tue 28/02/2017

Barbican

Tanita Tikaram, Barbican

There’s scarcity value in a Tanita Tikaram gig these days. Like seeing a rare bird, you feel special for simply having been there. Last night, in a programme spanning her whole career, she made a strong case to be a songbird of unique character. Her...

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Richard III, Schaubühne Berlin, Barbican

Hated the Schaubühne Hamlet (same lead actor, same director as this latest Shakespeare auf Deutsch); loved Ivo van Hove's Toneelgroep Kings of War, with Hans Kesting's Richard III on the highest level alongside the Henrys V and VI. Thomas Ostermeier...

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Beware of Pity, Complicite & Schaubühne Berlin, Barbican

Prolific, fitfully great Austrian writer Stefan Zweig's two biggest popular biographies, Marie Antoinette: The Story of an Average Woman and Mary Stuart, would be a gift for any screenwriter, given their fully realised dramatic scenes. His best-...

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Kaufmann, Mattila, LSO, Pappano, Barbican

Jonas Kaufmann’s legion of admirers could rest content. A well-received Lieder evening last week demonstrated that the world’s hottest tenor property had returned, both to London for a three-concert residency at the Barbican, and indeed to singing...

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The private life of Stefan Zweig in England

On 23 February 1942 at half past four in the afternoon in a secluded Brazilian hilltown called Petrópolis about an hour from Rio, a maid and her husband pushed at the bedroom door of a modest rented house. Despite the late hour, the tenants had not...

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Widmann, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican

The BBC Symphony Orchestra has continued its long-standing support of British contemporary music with this première of a new commission, Michael Zev Gordon’s Violin Concerto for violinist Carolin Widmann. Gordon’s music deals in abstracts – new and...

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LSO, Rattle, Barbican

Symphony is a word carrying heavy historical baggage. It’s understandable when composers dig for inspiration elsewhere. All the same, Mark-Anthony Turnage has grasped the symphonic nettle with Remembering – In memoriam Evan Scofield which received...

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Le Grand Macabre, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

The Big Mac – as in Ligeti's music-theatre fantasia on the possible death of Death – is here to stay. Back in 1990, three critics (I was one) were invited on to the BBC World Service to say which work from the previous decade we thought...

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Written on Skin, Royal Opera

There’s a passage in Martin Crimp’s impeccable libretto for Written on Skin that describes a page of illuminated manuscript. The ink, he tells us, stays forever wet – alive with moist, fleshy, indecent human reality rather than dried into decorous...

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Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Gatti, Barbican

Time was when the principal conductor of a top orchestra could afford to refine mastery of a small and familiar repertoire, covering a century and a half of music at most. The rest he (always he) would leave to loyal or youthful lieutenants. The...

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Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner, Barbican

Add three natural trumpets, flawlessly wielded, to chorus and standard period-instrument orchestra, and the seasonal spirit will flow no matter the context. It's true that Bach's Magnificat is not that common a visitor at this time of year -...

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Gerald Finley, Antonio Pappano, Barbican

This would have been an intriguing recital at any time. But in the context of Brexit, a programme of songs in a second language, of music expressing composers’ fascination with another country, another landscape, another sound-world, had a poignancy...

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