mon 25/07/2016

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Prom 13: London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Jurowski

David Nice

The last time I heard Beethoven's setting of Schiller's Ode to Joy in the finale of his Ninth Symphony, it was as European anthem at the end of this May's Europe Day Concert, and everybody gladly stood. That hopeful occasion was distinguished by Andrew Manze's Rameauisation of the melody, stylishly played by Rachel Podger and the European Union Baroque Orchestra. We've been through the mill since then, so last night it was appropriate to hear before it not only the rest of Beethoven's initially...

Prom 11: Wilson, Creswell, BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, Wigglesworth

David Nice

It's not often you think you detect a future Brünnhilde in a soprano performing a great Verdi role, but that was the case when American Tamara Wilson made her UK debut last autumn as a stunning Leonora in the ENO production of Verdi's The Force of Destiny. So would she sing the Ring? Not for 10 years at least, she said. But then Mark Wigglesworth, a conductor she knew she could trust as partner, proposed the final scene of Die Walküre at the Proms, and the rest should go down in history.Not...

Prom 9: Feola, Le Cercle de l'Harmonie,...

David Nice

It's never easy readjusting to the weird and sometimes wonderful acoustics of Albert's colosseum at Proms time, least of all when the first thing you...

Classical CDs Weekly: Bruckner, Mahler, Nielsen,...

Graham Rickson

Bruckner: Mass No. 3 in F minor Soloists, Bavarian Radio Choir, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Robin Ticciati (Tudor)Good Bruckner recordings aren’t just...

Prom 5: Missa Solemnis, BBCPO, Noseda

Peter Quantrill

Even in a performance as well-organised as this one, masterminded by Gianandrea Noseda, there is still something of the codebook about the Missa...

Prom 3: Crowe, OAE, Cleobury

Bernard Hughes

Fauré and Haydn masses combined tradition with modern interpretation

The Brook Street Band, Wigmore Hall

Alexandra Coghlan

An all-Handel celebration for a baroque band marking a big anniversary

Prom 2: Boris Godunov, Royal Opera, Pappano

Gavin Dixon

Impressive ensemble allows Musorgsky's opera to shine in concert

Cheltenham Music Festival 2016

Richard Bratby

Vexations and thrills at a festival that's still making the weather

First Night of the Proms, BBCSO, Oramo, Gabetta, Borodina

Jessica Duchen

A sombre opening programme proves suitable and cathartic

The Creation, Garsington Opera

Alexandra Coghlan

Dance-staging of Haydn's oratorio moves from chaos to creation and back again

Classical CDs Weekly: Elgar, Haydn, Ligeti, Smaro Gregoriadou

Graham Rickson

Elgar in new clothes, ear-stretching pianism and a satisfying guitar anthology

Falstaff, CBSO, Gardner, Symphony Hall Birmingham

Richard Bratby

A concert performance with big voices and a bigger heart

Pick of the BBC Proms 2016


Choices, choices from the world's biggest music festival, starting on Friday

Lichfield Festival 2016

Richard Bratby

Premieres and surprises in a Staffordshire cathedral

Classical CDs Weekly: MacMillan, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Tchaikovsky

Graham Rickson

Contemporary music from Scotland, plus youthful piano concertos and Russian symphonies

East Neuk Festival 2016

David Nice

Elegies and emotional highs from distinguished visitors to the Fife coast

First Person: the Herbert Howells Cello Concerto completed

Guy Johnston

Cellist Guy Johnston on the serendipitous moment that led to his premiere of the Herbert Howells concerto

Classical CDs Weekly: Scriabin, Stockhausen, Choir of King's College Aberdeen, Radek Baborák

Graham Rickson

Spectacular pianism, Czech horn playing and a crack Scottish choir

The Hogboon, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

Helen Wallace

Riotous humanity in Maxwell Davies’s farewell community opera

theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Nocturnes for Midsummer

David Nice

Pianist-curator Víkingur Ólafsson goes wandering with friends

Classical CDs Weekly: Aukai, Mahler, Shostakovich

Graham Rickson

German ambient music and two discs of 20th century symphonies

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

Robert Beale

Premiere of Jonathan Dove's 'A Brief History of Creation' enchants

Catalogue d'Oiseaux, Aimard, Aldeburgh Festival

David Nice

Birds, Messiaen and a much-loved artistic director dazzle from dawn to midnight

Murray Perahia, Barbican

Sebastian Scotney

Transcendent slow movements, but questions remain

Cottier Chamber Project 2016, Glasgow

David Kettle

Glasgow's frenetic pre-summer classical bash just gets bigger and better

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

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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