fri 02/12/2022

Shostakovich

Classical CDs: Civil service, bassoon laments and a historic keyboard

 Mozart: The Piano Sonatas (Robert Levin, playing Mozart’s fortepiano) (ECM New Series)There is no doubt about the brilliant uniqueness of pianist, conductor, musicologist and one-time Nadia Boulanger pupil Robert Levin, an influential Harvard...

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theartsdesk at the Kilkenny Arts Festival 2022 - a safe space to reflect on horrors

Essay-writing can be a great art, at least when executed by Hubert Butler of Kilkenny, on a par - whether you know his writing or not, and you should – with Bacon, Swift and Orwell. The same goes for speechifying. That level I witnessed, at the...

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Classical CDs: sound effects, football teams and waterfalls

 Gail Kubik: Symphony Concertante, Gerald McBoing Boing Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose (BMOP Sound)Gail Kubik (1914-1984) should really be remembered for writing the score to William Wyler’s 1955 noir The Desperate Hours, but...

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Classical CDs: mediation, survival and the conquering of shyness

 Karel Ančerl: Live Recordings (Supraphon)Karel Ančerl’s nascent conducting career was interrupted by World War II, Ančerl and his family being sent to the Theresienstadt camp in 1942. Two years later, he and his family were sent to Auschwitz....

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Gillam, NYOS, Hasan, Usher Hall, Edinburgh - stunning variety from the new generation

I expected the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland’s Usher Hall concert to be jam-packed with a joyful melee of admiring friends and relatives. This is a vast orchestra of over 100, and it wouldn’t take that many aunts and uncles to fill the Usher’...

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Bournemouth SO, Karabits, Lighthouse, Poole review - more voices from the east

The last of this season’s Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra concert series Voices from the East featured music from Azerbaijan with Kirill Karabits focusing on works by the contemporary composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh and her teacher Kara Karayev.Born in...

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Kanneh-Mason, LPO, Bloxham, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne review - stark Russian contrasts

With a predictable Sheku sell-out in the hall, the context of post-Eunice clean-up and current teetering on the brink with Russia lent a strangely unsettling and salutary resonance to the programme of Shostakovich’s Second Cello Concerto framed by...

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Stikhina, Kowaljow, LSO, Noseda, Barbican review - dramatic songs of death, electrifying dances of life

“This symphony comprises 11 songs about death and lasts about one hour,” the conductor Mark Wigglesworth declared before a second New York performance of Shostakovich’s Fourteenth – people had left in droves during the first – only to see a swathe...

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Classical CDs: Two bass drums, three oranges and seven symphonies

 Prokofiev: The Symphonies Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Litton (BIS)The first CD alone (containing almost 87 minutes of music!) in this five-disc set should be enough to convince you to buy the whole thing. Andrew Litton’s Bergen...

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

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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Classical CDs: Soviet symphonies, popular classics and percussion

 Louise Farrenc; Symphonies 1&3 Insula Orchestra/Laurence Equilbey (Erato)Louise Farrenc’s music is good as you’d expect from a precocious talent who’d studied piano with Hummel and composition with Reicha. Born in 1804, Farrenc’s...

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Carducci Quartet, Wigmore Hall review - complexity and depth

This programme was a bit of a calling card from the Carducci Quartet. They have previously recorded all three works, and the three composers, Haydn, Shostakovich, Beethoven, clearly play to their strengths. Add to that a modest running time, the...

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