sun 19/04/2015

Classical music Features

theartsdesk in Thuringia: Easter with Bach

David Nice

Sing, dance, breathe: those are the three imperatives for successful Bach performance, and three superlative interpretations at the Thuringia Bach Festival glorified them in excelsis. Frankly, I...

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Ronald Stevenson (1928-2015): A virtuoso remembered

Christopher Lambton

Ronald Stevenson, who died on Saturday at the age of 87, was a composer and pianist who will be much missed both in the small Borders village where he lived and by the much larger musical community...

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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 recordings of it for Building a Library, the...

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Rattle for the LSO: great or just good news?

David Nice

Having manoeuvred to get a new concert hall for London earmarked in principle, Simon Rattle has finally agreed, as we thought he would, to take charge of the London Symphony Orchestra in 2017. By...

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Sci-Fi Week: Scoring the Impossible

Graham Rickson

Classical composers have always enjoyed depicting the implausible. Operas based on mythological subjects abound, creating near-impossible staging demands. Musical works based on science fiction are...

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theartsdesk in Stockholm: A Nobel Prize for Musical Excellence

David Nice

Should you not have caught one of the 20th century’s handful of greatest Wagnerian singers live - I did, just once, in a Prom of uneven excerpts - chances are that you first heard Birgit Nilsson in...

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theartsdesk in Bamberg: Top Town, Top Orchestra

David Nice

As a town of 70,000 or so people, Bamberg boxes dazzlingly above its weight in at least two spheres. The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, risen to giddy heights under its chief conductor of the last 14...

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Remembering Christopher Hogwood (1941-2014)

theartsdesk

He was not only a bracing conductor/harpsichordist pioneer in period-instrument authenticity, writes David Nice, but also a gentleman and a scholar. My only direct acquaintance with Christopher...

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theartsdesk in Verbier: Festival with Fireworks

Alexandra Coghlan

Mahler’s Sixth Symphony is dominated by the doleful clang of cowbells. They are an other-worldly intrusion into an otherwise familiar musical scene – unless you happen to be in Verbier, that is, in...

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theartsdesk in La Foce: War and Peace in Val d'Orcia

David Nice

“If this isn’t nice, what is?” Kurt Vonnegut’s vow to repeat his Uncle Alex’s mantra when things were going “sweetly and peacefully” has been much on my mind during various idylls this war-torn...

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theartsdesk at the East Neuk Festival: Littoral Schubertiad

David Nice

Schubert played and sung through a long summer day by the water: what could be more enchanting? The prospect did not take into account the pain in that all too short-lived genius’s late work: when...

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Lorin Maazel (1930-2014) on Puccini's Golden Girl

David Nice

I met one of the 20th century’s most impressive, if not always sympathetic, conductors twice, on both occasions to talk Puccini before La Scala recordings of La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the...

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theartsdesk in Setúbal: Youth and music under the jacarandas

David Nice

José Mourinho is Setúbal’s most famous son. Non-Portuguese readers are not expected to know the two other celebrities most feted by this extraordinary port city on the estuary of the River Sado, with...

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Extracts: John Tusa - Pain in the Arts

Ismene Brown

In the midst of ferment as the arts world faces fast-shrinking public subsidy, Sir John Tusa, former managing director of the BBC World Service and the Barbican Arts Centre, publishes this week a...

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theartsdesk in Dresden and Berlin: Happy Birthday, Richard Strauss

David Nice

Richard Strauss was born in Munich 150 years ago today. Christian Thielemann is celebrating the fact by conducting the Staatskapelle Dresden in the juiciest of all-Strauss operatic potpourris, a...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Robin Ticciati

David Nice

Poised when I met him six weeks ago between 40th anniversary celebrations of  the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, of which he has been a shaping chief conductor for the past five years  and...

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Unfinished business: completing Mozart

Roger Montgomery

Horn concertos don't make frequent appearances in the standard concert repertory and when they do it will usually be a work by Mozart or Richard Strauss. It wouldn't be entirely true to say that horn...

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RE:naissance: Festival under the influence

Matthew Sharp

Shakespeare's ubiquitous “planetary influence” is well-documented. As Stephen Marche points out in How Shakespeare Changed Everything, not much from our sex lives to the assassination of Lincoln...

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theartsdesk in Basel: More than Minimalism

David Nice

In a near-perfect, outward-looking Swiss city sharing borders with France and Germany, on a series of cloudless April days that felt more like balmy June than capricious April, anything seemed...

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theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Bright Nights, Dark Music Days

David Nice

Nature declined to reveal the Northern Lights over a long winter weekend in Iceland. My hotel was geared up to the spectacle, offering the option of a phone call any time in the night should they...

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