sun 15/12/2019

Classical Reviews

Roméo et Juliette, LSO, Tilson Thomas, Barbican review - surprisingly sober take on Berlioz epic

David Nice

So much was fresh and exciting about Michael Tilson Thomas's years as the London Symphony Orchestra's Principal Conductor (1988-1995; I don't go as far back as his debut, the 50th anniversary of which is celebrated this season).

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Williams, LPO, Alsop, RFH review - sleek lines and pastoral tones

Gavin Dixon

The London Philharmonic’s Isle of Noises, a year-long festival dedicated to music of the British Isles, drew towards its close with this programme of Butterworth, Elgar and Walton. Marin Alsop was a good choice to lead, especially for Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.

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Wallfisch, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Stoller Hall, Manchester review - Weinberg UK premiere

Robert Beale

Everyone’s doing Weinberg now, or so it seems. The Polish-born composer who became a close friend of Shostakovich was born 100 years ago, and there’s plenty of his music to go round.

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Poster, Cabeza, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Kings Place review – shock of the new

Boyd Tonkin

Mozart’s piano concertos often overflow with good humour, but you seldom expect to hear a hearty chuckle from the audience in the middle of a performance of one. Yet something close to a guffaw burst out around King’s Place when soloist Tom Poster, deep into the last-movement cadenza of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19 in F major, suddenly quoted Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

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Morison, RSNO, Järvi, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review – French romance

Christopher Lambton

To hear Neeme Järvi conduct the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is to witness one of the great musical partnerships, one that has evolved into an enduring friendship.

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Daniil Trifonov, RFH review - devil in the works

David Nice

For the first 20 or so minutes and the second encore of this generous recital, I turned into a Trifonite, in thrall to the 28-year-old Russian pianist's communicative powers. Has Scriabin, in an imperious sweep from early to late, ever made more consistent sense?

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Weinberg Focus Day, Wigmore Hall review – innocence and loss, violence and calm

Gavin Dixon

Mieczysław Weinberg – where to begin? The composer died in obscurity in 1996, but his music has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity over the last ten years, culminating in this year’s global celebrations for the centenary of his birth. His music is lyrical and deeply expressive, but audiences can be forgiven for not knowing quite what to make of him. He was immensely prolific, and his works are diverse, yet a distinctive voice runs throughout them.

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The Apostles, LPO, Brabbins, RFH review - Elgar's melancholy New Testament snapshots

David Nice

The Apostles is a depressing work, mostly in a good way. Elgar's one good aspirational theme of mystic chordal progressions is easily outnumbered by a phantasmal parade of dying falls, hauntingly shaped and orchestrated.

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Angela Hewitt, Wigmore Hall review - a match made in heaven

Gavin Dixon

This recital finds Angela Hewitt nearing the end of her “Bach Odyssey”, a project to perform all of Bach’s keyboard works, in five cities around the world, between 2016 and 2020. That’s an impressive feat, especially as she performs from memory. Here she presented the English Suites Nos. 4-6, plus an early Sonata, BWV 963.

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Podger, Brecon Baroque, Hollingworth, Brecon Cathedral review - Bohemian footnotes yield the extraordinary

stephen Walsh

One of the more harmless pastimes of us retired academics is rummaging around among the so-called minor contemporaries of great and famous composers. It often turns out that quite a few of them aren’t minor at all, or at least not minor enough to have to have retired academics dig them out.

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