sun 28/05/2017

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Kleiberg, Legrand, Aida Garifullina

Graham Rickson

 Ståle Kleiberg: Mass for Modern Man Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Choir/Eivind Gulberg Jensen (2L)

Sebestyén, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Fischer, RFH

Sebastian Scotney

This was a very fine concert indeed, plus a lot more. The first half was a very carefully planned series of unveilings around the theme of Béla Bartók and Hungarian folk music, the second an overwhelming performance of his Duke Bluebeard’s Castle.

Classical CDs Weekly: Joubert, Mahler, Simon...

Graham Rickson

John Joubert: Jane Eyre April Frederick, David Stout, English Symphony Orchestra/Kenneth Woods (Somm)This is the second Brontë opera to have come my...

Kempf, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Simonov,...

David Nice

It could have been your standard Russian touring programme: Tchaikovsky ballet music as hors d'oeuvre, Rachmaninov piano concerto, Shostakovich...

Monteverdi Vespers, Vox Luminis, FBC, St John...

Alexandra Coghlan

On paper this was a knockout concert: Gramophone Award-winning Belgian ensemble Vox Luminis teaming up with the wonderfully gutsy Freiburg Baroque...

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

Classical CDs Weekly: Gražyna Bacewicz, Stravinsky, Nathan Williamson

Graham Rickson

Polish chamber music, American piano sonatas and a pithy Faustian theatre piece

theartsdesk on the Seine: a second new concert hall for Paris

David Nice

Laurence Equilbey's Insula Orchestra launches a revolutionary new residency

Sughayer, Manchester Camerata Soloists, Manchester Cathedral

Robert Beale

Mancunian musicians and friends excel in music for a sacred space

Hagen Quartet, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

Direct and focussed readings shine new light on Schubert and Beethoven

Classical CDs Weekly: Laurence Crane, Martinů, Prokofiev

Graham Rickson

English minimalism, folk-inspired choral music and a wintry violin sonata

theartsdesk in Tallinn: From Dusk to Black at Estonian Music Days

David Nice

Imaginative brilliance in a spectacular showcase for thriving new music scene

in vain, London Sinfonietta, Lubman, Royal Festival Hall

Alexandra Coghlan

Haas's contemporary classic speaks louder than ever in the current political climate

Janina Fialkowska, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

Sensitive and supple readings get to the heart of Chopin

Stoller Hall Opening, Chetham's School of Music, Manchester

Robert Beale

New performance venue christened with a high-spirited weekend

Tamestit, LSO, Roth, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Gently radical readings, elevated by spellbinding viola virtuosity

Classical CDs Weekly: Harald Genzmer, Mendelssohn, Nicholas Phan

Graham Rickson

Early German electronica, teenage chamber music and stories told through song

Kim, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Robert Beale

A new British symphony is born, surrounded by lashings of romantic style

theartsdesk Q&A: Horn-player Alec Frank-Gemmill

David Nice

Four horns, four pianos, one CD; an original among musicians tells us why, and more

Classical CDs Weekly: Chopin, Glass, Alec Frank-Gemmill

Graham Rickson

Polish dances, minimalist piano music plus multiple horns

Dvořák Requiem, BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, Bělohlávek, Barbican

David Nice

Fascinating, desolate, fragmentary at first, this setting eventually hits the heights

First Person: 15 years of Tenebrae, a lifetime of choral music

Nigel Short

As his choir prepares to light up Holy Week, its founder Nigel Short looks back

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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Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!

Kate Tempest

Prize includes a boutique hotel stay, dinner for two and tickets to Brighton Festival’s hotly anticipated events!

Brighton Festival is a fantastic, exhilarating and leading annual celebration of the arts, with events taking place in venues both familiar and unusual across Brighton & Hove for three weeks every May. This year, the Festival an eclectic line-up spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, comedy, debate and spoken word. With the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest serving as Guest Director.

Enter this competition for a chance to win a fantastic break for two over the opening weekend of Brighton Festival (Saturday 6 - Sunday 7 May).

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