wed 23/04/2014

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Miklós Perényi, András Schiff, Wigmore Hall

Sebastian Scotney

Miklós Perényi makes the listener re-think how a cello should sound. Forget the huge tone of the Russians - think Rostropovich or Natalia Gutman, or the attention-grabbing of Americans or even the flamboyance of the French. No floppy hair, no vanity or mannerisms here. Perényi plays with simplicity and accuracy, but with phenomenal craft and musicality. He dosn't force the tone, yet knows exactly how to project right to the back row of the hall. Technique, which is there in abundance, always...

theartsdesk in Basel: More than Minimalism

David Nice

In a near-perfect, outward-looking Swiss city sharing borders with France and Germany, on a series of cloudless April days that felt more like balmy June than capricious April, anything seemed possible. The doors of perception which had slammed, I thought, irrevocably shut for me 45 minutes and four chords into the first act of Philip Glass’s Satyagraha could well open again in two concerts – London is to get three on a UK tour this week - around the musical Minimalist theme from Dennis Russell...

Messiah at the Foundling Hospital, BBC Two

Jasper Rees

The last time the BBC dramatised the creation of a great musical work, it didn’t quite hit the spot. Eroica starred Ian Hart as Beethoven glowering...

theartsdesk Q&A: The Hilliard Ensemble

Matthew Wright

The sophisticated and exquisitely crafted sound of The Hilliard Ensemble has, over the past four decades, become one of the most distinctive...

Classical CDs Weekly: Britten, Poulenc, Peter...

Graham Rickson

 Britten to America – music for radio and theatre Hallé/Sir Mark Elder, Ex Cathedra/Jeffrey Skidmore Samuel West (narrator) (NMC)The official...

Uchida, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

David Nice

A lucid journey through three centuries of great German music

Trifonov, LSO, Gergiev, Barbican

Kimon Daltas

A synaesthesiac's dream programme including a dazzling performance from a pianist with the world at his feet

The Apostles, BBCSO, Davis, Barbican

Edward Seckerson

Sir Andrew Davis finds the soul of Elgar's visionary oratorio

Rancourt, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Philip Radcliffe

Madcap programme embraces World War One, the Deep South and Soviet soccer

Pascal and Ami Rogé, Howard Assembly Room, Leeds Grand Theatre

Graham Rickson

Peerless pianism from a husband and wife partnership

The Dream of Gerontius, BBCSO, Davis, Barbican

Edward Seckerson

Spiritual highs from the extraordinary Stuart Skelton, Sarah Connolly and Sir Andrew Davis

Vogt, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Jansons, Barbican

Sebastian Scotney

Perfection then tiredness from a fine orchestra on its third evening in London

It's All About Piano!, Institut Français

David Nice

You won't ever hear a more imaginative recital than David Kadouch's in this weekend festival

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Kletzki, Schumann, Szymanowski, Ji Liu

Graham Rickson

Nineteenth-century chamber music, Polish violin concerti and a young Chinese pianist's debut disc

Donose, Philharmonia, Gardner, RFH

David Nice

Only the visionary gleam is lacking in a well-sculpted Elgar First Symphony

CD: Aisha Orazbayeva - The Hand Gallery

Joe Muggs

Elvis, Reich and John Cale - natural bedfellows?

Cabell, BBC Concert Orchestra, Lockhart, QEH

David Nice

Soprano Nicole Cabell sounds the depths in a thoughtful programme of grief and memory

LSO, Gergiev, Barbican

Stephen Walsh

Big symphonies by an exquisite Russian piano miniaturist make strong impact

Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Bloch, Stravinsky

Graham Rickson

Light-footed piano concertos, 20th-century cello music and a riveting encounter with a podium giant

Josefowicz, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican

David Nice

Pitch-perfect programme of Finnish and Russian music from an inspiring orchestral team

Choral Pilgrimage 2014, The Sixteen, St John's College Chapel, Cambridge

Sebastian Scotney

Tudor polyphony at its finest

L'Arpeggiata, Wigmore Hall

Alexandra Coghlan

A little too much formality for a group at their best unbuttoned

Classical CDs Weekly: Prokofiev, Schubert, Zemlinsky

Graham Rickson

Blistering piano concertos, emotionally draining chamber music and a pair of late-romantic symphonies

Organ Gala Launch Concert, Royal Festival Hall

Kimon Daltas

Mighty instrument meets its audience for the first time in nearly a decade

St Lawrence String Quartet, San Francisco Symphony, Tilson Thomas, RFH

David Nice

Top west coast orchestra is sleek but never truly fantastical in an admirable programme

Classical CDs Weekly: Alwyn, Sibelius, Tenebrae

Graham Rickson

Piano miniatures from Gary Cooper's distant cousin, a Finnish giant's final utterance and a matchless collection of Slavonic religious music

Villa Lobos: Total Immersion, Barbican

Simon Broughton

Day-long celebration of Brazilian composer scratches the surface

Martinpelto, BBC Philharmonic, Storgårds, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Philip Radcliffe

Triumphant conclusion to Strauss Voice series

Classical CDs Weekly: Haydn, Weinberg, Battle for Music

Graham Rickson

Choral uplift, Soviet-era string music and a fictionalised account of a London orchestra at war

Footnote: a brief history of classical music in Britain

London has more world-famous symphony orchestras than any other city in the world, the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra vying with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Royal Opera House Orchestra, crack "period", chamber and contemporary orchestras. The bursting schedules of concerts at the Wigmore Hall, the Barbican Centre and South Bank Centre, and the strength of music in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff, among other cities, show a depth and internationalism reflecting the development of the British classical tradition as European, but with specific slants of its own.

brittenWhile Renaissance monarchs Henry VIII and Elizabeth I took a lively interest in musical entertainment, this did not prevent outstanding English composers such as Thomas Tallis and William Byrd developing the use of massed choral voices to stirring effect. Arguably the vocal tradition became British music's glory, boosted by the arrival of Handel as a London resident in 1710. For the next 35 years he generated booms in opera, choral and instrumental playing, and London attracted a wealth of major European composers, Mozart, Chopin and Mahler among them.

The Victorian era saw a proliferation of classical music organisations, beginning with the Philharmonic Society, 1813, and the Royal Academy of Music, 1822, both keenly promoting Beethoven's music. The Royal Albert Hall and the Queen's Hall were key new concert halls, and Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh established major orchestras. Edward Elgar was chief of a raft of English late-Victorian composers; a boom-time which saw the Proms launched in 1895 by Sir Henry Wood, and a rapid increase in conservatoires and orchestras. The "pastoral" English classical style arose, typified by Vaughan Williams, and the new BBC took over the Proms in 1931, founding its own broadcasting orchestra and classical radio station (now Radio 3).

England at last produced a world giant in Benjamin Britten (pictured above), whose protean range spearheaded the postwar establishment of national arts institutions, resulting notably in English National Opera, the Royal Opera and the Aldeburgh Festival. The Arts Desk writers provide a uniquely rich coverage of classical concerts, with overnight reviews and indepth interviews with major performers and composers, from Britain and abroad. Writers include Igor Toronyi-Lalic, David Nice, Edward Seckerson, Alexandra Coghlan, Graham Rickson, Stephen Walsh and Ismene Brown

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