Classical Music reviews, news & interviews
The new season at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic is focusing on revolutionaries. Bach, Beethoven and Berlioz all feature strongly over the next few months, as will Stravinsky and – where else but Liverpool? – The Beatles.The RLPO has another reason to celebrate, too. It’s 10 years since Vasily Petrenko took up the baton as chief conductor of the orchestra and much has changed in that decade, not least the edgily confident way in which Petrenko and the RLPO explore the repertoire. The start of...
This year, Valery Gergiev is marking the Prokofiev 125th anniversary with concerts and projects in no fewer than 17 countries. Yet much of last night’s concert, the first of a three-night stint in London, made this whole endeavour feel more like a duty than either an imperative – or a pleasure. The buzz that was around in London concerning the Mariinsky (then the Kirov) in the mid-Nineties, when they dazzled audiences in unfamiliar repertoire, has long gone. Gergiev himself is now very...
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
Belarus Free Theatre presents
Wed 31 Aug - Sat 24 Sep 2016, 7.15pm (2.30pm Sat matinees)
Tickets from £10
Belarus Free Theatre combine forces with Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina to share stories of persecuted artists, living under dictatorship, who will not be silenced.
What happens when you are declared an enemy of the state simply for making art? Where do you belong when your government suppresses your basic right to expression? And how do you survive in one of the most brutal prison systems in the world?
This brand new production blends sensuous theatricality and vigorous physicality to shine a light on the suppression of artistic freedoms. Drawn from the real-life stories of Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky, incarcerated Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and Maria Alyokhina, who makes her stage debut.
‘One of the bravest and most inspired underground troupes on the planet.’ New York Times
‘For the BFT, political theatre is not a genre, but a necessity.’ Vanity Fair
Created in partnership with ArtReach as part of Journeys Festival International; Co-commissioned by Art Centre Melbourne. Funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
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