fri 14/06/2024

Classical Reviews

theartsdesk at the 2024 Aldeburgh Festival - romantic journeys, cosmic hallucinations and wild stomps

David Nice

It may be unusual to begin festival coverage with praise of the overseer rather than the artists. Yet Roger Wright, who quietly leaves his post at Britten Pears Arts this July after a momentous decade, is no ordinary Chief Executive. I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about him; he has been a beacon during difficult times for the arts in the UK, and especially during lockdown; and he leaves the Aldeburgh Festival in best ever shape, just as he did the BBC Proms before it.

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Trpčeski, RSNO, Søndergård, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - flash and sparkle

Simon Thompson

Edinburgh is lucky to get a lot of high quality musicians coming to perform, not least during the summer festival season, but the most high profile musical visitor to the city this weekend was none other than Taylor Swift. Everyone is talking about her: she was even mentioned by one party in the general election campaign.

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Abel Selaocoe / Dermot Dunne & Martin Tourish, Dublin International Chamber Music Festival - genius transfigures genius

David Nice

No-one in the musical world could possibly surpass the communicative skills of Abel Selaocoe – pushing the boundaries of cello and vocal technique in a myriad of voices, all cohering in works of staggering breadth, getting the audience to sing at the deepest of levels.

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Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - a fine and fitting finale for Sir Mark

Robert Beale

When it was first announced that Mark Elder was to become music director of the Hallé, I phoned a friend who knew him well from serving on his staff at English National Opera in earlier years. “He’s completely devoted,” he said. “He never does anything superficially, he’s always well prepared, he’s a good orchestra trainer, and he’ll last longer than other conductors.” It was a description and prediction that was amply fulfilled in the following quarter-century.

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Murrihy, Martineau, Wigmore Hall review - poise, transformation and rainbow colours

David Nice

Peerless among the constellation of Irish singers making waves around the world, mezzo Paula Murrihy first dazzled London as Ascanio in Terry Gilliam’s English National Opera production of Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini. Since then she’s become a major star on the continent, not least as a superb Octavian in Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, less so in the UK, though that should have changed with her Proms appearance last year as Didon in Les Troyens.

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St Martin's Voices, Earis, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - music from the beginning

Bernard Hughes

The concert offering at St-Martin-in-the-Fields has transformed in recent years, under Director of Music Andrew Earis. There is still a decent amount of “Four Season by Candlelight” but this tourist-bait now sits alongside some brilliant programming featuring choirs like Tenebrae, Ex Cathedra and the Monteverdi Choir.

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Sheffield Chamber Music Festival 2024 review - curator Steven Isserlis spotlights masterly Fauré and Saint-Saëns

David Nice

“Saint-Saëns: The Renaissance Man” proclaimed the big screen at the first remarkable programme I attended within the 2024 Sheffield Chamber Music Festival. The same epithet could be applied to this year’s curator, Steven Isserlis, so remarkable a cellist that one forgets until coming face to face with his other talents what a unique speaker and programmer he is.

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Sphinx Organization, Wigmore Hall review - black performers and composers take centre stage

Bernard Hughes

Kudos to the Wigmore Hall for continuing to make efforts to diversify its roster of performers and repertoire. Last year I reviewed the Kaleidoscope Collective, and noted how the different profile of their players attracted a younger and less universally white audience to the hall, and the same happened again last night when the American Sphinx Organization were given the stage.

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Kolesnikov, Wigmore Hall review - celestial navigation through a cabinet of wonders

Bernard Hughes

Like his baggy white suit, pitched somewhere between Liberace and Colonel Sanders, Pavel Kolesnikov’s playing was spotless at the Wigmore Hall last night. It comprised two very different halves, the first a miscellany of apparently unrelated pieces, the second devoted to a single set of pieces by a single composer.

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Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Sousa, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - Beethoven, younger than springtime

Boyd Tonkin

Better (much better, indeed) late than never. The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique should have given their cycle of Beethoven symphonies at St Martin-in-the-Fields in May 2020, after touring to Spain and the US. A lot has happened since. The pandemic scuppered the original timetable, while his own alleged actions – after he reportedly attacked a singer during rehearsals in France last year – have kept the ORR’s founder John Eliot Gardiner off the podium.

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