fri 06/12/2019

Classical Reviews

Prom 23: Floristán, BBC Philharmonic, Gernon review - concerto lacks heft

Bernard Hughes

Ben Gernon is only 30 (and looks about ten years younger) but has been Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic since 2017.

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Prom 20: Kuusisto, BBCSSO, Dausgaard review – Sibelius between folk and art

Boyd Tonkin

I’m not quite sure that I should review this Prom, since I performed in it. Before anyone summons the white coats, let me clarify. As the encore to a mind-expanding evening, Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto returned to the stage with his band of folk musicians. He asked the audience to hum a sort of drone, and then sing open-mouthed, as they sung and played a traditional song. How did we do? OK, I thought.

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Edinburgh International Festival 2019: Mahler's 'Resurrection' Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dudamel - detailed judgment day canvas

Christopher Lambton

Since time immemorial the Edinburgh International Festival has started with a juicy choral epic designed to show off the Festival Chorus and the opulent Usher Hall. So this performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony would normally have been billed as the opening concert.

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Prom 18: Andsnes, Mahnke, Skelton, BBCSO, Gardner review – all passion spent

Peter Quantrill

It’s a curiosity of music that a performance can occasionally be better – more persuasive and impressive – than the work itself. Even Britten’s most devoted advocates would find it hard to rank the Piano Concerto among his masterpieces.

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Prom 17: Shaham, Bavarian RSO, Nézet-Séguin review – a Montrealer brings “l’fun”

Sebastian Scotney

Montrealers exude a particular kind of happiness and have wonderfully snappy expressions to convey it: “Chu correc”, means ‘I’m fine’, and “C’est l’fun” means...exactly what it looks like.

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Ludovico Einaudi, Barbican review - a long road to nowhere

Liz Thomson

There is a video, part of Greenpeace’s laudable Save The Arctic Campaign, in which Ludovico Einaudi sits at a Steinway atop a small ice flow performing his Elegy for the Arctic. As he plays a descending scale, the camera pans slightly to the right just in time to see a chunk of glacier break away and crash into the sea. Perfect timing!

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Prom 15: Bavarian RSO, Nézet-Séguin review - perfect Beethoven, nuanced Shostakovich

David Nice

While we wish the great Mariss Jansons a speedy recovery, no-one of sound heart and soul could be disappointed by his substitute for the two Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Proms, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, whose supreme art is to show the score's construction in the face, with gestures to match.

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Prom 14: The Creation, BBC Proms Youth Choir, BBC Philharmonic, Wellber - Haydn on the edge

Jessica Duchen

Hello sun, hello great whales, hello choral counterpoint. If there is a more life-enhancing work than Joseph Haydn’s oratorio The Creation, I’ve yet to hear one.

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theartsdesk at the Three Choirs Festival - the beautiful and the damned

stephen Walsh

Our greatest Berlioz scholar, David Cairns, has called Le Damnation de Faust “an opera of the mind’s eye, not of the stage,” and I’ve certainly never seen a production that successfully staged its curious, episodic, actionless mixture of set piece, romantic brooding, and flickering cinematic imagery.

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Prom 13: Des canyons aux étoiles..., BBCSO, Oramo review – cursory contemplations of earth and sky

Peter Quantrill

Messiaen’s language of juxtaposition over development was always susceptible to the “greatest hits” phenomenon that began to suffuse his music with contented wonder during the 1970s. While younger colleagues were throwing toys out of the pram and marbles at walls during the late 1960s, he was putting heart and soul into a synoptic concert rite – part concerto, part cantata, all-consuming – based on the Transfiguration of Jesus.

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