wed 29/03/2017

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Jonathan Biss, Milton Court

David Nice

"Late Style", the theme and title of pianist Jonathan Biss's three-concert miniseries, need not be synonymous with terminal thoughts of death.

Classical CDs Weekly: Alnæs, Granados, Kelly, Mompou

Graham Rickson

Eyvind Alnæs: Piano Concerto & Symphony Håvard Gimse (piano), Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Eivind Aadland (Lawo Classics)

Buchbinder, Philharmonia, Hrůša, RFH

David Nice

It's a rare concert when nothing need be questioned about the orchestral playing. The usual nagging doubts – about whether any of the London...

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Sibelius, Temple...

Graham Rickson

Bach: Solo Sonatas and Partitas Jeroen de Groot (JDG Records)Dutch violinist Jeroen de Groot recalls watching footage of Glenn Gould playing Bach's...

Bryars and Reich, London Philharmonic Orchestra,...

Bernard Hughes

In 1970, documentary maker Alan Power interviewed homeless people in the Elephant and Castle area of London. Rejected footage found its way to...

Andreas Scholl, Accademia Bizantina, Barbican

Alexandra Coghlan

Newly discovered works got a bit lost in the fuss and fog of this performance

Maurizio Pollini, RFH

Gavin Dixon

The old Pollini magic shines through despite ailing technique

thertsdesk in Oslo: Mozart beneath a Munch sun

David Nice

A great Norwegian pianist and a live-wire chamber orchestra collaborate with fresh results

theartsdesk in Bergen: Questions upon questions at Borealis Festival

Joe Muggs

The sublime, the ridiculous and the brain-cleansing in the bracing North Sea air

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Young, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Compelling UK debut for dark and unsettling new opera

Classical CDs Weekly: Telemann, Alban Gerhardt, Wiener Symphoniker

Graham Rickson

Deconstructed baroque fantasias, Austrians letting their hair down, and the only disc of short cello pieces you'll ever need

Dego, CBSO, Rustioni, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Richard Bratby

The UK premiere of Wolf-Ferrari's Violin Concerto doesn't justify the wait

Tara Erraught, Ulrich Pluta, James Baillieu, Wigmore Hall

Peter Quantrill

German song, Italian opera and Irish mischief

NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo, Järvi, RFH

David Nice

High-definition Mahler with plenty of fire in its belly

Frank-Gemmill, SCO, Manze, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

David Kettle

A brilliantly incisive evening kicks off Scotland's MacMillan celebrations in style

10 Questions for Conductor Paavo Järvi

David Nice

Following in the family tradition, a musical Estonian on London and Tokyo orchestras

Classical CDs Weekly: Prokofiev, Strauss, Weinberg

Graham Rickson

Epic piano sonatas, sumptuous orchestral music and more from a neglected Soviet composer

BBC Singers, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican

David Nice

Electrifying Sibelius, sea journeys with crazy dancing by Nielsen and Glanert

Bavouzet, Manchester Camerata, Takács-Nagy, RNCM, Manchester

Robert Beale

Mozart the old-fashioned – and highly musical – way

Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Rasmussen, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky

Graham Rickson

Hungarian pianism, a Faroese symphony and two Russian violin concertos

Farewell, Stanisław Skrowaczewski (1923-2017)

Gavin Dixon

A tribute to the conductor and composer who has died at the age of 93

Mirjam Mesak, Kristiina Rokashevich, St Bartholomew the Great

David Nice

Impeccable musicianship and stylish programming from two young Estonians

Juan Diego Flórez, Vincenzo Scalera, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Richard Bratby

Quiet smiles outweigh high Cs in a recital of two distinct halves

Aimard, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH

Gavin Dixon

Unearthed Stravinsky is a revelation, while Ligeti and Ravel dazzle

Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Out-of-body sequences in a shimmering, restless programme with Fauré at its heart

Classical CDs Weekly: Ghedini, Ives, Vaughan Williams

Graham Rickson

Refined Italian orchestral music, downsized Americana and pastoral pianism

Listed: How I Do Love Thee


Let theartsdesk count the ways with our romantic favourites from all over the arts

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Julius Eastman, Überbach

Graham Rickson

Hamburg concert hall tested out, 1970s minimalism, and Bach on a vibraphone

Kaufmann, Mattila, LSO, Pappano, Barbican

Peter Quantrill

Restraint and reward in a Wagner evening of intermittent thrills

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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