sun 30/04/2017

Classical Reviews

in vain, London Sinfonietta, Lubman, Royal Festival Hall

alexandra Coghlan

If Georg Friedrich Haas’s in vain was a work of political protest when it premiered in 2000, in 2017 it’s a piece that reads more like a commentary – a disturbing musical documentary that captures nearly 20 years of escalating European tensions, suspicions and right-wing extremism. As harmonic consensus gave way last night to chattering confusion, musical certainty to a distorted multiplicity of possibilities, abstraction has rarely felt more pointed, more horribly specific.

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Janina Fialkowska, Wigmore Hall

Gavin Dixon

You wouldn’t guess it from her name, but Janina Fialkowska isn’t actually Polish. You wouldn’t guess from her Chopin either, which is sensitive and supple, always emotive and deeply idiomatic.

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Stoller Hall Opening, Chetham's School of Music, Manchester

Robert Beale

The opening of a new concert hall offers two options for opinionizing: the venue itself – or the performances in it? Review the acoustics – or the music? It has to be a mixture of the two, in the end.

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Tamestit, LSO, Roth, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

François-Xavier Roth is a distinctive presence at the podium. He is short and immaculately attired, and first appearances could lead you to expect a civilised and uneventful evening. But the facade soon drops. His movements are brisk and erratic, as he conducts without a baton and instead shakes his outstretched hands at the players. He often leaps into the air, landing in a fierce pose directed at one of the players, before returning to his repertoire of small, indistinct gestures.

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Kim, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Robert Beale

The world premiere of a symphony by a British composer – Huw Watkins – was the chief attraction in the latest Hallé programme with Sir Mark Elder at the Bridgewater Hall. The other music on the programme, however, held interest and indeed created a foil to Watkins’ work.

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Dvořák Requiem, BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, Bělohlávek, Barbican

david Nice

Not your usual blockbuster for Holy Week, this. In other words, neither of the Bach Passions but a Requiem, and not  these days, at any rate  one of the more often-performed ones (it's not among the 79 works listed in The BBC Proms Guide to Great Choral Works).

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Mahler 8, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

Peter Quantrill

For the first performances of his Eighth Symphony in Munich, Mahler conducted 11 rehearsals. He arranged for the bells of the city’s trams to be silenced during the concerts. He left nothing to chance. On Saturday night, for once, one felt that all concerned had done likewise.

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Debussy Préludes, Alexander Melnikov, Wigmore Hall

david Nice

Who needs hallucinogenic drugs when we have Debussy's two books of Préludes? In the hands, that is, of a pianist magician who holds the key to this wild parade, demi-real wonderland, call it what you will. I've only heard two wizards equal to the whole sequence: on disc, Krystian Zimerman, graced by a wide recorded range the old masters could never command, and now, in the concert hall, Alexander Melnikov...

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Ma, New York Philharmonic, Gilbert, Barbican

david Nice

John Adams, greatest communicator among living front-rank composers, zoomed into the follow-spot for the second and third concerts of the New York Philharmonic's Barbican mini-residency.

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Landshamer, New York Philharmonic, Gilbert, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

Alan Gilbert chose a surprisingly low-key programme to open the New York Philharmonic’s three-day Barbican residency, Bartók’s genre-defying Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and...

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