wed 01/02/2023

Britten

Castalian String Quartet, Wigmore Hall review - genius in works and performance

The Castalian String Quartet is half what I remember, but only literally: while viola-player Charlotte Bonneton and cellist  Christopher Graves may have departed, their replacements, Ruth Gibson and Steffan Morris, more than earned their...

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Britten Weekend, Snape review - diverse songs to mostly great poetry overshadow a problem opera

In usual circumstances, a fully staged opera and every voice-and-piano song-cycle by a single genius in one weekend would be an embarrassment of riches. The only problem about Britten hitting the heights, above all in setting toweringly great poetry...

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The Turn of the Screw, Garsington Opera review - terrors and tragedy

After the long interval, as darkness falls, the screw turns in this Garsington revival more woundingly than any I can remember for Britten's most concentrated masterpiece. Evil chords, trills, cadenzas and silences from the 13 superb Philharmonia...

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Ridout, SCO, Manze, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh review - sensual mystery and searing intensity

The programme for this concert had Andrew Manze’s fingerprints all over it. Of all the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s semi-regular guest conductors, he’s the one who most consistently delivers on the highest level. A thinker to his fingertips, he...

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Peter Grimes, Royal Opera review - impressive, not quite devastating

"Why does he have to sentimentalise this piece?", Britten is reported by former Royal Opera director John Tooley to have said of Jon Vickers as Peter Grimes the tormented fisherman, so very different from the composer's life partner and creator of...

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Kolesnikov, Sinfonia of London, Wilson, Snape Maltings review – volcanic Britten and Vaughan Williams

They’re singing songs of praise in Aldeburgh today – namely Britten’s magical unaccompanied choral setting of Auden’s Hymn to St Cecilia on the composer’s birthday and the annual celebration of music’s martyred patron. And what a right to...

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First Person: composer Joseph Phibbs on rescoring Britten

The music Britten composed in his twenties occupies a special place in his output. Even among his detractors there are some who begrudgingly concede that this early period is somehow different: fresher, more extroverted and daring, perhaps less...

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A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Grange Festival review - heroic comedy in hard times

When the history of 2021’s slow emergence from lockdown comes to be written, musical administrations will stand out among the heroes. That’s especially true of the country-house opera organisations which have mushroomed in recent years. Don’t ask...

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Bostridge, CBSO, Seal, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - large and live

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra believes that its current post-lockdown summer series features the largest orchestra currently performing live in the UK. It’s not an easy claim to verify, and the full string section certainly wasn’t on...

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LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - songs and dances in a room with an audience

It began with a sense of wonder, not just from the Barbican's socially distanced audience but also from the stage, at “that sound you make with your hands”, as Simon Rattle put it in what he said was a novelty speech before a performance. What...

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The Turn of the Screw, OperaGlass Works online review - the fright is in the filming

It’s second time lucky for OperaGlass Works, whose previous production at Wilton’s Music Hall, of Stravinsky’s The Rake's Progress, hit the mark for me in the singing but not the staging. I suspect that had we been there in the auditorium with...

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Classical CDs: recorders, fishermen, Spanish nightlife and waltzes

 Bach: Sonatas for recorder, harpsichord and viola da gamba Michala Petri (recorder), Hille Perl (viola da gamba), Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) (OUR Recordings)That these sonatas were originally composed by Bach for flute is surely of no...

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