thu 16/08/2018

Classical Features

theartsdesk in Orkney: St Magnus Festival

David Kettle

Ebb of Winter felt about right. It’s one of Peter Maxwell Davies’s most recent works, a yearning for the brightness and warmth of spring at the end of an Orcadian winter, written in 2013 for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s 40th anniversary.

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Habemus maestrum: the Berlin Phil chooses

David Nice

Earlier this year only black smoke came from the chimney of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s orchestral conclave: a new chief conductor to follow Sir Simon Rattle had not been decided upon. Rumours circulated that it could be many months, even a year, before the choice was made.

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theartsdesk in Denmark: 150 years of Nielsen

David Nice

Music-lovers outside Denmark will have come to know Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) through his shatteringly vital symphonies as one of the world-class greats, a figure of light, darkness and every human shade in between. For Danes it is different: since childhood, most have been singing at least a dozen of his simpler songs in community gatherings, probably without even knowing the name of the composer.

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theartsdesk at the Cottier Chamber Project

David Kettle

The Cottier Chamber Project is coming to feel increasingly like Glasgow’s answer to the Proms. If the Proms took place in a former church high on shabby-chic charm, that is. And if they ran for just three weeks. And only covered chamber music.

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theartsdesk in Bergen 2: Leif Ove Andsnes curates

David Nice

If this were only the usual international festival – and it’s still a big “only” where Bergen’s flagship fortnight of theatre, dance, art and music is concerned – it might not be easy to justify swanning off to one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. What drew me in the programme, though, were two unique and probably unrepeatable concerts put together by local boy made more than good Leif Ove Andsnes.

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Listed: Essential BBC Proms

theartsdesk

Hottest tickets for seats at the Proms have probably all gone already. Yet the beauty of it is that so long as you start queueing early enough you can always get to hear the greatest, or rather the most popular, artists, for £5 in the Arena which is of course easily the best place to be acoustically in the notoriously unpredictable Royal Albert Hall.

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theartsdesk in Dresden: Fire and Ice

Paul Gent

Dresden is slowly opening up to the world. All but destroyed by British bombing in the Second World War, locked away inside Communist East Germany for 40 years, it is now becoming a tourist honeypot. On a warm day in May, you can see the snap-happy groups of Japanese and Germans trailing behind their guides, marvelling at the imposing Baroque buildings in the Old Town.

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theartsdesk in Thuringia: Easter with Bach

David Nice

Sing, dance, breathe: those are the three imperatives for successful Bach performance, and three superlative interpretations at the Thuringia Bach Festival glorified them in excelsis.

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Ronald Stevenson (1928-2015): A virtuoso remembered

Christopher Lambton

Ronald Stevenson, who died on Saturday at the age of 87, was a composer and pianist who will be much missed both in the small Borders village where he lived and by the much larger musical community in Scotland and beyond. As a composer he was unashamedly rooted in the late 19th Century tradition of intellectual pianism – in his music you can trace a line of descent from Bach to Liszt through his great hero Busoni.

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Building a Library: Living with Sibelius

David Nice

I’ve just spent five weeks in the company of a very austere and sometimes frightening masterpiece, Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony, hearing a great many recordings of it for Building a Library, the abiding gem of Radio 3’s CD Review in which the critic takes the listener through the piece and chooses a front runner.  

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