sat 23/03/2019

Classical Reviews

Lupu, Philharmonia, Järvi, RFH review - concerto magical in parts, symphony stupendous

David Nice

Pianists most often cite Radu Lupu alongside Martha Argerich and Grigory Sokolov as the greatest. So it was hardly surprising to see so many top musicians in a packed audience, buzzing with expectation for the 73-year-old Romanian's most recent UK appearance with a conductor he respects, Paavo Järvi.

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Bach B minor Mass, BBCSO, Butt, Barbican review - large-scale losses and a few gains

David Nice

Practitioners of musical authenticity and scholarly research, so guarded and protective of their territory in the early days, now like to spread the love around.

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Kempf, Devin, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Sinaisky, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - aglow but not alight

Miranda Heggie

In the fourth performance of their UK tour, with Vassily Sinaisky replacing an indisposed Yuri Temirkanov, the St Petersburg Philharmonic gave a warm and rousing performance at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

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Hadelich, CBSO, Măcelaru, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - industrial strength Vaughan Williams

Richard Bratby

Well, I didn’t expect that – and judging from the way the rest of the audience reacted, nor did anyone else. After Cristian Măcelaru slammed the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra full speed into the final chord of Vaughan Williams’s Fourth Symphony, there was a stunned silence, broken by gasps. And then cheers, as a smiling, visibly drained Măcelaru gestured back at the orchestra with both thumbs up.

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Damrau, BRSO, Jansons, Barbican review - broad and passionate Strauss

Gavin Dixon

There is no doubting Diana Damrau’s star power. She is not a demonstrative performer, and her voice is small, but the sheer character of her tone, and the passion she invests, make every line special.

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Hough, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - film music flows

Robert Beale

No one worried about melting icecaps and homeless penguins when Vaughan Williams wrote his score for the film Scott of the Antarctic around 70 years ago. (They do now, as a new music theatre piece by Laura Bowler to be premiered by Manchester Camerata next week will show). It was the challenge of the frozen continent and a heroic effort to reach its heart that counted.

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Endellion Quartet, Wigmore Hall review - four decades of excellence

Boyd Tonkin

The Endellion Quartet first rehearsed on 20 January 1979, deep in the throes of Britain’s so-called “Winter of Discontent”. That longevity – with three of the original players still on the team after four decades – makes the acclaimed ensemble roughly as old as Spandau Ballet, and senior to REM.

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Van Woerkum, BBCPO, Gernon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - a symphony of cinema

Robert Beale

In contrast to a classic film soundtrack played live with the film, the idea in "symphonic cinema" is that the music, and its interpretation, come first. So the conductor is literally setting the pace, and to some extent the atmosphere, while the film is controlled in real time by an "image soloist", and the visuals follow the music’s lead rather than the other way round.

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Bang on a Can All-Stars, Kings Place review - a kaleidoscope of vibrant sound and vision

David Nice

Julia Wolfe, Caroline Shaw, Anna Þorvaldsdóttir: three names on quite a list I reeled off earlier this week when someone asked me why the compositions of Rebecca Saunders, in the news for winning the 250,000 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, make me lose the will to live, and whom I’d choose instead.

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Ehnes, BBCSO, Ryan Wigglesworth, Barbican review - a concert of two very different halves

Gavin Dixon

The big news on this programme was Schoenberg’s Pelleas and Melisande. This early score, completed in 1903, is a sprawling Expressionist tone poem, making explicit all the passions in Maeterlinck’s play that Debussy only implies.

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