wed 12/08/2020

Classical Features

Unfinished business: completing Mozart

Roger Montgomery

Horn concertos don't make frequent appearances in the standard concert repertory and when they do it will usually be a work by Mozart or Richard Strauss. It wouldn't be entirely true to say that horn players feel keenly the lack of a serious core of works such as that available to pianists, string players and singers.

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RE:naissance: Festival under the influence

Matthew Sharp

Shakespeare's ubiquitous “planetary influence” is well-documented. As Stephen Marche points out in How Shakespeare Changed Everything, not much from our sex lives to the assassination of Lincoln remains untouched. And, of course, there's the language. You may think that what you are reading has more rhyme than reason, be madness (though there is method in it) or amount to nothing more than a wild goose chase.

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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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