sun 24/06/2018

Classical Reviews

The Courtesan’s Gaze, Fieri Consort, Handel House review – historical female composers in context

Bernard Hughes

From an early age, Barbara Strozzi would have entertained the guests of her father’s Venetian academy with songs, including her own works. A similarly intimate room at London’s Handel House museum provided a suitable setting for Strozzi’s work to be heard alongside the greatest of late Renaissance vocal composers, Claudio Monteverdi. Monteverdi came out ahead, but only by a nose.

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Bach Weekend, Barbican review - vivid and vibrant celebrations

Gavin Dixon

John Eliot Gardiner was 75 in April, and to celebrate, the Barbican Centre staged a weekend devoted to his favourite composer. Gardiner himself provided the backbone of the event, three concerts of cantatas with his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, while most of the other events were chamber music recitals.

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Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill, Opera North, City Varieties Music Hall review - life as a cabaret

graham Rickson

Peer at the small print and it’s clear that Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill is actually a spruced-up repackaging of a show originally devised by Gene Lerner and arranger Newton Wayland, about whom Opera North’s programme tells us nothing.

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theartsdesk at the Leipzig Bach Festival: a cantata blockbuster

stephen Walsh

If you ever find yourself in Leipzig at a weekend during school term, the Bach motet (and occasionally cantata) performances in the great cantor’s old church, the Thomaskirche, are an absolute must. But if you happened to be in that city this weekend just past, you will have been able to immerse yourself in practically a whole year’s worth of cantatas in the space of a little more than forty-eight hours. 

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Roscoe, BBC Philharmonic, Mena, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - a scenic send-off

Robert Beale

Juanjo Mena, chief conductor of Manchester's BBC Philharmonic for the past seven years, took his official leave of them with a programme reflecting his great love, the music of his Spanish homeland.

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RSNO, Oundjian, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - ending on a high in Mahler

Miranda Heggie

Marking his departure as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra's Music Director after six years, Peter Oundjian definitely left on a high, conducting a gripping, visceral performance of Mahler’s last completed symphony.

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Bavarian State Orchestra, Kirill Petrenko, Barbican review - Mahler's Seventh as dance suite

David Nice

Serendipity as well as luxury saw to it that the night after Simon Rattle gave his farewell Festival Hall performance as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic, his imminent successor appeared over at the Barbican with another excellent German orchestra.

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Gringytė, Williams, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - living in the moment

Richard Bratby

How to judge a genius who died at 25? Gerald Larner, in his programme note for this concert by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, suggests that Lili Boulanger’s tragically early death was actually central to her achievement. She knew she probably wouldn’t see 30, and directed her energies accordingly.

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Berlin Philharmonic, Rattle, RFH review - everything but inscape

David Nice

Questions of interpretation apart, Simon Rattle has yet again proved the great connecter, this time in concerts separated by just over a month.

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Karen Cargill, Simon Lepper, Wigmore Hall review - opulence within bounds

David Nice

Singing satirist Anna Russell placed the French chanson in her category of songs for singers "with no voice but tremendous artistry". Mezzo Karen Cargill has tremendous artistry but also a very great voice indeed, a mysterious gift which makes her one in a thousand, and also rather good French (put that down to Scotland's "Auld Alliance, perhaps).

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