tue 26/10/2021

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Delepelaire, RSNO, Søndergård, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - festive and magical

Christopher Lambton

“What a lovely sound that was!” declared Music Director Thomas Søndergård, bounding onto the podium of the Usher Hall. He was referring, of course, to the warm applause greeting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra on its first full outing in front of an Edinburgh audience in nigh on 18 months.

CBSO Quartet, Hockley Social Club, Birmingham review - unveiling of innovative new partnership

Miranda Heggie

Kicking off a brand new partnership between the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Hockley Social Club, this first ever Symphonic Session saw a string quartet from the CBSO take centre stage at Birmingham’s latest street-food venue, Hockley Social Club, on Thursday evening.

Van der Heijden, Hallé, New, Bridgewater Hall,...

Robert Beale

The youthful New Zealand-born conductor Gemma New and British cellist Laura van der Heijden between them set the Hallé quite a challenge at this...

First Person: ethnomusicologist Shumaila Hemani...

Shumaila Hemani

In early 2020, the year that soon saw  COVID-19 lockdown, I served on the music faculty for Semester at Sea, Spring 2020 voyage, where I taught...

Colin Currie Group, RFH review - Reich premiere...

Bernard Hughes

Single-composer programmes can be a bit dicey and there was a bit of trepidation approaching this one as Steve Reich is not a composer of massive...

Clements Prize, Conway Hall review - newly-written string trios in competition

Bernard Hughes

Varied works by young composers get a sympathetic reading

Classical CDs: Rediscovered orchestral jazz, natural trumpets and non-seasonal chamber music

Graham Rickson

An American original, zesty classical quartets and new music for piano

Tamestit, LSO, Ticciati, LSO St Luke's review - viola as chameleon, palpitating Brahms

David Nice

Razor-sharp Walton complements an airborne, detailed account of a great symphony

Two-Piano Gala, Kings Place review - five pianists, two pianos, too many pieces

Bernard Hughes

Captivating Mozart and Schubert offset by note-heavy Ravel and Rachmaninov

Gabriela Montero, Kings Place review - improvising to a Chaplin classic is the icing on a zesty cake

David Nice

Grabbing the audience and never letting go at the start of the London Piano Festival

Bavouzet, Manchester Camerata, Takács-Nagy, Stoller Hall, Manchester review - together again

Robert Beale

A great partnership returns to public Mozart recording project

theartsdesk at the Two Moors Festival - birdsong, gongs and nocturnes in Dartmoor churches

David Nice

In tune with the natural wonders of Devon's high places, musicians excel

Geniušas, SCO, Emelyanychev, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - glorious return to a much-missed venue

Simon Thompson

Abundant energy from conductor and orchestra, less so from the soloist

Philharmonia, Rouvali, RFH review - the really big orchestra is back for cosmic Strauss

David Nice

Who'd have thought it? Two enormous scores in one dazzling concert

The Creation, Academy of Ancient Music, Cummings, Barbican review - back to choral paradise

Boyd Tonkin

A joyful and lavish rebirth for Haydn's happy masterpiece

Gerhaher, Faust, Wigmore Hall review - husky shadings and dark hues

Gavin Dixon

Night themed recital presents new Berlioz arrangement, plus rarely heard Schoeck

Carnac, BCMG, Kemp, Music@Malling Festival - lyrical Turnage frames abstruse fancies

David Nice

Bittersweet spells from the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in rural Kent

Iestyn Davies, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Kings Place review - Elizabethans and extraterrestrials

Boyd Tonkin

Four centuries of London's musical life anchored by a star counter-tenor

Classical CDs: Lieder, folk song and a neglected conductor receiving his due

Graham Rickson

Box sets of German songs and vintage orchestral treats, plus ethnomusicology, lively piano duets and lots of foxtrots

Nicola Benedetti, Barbican Hall review – from Bach to the Highlands via New Orleans

Boyd Tonkin

A bold solo voyage through three centuries of violin virtuosity

Kanneh-Mason, Terfel, RPO, Philharmonia Chorus, Petrenko, RAH review - an anniversary feast

Jessica Duchen

Full chorus and giant orchestra reunite at last to celebrate 75 years and counting

Black British Musical Theatre 1900-1950, Wigmore Hall review – a disappointing missed opportunity

Bernard Hughes

Lecture-recital leaves more questions than answers about an interesting subject

Esther Yoo, Yekwon Sunwoo, Wigmore Hall review - Korean duo needs time to develop

Sebastian Scotney

A mixed bag in this new violin-and-piano duo's recital

LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - a glimpse into Bruckner’s workshop

Gavin Dixon

A compelling case made for each version of the 'Romantic' Symphony

Leeds International Piano Competition Finals, Leeds Town Hall review - a hi-tech, low carbon musical celebration

Graham Rickson

Upbeat close to one of the UK's great musical events

Podium odes to joy: conductors at the 2021 BBC Proms


Comsummate photographer Chris Christodoulou's annual gallery yields more treasures

Our Future in Your Hands, Peckham School Choirs, Multi-Story Orchestra, Stark, Bold Tendencies review - blazing community epic

David Nice

Kate Whitley's latest work involving local schoolchildren is a big symphonic eco-plea

Last Night of the Proms, BBC review - a feast of unusual morsels in a traditional wrapper

Christopher Lambton

15 composers and more in the latest take on a worldwide phenomenon

Devieilhe, Tharaud, Wigmore Hall review - French soprano attracts young audience

Sebastian Scotney

Debussy brings joy...and disappointment

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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