tue 26/01/2021

Classical Reviews

Fast Food, Fast Music, Spitalfields Festival online - sizzling, scintillating fun and mastery

David Nice

A good idea on paper – commission composers of all ages who happen to be women to write music for one, two or three instruments with the fundamental theme of swiftness and brevity, food element an optional extra – turns out to work brilliantly on screen, even if it was originally destined for a live lunchtime festival event.

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Doric Quartet, Wigmore Hall review – sombre reflections

Gavin Dixon

With the wealth of online performances during the pandemic, it is easy to forget the regular offerings from the Wigmore Hall. The Hall found itself in a better position than most, as it was able to present its autumn schedule largely unchanged, the only programming issues arising from international travel limitations for the performers.

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Mofidian, Britten Sinfonia, Elder, Saffron Hall review - meditations and mirth

David Nice

How strange to experience Saffron Walden’s amazingly high-standard new(ish) concert hall without the usual auditorium – in other words no tiered rows other than in the balcony, but seats around tables, on a level with the musicians (pictured below, the scene before the performance). And what a world-class concert this was, not the sort of thing you’d usually expect at the end of a misty afternoon’s ramble in the Essex countryside.

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Fatma Said, Joseph Middleton, Wigmore Hall review - song recital heaven

Sebastian Scotney

This was the first song recital back at the Wigmore Hall following the second lockdown with a (distanced, 25%) audience. And it was a joy to be back. Great singing. That superb acoustic. A completely rapt audience. And, miraculously, not a single cough.

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Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester online review - re-consecration of the house

Robert Beale

The Hallé have been slow off the mark, compared with some, in their response to the challenge of concert-giving in the Covid era. But now that they have delivered on the first of their winter season performances, it has clearly been worth the wait.

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Christine Rice, Julius Drake, Wigmore Hall review - songs of love and death

Boyd Tonkin

It began as a Christmas present in the bleakest of winters. In December 1939, as war engulfed Europe, Bertolt Brecht sent a poem to the exiled Kurt Weill in New York. Weill set it as a bittersweet gift for his wife Lotte Lenya. “Nannas Lied” – the song of a an ageing, resilient, seen-it-all prostitute – tells us (via Brecht’s nod to François Villon) that the worst as well as the best never lasts forever: “Where are the tears we cried last night?

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Isata Kanneh-Mason, BBCSSO, Gourlay online review - give thanks for lockdown concerts

Miranda Heggie

As our friends across the pond celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, a mix of music from America kicked off the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s concert, opening with Massachusetts-born composer Carl Ruggles’s Angels for muted brass. Ruggles originally penned the work in 1920 as the second movement of a three-part piece entitled Men and Angels.

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Clayton, Frank-Gemmill, SCO, Kuusisto online review – small but beautifully formed

Bernard Hughes

After a brief interlude of concerts with a live audience, we are back to streamed events from empty halls (though many venues in London will be opening up again from next Thursday, concerts in Scotland have never opened up to the public). Some ensembles have opted to

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Má Vlast, Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov online review – finest silk for Velvet Revolution anniversary concert

David Nice

It was Mahler as conductor who made the famous declaration that “Tradition ist Schlamperei” (sloppiness), or something along those lines.

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How Lonely Sits The City, Dunedin Consort online review - almost as good as being in the concert hall

alexandra Coghlan

It’s hard to remember that distant time back in March before we were all digital experts, when the idea of watching a live-streamed performance was still novel and intriguing. Fast-forward eight months and serious screen-based fatigue has set in.

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