sun 17/11/2019

Classical Reviews

Benedetti, SCO, Birmingham Town Hall review - a powerful musical alliance

Miranda Heggie

Playing with such energy, such synergy and such general camaraderie at the start of a tour must surely pave the way for even greater things to come. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Nicola Benedetti kicked off their European tour at Birmingham Town Hall, ahead of performances in Denmark, Switzerland and Germany.

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Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Pappano, Barbican review – joy in despair

Boyd Tonkin

As one half of British politics convulsed into a deeper spasm of suicidal fury, it came almost as a relief to hear a great Anglo-Italian conductor lead an impassioned Roman orchestra in a massive, terrifying symphony once described by a (German) maestro as the first example of musical nihilism. Ah, but that’s the paradox of Mahler’s Sixth.

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Grosvenor, Doric Quartet, Milton Court review - cohesion or collision?

Jessica Duchen

Expectations ran high for this final concert in Benjamin Grosvenor’s Barbican/Milton Court series, especially after the magic he and the Doric Quartet wrought in their February performance.

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Los Angeles Master Chorale, Gershon, Sellars, Barbican review – embodiments of remorse

Boyd Tonkin

By some strange alignment of the stars, Peter Sellars’s staged version of Orlando di Lasso’s Lagrime di San Pietro (Tears of St Peter) arrived at the Barbican Hall just as – next door in the theatre – Pam Tanowitz’s directed her dance interpretation of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets.

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Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall review – full-spectrum Bach from a prodigious talent

Boyd Tonkin

You seldom hear a Champions League-level roar of approval at the Wigmore Hall. Last night, though, Igor Levit drew a throaty collective bark of appreciation from the audience after (for once) an awed hush had followed the final dying cadences of the aria’s return in Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Had he earned it? Absolutely. This recital was first of three devoted to the idea of Variations.

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Benjamin Grosvenor, Barbican review - virtuosity at its classiest

Jessica Duchen

It’s 15 years since Benjamin Grosvenor first strolled onto our TV screens as a prodigiously gifted child in the BBC Young Musician Competition. Today he is a self-possessed young man of 26, in his element on the concert platform, yet without a hint of affectation; and unlike certain musicians who play the same type of music all the time, he ventures constantly into new and sometimes surprising musical territory.

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Takács Quartet, Wigmore Hall review – strong voices in a glorious group

Boyd Tonkin

When critics praise a first-rank string quartet, convention demands they claim that the whole adds up to more than the sum of its parts. True enough, maybe, but with the Takács Quartet, each separate element really does blaze with a soloistic, virtuosic flame. From the first bars of last night’s opener at the Wigmore Hall, as Haydn plays pass-the-parcel with an apparently straightforward tune at the start of his G major quartet Op.76 no.

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Hardenberger, Pöntinen, Wigmore Hall review - superstar trumpeter shows his class

Bernard Hughes

There can be no questioning trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger’s extraordinary mastery: his big, unforced sound, mellifluous legato, athletic virtuosity and utterly controlled high notes.

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Mullova, Philharmonia, Järvi, RFH review – clear paths through the forest

Boyd Tonkin

Visit Ainola, Sibelius’s woodland house by Lake Tuusula north of Helsinki, and you’ll be told the story of the green stove. It appears that the famously synaesthetic Finnish composer identified the shade of his heating installation with the key of F major.

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LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - inner magic eventually joins outward mastery

David Nice

Nearly 17 years ago, Simon Rattle inaugurated his era at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic with Mahler's Fifth Symphony.

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