mon 17/06/2019

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Classical CDs Weekly: Daniel Elms, Hindemith, Tchaikovsky

Graham Rickson

 Daniel Elms: Islandia (New Amsterdam Records)

Roger Wright on Oliver Knussen: ‘his challenge to us all to remain curious lives on’

Roger Wright

The composition course founded more than 25 years ago at Snape by composers Oliver Knussen and Colin Matthews is in full swing. The scene is the Britten Studio at Snape Maltings on the Suffolk coast. Like Colin, Olly's connections to Aldeburgh and Snape are deep and long lasting, including his Artistic Directorship of the Festival.

Kozhukhin, RPO, Petrenko, RFH review - more...

David Nice

With two German giants roaring - Brahms in leonine mode, Richard Strauss more with tongue in armour-plated cheek - it could have all been too much....

Morison, Williams, RLPO, Davis, Philharmonic Hall...

Glyn Môn Hughes

It wasn’t really the orchestra’s night.  Nor the soloists'. Nor, even, the conductor's. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir totally stole the...

Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review – bittersweet...

Boyd Tonkin

Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia kicked off their series of concerts devoted to the edgy culture of the Weimar Republic with a programme that...

Classical CDs Weekly: Ståle Kleiberg, Lise Davidsen, Park Avenue Chamber Symphony

Graham Rickson

Norwegian contemporary music, a young soprano's debut disc and three 20th century ballet suites

Kuusisto, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Birmingham Town Hall review - aural voyage through space

Miranda Heggie

Exploring music inspired by the heavens

Williams, BBC Philharmonic, Wigglesworth, Bridgewater Hall Manchester review - vision before gloom

Robert Beale

Mahler songs are the welcome foil to a grim Shostakovich symphony

Kuusisto, Philharmonia, Rouvali, RFH review - new principal conductor steps up

Bernard Hughes

20th century classics danced and sang - but the concerto also puzzled

CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - joy unbounded

Richard Bratby

Brahms comes up as fresh as dew, in an unexpected but effective programme

theartsdesk in Gothenburg: concert-hall storytelling rivets at the Point Music Festival

David Nice

Galvanizing Santtu-Matias Rouvali kicks off, and two dozen instrumentalists go barefoot

Benedetti, SCO, Birmingham Town Hall review - a powerful musical alliance

Miranda Heggie

Real teamwork with great leaders at the helm

Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Pappano, Barbican review – joy in despair

Boyd Tonkin

Flavour and grandeur in Mahler's earth-shaking Sixth

Grosvenor, Doric Quartet, Milton Court review - cohesion or collision?

Jessica Duchen

Contrasting styles don't always cohere in this intriguing mix

Classical CDs Weekly: Bartók, Bruckner, Busoni

Graham Rickson

Hungarian string quartets, a late romantic symphony and an epic piano concerto

Los Angeles Master Chorale, Gershon, Sellars, Barbican review – embodiments of remorse

Boyd Tonkin

Grandeur, and fussiness, in Peter Sellars' staging of a choral masterwork

Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall review – full-spectrum Bach from a prodigious talent

Boyd Tonkin

The Russian-born Berliner delivers gripping pianistic theatre

First Person: Liam Byrne on bringing Versailles to the City's 'Culture Mile'

Liam Byrne

The viola da gamba player on pleasures at the Barbican's free Sound Unbound festival

Classical CDs Weekly: Mahler, Schumann, Tamara Stefanovich

Graham Rickson

Austro-German symphonies and a multinational piano recital

Benjamin Grosvenor, Barbican review - virtuosity at its classiest

Jessica Duchen

The British pianist shines bright in subtle Schumann and old-school Liszt

Takács Quartet, Wigmore Hall review – strong voices in a glorious group

Boyd Tonkin

From Hungary to Norway, a great team shows world class

theartsdesk in Tallinn and Tartu: Estonian Music Days go global

David Nice

Latest host of the International Society for Contemporary Music still leads the way

Hardenberger, Pöntinen, Wigmore Hall review - superstar trumpeter shows his class

Bernard Hughes

A challenging programme was enjoyable - but less would have been more

Mullova, Philharmonia, Järvi, RFH review – clear paths through the forest

Boyd Tonkin

Familiar works refreshed as precision joins passion

10 Questions for Cellist Raphael Wallfisch

Gavin Dixon

On composers in exile, the forgotten beauty of English cello concertos, and why you shouldn’t mess with Beethoven

Classical CDs Weekly: Bach, Jess Gillam, Neeme Järvi

Graham Rickson

The bible for cellists, Gallic balletic rarities and colourful music for saxophone

LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - inner magic eventually joins outward mastery

David Nice

Mahler's Adagietto sounds fresh in a never less than impressive Fifth Symphony

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!


An eclectic line-up spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, comedy, literature and spoken word could be yours with boutique hotel and exquisite meals included

Clara Mouriz, Roderick Williams, Joseph Middleton, Wigmore Hall review - the song recital as mixtape

Sebastian Scotney

A bold programme of Ravel with off-piste adventures

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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