tue 29/09/2020

Classical Features

theartsdesk in Prague: Czech Spring with Smetana and Martinů

David Nice

On the itinerary of musical tourists around Europe, the opening of the Prague Spring Festival comes a close third to the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year's Day Concert and the Bayreuth experience. That said, Smetana's Má vlast (My Homeland) – the immoveable opener – is more of an acquired taste than Johann Strauss or Wagner.

Read more...

Is Wales really the land of song?

Professor Garet

Culture, said Aneurin Bevan, comes off the end of a pick. A hundred years ago there was no shortage of picks when a quarter of a million coalminers were employed in south Wales. By now the mines have gone but many of the choirs they created are still here, for the male voice choir is one of the distinctive emblems of Welsh identity.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Warsaw: Moniuszko Vocal Competition 2016

Gavin Dixon

We don’t hear much about composer Stanisław Moniuszko in the West, but in Poland he’s considered a key figure in the history of opera. Moniuszko’s statue stands at the entrance of the National Opera House in Warsaw, and inside he’s depicted by several busts and portraits.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Göttingen: HandelFest 2016

David Nice

What Auden called "the sexy airs of summer" arrived early in Göttingen this year. Frog action in the Botanical Gardens of the town's pioneering University may have been less clamorous than when I first came here in late rather than early May (the annual International Handel Festival usually begins whenever the Ascension Day holiday happens to be, so it's a moveable celebration).

Read more...

theartsdesk at Tectonics Glasgow 2016

David Kettle

For a festival of wild, genre-colliding musical experimentation, Tectonics is almost starting to feel like part of the establishment. Which shows, if nothing else, that it must be getting somewhere with its boundary demolishing. The 2016 weekend over 7-8 May was its fourth outing in Glasgow – conductor Ilan Volkov founded it in Reykjavík in 2012, and since then it’s spread its all-embracing eclecticism worldwide to Tel Aviv, Adelaide, New York and beyond.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Tallinn: Estonian Music Days

David Nice

A young nation with a small population and the most untarnished democratic credentials in Europe today can do certain things with festivals not so easy to imagine here. When Estonian Music Days, focused on native and contemporary music, took nature as its theme for 2016 – in this case posing a question in the title, "Green Sound?" – it could expect many of its 60 featured composers to respond to commissioning by making a direct link to the native ecology.

Read more...

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (1934-2016) - 'Music for anyone and everyone'

Peter Quantrill

With the death of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies from leukaemia at the age of 81, the UK has lost the most prolific composer of his generation, as well as one of the most passionate advocates for art music.

Read more...

Remembering Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929-2016)

Marshall Marcus

2016 began with the passing of Pierre Boulez, arguably the doyen of modernism in the field of classical music. Now, only a couple of months later, it is the turn of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, a musician occupying a similar level of singular elevation but this time in what is often described (certainly inadequately in this case) as the "period instrument" movement.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Oslo: Vasily Petrenko, the Leningrad Dynamo, comes to town

Adam Sweeting

I've never thought of myself as a Shostakovich fan, tending to regard what I know of his output as bleak and forbidding. Photographs of the stone-faced composer with the mortuary attendant's demeanour haven't helped.

Read more...

White smoke at the CBSO: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla for Music Director

Richard Bratby

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's appointment of the Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as its new Music Director won’t have surprised many concertgoers in Birmingham – or indeed regular readers of theartsdesk. The post has been vacant since Andris Nelsons’ premature departure in summer 2015, and the last few months in Birmingham have seen a string of concerts clearly intended as thinly-disguised auditions for conductors of various ages and nationalities.

Read more...

Pages

latest in today

Bach’s The Art of Fugue, Angela Hewitt, Wigmore Hall – the m...

How do they do it? Bach and Angela Hewitt, I mean, transfixing and...

Bob Woodward: Rage review - terror and tyranny in the White...

“Build the wall!” exhorted Trump, at rally after rally back in the days when we’d all acknowledged his moral repugnancy but still believed he...

Blu-ray: Beau Travail

This fifth feature from...

Ottessa Moshfegh: Death in Her Hands review - a case of murd...

Death in Her Hands was a forgotten manuscript, the product of a...

Sudhir Hazareesingh: Black Spartacus review – the life, and...

The former slave, and coachman on a sugar plantation, began one of his early public proclamations in a typically defiant vein: “I am Toussaint...

Ian Williams: Reproduction review - a dazzling kaleidoscope...

Ian Williams’s writing is always in motion. For his 2012 poetry...

Academy of St Martin in the Fields review - from solo medita...

Clearly it takes peculiar circumstances for some of us to hear the Academy of St Martin in the Fields within its eponymous church – that’s a first...

Emma Cline: Daddy review - scintillating short stories by th...

The Girls, Emma Cline’s acclaimed debut novel of 2016, was billed as a story based on the Manson murders. But in fact, like some of the...

Album: Groove Armada - Edge of the Horizon

Alongside Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada were one of the last big acts to blossom from the...

Bernard Haitink: The Enigmatic Maestro, BBC Two review - say...

Before his retirement last summer at the age of 90, Bernard Haitink worked magic on the podium, no one is in any doubt about that. Lining up one...