thu 20/09/2018

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Jansen, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - nature's splendours and a fond farewell

Jessica Duchen

The LSO and Sir Simon Rattle have been launching their new season with a mini-festival, if not so-called, mixing and matching some delectable repertoire.

Ian Bostridge, Thomas Adès, Wigmore Hall review - haunting, brutal Schubert

Gavin Dixon

Winterreise brings out the best from Ian Bostridge, and the worst. His dedication to understanding and communicating its complex and harrowing text is everywhere apparent, and this was an emotionally draining evening.

LSO, Rattle, Barbican Hall review - a mixed bag...

Sebastian Scotney

A tradition seems to have been invented. First nights of the LSO’s seasons with Sir Simon Rattle as its Music Director start with a concert of music...

Elisabeth Leonskaja, Wigmore Hall review - Mozart...

Ismene Brown

“What is it about Mozart?” wondered the legendary pianist Sviatoslav Richter, pointing out the composer's frightening demands of accuracy and...

Classical CDs Weekly: Blacher, Dutilleux, Martin

Graham Rickson

 Boris Blacher: Dance Suite, Hamlet, Poème, Concertante Music Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Johannes Kalitzke (Capriccio)Boris Blacher’s...

Kremer, CBSO, Wellber, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - supercharged Dvořák

Richard Bratby

Mirga's maternity cover opens the new season with a perfect storm

Like a baton out of hell: Conductors at the 2018 Proms


Chris Christodoulou snaps mostly men at work, but the women are coming

Ax, Kavakos, Ma, Barbican review - all-star Brahms

Gavin Dixon

Elite trio brings virtuosity, subtlety and finesse to Brahms

Last Night of the Proms, Finley, Gillam, BBCSO, Davis review - a fine send-off without send-up

Jessica Duchen

Differences are thrown aside for a classic celebration of the power of music

Prom 74, Theodora, Arcangelo, Cohen review - coherent and compelling Handel

Gavin Dixon

Handel’s oratorio given a dramatic account, unconstrained by the Baroque scale

Classical CDs Weekly: Stravinsky, Vivaldi, John Williams

Graham Rickson

Iconic ballet music, baroque concertos and four decades of film scores

Prom 72, War Requiem, RSNO, Oundjian review - the pity, and the spectacle, of war

Boyd Tonkin

Britten's pacifist masterwork strikes with almost overwhelming force

Prom 71, DiDonato, Tamestit, ORR, Gardiner review - concert Berlioz as bracing theatre

David Nice

A dramatic feast for the eyes as well as the ears, this should have been on TV

Prom 69, Skride, Boston SO, Nelsons / Proms at...Cadogan Hall 8, Berlin Philharmonic Soloists review - sophisticated limits

David Nice

Sleek Shostakovich rarely terrifies, while reticence limits Ravel in the afternoon

Prom 67, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Nelsons / Prom 68, Berlin Philharmonic, Petrenko review - frenzy and finesse

Boyd Tonkin

Two great visiting orchestras blow a pagan whirlwind through the Proms

theartsdesk at the Suoni dal Golfo Festival - romantics shine in the Bay of Poets

David Nice

A Liszt novelty proves worth revealing, while a fine pianist takes a castle by storm

Prom 66, Wang, Berlin Philharmonic, Petrenko review - intense perfection

David Nice

The Berlin players have made a brilliant choice in their Chief Conductor Designate

Prom 65, London Voices, BBCSO, Bychkov review - 20th century masterpieces hit home

Bernard Hughes

A well-conceived programme offers musical perspectives on times of social upheaval

Classical CDs Weekly: Berlioz, Shostakovich, Turnage, La Maîtrise de Toulouse

Graham Rickson

Bleak Soviet symphonies, exciting orchestral playing from Istanbul plus Slavic choral delights from Toulouse

Prom 63, Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier - Book 2, Schiff review - the universe within

David Nice

24 more Preludes and Fugues in sequence to follow this great pianist's first late-nighter

theartsdesk at the Lucerne Festival - all-Beethoven and all-Ravel concerts from the greatest

David Nice

Haitink conducts an unearthly 'Pastoral' while Chailly ignites symphonic dances

Proms at...Cadogan Hall 7, Giunta, Sikich, review - dazzlement in Bernstein and beyond

David Benedict

Mezzo magic in an (almost) all-American recital

Edinburgh Festival 2018 review: Benedetti, Baltimore SO, Alsop - puzzlingly tame

David Kettle

The International Festival's big Bernstein bash was a strangely polite affair

Prom 57, On the Town, LSO, Wilson review - symphonic dances and sassy vocals

David Nice

Bernstein's most flawless stage work zips past in expert hands

Edinburgh Festival 2018 review: Aimard, SCO, Pintscher - psychedelic visions

David Kettle

Two dazzling Messiaen performances from the composer's piano protégé

Classical CDs Weekly: Bennett, Jiří Bělohlávek, Michala Petri and Lars Hannibal

Graham Rickson

Scintillating orchestral music, a lavish tribute to a much loved Czech conductor and a recorder virtuoso unwinds, alfresco

Prom 55, Lisztes, Lendvai, Lendvay, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Fischer review - unity and strength

Jessica Duchen

Gypsy fiddlers, fizzing cimbalom and celestial Brahms

Prom 54, Richter, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Fischer review - independent-minded Hungarians return

David Nice

Incisive Enescu and Bartók, slightly over-interpreted Mahler

h 100 Young Influencers of the Year: James Bingham on community choirs

James Bingham

The first of the four finalists in theartsdesk's award in association with The Hospital Club writes provocatively about a choral crisis

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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