tue 01/12/2015

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Stile Antico, Wigmore Hall

Geoff Brown

There are 12 of them, standing in a semi-circle. No conductor in sight. Instead they start singing by striking some invisible match. Immediately the hall is blazing with heat, light, and the ecstatic sounds of Tudor polyphony. Now celebrating its tenth concert season, the British unaccompanied choral group Stile Antico have been singing this repertoire since they first came together; and this Wigmore Hall shindig, exuberantly received by a packed house, marked the anniversary by revisiting the...

We Made It: Concert hall acoustics

David Kettle

Glasgow has a brand new concert hall, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra has a brand new home. A move for the Orchestra from Henry Wood Hall, a converted church in the city’s West End it has occupied since 1979, has been on the cards for several years, but few could have predicted the scale and intricacy of the final project. The New RSNO Centre snuggles conveniently right next to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, and brings new offices, an education suite, a digital centre and practice...

Classical CDs Weekly: Schubert, Rufus Wainwright...

Graham Rickson

 Schubert: Piano Music Steven Osborne (Hyperion)This is marvellous, an unexpected treat from a versatile pianist more commonly associated with...

MacMillan's Since it was the day of...

David Kettle

James MacMillan’s sacred drama Since it was the day of preparation… got its first outing at the Edinburgh International Festival back in 2012. But it...

Piano Circus, Juice Vocal Ensemble, Kings Place

Bernard Hughes

It is not surprising that Piano Circus rarely play on six real pianos (although the photo on last night’s programme cover shows just that). The...

Leonskaja 70th Birthday Concert, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Great pianist, great company: the classiest and most generous of celebrations

10 Questions for Composer Ludovico Einaudi

Adam Sweeting

What are the elements that make up Einaudi's music?

Escaich, RSNO, Märkl, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Christopher Lambton

Organic grandeur stops short of engagement

Classical CDs Weekly: Dvořak, Janáček, Schoenberg, Igor Levit

Graham Rickson

Historically informed Czech repertoire, weighty music from a 20th century giant, and three sets of piano variations

In The Sky I Am Walking, Greengrassi Gallery

Peter Quantrill

A compelling revival for a song cycle out of the blue

Coles, Philharmonia, Järvi, RFH

David Nice

Military incursions in vivid masterpieces by Haydn and Nielsen

Gomez, Osborne, Britten Sinfonia, Järvi, Milton Court

David Nice

Six out of seven pieces going nowhere: no pizzazz about this jazz/classical melée

BCMG, Knussen, CBSO Centre Birmingham

Richard Bratby

Personal tributes, farmyard fun and a jazz-inspired world premiere

Farewell to Stravinsky's right-hand man

David Nice

Robert Craft, great Igor's guide to old and new music, has died at the age of 92

Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Mahler, Sondheim

Graham Rickson

Epic piano sonatas, a vibrant romantic symphony and a handsome tribute to a theatrical giant

Faust, RLPO, Petrenko, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

Glyn Môn Hughes

Shattering Mahler Sixth leaves audience stunned

Gerhaher, Huber, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

Adventurous programme reveals broad range of the German baritone’s talents

theartsdesk Q&A: Soprano Elizabeth Watts

David Nice

Heading toward major lyric roles, the singer discusses her love for Alessandro Scarlatti

RLPO, Koopman, Philharmonic Hall Liverpool

Glyn Môn Hughes

Smiling maestro’s first visit extracts Baroque splendour

Benedetti, LSO, Gaffigan, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Dazzling premiere for Marsalis’s protracted but feisty new concerto

Classical CDs Weekly: Scarlatti, Shostakovich, Taverner

Graham Rickson

Early English polyphony, Soviet symphonies and Baroque arias

Skride, CBSO, Wellber, Symphony Hall Birmingham

Richard Bratby

Brahms's First is transformed - but Schumann's Violin Concerto remains beyond rescue

Freddy Kempf, Cadogan Hall

David Nice

A wild imagination served by colossal technique in Beethoven, Chopin and Tchaikovsky

Kovacevich, Argerich, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Dangerous, intense at 75 - but does the great American pianist need anchoring?

10 Questions for Nicola Benedetti and Wynton Marsalis

Jasper Rees

He's a jazz composer, she's a classical violinist: put them together, what have you got?

First Person: 'We Have Found a Better Land'

Mark Bowden

BBC National Chorus of Wales's composer-in-residence seeks inspiration in Welsh Patagonia for a new commission

LPO, Skrowaczewski, RFH

Gavin Dixon

Masterful Bruckner from the nonagenarian conductor

Sonica 2015, Glasgow

David Kettle

Installations, music-sensitive light shows and a percussion/movie mash-up

theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Edward Gardner

Jasper Rees

The English maestro on leaving ENO and London critics to take up the baton in Bergen

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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