mon 14/10/2019

Classical Features

theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Fanfare for the Harpa Concert Hall

David Nice

After three days' motoring and clambering around the most awesome natural landscapes I've ever seen, how could a mere concert hall in a city the size of Cambridge begin to compare?

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ELF. Eales, Lee, Findon. Piano, Horn and... Flute?

Jasper Rees

Some things just don’t seem to belong in a pairing. The flute and the French horn both have their distinct sonic personality. It wouldn’t be going out on a limb to suggest that the average listener tends to lean towards one or the other. Even Mozart wrote for the horn out of love but trotted out his flute compositions for money. But opposites can and do attract and so it once more proves in a new recording featuring the horn and the flute and, discreetly chaperoning the pair of them, the...

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theartsdesk in Verbier: A Cable Car Named Inspire

ismene Brown

I’m standing with my feet on peaks and my head in clouds, looking down steep Alps at the tiny chocolate-brown chalets of little Verbier way below on the green slopes. It’s ravishing up here on the top of Fontanet, and I tarry, gloating over the botanical riches around me of milky-blue gentians, royal-blue harebells, glistening edelweiss, dark little orchids and garnet-bright sedum, watching the trickling water of a brook, and replaying last night’s music in my head.

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Mendelssohn on Mull: Close-up with Chamber Music

Natalie Wheen

Getting to Mull is an improbably romantic journey to classical music-making. One can easily understand why Mendelssohn was so affected by his experiences in Scotland – and Mull. On the three-hour train journey from Glasgow one sheds the habits of everyday life: the train winds through thickets of Forestry Commission plantations, which suddenly open out into wild panoramas of mountains and lochs, or a dramatic ruined castle against the skyline.

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theartsdesk in Cheltenham: Seven Concerts in Two Days

David Nice

For so many days a year, Cheltenham's Regency symmetry and conservative values totter and buckle as they veer dangerously towards relative festive liberalism. As I sliced into one of the four annual beanfeasts, the Cheltenham Music Festival, it struck me how well lopsided, sometimes painful bendings of a classical framework by Schumann and Brahms sat with a battery of volatile percussion celebrating Steve Reich's 75th birthday.

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Music and Maths: A Yardstick to the Stars

alexandra Coghlan Einstein: His Theory of Relativity was published in the same year as Schoenberg's provocative Kammersymphonie No 1

The history of maths and music is the history of early Greek philosophy, medieval astronomy, of the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the two World Wars. While mathematics at its purest may be an abstraction, the quest for its proofs is deeply and definingly human, charged with biological, theological and even political motive. Whether through performance or discussions about music, this year’s Cheltenham Music Festival (which begins this week) explores the mathematical processes that have...

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Set The Piano Stool on Fire: on filming Alfred Brendel

mark Kidel

When Alfred Brendel first mentioned Kit Armstrong to me, in early 2008, I knew there was a film there. He was brimming with excitement: Kit had come to him with an interpretation of a Chopin Nocturne that displayed a command and maturity that was baffling considering Kit was 13 at the time of the recording.

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Opinion: Is classical music irrelevant?

alexandra Coghlan

Cambridge University, cradle of Newton, Keynes and Wittgenstein, of Wordsworth, Turing and Tennyson, has produced 15 prime ministers and more Nobel Prize-winners than most nations. In its 200-year history, the university’s debating society has hosted princes, politicians and leaders in every field: the Dalai Lama, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and last week a 25-year-old east-London DJ, Kissy Sell Out.

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theartsdesk in Cuenca: Religious Music Week

Peter Culshaw Houses perched precariously in the medieval town of Cuenca

It’s Holy Wednesday in Cuenca, and going round the corner into Cathedral Square I’m surrounded by hordes of guys in multicoloured mufti who look like the Ku Klux Klan, with unnecessarily pointy hoods. Twenty of them are carrying a heavy float with a large statue of Jesus on it. In Cuenca things are fairly austere, compared to other places where there’s a lot of self-whipping, or where, if you have sin on your conscience, you may end up banging nails into your hands, as in Mexico. Still there...

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Interview: Violinist Daniel Hope

Adam Sweeting Daniel Hope sets off to explore the legacy of Joseph Joachim

In the later 19th century, violinist and composer Joseph Joachim was hailed as the most brilliant fiddler of his day, but today his name lives on via the great works that he helped to bring into the classical repertoire. Brahms dedicated his Violin Concerto to Joachim, while Bruch's First Violin Concerto was substantially revised by Joachim and became closely identified with him. Both the Schumann and Dvořák concertos were written for him, though Joachim never performed the latter.

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