sun 01/05/2016

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Q&A Special: Sir Mark Elder on Dvořák

Jasper Rees

This May the Hallé is celebrating Dvořák. The orchestra’s music director Sir Mark Elder has previously mounted a festival of the Czech composer’s work in Chicago, but now brings him home to Manchester. Nature, Life and Love features seven concerts in under three weeks, and will obviously feature an outing for the big symphonies, nos 7, 8 and 9, and the hugely popular cello concerto. But it’s not just about the headlines of Dvořák’s music.Among other sweetmeats - three Overtures, some Slavonic...

Piau, Les Talens Lyriques, Rousset, Wigmore Hall

Alexandra Coghlan

La Follia was, as every programme note inevitably reminds us, a pop song of its day. A strutting Spanish dance, it featured in the work of over 150 composers, so catchy was its signature chord progression. Still a classic of baroque concert programmes, it’s a great way to take the temperature of any given performance. At its best, it can have even a sedate audience stamping and swaying, thrilled by those grinding syncopations and that heartbeat pulse. Last night at the Wigmore Hall, Christophe...

Classical CDs Weekly: Ibert, Martinů, Ravel

Graham Rickson

Ibert: Orchestral music Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Neeme Järvi (Chandos)Eighty-two minutes of Jacques Ibert’s music may seem a lot to digest in...

Tharaud, CBSO, Volkov, Symphony Hall Birmingham

Richard Bratby

Left, alone, Hans Abrahamsen’s new piano concerto for the left hand, swirls out of the darkness to a jagged motor rhythm. Piano and orchestra clash...

Glennie, Ticciati, O/Modernt Kammarorkester,...

David Nice

It is a truth not widely acknowledged in the UK as yet that Robin Ticciati's elder brother Hugo is no less fine a shaper of musical thought. He could...

Atkins, SCO, Knussen, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

David Kettle

A baffling ending to an extrovert evening of (mostly) music since 1945

Shakespeare 400 Gala, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

David Nice

The Bard in words and music from Mendelssohn to Adès, steered by the best

Bruckner 6, OAE, Rattle, RFH

Peter Quantrill

Having a ball with a Cinderella symphony

Classical CDs Weekly: Krenek, Schumann, Osmosis

Graham Rickson

Spiky pianism, a neglected violin concerto and contemporary music with a Syrian twist

theartsdesk in Tallinn: Estonian Music Days

David Nice

Women as composers and performers just happen to be top of the eco-bill

Vavic, SCO, Bloch, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

David Kettle

High spirits and tinge of menace in Alexandre Bloch's big-concert SCO debut

Brahms: A German Requiem, ENO Chorus, Wigglesworth, St George's Hanover Square

Alexandra Coghlan

Interiority as well as intensity from the ENO Chorus in a classic work

Classical CDs Weekly: Bartók, Birkin, Berlin Piano Quartet

Graham Rickson

Hungarian folk tunes, low-key British minimalism and a classy piano quartet

Bruckner 8, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

Peter Quantrill

Fresh perspectives on a symphonic monolith

Bach Cantatas and Magnificat, Bach Collegium Japan, Suzuki, Saffron Hall

Sebastian Scotney

Fine, benign church music by the greatest of them all in the right acoustic

Bach Motets, Bach Collegium Japan, Suzuki, St Giles Cripplegate

David Nice

Lithe choral joy in the Japanese master's inimitable interpretations

Osborne, RSNO, Denève, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Christopher Lambton

Gallic charm from a returning Maestro

Hoopes, National Youth Orchestra, Järvi, RFH

David Nice

Adrenalin rushes plus sophistication in fire music by Stravinsky and Daugherty

Bach B Minor Mass, Bach Collegium Japan, Suzuki, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Clarity, colour and detail from Japanese Bach specialists

Classical CDs Weekly: Elgar, Ives, Reich, Walton

Graham Rickson

British cello concertos, plus music from two very different American giants

Françoise-Green Piano Duo, St John's Smith Square

David Nice

Mahler's Sixth for four hands at one piano brings insight and stamina

Bach B Minor Mass, London Bach Singers, Feinstein Ensemble, Kings Place

Gavin Dixon

Small-scale Bach offers power and passion

Classical CDs Weekly: Wim Henderickx, Mahler, Nielsen

Graham Rickson

Symphonies from Austria and Denmark, plus contemporary music from Belgium

Schubert Lieder, Gerhaher, Huber, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Hit and miss from the great German baritone and regular Schubertian partner

DVD: Ken Russell - The Great Composers

Graham Rickson

Two of the greatest films about composers ever made, plus an interesting flop

Capuçon, RPO, Dutoit, Royal Festival Hall

Gavin Dixon

Varied programme presented with dramatic immediacy and vivid colours

Classical CDs Weekly: Elgar, Galilei, Scelsi, Vaughan Williams

Graham Rickson

Euphonious lute music, English string repertoire and strange sounds from the Italian avant-garde

Des canyons aux étoiles, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dudamel, Barbican

David Nice

Nature in Deborah O'Grady's photography outshines Messiaen's homage

Mahler 2, Coote, Tynan, RPO, Petrenko, Royal Albert Hall

Gavin Dixon

Power and focus from the podium deliver a compelling 'Resurrection'

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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