mon 16/01/2017

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

The Last Supper, BBCSSO, Brabbins, City Halls, Glasgow

David Kettle

You can tell it’s a big deal when even a handful of London critics abandon the capital for a Saturday evening in chilly Glasgow.

Bavouzet, BBCPO, Collon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Robert Beale

Colin Matthews’s arrangements for orchestra of the 24 Debussy Préludes (originally commissioned by the Hallé) have been widely admired. The BBC Philharmonic’s concert, conducted by Nicholas Collon, at the Bridgewater Hall on Friday night began with three of Ravel’s five piano Miroirs, two of them orchestrated by Matthews (one a world premiere) and one by the late Steven Stucky.

Classical CDs Weekly: Gavin Higgins, Christopher...

Graham Rickson

 Gavin Higgins: Dark Arteries and other works Tredegar Town Band/Ian Porthouse (Tredegar Town Band)The heavy industries associated with British...

Hardenberger, CBSO, Nelsons, Symphony Hall...

Richard Bratby

Birmingham audiences are a supportive bunch. There was never much likelihood that they’d greet Andris Nelsons’s first Birmingham appearance since he...

Gerhardt, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Kings Place

David Nice

What's not to like, or love, would have to be the sensible response to both the opening programme of Kings Place's year-long Cello Unwrapped festival...

Classical CDs Weekly: Fauré, Poulenc, Franui, Sami Junnonen

Graham Rickson

French froth, an Alpine dance band and arresting flute sounds from Finland

Natalie Clein: 'The cello is part of my being'

Natalie Clein

The acclaimed musician writes for theartsdesk about her contributions to the year-long Cello Unwrapped season at Kings Place

Classical CDs Weekly: Glazunov, Dunja Lavrova, Norwegian Radio Orchestra

Graham Rickson

A pair of outstanding violinists, plus a sizzling orchestral anthology

Best of 2016: Classical

David Nice

Bird music from dawn to midnight crowns another outstanding year

Classical LPs Weekly: Corker, Sveinsson, Tchaikovsky

Graham Rickson

An eclectic blend of old and new in this week's all-vinyl selection

Kanneh-Mason, Fantasia Orchestra, Fetherstonhaugh, St Gabriel's Pimlico

David Nice

BBC Young Musician of the Year isn't the only major junior talent on show here

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Gatti, Barbican

Peter Quantrill

Death and transfiguration in a richly textured Austro-German programme

Crowe, La Nuova Musica, Bates, St John's Smith Square

David Nice

Pure ecstasy from one of the world's most stylish lyric sopranos

In Search Of Julius Eastman, London Contemporary Music Festival

Peter Culshaw

Unholy minimalist crashes the canon

Classical CDs Weekly: Christmas 2016 (part 2)

Graham Rickson

Six more of the year's best seasonal discs

St Lawrence String Quartet, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Haydn outstrips John Adams for the shock of the new

Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner, Barbican

David Nice

A bright stream of Bach occasionally blocked by some under-par soloists

Corkin, Siglo de Oro, Allies, Shoreditch Church

Peter Quantrill

Choral light in midwinter darkness

Gerald Finley, Antonio Pappano, Barbican

Alexandra Coghlan

A polyglot recital in which nothing was lost in translation

theartsdesk in Budapest: Prophecy in the world's best concert hall

David Nice

Great Hungarian musicians look outwards as the country's government closes the door

Classical CDs Weekly: Christmas 2016 (part 1)

Graham Rickson

Six of this year's most entertaining and life-enhancing seasonal discs

Josefowicz, LSO, Adams, Barbican

David Nice

Scheherazade re-imagined as freedom-fighter in an ideal interpretation

Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

Fiery, bold readings delivered with precision and focus

El Niño, LSO, Adams, Barbican

David Nice

Light and darkness balanced in a great oratorio music-drama

Classical CDs Weekly: Prokofiev, Daniel Röhn, Ayreheart

Graham Rickson

A great ballet score gets a definitive reading, a nostalgic violin recital, and an American quartet tackle the hits of the English Renaissance

Uchida, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, RFH

Bernard Hughes

British pianist successfully follows a tried and tested recipe

Douglas, LSO, Søndergård, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Russian classics energised by clean lines and precise textures

Total Immersion: Richard Rodney Bennett, Barbican

Sebastian Scotney

This 'completely natural musician' would have enjoyed this tribute for his 80th year

Carols From King's: How a tradition was made

Alexandra Coghlan

The pioneering BBC broadcast that first brought us Nine Lessons and Carols

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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