sat 30/05/2020

Classical Reviews

Buniatishvili, RPO, Wigglesworth, RFH review – dark drama and controlled power

Gavin Dixon

Visiting conductor Mark Wigglesworth is a good match for the Royal Philharmonic. The orchestra’s repertoire is usually at the popular end of the spectrum, so they know how to make the most of a good tune. Wigglesworth gives the players the space to phrase and shape the music, but his approach is more about drama and discipline. That’s a great musical virtue, but it’s hardly glamorous.

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Beethoven Weekender, Barbican review - genius at work and play

Peter Quantrill

Where to begin with the most appropriated musician in history? The Barbican’s Beethoven 250 celebrations got off to an auspicious start with a weekend of events, styled like a pop festival, which nonetheless put the composer back where he belonged – in Vienna, at the turn of the 18th century – and set fire to some tenacious myths.

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Lu, Orchestre National de Lille, Bloch, Leeds Town Hall - polish and precision in Ravel and Debussy

graham Rickson

French orchestras haven’t sounded distinctively Gallic for decades; François-Xavier Roth’s brilliant period band Les Siécles does use idiosyncratic French instruments but their polish and sheen is very modern. Still, close your eyes while Alexandre Bloch’s Orchestre National de Lille are playing Ravel and you’re struck by the polish, the elegance of the playing.

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Denis Kozhukhin, QEH review - lyric mastery and subtle elegance

David Nice

In Beethoven anniversary year, there will probably be many more "Moonlight"s, meaning the Sonata, than the real thing (though we've been lucky to see the crescent in close conjunction with Venus these past two nights). Not many pianists would dare to place it at the beginning of a programme.

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Oriole Ensemble, Conway Hall review - sublimely peculiar chamber music

Bernard Hughes

When I reviewed the Philharmonia’s Weimar season last year I expressed a hope to hear more Hindemith performed in London. When, also last year, I reviewed chamber music at Conway Hall I looked forward to my next visit. So a Conway Hall programme including Hindemith’s Clarinet Quartet was like a magnet.

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Shostakovich 24 Preludes and Fugues, Igor Levit, Barbican review - an eagle's-eye view

David Nice

"Citizen. European. Pianist," declares Russian-born, Berlin-based Igor Levit on the front page of his website. One should add, since he wouldn't, Mensch and master of giants.

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Cargill, BBCSO, Saraste, Barbican review - less is more in Shostakovich

Gavin Dixon

Jukka-Pekka Saraste doesn’t visit London much these days. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and there were rumours that he was in line for the top job.

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Miloš Karadaglić, Birmingham Town Hall review - flashy and fierce, with exquisite detail

Miranda Heggie

Dubbed “classical music’s guitar hero”, the 36-year-old London based Montenegrin guitarist  Miloš Karadaglić – more commonly known by just his first name – is back on the international stage.

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Bach Sunday with the Suzukis, RAM / Appl, AAM, Milton Court review - father, son and Holy Ghost

David Nice

Not long after noon on Sunday, strange bells began ringing. In just 11 bars, Bach summons pairs of flutes, oboes and violas da gamba against pizzicato strings and continuo to tintinnabulate against the alto's recitative lines about a "vibrating clang" to "pierce our marrows and our veins". These hallucinatory sounds and harmonies could have been composed yesterday.

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Blomfield, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review - sounds of a troubled truce

Boyd Tonkin

Concert programmes that set out to tell us a story can prove a mixed blessing. Yes, it’s valuable and stimulating to find ideas, and narratives, embodied in the musical flow. But great pieces, well-performed, have a habit of cutting loose from the frame of concepts someone has devised for them.

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