wed 27/01/2021

Classical Reviews

Hutchings, Britten Sinfonia, Paterson, Barbican online review – saluting an American classic

peter Quinn

When Aaron Copland wrote his most beloved work, Appalachian Spring, in 1943/44, he gave it the unfussy working title of “Ballet for Martha” – Martha being the choreographer Martha Graham, for whom he’d written the score. It was only shortly before the premiere, long after the ink was dry on the score, that Graham appended the more alluring title, excerpted from Hart Crane’s poem "The Dance", by which the work is now known.

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Kanneh-Mason, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla online review - muted celebrations

Richard Bratby

“This year was supposed to be so very different” said Stephen Maddock, Chief Executive of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra when he spoke to theartsdesk earlier this year. Talk about an understatement. The CBSO has hardly been alone in having cherished plans wrecked.

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City of London Sinfonia, Southwark Cathedral review – towards Haydn’s last symphony

David Nice

Nearly two weeks into the latest lockdown, and already I feel nostalgic about the last day of freedom. You should too, just watching the film released last night of the CLS’s most recent happening in Southwark Cathedral.

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Nicky Spence, Jess Dandy, Julius Drake, Wigmore Hall review – Moravian rhapsody

Boyd Tonkin

We don’t often see sultry come-to-bed moves in the Wigmore Hall, that chaste Parthenon of refined musical taste. But when Jess Dandy stretched out languidly on stage while offering to show Nicky Spence “how the gypsies sleep”, the temperature shot up even in an empty auditorium. In Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared, wildness and passion war with inhibition and conformity.

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Mozart's Requiem, English National Opera, BBC Two review - strong and direct act of remembrance

David Nice

It must have felt very strange to Mark Wigglesworth that he returned to the London Coliseum under such unanticipated circumstances.

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BSO, Karabits, The Lighthouse, Poole online review – stealing fire from the gods

Peter Quantrill

There have been quite enough Beethoven tribute-acts and remixes during the 2020 anniversary year. We, and he, deserve better than composers riding pillion on that reckless, purring beast of a 700hp compositional engine.

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Proust Night, Wigmore Hall review – the music of memory

Boyd Tonkin

In a bold first strike – straight to the gut, surely, for many in the audience – the Wigmore Hall’s “Proust Night” began with an old recording of the Berceuse from Fauré’s Dolly Suite. Clever.

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Diabelli Variations, Imogen Cooper, Fidelio Orchestra Cafe review - a universe for a (temporary) farewell

David Nice

Beethoven anniversary year would not have been complete without witnessing a masterly live interpretation of his 33 ever more questing piano variations on a jolly waltz. This one was revelatory.

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Julia Bullock, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review – bewitching dreamscapes

David Nice

Nobody would wish it this way, but orchestras playing on a stage specially built-up for distancing to a handful of invitees have never sounded better in the Royal Festival Hall.

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Pavel Kolesnikov, Wigmore Hall review - the stuff of dreams

Jessica Duchen

To plan a programme around The Tempest, its symbolism and the idea of evanescence, the fragility of the human condition, is one thing. To pull it off convincingly is quite another. The young Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov not only did so in his Wigmore Hall recital on Monday night, but offered an evening so profoundly touching that it seemed at times to inhabit Prospero’s magic island, plus some. 

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