fri 22/03/2019

choral music

Bach St John Passion, Les Arts Florissants, Christie, Barbican review – sombre but engaging

William Christie kicked off Passion season in London this year with a particularly sombre reading of the St John. The veteran conductor brought his French choir and orchestra, Les Arts Florissants, and a line-up of relatively young soloists to the...

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Berlioz Requiem, Spyres, Philharmonia Orchestra, Nelson, St Paul's Cathedral review - masses and voids

Asked to choose five or ten minutes of favourite Berlioz on the 150th anniversary of his death (yesterday), surely few would select anything from his giant Requiem (Grande Messe des Morts). This is a work to shock and awe, not to be loved - music...

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Bernheim, Finley, LSO, Pappano, Barbican review - top Italians in second gear

Would Verdi and Puccini have composed more non-operatic music, had they thrived in a musical culture different to Italy's? Hard to say. What we do know is that they both became absolute masters of orchestration – Puccini rather quicker than Verdi,...

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Total Immersion: Ligeti, Barbican review - exploring a 20th-century master mind

A day devoted entirely to the life and work of György Ligeti celebrated this composer’s remarkable oeuvre through a sequence programme of film, talks and concerts of his music. The final two of these performances were a short recital of his choral...

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Monteverdi Vespers, The Sixteen, Christophers, Cadogan Hall review – majesty on a modest scale

The Monteverdi Vespers are usually a grand affair, but Harry Christophers showed they can work just as well on a smaller scale. Cadogan Hall has a dry acoustic, at least compared to St Mark’s Basilica, so there is little opportunity for billowing...

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La Damnation de Faust, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - 'concert opera' indeed

Berlioz called it a "concert opera". His telling of the Faust story is in scenes and highly theatrical, but a bit of a challenge to put on in the theatre, with its marching armies, floating sylphs, dancing will-o’-the-wisps and galloping horses. It...

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Bach B minor Mass, BBCSO, Butt, Barbican review - large-scale losses and a few gains

Practitioners of musical authenticity and scholarly research, so guarded and protective of their territory in the early days, now like to spread the love around. So if an amateur choir of 100-plus like the BBC Symphony Chorus, celebrating its 90th...

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Timothy Day: I Saw Eternity the Other Night review - heavenly harmony, earthly discord

In 1955, Sylvia Plath attended the Advent Carol Service at King’s College in Cambridge. Like countless other visitors, listeners and viewers before and since, she was entranced by “the tall chapel, with its cobweb lace of fan-vaulting” lit by “...

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L'enfance du Christ, BBCSO, Gardner, Barbican review - Berlioz's kindest wonder

Like the fountains that sprang up in the desert during the Holy Family's flight into Egypt - according to a charming episode in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew - Berlioz's new-found creativity in the 1850s flowed from a couple of bars of organ music he...

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Epiphoni Consort, Reader, St Paul's Covent Garden review - historical drama with seasonal spirit

Like a supermarket "Christmas Dinner" sandwich, cramming the delights of a full festive lunch into every bite, Epiphoni Consort’s The Christmas Truce was at once historical play, choral concert and carol service, and so wonderfully enjoyable I didn’...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Christmas, part 2

 Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain Apollo’s Fire/Jeannette Sorrell (Avie)Subtitled "an Irish-Appalachian celebration", this disc follows the Scottish and Irish immigrants who pitched up in rural Virginia in the 19th century, fleeing unemployment...

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Kolesnikov, BBCSO, Brabbins, Barbican review - rethought masterpiece, stolid rarity

Forget the latest International Tchaikovsky Competition winner (I almost have; only a dim memory of Dmitry Masleev's playing the notes in the obligatory First Piano Concerto, and nothing else, remains from an Istanbul performance). Had Pavel...

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