wed 22/05/2019

Classical Reviews

Endellion Quartet, Wigmore Hall review - four decades of excellence

Boyd Tonkin

The Endellion Quartet first rehearsed on 20 January 1979, deep in the throes of Britain’s so-called “Winter of Discontent”. That longevity – with three of the original players still on the team after four decades – makes the acclaimed ensemble roughly as old as Spandau Ballet, and senior to REM.

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Van Woerkum, BBCPO, Gernon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - a symphony of cinema

Robert Beale

In contrast to a classic film soundtrack played live with the film, the idea in "symphonic cinema" is that the music, and its interpretation, come first. So the conductor is literally setting the pace, and to some extent the atmosphere, while the film is controlled in real time by an "image soloist", and the visuals follow the music’s lead rather than the other way round.

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Bang on a Can All-Stars, Kings Place review - a kaleidoscope of vibrant sound and vision

David Nice

Julia Wolfe, Caroline Shaw, Anna Þorvaldsdóttir: three names on quite a list I reeled off earlier this week when someone asked me why the compositions of Rebecca Saunders, in the news for winning the 250,000 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, make me lose the will to live, and whom I’d choose instead.

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Ehnes, BBCSO, Ryan Wigglesworth, Barbican review - a concert of two very different halves

Gavin Dixon

The big news on this programme was Schoenberg’s Pelleas and Melisande. This early score, completed in 1903, is a sprawling Expressionist tone poem, making explicit all the passions in Maeterlinck’s play that Debussy only implies.

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Murrihy, Britten Sinfonia, Elder, Barbican review – a country feast

Boyd Tonkin

As the January chill began to bite around the Barbican, Sir Mark Elder and the Britten Sinfonia summoned memories of spring and summer – but of sunny seasons overshadowed by the electric crackle of storms. On the face of it, they offered us a pleasing, even serene, pastoral spread to mitigate the chill outside.

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Winterreise, Gerhaher, Huber, Wigmore Hall review - wintry beauty

Boyd Tonkin

As Wigmore Hall audiences really ought to know, silence can be golden. Especially at the close of Schubert’s Winterreise, as the uncanny drone-like fifths of the hurdy-gurdy in “Der Leiermann” fade away into – well, whatever state of mind the singer and pianist have together managed to communicate over the preceding 24 songs. So much remains ambiguous – and open to plausible re-interpretation – in this cycle that the traditional pause for reflection as it ends makes good sense.

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LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - Bartók dances, Bruckner sings

Gavin Dixon

Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony: few other conductors could get away with programming two such monolithic works, but Simon Rattle has a lightness of touch that can leaven even...

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Fibonacci Sequence, Conway Hall review - characterful chamber music for winds

Bernard Hughes

Most classical concert reviews focus on prominent orchestras and opera companies at major venues. But beyond the likes of the Barbican and the Royal Opera House, there are whole strata of musical life where smaller scale ensembles and amateur choirs provide a vital live music experience in less exalted venues.

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Mutter, Vengerov, Argerich, Oxford Philharmonic, Papadopoulos, Barbican review - a birthday banquet

Boyd Tonkin

When three of the planet’s starriest soloists take the time to celebrate the anniversary of a young, non-metropolitan orchestra, it may seem perverse to leave the hall entranced most by the one work in which the illustrious trio played no part.

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Hannigan, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - the sublime and the beautiful

Boyd Tonkin

With the London Symphony Orchestra often playing like some commanding and relentless force of nature, Sir Simon Rattle steered two mighty avalanches of Nordic sound into a concert of granitic authority last night.

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