sun 15/12/2019

Classical Reviews

Kozhukhin, BBC Philharmonic, Carneiro, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - melancholy heart of Mahler

Robert Beale

Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is a repertoire piece nowadays, probably as familiar to as many listeners as to orchestral players, which means you look for something distinctive in any performance to identify its essential quality against all the others.

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Gerstein, LPO, Adès, RFH review - engaging new piano concerto

Bernard Hughes

Every ten years or so Thomas Adès writes a piano concerto and the latest had its UK premiere last night at the Royal Festival Hall, played by Kirill Gerstein and conducted by Adès himself.

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Andsnes, Oslo Philharmonic, Petrenko, Barbican review – polish and passion

Boyd Tonkin

The Oslo Philharmonic finished its centenary tour of Europe at the Barbican last night with ample proof that it consistently delivers one of the continent’s most well-rounded, and richly satisfying, orchestral sounds. The Norwegians’ modern history may date to 1919, but their stellar reputation only emerged in the 1980s. Then Mariss Jansons, just like Simon Rattle over in Birmingham, shaped a supposedly “provincial” outfit into a regiment of world-beaters.

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Imogen Cooper 70th Birthday Concert, Wigmore Hall review - outwardly austere, lit from within

David Nice

There are now two septuagenarians playing Schubert at a level no other living pianist can touch.

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London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Ono, Barbican review - feet on the ground, eyes to the skies

David Nice

We have John Eliot Gardiner to thank for an unconventional diptych of Czech masterpieces in the London Symphony Orchestra's current season. He had to withdraw from last night's concert - he conducts Dvořák's Cello Concerto and Suk's "Asrael" Symphony on Thursday - but his replacement, Kazushi Ono, was no second-best.

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Miklós Perényi, Dénes Várjon, Wigmore Hall review – Beethoven in wonderfully safe hands

Sebastian Scotney

"Revelatory":  it’s one of those words which is now completely devalued through having been carelessly dropped into a thousand press releases.

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Glennie, Lubbe, Ticciati, O/Modernt, Kings Place review - a Pergolesi-based dud

Bernard Hughes

Some of the greatest pieces of the string orchestra repertoire are based on pre-existing pieces: the fantasias by Tippett and Vaughan Williams, on Corelli and Tallis respectively, treat their starting material with invention and sweep, creating something new, bigger and better than their sources. But throughout Lera Auerbach’s Dialogues on Stabat Mater (after Pergolesi) last night I felt nothing other than the desire to hear the Pergolesi original, unadorned and unmeddled-with.

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Ehnes, Hallé, Gabel, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - happy unexpected discoveries

Robert Beale

Changes from the artists originally advertised can bring some happy discoveries. Sir Mark Elder, though present in the audience to hear last night’s Hallé performance at the Bridgewater Hall, was still recovering from surgery and so did not conduct it, as he’d planned to when the season was announced.

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Dariescu, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Simonov, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - Soviet fear and loathing

Miranda Heggie

It remains some of the most terrifying music ever written. Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony - the composer’s portrayal of the fear and anxiety felt under Stalin's regime - is a horrifyingly brutal musical portrayal of life lived under a totalitarian reign.

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Zauberland, Linbury Theatre review - an adaptation that adds much and gains nothing

alexandra Coghlan

Dichterliebe is a song-cycle full of gaps, silences, absences. Where is the piano at the start of “Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet” when the voice enters first and so startlingly, ungrammatically alone? Where is the voice during the long piano postlude when the vocal line disappears but the singer continues to stand centre-stage? We even seem to join the cycle mid-conversation, unsure what has prompted the diffident, tentative harmonies with which it starts.

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