tue 16/07/2019

Classical Reviews

The Triumph of Time and Truth, Higginbottom, Kings Place review – time well spent, despite the words

Boyd Tonkin

You can always depend on Handel to turn verbal dross into musical gold. The chasm between lumbering doggerel and soaring sound can seldom have yawned wider, though, that in several numbers from the third, English version of The Triumph of Time and Truth. “Melancholy is a folly, Wave all sorrow until tomorrow,” poor Mhairi Lawson had to sing, like some game trouper in a village panto scripted by the vicar after one too many cream sherries.

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Fröst, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican review - blood, sweat and sweetness

David Nice

Single adjectives by way of description always sell masterpieces short, and especially the ambiguous symphonies forged in blood, sweat and tears during the Stalin years.

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CBSO, Leleux, Birmingham Town Hall review - oboe extraordinaire

Richard Bratby

There’s always a special atmosphere when the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra returns to Birmingham Town Hall, and it’s not just because of the building’s Greek Revival beauty: the gilded sunburst on the ceiling, or the towering, intricately painted mass of the organ, topped with its cameo of Queen Victoria.

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Hallé, Gardner, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review – drama and humanity

Robert Beale

Edward Gardner was back amongst friends when he opened the Hallé’s Thursday series concerts. This was the place where he made his mark, as the Manchester orchestra’s first ever assistant conductor (and Youth Orchestra music director), and he’s been a welcome visitor ever since.

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The Music of Harry Potter, CBSO, Seal, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - orchestral wizardry

Richard Bratby

Imagine an orchestral concert made up exclusively of contemporary works by living composers: a programme in which every note was written within the last two decades. Imagine not only that this concert is sufficiently popular to fill a 2,000-seat hall with a noticeably youthful and diverse crowd, but that its format is already being replicated regularly by pretty much every major UK symphony orchestra. Now ask yourself how much critical attention such a concert would receive?

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Opolais, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Nelsons, RFH review - splendid and awful stretches

David Nice

Latvia is fighting fit. The recent elections did not see the expected victory for the pro-Kremlin Harmony party; support for the European Union and NATO will be well represented.

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Hardenberger, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Nelsons, RFH review - new songs for an old glory

Boyd Tonkin

During his quarter-century in charge of the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig, the late Kurt Masur nobly held out a musical hand of friendship and collaboration from the other side of the Iron Curtain.

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Two-Piano Marathon, Kings Place review - dazzling duos, deep waters

David Nice

You get a lot of notes for your money in a two-piano recital - especially when seven pianists share the honours for two and a half hours' worth of playing time. Well, they did call it a marathon, crowning the London Piano Festival so shiningly planned by Katya Apekisheva and Charles Owen, and the baton passed seamlessly from two pairs of hands to the next.

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BBC Philharmonic, Wellber, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - new conductor’s debut

Robert Beale

Two days after announcing his appointment as their next chief conductor (he takes the reins officially next summer, in time for the Proms), by remarkable good fortune the Manchester-based BBC Philharmonic was able to present Omer Meir Wellber as the conductor of their second Bridgewater Hall series concert.

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Anderson & Roe, RLPO, Tali, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool review - measured fire

Glyn Môn Hughes

There must be something of a beauty parade going on in Liverpool now that Vasily Petrenko has called time on his tenure at Philharmonic Hall.  After all, someone will need to step into his shoes from 2021 after he departs for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was refreshing, therefore, to welcome Anu Tali to conduct the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, making her debut with the orchestra.

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