mon 26/09/2022

Classical Reviews

Gurrelieder, LPO, Gardner, RFH review - everything in place, but still something’s missing

David Nice

Schoenberg’s “Song of the Wood Dove” takes up a mere 11 of the 100 minutes of his epic Gurrelieder, though it’s a crucial narrative of how King Waldemar of Gurre’s beloved Tove was murdered by his jealous queen. Last night, as in Simon Rattle’s 2017 Proms performance, stunning mezzo Karen Cargill came on stage, immediately in character, and with no reference to the score on the stand in front of her, showed everyone else how to do it.

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Leonskaja, Staatskapelle Streichquartett, Wigmore Hall review - Brahms the chameleon

David Nice

Epic-lyric magician Brahms wears a very adaptable garment for certain masterpieces: black on the outside with fur trimming, reversible to show its exquisitely wrought, variegated silk patterns on the inside.

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Dunedin Consort, Butt, Lammermuir Festival review - majestic Mozart at St Mary’s Haddington

Simon Thompson

The Dunedin Consort are most readily associated with the music of the Baroque, but this concert showed that they’re every bit as good at playing the music of the next generation. At times, in fact, I was taken aback by the magisterial scale of the orchestral sound as they played Mozart’s great C Minor Mass.

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Denk, RSNO, Macdonald, Lammermuir Festival review - dark Sibelius and mighty Brahms

Simon Thompson

Once the shock of Queen Elizabeth’s death has faded, attention will surely turn to the many organisations and institutions of which she was patron. This concert not only marked the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s debut at the Lammermuir Festival, but it was also the first the orchestra had played since the departure of Her Majesty.

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Prom 69, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Monteverdi Choir, ORR, Gardiner review - shock, fervour and total focus

David Nice

Back in 1990, John Eliot Gardiner with his Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and world-class singers set the South Bank alight with revelatory concert performances of Mozart’s Idomeneo and La clemenza di Tito. Now he's done it again for an even quirkier masterpiece, burning away any Albert Hall mists with the best possible voices and an “Orchestre” which can be called “Révolutionnaire” but decidedly not “Romantique” when it comes to the Missa Solemnis.

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The Goldberg Variations, De Keersmaeker, Kolesnikov, Sadler's Wells review - keyboard harmony and atonal dance

David Nice

Jean-Guihen Queyras and five dancers of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas company in the Bach Cello Suites was a thing of constantly evolving wonder. So too is Pavel Kolesnikov’s ongoing dialogue with Bach’s Goldberg Variations, different every time he plays them. Would De Keersmaeker alone be able to hold her own dancing to this inventory of technical rigour and human emotions?

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Prom 64, Beethoven's Last Three Piano Sonatas, Schiff review - morning glory

Boyd Tonkin

In more ways than one, Beethoven’s last piano sonatas can make the listener lose track of time. It’s not just the delirious freedom with rhythm, accents, signatures and note-values that the ageing, afflicted composer of Op. 109, 110 and 111 unleashes in these epoch-shifting works.

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Prom 62, Mahler's Seventh Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Petrenko review - hallucinogenic night's journey into day

David Nice

Match the most multi-timbred, flexible orchestra in the world with the iridescent peak of symphonic mastery, and you have an assured winner of a Prom. Yet not even Kirill Petrenko’s previous London performance of Mahler’s Seventh with the Bavarian State Orchestra, nor the brilliance of his two previous Proms with the Berlin Philharmonic, had prepared me for the miracle he achieved last night with players who will clearly do anything for him.

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Prom 61, Cabell, Chineke! Voices and Orchestra, Edusei review - a thrilling, fiercely rational Beethoven 9

Rachel Halliburton

Last night’s riveting, meticulous account of Beethoven’s Ninth from the Chineke! Orchestra was as daring in its restraint as it was thrillingly revelatory. Right from the subtle shimmer of the first movement’s opening cascades it was clear that this interpretation had put each bar under the microscope and found it teeming with new life.

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Sheku Kanneh-Mason & Friends, Bold Tendencies review - intimate tenderness under a car-park roof

David Nice

When I worked in the Music Discount Centre decades ago, and non-stop CDs in the background were ordained, a customer remarked wryly of eight Bayreuth Festival horns playing Wagner “very crepuscular”. Five cellists playing Bach and Villa-Lobos as darkness fell beneath the roof of Peckham’s Multi-Storey Car Park could also be so described, but as a compliment: this was a grave and beautiful way to start the perfect entertainment.

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