mon 19/08/2019

Classical Reviews

Prom 28: BBCNOW, Otaka review - fantastical choral expedition

Bernard Hughes

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales’ second consecutive night at the Proms, accompanied by their associated National Chorus, ventured further out of the classical mainstream than the first.

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Prom 26: BBCNOW, Stutzmann review – a banquet of fervent favourites

Boyd Tonkin

Not every Prom has to push musical boundaries or bust concert conventions. On the face of it, last night’s programme from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (and National Chorus of Wales) stuck to a thoroughly traditional recipe. Two familiar 19th-century orchestral warhorses cantered out for the first half, followed by a beloved choral blockbuster delivered by massive forces who engendered a big, hearty, hall-filling – dare I say Victorian? – sound.

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Prom 25: Gabetta, BBCSO, Stasevska review – stunning Weinberg debut

Gavin Dixon

This concert from the BBC Symphony Orchestra marked the first performance of composer Mieczysław Weinberg at the Proms, an important milestone in the recent surge of interest of his music.

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Prom 23: Floristán, BBC Philharmonic, Gernon review - concerto lacks heft

Bernard Hughes

Ben Gernon is only 30 (and looks about ten years younger) but has been Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic since 2017.

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Prom 20: Kuusisto, BBCSSO, Dausgaard review – Sibelius between folk and art

Boyd Tonkin

I’m not quite sure that I should review this Prom, since I performed in it. Before anyone summons the white coats, let me clarify. As the encore to a mind-expanding evening, Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto returned to the stage with his band of folk musicians. He asked the audience to hum a sort of drone, and then sing open-mouthed, as they sung and played a traditional song. How did we do? OK, I thought.

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Edinburgh International Festival 2019: Mahler's 'Resurrection' Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dudamel - detailed judgment day canvas

Christopher Lambton

Since time immemorial the Edinburgh International Festival has started with a juicy choral epic designed to show off the Festival Chorus and the opulent Usher Hall. So this performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony would normally have been billed as the opening concert.

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Prom 18: Andsnes, Mahnke, Skelton, BBCSO, Gardner review – all passion spent

Peter Quantrill

It’s a curiosity of music that a performance can occasionally be better – more persuasive and impressive – than the work itself. Even Britten’s most devoted advocates would find it hard to rank the Piano Concerto among his masterpieces.

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Prom 17: Shaham, Bavarian RSO, Nézet-Séguin review – a Montrealer brings “l’fun”

Sebastian Scotney

Montrealers exude a particular kind of happiness and have wonderfully snappy expressions to convey it: “Chu correc”, means ‘I’m fine’, and “C’est l’fun” means...exactly what it looks like.

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Ludovico Einaudi, Barbican review - a long road to nowhere

Liz Thomson

There is a video, part of Greenpeace’s laudable Save The Arctic Campaign, in which Ludovico Einaudi sits at a Steinway atop a small ice flow performing his Elegy for the Arctic. As he plays a descending scale, the camera pans slightly to the right just in time to see a chunk of glacier break away and crash into the sea. Perfect timing!

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Prom 15: Bavarian RSO, Nézet-Séguin review - perfect Beethoven, nuanced Shostakovich

David Nice

While we wish the great Mariss Jansons a speedy recovery, no-one of sound heart and soul could be disappointed by his substitute for the two Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Proms, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, whose supreme art is to show the score's construction in the face, with gestures to match.

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