tue 22/07/2014

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Man Overboard, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, LSO St Luke's

Heidi Goldsmith

If the 15-word limit of a succinct listings blurb ever taught you a lesson let it be immediate suspicion of any performer or musician termed "jazzy". This wariness could extend to anything generically suffixed by "y" or "ish", simply because it suggests either pretence or a lack of original or strong identity. And yet if asked what a "jazzy" performance might be a few concrete elements come to mind; well-tuned glissandi, scored solos, precisely-timed appoggiaturas and that old crooner's classic...

Prom 4: World Orchestra for Peace, Gergiev

Sebastian Scotney

This was a rare outing by the World Orchestra for Peace, which has performed fewer than 20 concerts since the death of its founder Sir Georg Solti in 1997. UNESCO had designated this BBC Prom as "The 2014 Concert for Peace", the definite article implying a uniqueness which - according to rumour - is because concerts planned for Munich and Aix failed to get beyond the planning stage. It drew a respectable house to the Royal Albert Hall, which looked about three-quarters full.This has been a week...

Simon Trpčeski, Wigmore Hall

Jessica Duchen

No man is a prophet in his own land – except possibly the Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski. In the UK he shot to fame upon winning the London...

theartsdesk at the East Neuk Festival: Littoral...

David Nice

Schubert played and sung through a long summer day by the water: what could be more enchanting? The prospect did not take into account the pain in...

First Night of the Proms, BBCSO, Davis, Royal...

David Nice

“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” To fill the...

Classical CDs Weekly: Hartmann, Mahler, Vaughan Williams

Graham Rickson

Three hefty box sets - each one a winner

Lorin Maazel (1930-2014) on Puccini's Golden Girl

David Nice

The conductor, who has died aged 84, enthusing in 1991 about a masterpiece

Classical CDs Weekly: Per Nørgård, Stephen Hough, The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments

Graham Rickson

Contemporary Danish orchestral music, a nocturnal piano recital and 17th century morris dancing

Daneman, Bostridge, Drake, Middle Temple Hall

Sebastian Scotney

Pianist and soprano capture Schumann's emotional range, but the tenor seems distracted

Pinnock's Passions, Handel's Garden, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Kimon Daltas

Musical showman leads candlelit exploration of magpie composer

Classical CDs Weekly: Turina, Rorem, Rhos Male Voice Choir

Graham Rickson

Glittering orchestral music from 20th century Spain, contemporary piano miniatures and an accomplished amateur choir

theartsdesk in Setúbal: Youth and music under the jacarandas

David Nice

A festival with a difference in a stunningly situated Portuguese port city

Classical CDs Weekly: Birtwistle, Shostakovich, ZOFO

Graham Rickson

21st century chamber music, Soviet quartets from Canada and Holst's Planets played by four hands

Jordi Savall, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Sebastian Scotney

An early music pioneer goes solo by Shakespeare's Globe

Crowd Out/Death Actually, Spitalfields Music Summer Festival

David Nice

Musical street theatre for all and meditations on mortality in London's best melting pot

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Elgar, Tobias Hume

Graham Rickson

Violin sonatas, an epic symphony and music from a Scottish soldier

De la Salle, LSO, Luisi, Barbican

Edward Seckerson

Conductor from the New York Met makes LSO debut with Bruckner 8

Owen Wingrave/ Pavel Haas Quartet, Aldeburgh Festival

David Nice

Perfect ensembles in Suffolk vindicate a Britten black sheep and sear in great Czech quartets

Extracts: John Tusa - Pain in the Arts

Ismene Brown

Arts must stop moaning and politicos must trust the public's love of art, says culture chief

Anna Prohaska, Eric Schneider, Wigmore Hall

Geoff Brown

Gifted young soprano triumphs in a kaleidoscopic tour of war's battlefields

Classical CDs Weekly: Bernstein, Donizetti, Stravinsky

Graham Rickson

A compact comic opera, revelatory performances of two ballet scores, and the most sophisticated of musicals gets the recording it deserves

Gilchrist, Bevan, OAE, Devine, QEH

Geoff Brown

The OAE blow the cobwebs off a delightful 18th-century serenata

theartsdesk in Dresden and Berlin: Happy Birthday, Richard Strauss

David Nice

Flaming operatic rarity in restored palace courtyard crowns the Dresden Music Festival

Classical CDs Weekly: Khachaturian, Shostakovich, Walton, Roman Mints

Graham Rickson

A Soviet violin concerto, a British symphony and an acoustically adventurous solo recital

Faust, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Haitink, Barbican

Kimon Daltas

Tragedy followed by levity in a rich programme with veteran Dutch conductor

Khatia Buniatishvili, Queen Elizabeth Hall

David Nice

Jekyll and Hyde pianist weaves a magic web, then shreds it

Eberle, Prohaska, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

Sebastian Scotney

Sir Simon's first appearance with the London Symphony Orchestra since the Olympics opening ceremony

Classical CDs Weekly: John Adams, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Malcolm Williamson

Graham Rickson

Sonorous chamber music, a pair of violin concertos and concertante piano works from a maverick Australian

Neven, Eijsackers, Wigmore Hall

Mark Valencia

Dutch baritone tackles songs by Ravel and Schubert, among others, with variable success

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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