sat 24/08/2019

choral music

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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Classical CDs Weekly: Josquin, Calidore String Quartet, Ronn McFarlane

 Josquin: Missa Gaudeamus, Missa L’ami Baudichon The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips (Gimell)That music composed in the 14th and 15th centuries can be enjoyed and performed today is mind-boggling. As is looking at one of Josquin des Préz’s...

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Verdi's Requiem, Royal Opera, Pappano review - all that heaven allows

Here it comes - get a grip. The tears have started flowing in the trio "Quid sum miser" and 12 minutes later, as the tenor embarks on his "Ingemisco" solo, you have to stop the shakes turning into noisy sobbing. The composer then lets you off the...

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Hallé, Gardner, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review – drama and humanity

Edward Gardner was back amongst friends when he opened the Hallé’s Thursday series concerts. This was the place where he made his mark, as the Manchester orchestra’s first ever assistant conductor (and Youth Orchestra music director), and he’s been...

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Proms at...Cadogan Hall 6, BBC Singers, Oramo review - excellent choristers need to diversify

Those of us schooled in the English choral tradition know and love Hubert Parry's "My soul, there is a country", but few have sung or heard it live as the first of a mighty cycle. Parry completed the six Songs of Farewell not long before his death...

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theartsdesk at the Three Choirs Festival - religion, passion and Nordic fakery

Not to be outdone by the Proms, the 2018 Three Choirs Festival in Hereford burst into action on Saturday with a major choral work, the Mass in D, by music’s most famous suffragette, the majestic figure of Dame Ethel Smyth. Dame Ethel embodies...

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