fri 27/03/2015

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Bronfman, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

David Nice

Over the past two Saturdays, Vladimir Jurowski and a London Philharmonic on top form have given us a mini-festival of great scores for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The hallucinogenic vision of ancient Greece in Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé last week was succeeded yesterday evening by the fresh-as-poster-paint colours of Stravinsky’s Petrushka and excerpts from Prokofiev’s Chout (The Buffoon), a longer score in the Petrushka mould which has suffered disproportionate neglect (though not from the LPO...

Total Immersion: Boulez at 90, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Pierre Boulez sits in the back of a car as it drives across Westminster Bridge. He is talking about the audience appeal of his music, and he is characteristically direct. If the performance is good, and the situation is right, he insists, then audiences will come. That was back in 1968. The interview was featured in one of the documentaries that began today’s event, and it proved prescient. Boulez at 90, the day-long festival of music by the BBC Symphony Orchestra's former chief conductor, was...

Classical CDs Weekly: Ruperto Chapí, Rossini,...

Graham Rickson

 Ruperto Chapí: String Quartets 1 and 2 Cuarteto Latinoamericano (Sono Luminus)Think string quartet and you tend to think Beethoven, Haydn,...

Josefowicz, Novacek, Wigmore Hall

Sebastian Scotney

Who knew that the wisdom of crowds could be quite so fickle or so fallible? This superb recital by the American violinist Leila Josefowicz and...

Building a Library: Living with Sibelius

David Nice

I’ve just spent five weeks in the company of a very austere and sometimes frightening masterpiece, Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony, hearing a great many...

Widmann, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

Geoff Brown

Futility and magic in Julian Anderson’s new work, and not enough joy from Ravel

RLPO 175th Birthday Concert, Petrenko, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Glyn Môn Hughes

Anniversary Mendelssohn and Beethoven under the fiery leadership of resident Russian

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Bruckner, Stravinsky

Graham Rickson

Two discs of romantic orchestral music, and a 20th-century ballet gets a makeover. Twice.

Feldman's Triadic Memories, Melnikov, Wigmore Hall

Peter Quantrill

An absorbing encounter with a late masterpiece

Wang, LSO, Tilson Thomas, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Birthday gala celebrates a long and fruitful collaboration

Lane, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Manze, RFH

Gavin Dixon

Former period instrumentalist turned conductor sheds new light on English romantics

10 Questions for Composer Dobrinka Tabakova

Sebastian Scotney

The Grammy-nominated Bulgarian-British composer talks about her music

Classical CDs Weekly: Wim Henderickx, Mahler, Roger Woodward

Graham Rickson

Flemish modernism, an epic symphony in a new guise and a handsome tribute to a veteran pianist

Donohoe, BBCSSO, Prieto, City Halls, Glasgow

David Nice

Impressive, weighty Scottish debut by Brazilian conductor in Shakespeare-led programme

Rattle for the LSO: great or just good news?

David Nice

Sir Simon finally committed to London post in 2017

BBCSO, Segerstam, Barbican

Peter Quantrill

Stonehenge in sound: conductor-composer of 285 symphonies tackles Bruckner's Eighth

Benedetti, La Cetra, Saffron Hall

Sebastian Scotney

The violinist's Vivaldi charms an appreciative audience in a bold new hall

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Stephen Walsh

Woolrich's songbook asks important questions, and answers only some of them

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Birkin, Weinberg

Graham Rickson

Baroque instrumental music, Soviet chamber symphonies and a brilliant fusion of words and music

Hardenberger, Philharmonia, Nelsons, RFH

Gavin Dixon

Great Swedish trumpeter entertains, but the Latvian conductor disappoints in Mahler

The Seckerson Tapes: Schumann Quartet

Edward Seckerson

Three German-Japanese brothers and an Estonian violist present their second release

Classical CDs Weekly: Monteverdi, Vaughan Williams, Simon Desbruslais

Graham Rickson

An early choral blockbuster, a war-tinged symphony and a disc of contemporary trumpet concertos

Von Otter, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican

David Nice

Subtle heartbreak in Ravel and poleaxing Nielsen crown another concert stunner

theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Sakari Oramo

David Nice

A Finn firing up the London concert scene talks Nielsen, Sibelius and concert halls

Kožena, Royal, Berliner Philharmoniker, Rattle, RFH

Jessica Duchen

Rattle's London residency closes more or less on a high

Philharmonic Octet Berlin, Queen Elizabeth Hall

David Nice

Chamber-musical perfection from eight of the world's best instrumentalists

Orpen, Françoise-Green Piano Duo, Aurora Orchestra, Kings Place

Geoff Brown

An uneven preliminary to the Steve Reich weekend, with older music stealing the show

Classical CDs Weekly: Nielsen, Prokofiev, Sculthorpe, Tchaikovsky

Graham Rickson

Danish symphonies, Russian piano concertos and Australian string quartets

Becker, RLPO, Ang, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Glyn Môn Hughes

New double-bass concerto doesn't go far enough in an intriguing programme

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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