sun 05/12/2021

Classical Reviews

Feng, CBSO, Wilson, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - effortless expression

Richard Bratby

As the conductor of English National Opera’s 2018 production of Porgy and Bess, there can’t be many maestros in the UK who can currently match John Wilson’s knowledge of that extraordinary score. And there are surely none who can rival Wilson’s understanding of – and passion for – the work of the great interwar Broadway and Hollywood arrangers (he built an entire orchestra around them, after all).

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Tchetuev, LPO, Larsen-Maguire, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne review - sunshine by the sea

Ian Julier

Even with a chill wind blowing from the Sussex Downs, this copper-bottomed Overture-Concerto-Symphony Sunday matinée was guaranteed to entice concert-goers to Eastbourne’s Sunshine Coast, which duly dazzled both outside and inside the hall.

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Imogen Cooper, Wigmore Hall review - calm waters run deep

Boyd Tonkin

On a night when any brooks running past the Wigmore Hall might have frozen almost solid, Imogen Cooper’s recital travelled on sparkling waters of the highest purity across almost a century of pianistic innovation.

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Kim, RSNO, Stockhammer, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - bold programming survives a replacement

Christopher Lambton

What happens in an orchestra when your designated conductor for three gigs at the end of the week phones in with Covid on Monday morning? By Monday afternoon, when he was writing his introduction to the programme notes for this concert, Alistair Mackie, chief executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, still didn’t know. He didn’t know who would conduct or even if the repertoire would change.

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Scenes from the Wild, Morgan, CLS, Paterson, Southwark Cathedral review - a cornucopia of the seasons

David Nice

Dara McAnulty’s Diary of a Young Naturalist (14 at the time of writing) is a total vision, effortlessly poetic where the likes of Rober Macfarlane sometimes seem to strive for effect. Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s 26 songs, with a text drawn from the journal by the late Amanda Holden, offered only a partial panorama at its world premiere.

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Giltburg, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - back to glorious normal?

Robert Beale

Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé were making something of a statement in this concert.

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Kolesnikov, Sinfonia of London, Wilson, Snape Maltings review – volcanic Britten and Vaughan Williams

David Nice

They’re singing songs of praise in Aldeburgh today – namely Britten’s magical unaccompanied choral setting of Auden’s Hymn to St Cecilia on the composer’s birthday and the annual celebration of music’s martyred patron. And what a right to celebration Britten Pears Arts will have earned after a weekend of concerts from bold John Wilson’s latest super-orchestra, an army of technicolor generals.

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Soweto Kinch, LSO / 'London Third Stream', London Sinfonietta, EFG London Jazz Festival review - projects from the political to the loop-y

Sebastian Scotney

“Take Jazz Seriously,” wrote Maurice Ravel after his American trip in 1928. This past week of the 2021 EFG London Jazz Festival has seen that advice itself being taken seriously, with a bunching of projects and premieres. Jazz musicians have been welcomed in to work with London orchestras. The fruition of months of preparatory work has been on show.

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Balsom, Daniel, Poster, Britten Sinfonia, Stroman, Milton Court review – kinds of blue

Boyd Tonkin

Where do you draw – how do you draw? – a credible line between jazz and “classical” music in 20th-century America? With the reliably boundary-busting Britten Sinfonia, trumpeter Alison Balsom mixed and matched works from different formal lineages in her packed programme at Milton Court, “An American Rhapsody”.

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Die schöne Müllerin and The Alehouse Sessions, Middle Temple Hall review - overflowing musical energy and joy

alexandra Coghlan

The world of the 17th-century tavern is a long way from the contemporary concert hall. A quick glance at the scene in paintings by Jan Steen or his contemporaries shows us a joyful tangle of men and women, dogs, cats and small children, all engaged in a riot of drinking, dancing, brawling, music-making and love-making (occasionally even napping) while hens stroll officiously across the floor pecking up crumbs. It looks noisy, dirty and a jolly good time.

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