wed 08/12/2021

Classical Reviews

St Matthew Passion, Arcangelo, Cohen, BBC Proms review – journey to the end of night

Boyd Tonkin

No disrespect to Sakari Oramo and his colleagues in tomorrow’s farewell jamboree, but I wonder whether this performance should have featured as the Last Night of the Proms. After all its terror, grief and sorrow, the St Matthew Passion ends with such a gentle and healing leave-taking (“Ruhe sanfte, sanfte ruh”) that it would surely capture our pandemic travails across the past two years.

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Proms Festival Orchestra, Wigglesworth, BBC Proms review - brilliant work in progress, perfect Adagietto

David Nice

You don’t expect a great orchestral string section to be born overnight, yet under the circumstances of the Proms Festival Orchestra’s rapid creation and only three rehearsals of three hours each, this was more than good, with detailed articulation demanded and delivered.

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Sheku Kanneh-Mason, RLPO, Hindoyan, BBC Proms review - wood magic and swashbuckling show-offs

David Nice

After 14 years as principal conductor, Vasily Petrenko has left the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in top-league shape. The players must be as thrilled as we are that his successor, Venezuelan Armenian Domingo Hindoyan, carries the flame, catches the spark, call it what you will, with a distinct personality of his own, combining clariy and elegance in baton-wielding with a very watchable physical freedom....

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Chiejina, Sinfonia of London, Wilson, BBC Proms review - a musical arrival for a special favourite

alexandra Coghlan

Turns out John Wilson was playing the long game from the start. The dynamic British conductor eased his way into Proms schedules in 2007, establishing his John Wilson Orchestra as an annual festival fixture just two years later. Film music from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Broadway musicals, Bernstein and more all arrived gleaming – freshly polished and ready for their close-up.

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Hallenberg, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner, BBC Proms review - a vindication of voices

Boyd Tonkin

Choral singers have suffered more than most from erratic and irrational Covid prohibitions while riskier mass pursuits have gone ahead. So when one of the world’s great choirs returned to the Proms with the conductor who has guided them for over half a century, the sense of occasion was palpable.

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Aimard, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin, BBC Proms review - a revealing composer portrait

Gavin Dixon

Composer George Benjamin has dazzling talent, but he is difficult to showcase. He is not a naturally extrovert type, and most of his projects take years to formulate, and only come about through collaboration with close and trusted performers.

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Kopatchinskaja, BBCSSO, Volkov, BBC Proms Review - the spirit of the dance in Bartók

Sebastian Scotney

Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja has a joyous hunger for communication through music. She sometimes seems to dance through it. This was at its most vivid when she lunged towards BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra leader Laura Samuel to invite her to start the encore at the end of the first half of Saturday’s Bartók Roots Prom, “Baladă și Joc” (ballad and dance), a duo for two violins by György Ligeti.

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Crowe, BBCSSO, Volkov, BBC Proms review - shining light on history and heritage

Peter Quantrill

Minds in Flux is the largest of this season’s Proms commissions, and last night it afforded a rare chance for UK audiences to hear work of George Lewis outside the often insular new-music and avant-garde improvisation circuits.

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Jeneba Kanneh-Mason, Chineke! Orchestra, Bovell, BBC Proms - a star danced

David Nice

Now that you've found her, never let her go. I hope that’s the mantra among players of the Chineke! Orchestra and their Artistic and Executive Director Chi-chi Nwanoku – leading the double basses last night – after this Prom with Panamanian-American conductor Kalena Bovell.

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LSO, Rattle, BBC Proms review - dazzling Stravinsky showcase

Gavin Dixon

Simon Rattle and the LSO marked the 50th anniversary of Stravinsky’s death with a concert of three “symphonies”. In fact, the programme had little to say about Stravinsky’s relationship with symphonic form: his early E flat Symphony was omitted, and the Symphonies of Wind Instruments, the opening work, is not a symphony in any accepted sense.

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