sat 19/01/2019

Classical Reviews

Murrihy, Britten Sinfonia, Elder, Barbican review – a country feast

Boyd Tonkin

As the January chill began to bite around the Barbican, Sir Mark Elder and the Britten Sinfonia summoned memories of spring and summer – but of sunny seasons overshadowed by the electric crackle of storms. On the face of it, they offered us a pleasing, even serene, pastoral spread to mitigate the chill outside.

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Winterreise, Gerhaher, Huber, Wigmore Hall review - wintry beauty

Boyd Tonkin

As Wigmore Hall audiences really ought to know, silence can be golden. Especially at the close of Schubert’s Winterreise, as the uncanny drone-like fifths of the hurdy-gurdy in “Der Leiermann” fade away into – well, whatever state of mind the singer and pianist have together managed to communicate over the preceding 24 songs. So much remains ambiguous – and open to plausible re-interpretation – in this cycle that the traditional pause for reflection as it ends makes good sense.

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LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - Bartók dances, Bruckner sings

Gavin Dixon

Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony: few other conductors could get away with programming two such monolithic works, but Simon Rattle has a lightness of touch that can leaven even...

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Fibonacci Sequence, Conway Hall review - characterful chamber music for winds

Bernard Hughes

Most classical concert reviews focus on prominent orchestras and opera companies at major venues. But beyond the likes of the Barbican and the Royal Opera House, there are whole strata of musical life where smaller scale ensembles and amateur choirs provide a vital live music experience in less exalted venues.

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Mutter, Vengerov, Argerich, Oxford Philharmonic, Papadopoulos, Barbican review - a birthday banquet

Boyd Tonkin

When three of the planet’s starriest soloists take the time to celebrate the anniversary of a young, non-metropolitan orchestra, it may seem perverse to leave the hall entranced most by the one work in which the illustrious trio played no part.

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Hannigan, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - the sublime and the beautiful

Boyd Tonkin

With the London Symphony Orchestra often playing like some commanding and relentless force of nature, Sir Simon Rattle steered two mighty avalanches of Nordic sound into a concert of granitic authority last night.

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Ed Vulliamy: When Words Fail review - the band plays on

David Nice

If you're seeking ideas for new playlists and diverse suggestions for reading - and when better to look than at this time of year? - then beware: you may be overwhelmed by the infectious enthusiasms of Ed Vulliamy, hyper-journalist, witness-bearer, true Mensch and member of the first band to spit in public (as far as he can tell).

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Alice Coote, Christian Blackshaw, Wigmore Hall review – deep feeling and high drama

Boyd Tonkin

In the recital world, so it sometimes seems, no good deed ever goes unpunished. Like Ian Bostridge (another singer who tries to reinvigorate an often rigid format), Alice Coote often has to fend off brickbats whenever she inject the drama of new ideas into the hallowed rituals of the concert hall.

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L'enfance du Christ, BBCSO, Gardner, Barbican review - Berlioz's kindest wonder

David Nice

Like the fountains that sprang up in the desert during the Holy Family's flight into Egypt - according to a charming episode in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew - Berlioz's new-found creativity in the 1850s flowed from a couple of bars of organ music he inscribed in a friend's visitors book.

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Mahan Esfahani / Richard Goode, Wigmore Hall review - clarity and contrast from two keyboard masters

Sebastian Scotney

Two successive nights, two contrasted solo keyboard recitals at the Wigmore Hall: not great for the knees but marvellous for the soul.

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