mon 20/11/2017

countertenors

Davies, BBCSO, Knussen, Barbican

Last night’s concert at the Barbican focused on the theme of dreams and night-time, centred around the UK premiere of Dream of the Song by George Benjamin. But the one piece on the programme that did not fit with the theme stole the show. Stravinsky...

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Farinelli and the King, Duke of York's Theatre

No doubt this sophisticated bagatelle starring Mark Rylance worked like a charm in the intimate space and woody resonance of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. The Duke of York's Theatre is one of the West End’s smaller mainstream venues, its proscenium...

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theartsdesk in Oslo: Barocking Handel in the Opera House

Oslo is a winter wonderland, and adults seem to be outnumbered by children, flocking from all over Norway to Disney on Ice. It’s the deep snow and the silence in pockets of the city rather than the kids which make me wonder if anyone has set Handel’...

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Britten 100: Death in Moscow

“A cold coming we had of it,” grumble the three kings in T S Eliot’s poem “The Journey of the Magi” later set by Britten as his Canticle IV. “Just the worst time of year for a journey,” they complain, carried onwards by the ungulate bass notes of...

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Britten: The Canticles, Linbury Studio Theatre

As good old Catullus put it, I hate and love, you may ask why. No doubt it's my job as a critic to probe such difficult responses to Britten's Canticles. Why am I so repelled by the sickly-sweet lullaby Isaac sings just before daddy's about to put...

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Bach Unwrapped, Blaze, La Nuova Musica, Bates, Kings Place

Faced with yet another world premiere from his friends in the Borodin Quartet, Shostakovich severely asked them whether they’d yet played all of Haydn’s quartets (they hadn’t). As a listener, I feel the same about Bach’s cantatas. Whether or not a...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Countertenor Iestyn Davies

Recently hailed by The Observer as “today’s most exciting British countertenor”, Iestyn Davies is on a roll. Indeed, many critics would – and have – gone further, seeing this young British singer as the natural heir to David Daniels and Andreas...

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James Bowman, Mahan Esfahani, Wigmore Hall

The end of an era: James Bowman bids a gentle farewell to the London concert stage

The Wigmore Hall was full to capacity last night, its crowd gathered to pay homage to a great musician at the end of his career, and to discover the talents of a great musician at the very beginning of his. While Alfred Deller might have been the...

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CD: Wild Beasts - Smother

Wild Beasts' 'Smother': Their third and most seductive album yet

There's no doubt about it, Hayden Thorpe has the most manly falsetto in modern music. It's not the wheedling whine of the post-Radiohead generation of indie sadsacks, nor the haunted and haunting quaver of an Anthony Hegarty, nor yet the...

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St Matthew Passion, The Bach Choir, Royal Festival Hall

James Gilchrist: Wishing the speediest of recoveries to this Godfather of English vocal lyricism

As Handel’s Messiah is to Christmas so the music of Bach is to Lent. Every Passiontide churches and concert halls are flooded with performances that include everything from dainty consort renderings of the St John Passion to choral societies...

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Orlando Furioso, Barbican Hall

Jean-Christophe Spinosi: Fails to translate the excitement of the recording studio to the concert hall

Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso has yielded more than its fair share of operatic spin-offs. Inspiring three operas apiece from both Handel and Vivaldi, as well as works from Lully, Haydn, Caccini and Rameau, its vivid stories of love, magic and...

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Iestyn Davies, Richard Egarr Wigmore Hall

Iestyn Davies: Just a hint of authentic 18th-century swagger

Not a lot of swooning goes on at the Wigmore Hall. Nor does it seem the kind of institution to endorse rapturous wailing, beating of the breast, or the throwing of either flowers or underwear. All of which leaves one with the problem of how to...

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