sat 14/12/2019

Classical Features

theartsdesk in Basel: More than Minimalism

David Nice

In a near-perfect, outward-looking Swiss city sharing borders with France and Germany, on a series of cloudless April days that felt more like balmy June than capricious April, anything seemed possible.

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theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Bright Nights, Dark Music Days

David Nice

Nature declined to reveal the Northern Lights over a long winter weekend in Iceland. My hotel was geared up to the spectacle, offering the option of a phone call any time in the night should they appear; but no call came. I only hope the tourists who packed the outward-bound plane hadn’t booked just for that.

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theartsdesk in Oslo: Barocking Handel in the Opera House

David Nice

Oslo is a winter wonderland, and adults seem to be outnumbered by children, flocking from all over Norway to Disney on Ice. It’s the deep snow and the silence in pockets of the city rather than the kids which make me wonder if anyone has set Handel’s Alcina in the icy lair of C S Lewis’s White Witch, with hero Ruggiero as Edmund fed Turkish delight from the magic phial. There's even a captive lion. Francesco Negrin’s straightforwardly magical production - look, no metatext!

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theartsdesk in Brussels: Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth at 75

Sebastian Scotney

There was deliberate symbolism in the way Maria João Pires chose to make her first entrance onto the stage at the birthday gala of the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth in Brussels earlier this week. The concert was a grand occasion. A well-heeled, well-dressed audience replete with supporters of the 75-year-old music academy, plus some Belgian royalty, had filled the Palais des Beaux-Arts to capacity.

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Abbado Memories of the Berlin Phil Horns

theartsdesk

Claudio Abbado became the Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1989 and continued his association with the world's most illustrious orchestra until very recently. Two members of the Berlin Phil's famous horn section share their memories of playing under the modest maestro.

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Addio, Claudio Abbado

theartsdesk

“It is at the end that a composer can achieve his finest effects,“ declared Richard Strauss. He was thinking of his great operatic and symphonic epilogues, but apply that to the art of conducting, adjust the “at” to “towards”, and it applies supremely well to Claudio Abbado, who has died at the age of 80.

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Britten 100: Death in Moscow

Iestyn Davies

“A cold coming we had of it,” grumble the three kings in T S Eliot’s poem “The Journey of the Magi” later set by Britten as his Canticle IV. “Just the worst time of year for a journey,” they complain, carried onwards by the ungulate bass notes of the piano.

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The journey to hell in Theresienstadt

Daniel Hope

In 1998, as I was driving home and flipping through the radio channels, a piece of music caught my ear. A string trio. With elements of Bartók , Stravinsky and maybe Janáček? And yet I was pretty sure none of these composers had written for this combination. I pulled over and sat transfixed  by the side of the road until the announcer said: “that was a string trio by Gideon Klein”. Who?

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Remembering Tavener

David Nice

You may have noticed an unholy silence from theartsdesk in the immediate aftermath of Sir John Tavener’s death a week ago today, just under three months short of his 70th birthday. Three of us in the classical team felt we just didn’t know his music well enough in the round, or care enough, to give an authoritative judgement.

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Gergiev: a response and an open letter

theartsdesk

Following theartsdesk's Monday opinion piece on reasons for moving towards a boycott on Valery Gergiev's concerts, and in the general climate created by other reports and protests, the conductor has issued the following statement, to which David Nice responds with an open letter.

Valery Gergiev's statement

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