sat 22/10/2016

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Leo, Martinů, Schubert

Graham Rickson

Leonardo Leo: Sacred Works Ensemble &cetera/Ulrike Hofbauer (soprano and direction) (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi)Leonardo Leo lived and worked in Naples in the early 18th century, effectively running the city’s musical life alongside Francesco Durante after the death of Alessandro Scarlatti in 1725. He didn’t enjoy a long and successful career, dying relatively young after a botched skin operation. His music, at least on the basis of this anthology, deserves to be much better known. Much of why...

Zehetmair, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

Peter Quantrill

This is how new and modern music should be done. In the London Philharmonic, we had an orchestra well-prepared to meet technical challenges and resolved to making sense from them. Vladimir Jurowski is a conductor who places faith in composers and audiences, who can welcome listeners and guide them through the evening as a congenial master of ceremonies rather than dessicated college lecturer.In both words and performance, Jurowski made a case for the Symphonies of Wind Instruments as Stravinsky...

MacMillan's Stabat Mater, The Sixteen,...

David Nice

No living composer writes more compellingly for choir or for strings than James MacMillan (a surprisingly accepted "Sir" is now an optional addition...

Smith, Wyn-Rogers, Philharmonia, Pons, RFH

Gavin Dixon

The Philharmonia’s Sunday concert wasn’t quite the event they’d planned. Christoph von Dohnányi scored a hit last season with Schubert's Ninth...

10 Questions for Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Peter Quantrill

The Lobgesang "lies very near my heart," wrote Mendelssohn. And the composer was so self-critical that the published order of his symphonies bears no...

Classical CDs Weekly: Batzner, Floyd, Mahler

Graham Rickson

Offbeat piano music, an operatic take on a Yorkshire love story and a bittersweet symphony

Icebreaker and BJ Cole, Milton Court

Helen Wallace

The post-minimalists reclaim studio electronica for the stage

Hunt, London Firebird Orchestra, Bloxham, St Paul's Covent Garden

David Nice

Young musicians and a master clarinettist excel in Mozart and Beethoven

Krylov, LPO, Søndergård, RFH

Peter Quantrill

Stylish accounts of early Sibelius and Shostakovich under pressure

Trevigne, CBSO, Chauhan, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Richard Bratby

A young conductor meets a serious challenge, head on

Classical CDs Weekly: Brahms, Steve Reich, Aleksandra Vrebalov

Graham Rickson

Three friends celebrate a German romantic, plus American minimalism and a coastal landscape arranged for string quartet

Mozart's Last Symphonies, SCO, Ticciati, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

David Nice

A mighty trilogy transfigured

Isserlis, Mustonen, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Ineffable programming of Schumann and Prokofiev from a spellbinding duo

First Person: Nico Muhly on music for two pianos

Nico Muhly

Composing 'Fast Patterns' for Kings Place's new London Piano Festival

Interview: Sir Neville Marriner and the I, Culture Orchestra

Peter Culshaw

The conductor has died aged 92. We revisit an interview from 2011 when his energy remained undimmed

Classical CDs Weekly: Berlioz, Maxwell Davies, Rameau, Zimmermann

Graham Rickson

French orchestral fireworks, a fine tribute to a much-loved British composer and some ear-splitting sounds from a German maverick

Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals 5, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH

Helen Wallace

Spine-tingling finale to a visionary series

10 Questions for Conductor Thomas Dausgaard

David Kettle

A Dane in Scotland on wall-to-wall Beethoven and working on a farm in China

Beethoven Ninth, RLPO, Petrenko, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

Glyn Môn Hughes

Standing ovation ends series of all nine Beethoven symphonies

Mariinsky Orchestra, Gergiev, Cadogan Hall

Sebastian Scotney

Prokofiev's 125th marked with mostly workaday playing

Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals 4, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH

David Nice

Three Greek-inspired masterpieces in perfect equilibrium

First Person: Steven Isserlis on Schumann's advice to the young

Steven Isserlis

The cellist and writer on a new book annotating a great composer's wisdom

Lammermuir Festival 2016, East Lothian

David Kettle

Biggest and boldest event yet for Scotland's early autumn musical harvest

Benedetti, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

Gavin Dixon

Imaginative programme delivered with intensity and precision

Classical CDs Weekly: Copland, Charlemagne Palestine, Lincoln Trio

Graham Rickson

American modernism, unhinged minimalism and a vibrant disc of piano trios

Jeremy Denk, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

Panorama of musical history reveals surprising connections

Modulus Quartet, Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe

David Nice

From the human to the cosmic, new works for strings in an atmospheric setting

Classical CDs Weekly: Michael Nyman, Stravinsky, Emily Pailthorpe

Graham Rickson

British minimalism, sacred sounds from a Russian exile and a disc of oboe music

Two Quixotes, The English Concert, Bicket, Wigmore Hall

David Nice

Invigorating early journeys around Cervantes' woeful knight

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

Close Footnote

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