fri 03/04/2020

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

'Most significant is the experience of being confronted by different ideas': Steven Osborne on free piano lessons from quarantine

Steven Osborne

How fast the world can change. What seemed unimaginable just weeks ago, the effective shuttering of our societies, is now a reality in many countries for at least weeks and quite possibly several months to come. I hope for the health and security of all of you reading this. I’m not going to reflect on our situation at any length as I’m sure many of you have read far more on the subject than is good for you - I certainly have!

Czech Philharmonic Benefit Concert online review – profound musicianship in sombre masked fundraiser

David Nice

Less than six months ago Prague’s most prestigious concert hall, the neo-Renaissance Rudolfinum, was all glittering lights and packed, smartly dressed audience for the Czech Philharmonic’s hot ticket first performance there for 49 years of its national epic, Smetana’s Má vlast (My Homeland) – a grand one indeed u

Remembering Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020)

Gavin Dixon

No composer since Stravinsky has defined his age as comprehensively as Krzysztof Penderecki, who died on Sunday aged 86. Initially an uncompromising...

Classical Music/Opera direct to home 4 - Rattle...

David Nice

He may no longer be the Berlin Philharmoniker's Chief Conductor, but by a combination of serendipity and foresight on the orchestra's part, Simon...

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Poulenc, Simon Höfele

Graham Rickson

 Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier George Lepauw (piano) (Orchid Classics)How a pianist tackles the opening C major Prelude of Bach’s Well-...

Notes on a no-show - Nico Muhly

Jenny Gilbert

New dance inspired by his music was the first casualty of the darkened Sadler's Wells

'Pause. Notice. Breathe': Elena Urioste on self-love in a time of coronavirus

Elena Urioste

The violinist on how her yoga practice has informed her life and playing

Classical CDs Weekly: Grieg, Sibelius, Papagena

Graham Rickson

Norwegian violin sonatas, Finnish symphonies and an a capella anthology

Classical music/Opera direct to home: 2 - Boris Giltburg and Igor Levit

David Nice

Two top pianists give live recitals in their music rooms at different times of day

Classical music/Opera direct to home: 1 - Budapest's Quarantine Soirées

David Nice

First of regular notifications about what you can watch online in the dark days

Beethoven: 1808 Reconstructed, Aimard, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review - a feast in fading light

Boyd Tonkin

In dark times, an epic reconstruction of a historic concert

Frang, LSO, Pappano, Barbican review - hearing the silence

David Nice

A timely, daunting programme of three great works by Vaughan Williams and Britten

Skelton, Rice, BBCSO, Gardner, Barbican review – romanticism’s last stand

Gavin Dixon

Adventurous programme explores rarely heard works from fin de siècle Vienna

Classical CDs Weekly: Ives, Shchedrin, Veprik

Graham Rickson

Two American symphonies, a Soviet ballet and a poignant rediscovery

Daniel Sepec, Tabea Zimmermann, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Wigmore Hall review - the viola is a star

Sebastian Scotney

Beethoven's story told through his string trios makes for a long but rewarding evening

Bach St John Passion, Bach Collegium Japan, Suzuki, Barbican review - intense pain and dancing consolation

David Nice

Fast-moving but never rushed, a visceral approach powerfully unfolds a saga of suffering

Anderszewski, CBSO, Wellber, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - grandeur in restraint

Richard Bratby

Mozartian Bartók and Bruckner with itchy feet, as Omer Meir Wellber saves the day

Beyond the Grace Note, Sky Arts review - march of the women conductors

Jessica Duchen

A message of long-belated triumph, but there's real exasperation too

BBC Philharmonic, Wellber, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - making music magic

Robert Beale

The new chief shows a different way of doing Beethoven

First Person: Electra Perivolaris on composing for BBC Radio 3's 'Seven Ages of Woman' project

Electra Perivolaris

On setting a Heather Dohollau poem to music for International Women's Day 2020

Sean Shibe, Wigmore Hall review - mesmerising journey from light to dark

David Nice

Acoustic guitar magic against intense silence contrasts with electric monsterpiece

Classical CDs Weekly: Christopher Gunning, Joe Meek, Tesla Quartet

Graham Rickson

British symphonies, post-war electronica and a disc of clarinet quintets

SCO, Emelyanychev, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - Beethoven at too insistent a lick

David Nice

Fidgety country walk in the 'Pastoral' and hard-hit dances in the Seventh Symphony

Missa solemnis, BBCSO, Runnicles, Barbican review - affirmation in the face of adversity

Peter Quantrill

Beethoven’s supreme challenge to all answered with conviction

Denk, LPO, Vänskä, RFH review - 200 years of joy and sorrow

David Nice

A febrile odyssey from fresh Beethoven to over-the-rainbow Enescu

Classical CDs Weekly: Eisler, Hindemith, Gabriel Prokofiev

Graham Rickson

East German film music, a 20th century response to Bach and a pair of contemporary concertos

Hallé, Elder, Gernon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, review - fiery Beethoven tribute

Robert Beale

Manchester puts its people on parade in another joint special

Grosvenor, Park, Ridout, Soltani, QEH review - inspired collegiality at the highest level

Jessica Duchen

An ensemble of four rising stars brings the house down

Simon Trpčeski, Barbican review - a charismatic chameleon

David Nice

A Brahms labyrinth, glittering Liszt and Russians alternating melancholy with madness

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

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