant-garde vocal disc

'Composing supports children to understand music from the inside': educator Nancy Evans on a revolution in primary schools

Nancy Evans

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group's Director of Learning outlines a bold new project

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

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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