thu 30/05/2024

Classical Reviews

Perfection of a Kind: Britten vs Auden, City of London Sinfonia, QEH review - the odd couple

Boyd Tonkin

“Underneath the abject willow/ Lover, sulk no more;/ Act from thought should quickly follow:/ What is thinking for?” In 1936, early in their tempestuous friendship, WH Auden wrote a poem for Benjamin Britten that urged the younger artist to pursue his passions – musical and erotic – and curb his fearful longing for comfort and safety.

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The Creation, Choirs of King's College & New College Oxford, Philharmonia, Hyde, King's College Chapel, Cambridge - sublime setting for mundane performance

Sebastian Scotney

“Let his words resound on high,” sings the choir in the final chorus of The Creation. In King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, it is hard not to want to look up, to admire the splendour of the largest fan vaulting anywhere in Europe. King’s truly is hard to beat as a setting in which to hear Haydn’s oratorio.

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L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Monteverdi Choir, EBS, Sousa, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - Handel at his most magical

David Nice

There was a good reason why Milton never added a Moderato, a “middle way”, to his masterly poems on mirth in bright day (L’Allegro) and more reflective pleasures by night (Il Penseroso), and a bad one why Handel allowed Charles Jennens to tack on his own ode to reason; neither poetry nor music should have much to do with pure intellect.

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Maxim Vengerov, Polina Osetinskaya, Barbican review - masterclass in technique with a thrilling rage of emotions

Rachel Halliburton

For the first half of this spellbinding recital, Maxim Vengerov chose three works framed by one of Romantic music’s most infamous and turbulent stories.

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Lang Lang, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - playing with the music

Robert Beale

The showman was back – and, bless him, he can still sell every seat in a big hall even if the programme offers close on an hour and a half of unalloyed Bach.

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Lugansky, RPO, Petrenko, RFH review - so sure in all their ways

David Nice

It’s a given that no finer Rachmaninov interpreter exists than Nikolai Lugansky – a few others may see the works differently, not better – and that Vasily Petrenko has an uncanny affinity with both the swagger and the introspection of Elgar. But just how clearly and deeply both made their understanding felt seemed like an harmonious miracle in the most famous of all Second Piano Concertos and a parallel journey of revitalisation from Petrenko in Elgar’s world-embracing First Symphony.

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Feldmann, BBC Philharmonic, Storgårds, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - adventures in the unusual

Robert Beale

For the most adventurous programme in its autumn Saturday series at the Bridgewater Hall, the BBC Philharmonic’s John Storgårds brought two works from his native Finland’s repertoire, and a concerto some distance from the beaten track.Like the Hallé’s concert of mainly new music with Thomas Adès two days before, it did not pull the crowds in, despite a sweetener in the mix, but those who were there were enthusiastic.

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Capuçon, Philharmonia, Bancroft, RFH review - enjoyable all-American classics

Bernard Hughes

The Philharmonia’s current season, Let Freedom Ring, celebrates American music through some notably interesting programming. And although last night’s concert was very conventionally structured, with an overture, concerto and big symphony to finish, it was also the chance to hear some repertoire only quite rarely presented.

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Marwood, Hallé, Adès, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - winning way with new music

Robert Beale

Thomas Adès had a job to do in his first concert with the Hallé since being appointed Artist-in-Residence for the next two years: to win over the audience that came to witness it.

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Schiff, Höbarth, Coin, Wigmore Hall review - Schubert minus transcendence

Sebastian Scotney

A full Wigmore Hall always feels special. Formerly we saw a board with the words “HOUSE FULL” on it, in large, bright red capital letters at the entrance. If we had tickets back then, we knew how lucky we were. These days, the 552-seater hall gets booked out far more often, as it was last night. The promise of a programme of Schubert (both of the piano trios composed near the end of his all-too brief life) played by performers including András Schiff had filled the hall. 

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