tue 20/03/2018

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Prokofiev, Philip Sawyers, Andrew Matthews-Owen

Graham Rickson

 Visions of Prokofiev Lisa Batiashvili (violin), Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Yannick Nézet-Seguin (DG)

Faust, LSO, Gardiner, Barbican review - Schumann as never before

David Nice

When a great musician pulls out of a concerto appearance, you're usually lucky if a relative unknown creates a replacement sensation. In this case not one but two star pianists withdrew – Maria João Pires, scheduling early retirement, succeeded by an unwell Piotr Anderzewski – and instead we had that most musicianly and collaborative of violinists Isabelle Faust in Schumann, not the scheduled Mozart.

Ruthless Jabiru, King's College London /...

Gavin Dixon

Ruthless Jabiru is an all-Australian chamber orchestra based in London. It is the brainchild of conductor Kelly Lovelady, who in recent years has...

Hallenberg, LSO, Gardiner, Barbican review -...

David Nice

Violins, violas, wind and brass all standing for Schumann: gimmick or gain? As John Eliot Gardiner told the audience with his usual eloquence while...

Classical CDs Weekly: Hindemith, Cantelli,...

Graham Rickson

Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphoses, Nobilissima Visione, Concert Music for Strings and Brass WDR Symphony Orchestra/Marek Janowski (Pentatone)...

Sonoro, Ferris, St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate review - intriguingly programmed launch concert

Bernard Hughes

New choir on the block delivers the promised passion and polyphony

theartsdesk in Korea: national pride and candour

Peter Quantrill

Music and art without borders in a country cut in half

Goode, BBC Philharmonic, Gernon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review – making beautiful music

Robert Beale

Big programme for a youthful principal guest conductor, plus a pianist’s wisdom

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Gibson, Gunge

Graham Rickson

Baroque keyboard music, plus contemporary music from the US and Denmark

theartsdesk in Germany - Baltic mastery in Berlin and Leipzig

David Nice

Neeme Järvi conducts an Estonian epic, Latvian Andris Nelsons becomes 21st Gewandhauskapellmeister

Brantelid, LPO, Petrenko, RFH review - orchestral excesses redeemed by graceful Elgar

Gavin Dixon

Young cellist offers valuable balance in a hard-driven programme

Classical CDs Weekly: Tchaikovsky, Fred Hersch, Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Graham Rickson

Electrifying orchestral playing from the Urals, a jazz musician's classical side, and a brilliant young cellist

Explore Ensemble, EXAUDI, St John's Smith Square review - making sense of Nono

Helen Wallace

Riveting 'Principal Sound' event delivers the luminous rewards of austerity modernism

Kaufmann, Damrau, Deutsch, Barbican review - bliss, if only you closed your eyes

Alexandra Coghlan

More ham than a butcher's window, but when the music is this good it scarcely matters

Classical CDs Weekly: Diethelm, Grieg, Tippett

Graham Rickson

Orchestral delights from Switzerland and pianistic fireworks from Norway. Plus the greatest British symphony you've never heard

Weilerstein, Czech Philharmonic, Netopil, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - drama and feeling

Robert Beale

Like their homeland’s beer: rich, mellow and full of character and body

Theatre of Voices, Kings Place review - fluidity and dynamism in Stockhausen

Gavin Dixon

Danish ensemble balances ritual, drama and comedy in 'STIMMUNG'

Classical CDs Weekly: Shostakovich, Christoph Prégardien, Nataša Mirkovič

Graham Rickson

Chilly orchestral music from the USSR, plus a pair of brass-accompanied vocal recitals

Jansen/Maisky/Argerich Trio, Barbican review - three classical titans give chamber music masterclass

Alexandra Coghlan

Musical personalities shift but Argerich's generous musicianship remains the constant

Baráti, Lyddon, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - Stravinsky's bright but derivative beginnings

David Nice

Fine programme in principle, but lacking a significant core

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Sterndale Bennett, Fieri Consort

Graham Rickson

Two discs of 19th century pianistic fireworks, plus a collection of Italian madrigals

Capuçon, Philharmonia, Järvi, RFH review - Dvořák in blazing focus

David Nice

Centrist conductor and cellist strike a perfect balance between passion and precision

Clare College Choir, Manchester Camerata, Takács-Nagy, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review – romance and drama

Robert Beale

Pace is everything in an expressive Mozart Requiem

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Milton Court review - Arvo Pärt plus

David Nice

Startling masterpieces by Jonathan Harvey and Veljo Tormis follow a familiar first half

Hagen Quartet, Jörg Widmann, Wigmore Hall review – proportion and elegance

Gavin Dixon

Widmann’s new quintet a study in reserve and intimacy

Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Stravinsky, Tallis

Graham Rickson

Symphonies transcribed for piano, a lost work from a Russian master and Tudor music for troubled times

Royal Academy of Music SO, Knussen, RAM review – vibrant, varied Stravinsky

Gavin Dixon

The composer's early and late works proves an ideal showcase for the young orchestra

Grosvenor, Filarmonica della Scala, Chailly, Barbican review - Tchaikovsky’s force of destiny shines bright

Jessica Duchen

Dramatic flair and sonic luxury from the Italians in a night to remember

Bell, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - life and imagination

Robert Beale

Peter Pan soloist has kept his enthusiasm, enjoyment, humour and musicality

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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