thu 22/06/2017

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Ensemble InterContemporain, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

The Paris-based Ensemble InterContemporain brought a wide-ranging programme to the Wigmore Hall.

Classical CDs Weekly: Antheil, Debussy, Hosokawa, Schmidt

Graham Rickson

 Antheil: Symphonies 4 and 5, Over the Plains BBC Philharmonic/John Storgårds (Chandos)

Kuusisto, London Chamber Orchestra, Ashkenazy,...

David Nice

Tears were likely to flow freely on this most beautiful and terrible of June evenings, especially given a programme – dedicated by Vladimir...

theartsdesk at the Istanbul Music Festival: East...

David Nice

The time is out of joint for Turkey at the moment, but it’s still a country equally split between those looking to the west for the culture of ideas...

Classical CDs Weekly: Mahler, Shostakovich,...

Graham Rickson

Bach, Bartók, Boulez Michael Barenboim (violin) (Accentus)Michael Barenboim’s disc consists solely of pieces by composers whose names begin with B,...

'You are my hero, dear Jiří': Karita Mattila and others remember Jiří Bělohlávek


A younger conductor, a diva and four players salute the greatest of Czech musicians

Britten Sinfonia, Adès, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

High-octane accounts, but Beethoven lacks finesse

Gurrelieder, Hallé, BBCPO, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Robert Beale

Super-orchestra and choirs deliver Schoenberg's affirmation of the victory of love

Evgeny Kissin: Memoirs and Reflections review - Russian education, European conviction, Jewish heritage

David Nice

The one-time prodigy is now the wisest and most generous of great pianists

theartsdesk in Göttingen: Handel for all

David Nice

Dazzling singers, clavichord at sunrise and a generous spirit in the heart of Germany

Classical CDs Weekly: Brian Elias, Stravinsky, Palaeolithic Bone Flutes

Graham Rickson

Sophocles set to music, Stravinsky from Sydney, and sounds of the Stone Age

Little, CBSO, Seal, Symphony Hall Birmingham

Richard Bratby

First-rate Walton tops second-rate Britten, but Beethoven carries the day

Richard Goode, Royal Festival Hall

Jessica Duchen

The American master pianist's recital casts rewarding light on chewy repertoire

Koen Kessels: 'there's a joke in ballet we only have two tempi' - interview

Hanna Weibye

The Belgian conductor on composers, conducting Swan Lake, and helping young musicians in the dance world

Britten Sinfonia, Adès, Milton Court

Gavin Dixon

Adès and co bring vibrant humour and bold originality to Beethoven and Barry

LSO, Haitink, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

The venerable conductor grasps the bigger picture, but details are lost

Classical CDs Weekly: Kleiberg, Legrand, Aida Garifullina

Graham Rickson

Norwegian choral music, French concertos and a young soprano's debut disc

Sebestyén, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Fischer, RFH

Sebastian Scotney

Unforgettable Hungarians, including the magical presence of a great folk singer

Classical CDs Weekly: Joubert, Mahler, Simon Thacker & Justyna Jablonska

Graham Rickson

A very English opera, an iconic song cycle, and a meeting between guitar and cello

Kempf, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Simonov, Cadogan Hall

David Nice

Rachmaninov war horse becomes prize thoroughbred in a riveting interpretation

Monteverdi Vespers, Vox Luminis, FBC, St John's Smith Square

Alexandra Coghlan

Where was the vocal drama and the joy in Monteverdi's greatest sacred work?

Classical CDs Weekly: Eisler, Janáček, Ravel

Graham Rickson

Serious-minded film scores, historically informed French ballet and unmissable string quartets

Bach Brandenburg Concertos, OAE, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Robert Beale

An evening of sheer enlightenment

CBSO, Wilson, Symphony Hall Birmingham

Richard Bratby

Rarities by Vaughan Williams and Bax get a modernist makeover

Lise Davidsen, James Baillieu, Wigmore Hall

Alexandra Coghlan

A thrilling UK recital debut from Norway's brightest singing talent

theartsdesk at Tectonics Glasgow 2017

David Kettle

A new-found restraint replaced the festival's infamous flamboyant excess

Total Immersion: Edgard Varèse, Barbican

Peter Quantrill

Patriarch of the avant-garde still packs a punch

Chineke! Orchestra, Brighton Festival / Saleem Ashkar, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Sheku Kanneh-Mason lights up Haydn, while an Arab Israeli pianist excels in Beethoven

Wosner, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Kings Place

Bernard Hughes

Brilliant pianist dazzles, charms and intrigues in a wide-ranging display

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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