sat 21/09/2019

Classical Reviews

Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review – bittersweet Berlin

Boyd Tonkin

Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia kicked off their series of concerts devoted to the edgy culture of the Weimar Republic with a programme that featured three works (out of four) derived in some way from the musical stage. That included, as a rip-roaring finale, the conclusion to Shostakovich’s football-themed ballet from 1930, The Golden Age.

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Kuusisto, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Birmingham Town Hall review - aural voyage through space

Miranda Heggie

It’s quite a weighty concept, and one which could easily have buckled had both the music and its execution not been of the highest quality. Aurora Orchestra’s "Music of the Spheres" was a concert inspired by the Greek philosopher Pythagoras’s theory that each of the planets in our solar system must emit a particular sound through its orbit.

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Williams, BBC Philharmonic, Wigglesworth, Bridgewater Hall Manchester review - vision before gloom

Robert Beale

The BBC Philharmonic have given memorable accounts of Shostakovich’s Symphony No 4 in Manchester before – notably conducted by Günther Herbig in 2010 and by John Storgårds in 2014 – but surely none as harrowingly grim as under Mark Wigglesworth this time.

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Kuusisto, Philharmonia, Rouvali, RFH review - new principal conductor steps up

Bernard Hughes

Last night saw the official unveiling of 33-year-old Finn Santtu-Matias Rouvali as Principal Conductor Designate of the Philharmonia Orchestra, an appointment that has been widely welcomed, not least on theartsdesk. And while I enjoyed Rouvali’s work I had some reservations, and I would like to see him again before coming to a firm judgment.

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CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - joy unbounded

Richard Bratby

You can tell a lot from the opening of Brahms’s Second Symphony.

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Benedetti, SCO, Birmingham Town Hall review - a powerful musical alliance

Miranda Heggie

Playing with such energy, such synergy and such general camaraderie at the start of a tour must surely pave the way for even greater things to come. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Nicola Benedetti kicked off their European tour at Birmingham Town Hall, ahead of performances in Denmark, Switzerland and Germany.

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Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Pappano, Barbican review – joy in despair

Boyd Tonkin

As one half of British politics convulsed into a deeper spasm of suicidal fury, it came almost as a relief to hear a great Anglo-Italian conductor lead an impassioned Roman orchestra in a massive, terrifying symphony once described by a (German) maestro as the first example of musical nihilism. Ah, but that’s the paradox of Mahler’s Sixth.

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Grosvenor, Doric Quartet, Milton Court review - cohesion or collision?

Jessica Duchen

Expectations ran high for this final concert in Benjamin Grosvenor’s Barbican/Milton Court series, especially after the magic he and the Doric Quartet wrought in their February performance.

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Los Angeles Master Chorale, Gershon, Sellars, Barbican review – embodiments of remorse

Boyd Tonkin

By some strange alignment of the stars, Peter Sellars’s staged version of Orlando di Lasso’s Lagrime di San Pietro (Tears of St Peter) arrived at the Barbican Hall just as – next door in the theatre – Pam Tanowitz’s directed her dance interpretation of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets.

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Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall review – full-spectrum Bach from a prodigious talent

Boyd Tonkin

You seldom hear a Champions League-level roar of approval at the Wigmore Hall. Last night, though, Igor Levit drew a throaty collective bark of appreciation from the audience after (for once) an awed hush had followed the final dying cadences of the aria’s return in Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Had he earned it? Absolutely. This recital was first of three devoted to the idea of Variations.

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