tue 27/02/2024

Classical Reviews

'Migrations' String Quartet Weekend, National Concert Hall, Dublin review - memorials and masterpieces

David Nice

It was chance that the National Concert Hall’s weekend of quartet events featuring responses to war and refugees should coincide with the second anniversary of Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine. By late Saturday morning thousands of Ukrainians and friends had processed beneath our windows on Merrion Square with the usual array of flags and heartfelt banners; at 2.30pm we were listening to a Syrian poet’s words about devastation and displacement as set to music by Jonathan Dove.

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RSNO Chorus, Doughty, Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh review - breaking out in anniversary Bruckner

Simon Thompson

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus has a well-established concert life away from the main orchestra; the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus less so. So it was refreshing to get to hear them going it (almost) alone in Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Kirk, and the Bruckner anniversary gave them a good excuse, building their programme around a motet and the E minor Mass.

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Sánchez, National Symphony Orchestra, Martín, National Concert Hall, Dublin review - Spanish panache

David Nice

Ravel’s Boléro, however well you think you know it, usually wows in concert with its disconcerting mix of sensuality, fun and violence. Context can make it even more powerful: in this case as the culmination of NSO Chief Conductor Jaime Martín’s brilliantly programmed Spanish fiesta, a cool and even customer at first after chameleonic Chabrier and fidgety-brilliant, fluid Falla.

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Uproar, Rafferty, Royal Welsh College, Cardiff review - a rare spring in the new music step

stephen Walsh

It’s not often one comes out of a concert of mainly new works with a spring in one’s step. A sigh of relief is rather more usual. But this concert on Thursday by the Welsh new music ensemble Uproar was an exception, partly but by no means exclusively because of the brilliant performance of John Adams’s invigorating, even appropriately uproarious Son of Chamber Symphony with which it ended.

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Fung, BBC Philharmonic, Weilerstein, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - clever and comical

Robert Beale

Placing the UK premiere of Katherine Balch’s whisper concerto (for cello and orchestra) after Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 was probably an inspired idea from the BBC Philharmonic and conductor Joshua Weilerstein.

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Malofeev, BBCSO, Lintu, Barbican review - finesse as well as fireworks

Bernard Hughes

This was a muesli programme: nutty, crunchy, just sweet enough, its success lying in the balance of the various ingredients. At times, such was the explosiveness of the playing, it felt like popping candy had been added to the muesli, but in a good way. The fireworks came in the brilliant John Adams finale, but also from the young Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev, whose playing blazed in the first half.

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Lugansky, Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Letonja, Cadogan Hall review - Russian soul, French flair

Boyd Tonkin

To judge by the post-interval empty seats near me, some of the Cadogan Hall audience had turned up last night solely to hear Nikolai Lugansky play Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto. Well, the more fool them. For sure they would have enjoyed their not so-brief encounter with a truly distinguished Russian pianist – noble standard-bearer for a grand tradition – who gave a finely-polished, well-shaped rendition of this beloved old story (on the eve of Valentine’s Day, too).

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Segev, LPO, Lyniv, RFH review - melody, magic, and mourning

Boyd Tonkin

We began in a forest packed with dangers and delights and ended, also in the Czech lands, with an infectiously joyful country dance. In between, however, came a sombre and spellbinding exposure to the pain and grief of war.

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Alder, RPO, Petrenko, RFH review - strings and soprano sing their hearts out

David Nice

Had it taken place a week later, this concert might have gone under the dubious banner of "Valentine's Day Love Classics". But not of the bitty, Raymond Gubbay variety: Vasily Petrenko was absolute master of three late romantic scores which happened to work well together, and Louise Alder – stepping in for an unwell Jennifer France – showed she could surmount a demanding rarity, and carry it off with flying, smiling, self-deprecating colours.

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Verdi's Requiem, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Pappano, Parco della Musica, Rome review - peak poignancy

Ed Vulliamy

Antonio Pappano is at a hinge in his illustrious career, as the exciting transfer across London from Covent Garden to the London Symphony Orchestra proceeds, and the word "Emeritus" is added to his title as Music Director of his home-from-home in Rome. A good moment, then, for him to make a statement of commitment to the latter, with a shattering, searing account of probably the most terrifying piece of music ever written: Verdi’s incomparable Messa da Requiem.

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