tue 07/04/2020

Classical Reviews

Classical Music/Opera direct to home 5 - orchestral manoeuvres in the light

David Nice

Necessity has certainly been the mother of invention over the past  three weeks, and orchestras especially, left in the dark with no means of coming together other than virtually, have had to adapt double-quick. The players, of course, are artists, and in league with good technical teams they've yielded some winners which may bring more people to the real thing when life as we knew it resumes.

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Czech Philharmonic Benefit Concert online review – profound musicianship in sombre masked fundraiser

David Nice

Less than six months ago Prague’s most prestigious concert hall, the neo-Renaissance Rudolfinum, was all glittering lights and packed, smartly dressed audience for the Czech Philharmonic’s hot ticket first performance there for 49 years of its national epic, Smetana’s Má vlast (My Homeland) – a grand one indeed...

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Beethoven: 1808 Reconstructed, Aimard, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review - a feast in fading light

Boyd Tonkin

Like it or not, we live – as Beethoven did – in interesting times. In place of the revolutions, wars and occupations that convulsed the cities he knew, we now confront a silent, invisible foe that breeds an equal terror.

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Frang, LSO, Pappano, Barbican review - hearing the silence

David Nice

Three deep-veined masterpieces by two of the 20th century's greatest composers who just happened to be British, all fading at the end to nothing: beyond interpretations of such stunning focus as those offered by violinist Vilde Frang, conductor Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra, these works could ask for nothing more than intense silence from the third point of what Britten called the magic triangle...

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Skelton, Rice, BBCSO, Gardner, Barbican review – romanticism’s last stand

Gavin Dixon

Only a modest audience turned up for this BBC Symphony Orchestra concert, though it was unclear if this was caused by the threat of airborne disease or the inclusion of Schoenberg on the programme. The result was a paradoxical intimacy, with the huge orchestra expressing complex but private emotions from a group of fin de siècle Viennese composers.

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Daniel Sepec, Tabea Zimmermann, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Wigmore Hall review - the viola is a star

Sebastian Scotney

Six weeks ago, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation announced that it the winner of its prestigious and extremely valuable main annual prize for 2020 "to a composer, performer, or scholar who has made outstanding contributions to the world of music" will be the viola player Tabea Zimmermann.

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Bach St John Passion, Bach Collegium Japan, Suzuki, Barbican review - intense pain and dancing consolation

David Nice

Eyes watering, heart thumping, hands clenched: no, not The Thing, but a spontaneous reaction to the opening of Bach's St John Passion in the urgent hands of Masaaki Suzuki. How his Bach Collegium oboes seared with their semitonal clashes while bass lines throbbed with pain, before the chorus added a different, supernatural turn of the screw.

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Anderszewski, CBSO, Wellber, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - grandeur in restraint

Richard Bratby

No orchestra wants its conductor to cancel in the week of a concert.

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Beyond the Grace Note, Sky Arts review - march of the women conductors

Jessica Duchen

Perhaps the most surprising thing is how good natured they all sound. There’s no anger. At least, not much – one can’t help wondering what they say off air.

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BBC Philharmonic, Wellber, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - making music magic

Robert Beale

Omer Meir Wellber, who once used to do magic with music for children, pulled a whole set of rabbits out of the hat in his reading of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony on Saturday. Others may make the work's rhythms and melodies alluring through the sheer forward momentum of a steady beat. Not Wellber.

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