fri 22/02/2019

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Ádám Fischer, Barbican review - ferocious Mahler 9 without inscape

David Nice

Give me some air! Stop screaming at me! Those are not exclamations I'd have anticipated from the prospect of a Vienna Philharmonic Mahler Ninth Symphony, least of all under the purposeful control of Ádám Fischer.

Hussain, Symphony Orchestra of India, Dalal, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - new sounds from a new band

Miranda Heggie

For its first ever performance in this country, the Symphony Orchestra of India - formed in only 2006 - kicked off its UK tour in spectacular style at Symphony Hall, Birmingham yesterday evening. Based at the National Centre of Performing Arts in Mumbai, the SOI is India’s first and only professional symphony orchestra.

Tynan, Appl, Burnside, Wigmore Hall review - the...

Bernard Hughes

The first visual impression of Monday’s Wigmore Hall song recital was of the marked height difference between Irish soprano Ailish Tynan and the...

Trifonov, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - Russian...

Boyd Tonkin

The arc of Daniil Trifonov’s reputation has soared and then, to some ears, stalled in a familiar modern way. Russian Wunderkind pianist bags a...

Elīna Garanča, Malcolm Martineau, Wigmore Hall...

David Nice

It seems an almost indecent luxury to have heard two top mezzos in just over a week with so much to express, backed up by the perfect technique and...

Ek, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - epics of sea and land

David Nice

Mirga pairs a Lithuanian late-romantic tone poem and familiar Grieg in an unusual context

Montero, Scottish Ensemble, Kings Place review - new music with a political edge

Bernard Hughes

Imaginative programming but the message sometimes overwhelmed the music

Classical CDs Weekly: Mahler, Saint-Saëns, Danish National Vocal Ensemble

Graham Rickson

Romantic orchestral music and Danish songs

Sarah Chang, Ashley Wass, Cadogan Hall review – a virtuoso's disturbing 'inner game'

Sebastian Scotney

A short yet uneven concert

Brighton Festival 2019 launches with Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Thomas H Green

The south-coast's arts extravaganza reveals its 2019 line-up

Monteverdi Vespers, The Sixteen, Christophers, Cadogan Hall review – majesty on a modest scale

Gavin Dixon

Well-established team brings a passion for clarity and colour

Grosvenor, Doric String Quartet, Milton Court review – a night to remember

Jessica Duchen

Pianist and strings shine in extraordinarily atmospheric Chopin and Fauré

Schumann Series 3 & 4, LSO, Gardiner, Barbican review - upstanding brilliance

David Nice

Energetic symphonies cycle concludes, with top soloists in Mendelssohn and Beethoven

La Damnation de Faust, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - 'concert opera' indeed

Robert Beale

Vivid choral and orchestral sounds in a thrilling account of Berlioz masterpiece

Rachvelishvili, ROH Orchestra, Pappano, Royal Opera House review - perfect night and day

David Nice

Georgian diva is the diamond in a Russian imperial crown

Classical CDs Weekly: Debussy, Feldman, Langgaard

Graham Rickson

French piano music, Danish symphonies and extreme minimalism from an American master

Uchida, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, RFH review - togetherness in light and shade

Boyd Tonkin

A first-rate ensemble adds wattage to the pianist's star power

Lupu, Philharmonia, Järvi, RFH review - concerto magical in parts, symphony stupendous

David Nice

Delicacy from the legendary Romanian in Beethoven while Rachmaninov electrifies

Bach B minor Mass, BBCSO, Butt, Barbican review - large-scale losses and a few gains

David Nice

Stylish principles applied to a big chorus and modern instruments with limited success

Kempf, Devin, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Sinaisky, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - aglow but not alight

Miranda Heggie

Rich romanticism and spirited solos in Rachmaninov and Mahler

Classical CDs Weekly: Adventures in Sound, Tora Augestad, Ashley Fripp

Graham Rickson

Post-war modernism and songs for soprano and orchestra, plus an enterprising piano recital

Hadelich, CBSO, Măcelaru, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - industrial strength Vaughan Williams

Richard Bratby

Magpie maestro brings Vaughan Williams into the modernist mainstream, but Hadelich's Beethoven falls flat

Damrau, BRSO, Jansons, Barbican review - broad and passionate Strauss

Gavin Dixon

Warm and richly coloured performances of 'Ein Heldenleben' and the Four Last Songs

Classical CDs Weekly: Couperin, Dutilleux, Rossini

Graham Rickson

French orchestral music plus an Italian master, sinning in old age

Hough, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - film music flows

Robert Beale

A symphony of icy wastes finds new life … and contrasts

Endellion Quartet, Wigmore Hall review - four decades of excellence

Boyd Tonkin

Britain's premier string quartet celebrate in - serious - style

Van Woerkum, BBCPO, Gernon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - a symphony of cinema

Robert Beale

How an ‘image soloist’ makes film dance to music’s beat

Bang on a Can All-Stars, Kings Place review - a kaleidoscope of vibrant sound and vision

David Nice

The six New York-based players showcase a range of eclectic commissions

Classical CDs Weekly: Mia Brentano, Wim Henderickx, Saint-Saëns

Graham Rickson

Flemish and German contemporary music, plus three French piano concertos

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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