fri 17/08/2018

Classical Features

Sir David Willcocks (1919-2015)

theartsdesk

Even if you never saw him conduct, you may well have sung one of Sir David Willcocks's carol arrangements. I remember the unnatural excitement in our church choir when the orange-jacketed Carols for Choirs 2 arrived on the scene, enhancing our repertoire with some especially juicy settings. Sir David Willcocks, who died on Thursday at the grand old age of 95, was steeped in the British choral tradition; for many, he was its heart and soul.

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'We have a duty to all children to share our rich artistic history'

Sarah Connolly

Two hundred and 74 years ago today, on 14 September 1741, Georg Friedrich Handel completed the first edition of his legendary oratorio, Messiah. It is a work associated with children’s charity, and thanks to a royal charter granted to philanthropist Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital in Bloomsbury, Handel raised awareness and money for the orphans with performances every year for decades.

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10 Questions for Conductor Laurence Equilbey

David Nice

It’s a sunny afternoon at altitude – 1,082 metres, to be precise – in the precincts of France’s highest historic building, the austerely impressive early Gothic Abbey-Church of St-Robert, La Chaise-Dieu.

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theartsdesk in Lahti: Sibelius 150, Sibelius Hall

David Nice

When Lahti’s Sibelius Hall finally shone and coruscated into life in 2000, the 100,000 citizens of this modest Finnish town, not to mention acousticians from all over the world, could hardly believe their eyes and ears. Here, at last, was not only a top concert hall fit for what had already become a world-class orchestra under notable Sibelian Osmo Vänskä, but also a twofold architectural wonder.

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theartsdesk in Bucharest: Loving Enescu

Paul Gent

Where in the world will you find the most glittering line-up of international orchestras? The Proms? Salzburg? Lucerne? Edinburgh? Bucharest, actually. The Enescu Festival, which began on 30 August, this year boasts appearances by the Concertgebouw, Vienna Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Israel Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, St Petersburg Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra.

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theartsdesk in Pärnu: Top players, great Estonians

David Nice

In 1989 Neeme Järvi, already rated one of the world’s top conductors and soon to be voted “Estonian of the Century” by his compatriots, returned with his Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra to the homeland he had left for America nearly a decade earlier. I went with them then, and to experience a free Estonia 26 years later was a bracing surprise.

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First Person: Poems to Messiaen

Michael Symmons

I am currently in the middle of a project called Messiaen 2015: Between Heaven and the Clouds, a year-long series of commissions and events around the UK, exploring Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l‘Enfant-Jésus, curated by pianist Cordelia Williams. 

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10 Questions for Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes

Adam Sweeting

Though perhaps not quite the "long strange trip" once hymned by the Grateful Dead, Leif Ove Andsnes's Beethoven Journey has been a marathon undertaking. It has spanned four years, during which the Norwegian pianist and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra have toured the world, performing all five of Beethoven's piano concertos with Andsnes conducting from the keyboard.

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Q&A Special: Pianist Lucas Debargue

ismene Brown

Last week the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow was rung down with a sigh of relief for the home team, with once again a Russian pianist in possession of the gold medal, Dmitry Masleev following 2011’s Daniil Trifonov. It was all very satisfactory for President Putin as he delivered his speech at the winners’ gala, being Tchaikovsky’s 175th anniversary year, but it was not a result that many disputed.

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theartsdesk at the Lichfield Festival

Richard Bratby

“I lately took my friend Boswell and showed him genuine civilised life in an English provincial town. I turned him loose in Lichfield, that he might see for once real civility”. In Lichfield, it’s more or less obligatory to begin with a quotation from Dr Johnson – no lover of music, although his native city does have a modest musical pedigree to set alongside its literary hall of fame.

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