thu 20/06/2019

Classical Features

theartsdesk in Lahti: Sibelius 150, Sibelius Hall

David Nice

When Lahti’s Sibelius Hall finally shone and coruscated into life in 2000, the 100,000 citizens of this modest Finnish town, not to mention acousticians from all over the world, could hardly believe their eyes and ears. Here, at last, was not only a top concert hall fit for what had already become a world-class orchestra under notable Sibelian Osmo Vänskä, but also a twofold architectural wonder.

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theartsdesk in Bucharest: Loving Enescu

Paul Gent

Where in the world will you find the most glittering line-up of international orchestras? The Proms? Salzburg? Lucerne? Edinburgh? Bucharest, actually. The Enescu Festival, which began on 30 August, this year boasts appearances by the Concertgebouw, Vienna Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Israel Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, St Petersburg Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra.

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theartsdesk in Pärnu: Top players, great Estonians

David Nice

In 1989 Neeme Järvi, already rated one of the world’s top conductors and soon to be voted “Estonian of the Century” by his compatriots, returned with his Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra to the homeland he had left for America nearly a decade earlier. I went with them then, and to experience a free Estonia 26 years later was a bracing surprise.

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First Person: Poems to Messiaen

Michael Symmons

I am currently in the middle of a project called Messiaen 2015: Between Heaven and the Clouds, a year-long series of commissions and events around the UK, exploring Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l‘Enfant-Jésus, curated by pianist Cordelia Williams. 

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10 Questions for Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes

Adam Sweeting

Though perhaps not quite the "long strange trip" once hymned by the Grateful Dead, Leif Ove Andsnes's Beethoven Journey has been a marathon undertaking. It has spanned four years, during which the Norwegian pianist and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra have toured the world, performing all five of Beethoven's piano concertos with Andsnes conducting from the keyboard.

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Q&A Special: Pianist Lucas Debargue

ismene Brown

Last week the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow was rung down with a sigh of relief for the home team, with once again a Russian pianist in possession of the gold medal, Dmitry Masleev following 2011’s Daniil Trifonov. It was all very satisfactory for President Putin as he delivered his speech at the winners’ gala, being Tchaikovsky’s 175th anniversary year, but it was not a result that many disputed.

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theartsdesk at the Lichfield Festival

Richard Bratby

“I lately took my friend Boswell and showed him genuine civilised life in an English provincial town. I turned him loose in Lichfield, that he might see for once real civility”. In Lichfield, it’s more or less obligatory to begin with a quotation from Dr Johnson – no lover of music, although his native city does have a modest musical pedigree to set alongside its literary hall of fame.

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theartsdesk in Orkney: St Magnus Festival

David Kettle

Ebb of Winter felt about right. It’s one of Peter Maxwell Davies’s most recent works, a yearning for the brightness and warmth of spring at the end of an Orcadian winter, written in 2013 for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s 40th anniversary.

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Habemus maestrum: the Berlin Phil chooses

David Nice

Earlier this year only black smoke came from the chimney of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s orchestral conclave: a new chief conductor to follow Sir Simon Rattle had not been decided upon. Rumours circulated that it could be many months, even a year, before the choice was made.

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theartsdesk in Denmark: 150 years of Nielsen

David Nice

Music-lovers outside Denmark will have come to know Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) through his shatteringly vital symphonies as one of the world-class greats, a figure of light, darkness and every human shade in between. For Danes it is different: since childhood, most have been singing at least a dozen of his simpler songs in community gatherings, probably without even knowing the name of the composer.

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