sun 26/06/2016

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Aukai, Mahler, Shostakovich

Graham Rickson

Aukai Markus Seiber (Aukai Music)In a week where there’s been rather too much news to get one’s head round, a spot of ambient calm is very appealing. Aukai is the pseudonym of German guitarist and ‘soundscape artist’ Markus Seiber, and this debut disc is a sequence of 13 brief instrumentals. No notes are provided other than a list of Seiber’s collaborators, but this eloquent, appealing music has enough charm to stand up on its own. The pace is unhurried and the textures are spare; think of this...

Hallé Children’s Choir and Orchestra, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Robert Beale

’Tis the season for big children’s choirs to show off their end-of-season projects, and the Hallé Children’s Choir and Orchestra had something exceptional to present under Sir Mark Elder’s baton on Sunday afternoon: the world premiere of Jonathan Dove’s A Brief History of Creation.Commissioned by the Hallé for the children’s choir, it formed the second part of a concert that began with the First Suite from Bizet’s L’Arlesienne music and Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra....

Catalogue d'Oiseaux, Aimard, Aldeburgh...

David Nice

"He is one of the few pianists who will not make them sound like angry birds," said young pianist-animateur Víkingur Ólafsson in Reykjavík when I...

Murray Perahia, Barbican

Sebastian Scotney

A couple of hours of certainty really were very welcome during referendum week, and Murray Perahia did indeed bring clarity, poise, and an...

Cottier Chamber Project 2016, Glasgow

David Kettle

It should have been a complete disaster. Not announcing your festival’s programme until barely a week before it started ought to have guaranteed that...

Classical CDs Weekly: Beshevli, Gershwin, Gilbert & Sullivan

Graham Rickson

Siberian piano music, Gershwin's greatest hits and a starrily cast light opera

Multi-Story Orchestra, Stark, Spitalfields Music Summer Festival

Helen Wallace

Relics brought to life in the Museum of Childhood

theartsdesk at the Istanbul Music Festival: classics alla Turca

David Nice

A top Turkish orchestra and a legendary native pianist do their great city proud

Illuminations, Tynan, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Snape Maltings

Helen Wallace

Aldeburgh Festival opens with a ravishing night of music and physical theatre

Classical CDs Weekly: Borenstein, Satie, Tchaikovsky

Graham Rickson

A soundtrack for juggling, Gallic eccentricity and the return of Pittsburgh's finest

Matthias Goerne, Daniil Trifonov, Wigmore Hall

Alexandra Coghlan

An exceptional recital, combining symphonic weight with chamber intimacy

theartsdesk in Prague: Czech Spring with Smetana and Martinů

David Nice

The native greats illuminated in their homeland's glorious capital

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Alison Balsom, Steven Osborne

Graham Rickson

Bassoons, trumpets and a pair of American mavericks

Stravinsky: Myths & Rituals, Philharmonia, Salonen, St John’s Smith Square

Bernard Hughes

Welcome theatrical staging of rarely heard late religious masterworks

CBSO, McGegan, Symphony Hall Birmingham

Richard Bratby

Purcell upstages Cole Porter – and on modern instruments, too

Period Portraits: Snapping the OAE

Eric Richmond

The OAE doesn't just sound unique. It looks it too. To mark the orchestra's 30th anniversary, photographer Eric Richmond introduces his portraits

Znaider, LSO, Pappano, Barbican

David Nice

Perfect depth and communication in Beethoven and Elgar

Is Wales really the land of song?

Professor Gareth Williams

As Festival of Voice opens in Cardiff with Bryn Terfel, Charlotte Church and John Cale, a historian explains Wales's choral roots

Classical CDs Weekly: Kenneth Hesketh, Vaughan Williams, Ensemble Pygmalion

Graham Rickson

Modern British pianism, two very English symphonies and a musical trip down the Rhine

theartsdesk in Warsaw: Moniuszko Vocal Competition 2016

Gavin Dixon

Rising stars of opera shine at major Polish-based international event

Cédric Tiberghien, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

A bold and vibrant programme of Hungarian modern masters

Prohaska, Eberle and Friends, Wigmore Hall

Sebastian Scotney

A mix of European chamber musicians with some surprising limitations

St Ludmila, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Robert Beale

Mancunian orchestra celebrates Dvořák with a revived oratorio, and more

Ibragimova, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Eclectic but stimulating programme to close the BBCSO season

BCMG, Galbreath, Adrian Boult Hall Birmingham

Richard Bratby

A quiet requiem for Birmingham's least glamorous concert hall

Rysanov, Neary, BBC NOW, Outwater, Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff

Stephen Walsh

Welsh festival ends with two big, slow concertos, superbly played

theartsdesk in Göttingen: HandelFest 2016

David Nice

Two big concert successes atone for one frigid staging in German Arcadia

Classical CDs Weekly: Mozart, Vivancos, Rufus Wainwright

Graham Rickson

Wind serenades, a modern Requiem and a flamboyant disc of Shakespeare settings

Van de Wiel, Philharmonia, Järvi, RFH

Sebastian Scotney

Performances of Nielsen and Haydn that needed more orchestral focus

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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