wed 18/09/2019

Classical Reviews

Beethoven Festival Weekend, Wigmore Hall review 1 - sparkle and charisma versus creative overkill

Jessica Duchen

While the Proms were ringing out the old season, the Wigmore Hall ushered in the big celebration of 2020: the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth.

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Beethoven Festival Weekend, Wigmore Hall review 2 - total mastery in tone and depth

David Nice

Any festival would be proud and honoured to end with the great Elisabeth Leonskaja playing the last three Beethoven piano sonatas. Here the Everest was swiftly scaled as the tenth concert of a packed Wigmore Hall weekend.

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LSO, Rattle, Barbican Hall review – visions of the beyond

Gavin Dixon

Simon Rattle has a knack for unearthing large-scale orchestral works that pack a punch. Olivier Messiaen’s Éclairs sur l’Au-Delà … (Illuminations of the Beyond …) was completed in 1991, a year before the composer’s death, and is both a reflection on mortality and a summation of his life’s work.

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Last Night of the Proms, Barton, BBCSO, Oramo review – woke not broke

Gavin Dixon

The BBC put social and ethnic diversity at the heart of this Last Night programme. The concert opened with a new work, by Daniel Kidane, called Woke, and the first half was dominated by the music of black and female composers.

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Prom 72/3: Aurora Orchestra, Collon review – Berlioz not quite lost in showbiz

Boyd Tonkin

For a few seconds last night, the Royal Albert Hall turned into London’s biggest – and cheesiest – disco.

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Prom 71: Dunedin Consort, Butt review – Bach to the drawing-board please

Sebastian Scotney

Blame it on the box set. The four Bach Orchestral Suites fit neatly together as a recording project. They used to fill out the four sides of a double LP back in the early stages of the baroque revival. Completists and collectors could rejoice then, and with many more versions to choose from, they still can now.

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Prom 69: Stikhina, Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov – dark textures and powerful passions

Gavin Dixon

Semyon Bychkov was a surprising choice to take over the Czech Philharmonic last year, a conductor with few obvious connections to Czech music. But on the strength of this visit to the Proms, they make a good team.

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Prom 68: Goerke, Gould, RPO, Albrecht review - the art of transition

Peter Quantrill

Known as "Heldenmommy" to her fans on Twitter, Christine Goerke is a Wagner soprano of and for our time. You won’t find her recordings on the major-label behemoths but her reputation is built on two decades of producing the goods night after night at opera houses across the US, notably the Metropolitan in New York.

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Prom 66: In the Name of the Earth review - John Luther Adams's ambitious choral spectacular

Bernard Hughes

This is the kind of thing that the Proms does well – indeed, where else would it get an outing?

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Prom 63: Wang, Staatskapelle Dresden, Chung review – private passions

Boyd Tonkin

Weirdly enough, it was “Tea for Two” that definitively proved her class for me.

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