wed 17/10/2018

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Hallé, Gardner, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review – drama and humanity

Robert Beale

Edward Gardner was back amongst friends when he opened the Hallé’s Thursday series concerts. This was the place where he made his mark, as the Manchester orchestra’s first ever assistant conductor (and Youth Orchestra music director), and he’s been a welcome visitor ever since.

The Music of Harry Potter, CBSO, Seal, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - orchestral wizardry

Richard Bratby

Imagine an orchestral concert made up exclusively of contemporary works by living composers: a programme in which every note was written within the last two decades. Imagine not only that this concert is sufficiently popular to fill a 2,000-seat hall with a noticeably youthful and diverse crowd, but that its format is already being replicated regularly by pretty much every major UK symphony orchestra. Now ask yourself how much critical attention such a concert would receive?

Classical CDs Weekly: Handel, William Howard,...

Graham Rickson

Handel: Works for Keyboard Philippe Grisvard (harpsichord) (Audax)Mention Handel's keyboard output and most folks (including saps like me) will think...

Opolais, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Nelsons,...

David Nice

Latvia is fighting fit. The recent elections did not see the expected victory for the pro-Kremlin Harmony party; support for the European Union and...

Hardenberger, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,...

Boyd Tonkin

During his quarter-century in charge of the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig, the late Kurt Masur nobly held out a musical hand of friendship and...

Two-Piano Marathon, Kings Place review - dazzling duos, deep waters

David Nice

Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy make a transcendental start to an epic evening

BBC Philharmonic, Wellber, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - new conductor’s debut

Robert Beale

Harbinger of things to come – the spirit of the stage

Anderson & Roe, RLPO, Tali, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool review - measured fire

Glyn Môn Hughes

An Estonian arrives in the UK to make a strong impression

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Ligeti, Lakshminarayana Subramaniam, Svend Erik Tarp

Graham Rickson

Horns, tubas and Indian violins, plus a ballet set in a Danish circus

Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier - Book 2, Hewitt, Wigmore Hall review – high drama in 24 short acts

Boyd Tonkin

The Canadian pianist brings colour and spectacle to Bach's evergreen cycle

Katya Apekisheva, Charles Owen, Kings Place review - one plus one equals a hundred

Jessica Duchen

The London Piano Festival opens with a magical two-piano concert from its founders

Gerald Finley, Julius Drake, Middle Temple Hall review - sublimity in 18 serious songs

David Nice

Profound insights but no ponderousness from a great bass-baritone and piano duo

theartsdesk Q&A: guitarist Sean Shibe

David Nice

A wise head on young shoulders questions the nature of expression and programming

Uchida, Connolly, Skelton, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review – songs of farewell

Peter Quantrill

Last words from Mozart and Mahler, played and sung with dignity and insight

Psappha, Kok / Kempf, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Stoller Hall, Manchester review - new and old

Robert Beale

Classics come in two sizes at Manchester season openers

Classical CDs Weekly: Ivanovs, Shi-An Costello, Sean Shibe

Graham Rickson

Latvian orchestral music, mischievous pianism, plus a guitarist of two halves

Lammermuir Festival 2018 review - a bigger buzz

David Kettle

East Lothian's award-winning festival continues to challenge, provoke and illuminate

Classical CDs Weekly: Bernstein, Rachmaninov, Jeffrey Roden

Graham Rickson

A Broadway musical, Russian symphonies exhumed and a quiet American radical

Jansen, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - nature's splendours and a fond farewell

Jessica Duchen

Richly imaginative 20th-century music sees out a long-serving LSO violinist in style

Ian Bostridge, Thomas Adès, Wigmore Hall review - haunting, brutal Schubert

Gavin Dixon

A Winterreise of psychological intensity, but too often taken to ghoulish extremes

LSO, Rattle, Barbican Hall review - a mixed bag of British composers

Sebastian Scotney

Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage and Britten in the 2018/19 season opening concert

Elisabeth Leonskaja, Wigmore Hall review - Mozart and Webern, anyone?

Ismene Brown

Fascinating recital of aesthetic crunches from the Russian master pianist

Classical CDs Weekly: Blacher, Dutilleux, Martin

Graham Rickson

Enticing rarities from three 20th century Europeans

Kremer, CBSO, Wellber, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - supercharged Dvořák

Richard Bratby

Mirga's maternity cover opens the new season with a perfect storm

Like a baton out of hell: Conductors at the 2018 Proms

Theartsdesk

Chris Christodoulou snaps mostly men at work, but the women are coming

Ax, Kavakos, Ma, Barbican review - all-star Brahms

Gavin Dixon

Elite trio brings virtuosity, subtlety and finesse to Brahms

Last Night of the Proms, Finley, Gillam, BBCSO, Davis review - a fine send-off without send-up

Jessica Duchen

Differences are thrown aside for a classic celebration of the power of music

Prom 74, Theodora, Arcangelo, Cohen review - coherent and compelling Handel

Gavin Dixon

Handel’s oratorio given a dramatic account, unconstrained by the Baroque scale

Classical CDs Weekly: Stravinsky, Vivaldi, John Williams

Graham Rickson

Iconic ballet music, baroque concertos and four decades of film scores

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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