sat 18/11/2017

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Howells, Karayev, Lotichius

Graham Rickson

Herbert Howells: Music for Clavichord Julian Perkins (Prima Facie)

Frang, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - an Elgar tradition renewed

Richard Bratby

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has such a rapport with her Birmingham public that she can silence a capacity crowd - 2000-plus audience members, spilling over into Symphony Hall’s choir stalls – with the tiniest of gestures. Into that silence she neatly placed the first chord of Messiaen’s Un sourire, and you could hear every fibre of the string texture.

Messiaen & Shostakovich, St John's Smith...

David Nice

Only connect. As the Southbank Centre's International Chamber Music Series at St John's showcased supreme eloquence in two searing but perfectly-...

András Schiff, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester...

Robert Beale

Intellectual rigour and emotional honesty are the rewarding qualities in András Schiff’s Bach playing. Virtuosity comes as standard, too. And you get...

Florian Boesch, Justus Zeyen, Wigmore Hall review...

Gavin Dixon

Florian Boesch is a big man. He’s tall, stocky, and with his bald head and stubble could seem more like a gangster than a Lieder singer. His voice is...

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Granados, Steven Isserlis

Graham Rickson

A romantic symphony, emotionally-charged Spanish pianism and cello music for Remembrance Sunday

Schubert Ensemble, Kings Place review - spot-on introductions, dazzling performances

David Nice

Metaphysical ants-in-pants from Martinů and exuberant Dvořák

Tabula Rasa, Traverse Theatre review - honest, compassionate, but not always convincing

David Kettle

Unflinching music theatre show on the messiness of death, inspired by Arvo Pärt's music

'Their DNA is forever ingrained in the keys' - Roman Rabinovich on playing composers' own pianos

Roman Rabinovich

Cobbe Collection revelations compared with the same works on a modern Steinway

In search of Proust's 'Vinteuil Sonata': violinist Maria Milstein on the writer's musical mystery

Maria Milstein

How French composers' works for violin and piano complement 'In Search of Lost Time'

LSO, Alsop, Barbican review - Bernstein 100 opens not with celebrations but existential angst

Alexandra Coghlan

Birthday boy Bernstein doesn't quite emerge from Mahler's shadow in this anniversary concert

LPO, Renes, RFH review - solid Bruckner lacking in nuance

Gavin Dixon

A hefty Eighth Symphony, but with little detail or shape

BBCSO, Storgårds, Barbican review – Jolas intrigues, Mahler 4 disappoints

Gavin Dixon

The French composer, working with Roger Muraro and Håkan Hardenberger, is still radical at 91

Classical CDs Weekly: Erik Chisholm, Marcus Paus, Maria & Nathalia Milstein

Graham Rickson

Glaswegian modernism, Norwegian contemporary music and a non-existent violin sonata

Dmitri Alexeev, St John's Smith Square review - a Titan at 70

David Nice

Russian orchestral pianism applied to large-scale Chopin, Scriabin and Schumann

Hugo Ticciati, Manchester Camerata, Manchester Cathedral review - spirituality, no spooks

Robert Beale

Theatricality is the key to a programme of minimalism plus showbusiness

Leif Ove Andsnes, RFH review - interior magic from a master colourist

David Nice

Pure poetry in everything from Beethoven and Schubert to Sibelius and Widmann

Soltani, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Barenboim, RFH review - passionate pilgrimages

David Nice

Habemus Quixote: young cellist owns Strauss's and Cervantes' old knight

Bavouzet, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican review - playing the long game in Sibelius

Peter Quantrill

Purpose and restraint pay off in contrasting three-movement symphonies

Orpheus Caledonius, Brighton Early Music Festival review - a thrilling meeting of musical clans

Alexandra Coghlan

An exhilarating festival opening concert took baroque back to its folk roots

Classical CDs Weekly: Borenstein, Debussy, Fauré, Longleash

Graham Rickson

Orchestral music from Oxford and Berlin, plus contemporary piano trios from New York

October, LSO, Strobel, Barbican review - Eisenstein with steel score

David Nice

A head-spinning two hours with baroque imagery and heavy-metal music of 1927-8

Crowe, The English Concert, Bicket, Milton Court review - Mozartian prima-donna perfection

David Nice

No-one sings 'Exsultate, jubilate' better - and the players shone, too

Total Immersion: Julian Anderson, Barbican review - BBC ensembles showcase leading British composer

Bernard Hughes

Well-sung choral music good but orchestral works even better

Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Prokofiev, Scriabin

Graham Rickson

Edge-of-the-seat playing from a New York orchestra, and Russian music via Merseyside and Oslo

Angela Hewitt, Wigmore Hall review – Bach Partitas shine and sing

Bernard Hughes

Piano recital of unassuming mastery speaks deep musical truths

Ensemble InterContemporain, Pintscher, RFH review - a visit from the gentle ghost of Boulez

Peter Quantrill

Two modernist masterpieces suspend the rules of time and space

Jonas Kaufmann: Tenor for the Ages, BBC Four review - a musical megastar with sword and shortbread

Jessica Duchen

John Bridcut's portrait is beautifully made, but gives little away beyond the public laughter

BBCSO, Brabbins, Barbican review - commanding vistas of earth and sea

Gavin Dixon

Inspired coupling of works by Birwistle and Vaughan Williams, both superlatively done

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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