mon 17/01/2022

Classical Reviews

Voces8 Live from London Summer online review - choral excellence and more besides

Bernard Hughes

There is much to love about the latest Voces8 Live from London online festival. It goes beyond having a purely choral line-up, embracing instrumental music for the first time, while maintaining its focus on vocal performances of the highest standard.

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Ólafsson, Philharmonia, Järvi, BBC Proms review - a ravishing Proms debut

alexandra Coghlan

What does it mean to be Classical? It’s the question award-winning Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has consistently asked in a career that has collided music from Bach to Debussy, presenting them as part of a single conversation and continuum.

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Isserlis, LPO, Jurowski, BBC Proms review - a final hand full of aces

Boyd Tonkin

We finished with a pure Hollywood moment when John Gilhooly – as Chair of the Royal Philharmonic Society – popped up after the warm applause to announce that the Society had awarded its gold medal to Vladimir Jurowski. Oddly, Covid rules meant that the actual handover took place backstage.

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Kolesnikov, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, BBC Proms review - dazzling musicianship and insight

alexandra Coghlan

It’s nobody’s fault, but – try as they might – the BBC Proms can often feel rather middle-aged. Whether it’s the lumbering albatross of a building, the ushers in their dated, casino waistcoats or the tone of zealous jollity (Have fun! But silently and according to the rules!), it somehow all adds up to a lack of freshness, spontaneity. Thank goodness for Aurora Orchestra.

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Brahms Piano Concertos, Tsoy, Philharmonia, Emelyanychev, Bold Tendencies - rich epic mastery in concrete surroundings

David Nice

To excel at one massive Brahms piano concerto in a standard concert hall is cause enough for celebration. To master two over one evening in a very unorthodox space – namely, below the roof of Peckham’s former multi-storey car park – brings the performer close to recreative genius.

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BBCNOW, Bancroft, BBC Proms review – American music from across the spectrum

Bernard Hughes

In this most atypical Proms season this was actually an archetypal Proms programme: a world premiere: a neglected masterpiece and a good solid 19th-century symphony for those put off a bit by the first two. But this American-themed programme never felt run of the mill.

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Benedetti, National Youth Orchestra, Heyward, BBC Proms review – stirring sounds of change

Boyd Tonkin

In a normal year, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain descends mob-handed on the Royal Albert Hall for a Prom that complements the sheer quality of the young musicians’ work with joyful, raucous, roof-raising quantity. I recall a Turangalîla symphony in the other Olympic season of 2012 that rocked all Kensington with its heaven-storming, gold-medal exuberance.

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Echo Vocal Ensemble, Midlands Arts Centre review - fresh and fun approach to choral singing

Miranda Heggie

After meeting on the Genesis Sixteen Young Artist Scheme, this vibrant vocal ensemble has been rapidly gaining momentum since their debut at St John’s Smith Square in 2017. Under the direction of conductor Sarah Latto, the final concert in their UK tour was polished, poised and subtly powerful.

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CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, BBC Proms review - expectations teased, seldom fulfilled

David Nice

Nominally, this was a programme of three symphonies. The first, though, sounded like music re-cut and pasted from a very British film and the second was a suite, albeit impressively reworked, from an opera.

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Brauss, BBC Philharmonic, Gernon, BBC Proms review - surprises and miracles in store

Peter Quantrill

Two nights after the Scottish Chamber Orchestra had brought the first great E flat major symphony to the Proms – Mozart’s 39th – a serendipitous change of programme on Tuesday gave us the second: Haydn’s “Drumroll”. An equally serendipitous change of conductor saw Ben Gernon get the evening off to a deceptively simple start: no fancy-dan cadenza from the BBC Philharmonic’s timpanist, just enough of a flourish to get everyone’s attention as Haydn probably had in mind.

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