thu 30/05/2024

Classical Reviews

Paris Chapters, Barbier Serrano, Finegan, Ling, Bloomsbury Festival review - beguiling journey around Irishmen abroad

David Nice

Young French soprano Clara Barbier Serrano has everything it takes to shine in an overcrowded singers’ world, including vivacious communicative skills – I witnessed those for the first time last Tuesday, when she performed at the Oxford International Song Festival without the score in front of her – attention to detail and a knack of forging unusual programmes beyond the usual song-recital round, commissions included.

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Rice, Ridout, Drake / A Human Document, Oxford International Song Festival review - a cornucopia of song, speech and vision

David Nice

The word “great” is going to be stated, or implied, rather a lot here. Christine Rice is, after all, one of the world’s great mezzos, and her partnership with Julius Drake has long been something to seek out at every opportunity. Add to the mix a young viola player already in the top league, Timothy Ridout, and a programme featuring music by an individual voice among composers, Rebecca Clarke, and there was reason enough to travel to Oxford yesterday.

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Song of Songs, Pam Tanowitz/David Lang, Barbican Theatre review - sublime music and intricate dance bring life to a 2,000-year-old love poem

Jenny Gilbert

On the whole the Bible is not big on sex and sensuality, with the exception of one very short book in the Old Testament. The Song of Solomon – aka Song of Songs – is a hymn to carnal pleasure, one whose vivid descriptions of perfect flesh and brimming wine flagons have divided religious scholars for centuries.

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Bach B Minor Mass, SCO & Chorus, Egarr, Usher Hall, Edinburgh - smiling faces all round

Christopher Lambton

As any good choral singer knows, you can’t deliver too emphatic a “k” for the opening Kyrie Eleison of any one of thousands of Mass settings. Well, almost. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus produced such a distinct, detached, and powerful opening consonant for this performance of Bach’s B minor Mass that it seemed to bounce several times round the auditorium before being enveloped by the great tide of chromaticism that characterises this magisterial movement.

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Songs of Wars I Have Seen, RSNO, Dunedin Consort, Slorach, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh review - moving portrayal of wartime diaries

Miranda Heggie

Songs of Wars I Have Seen is an hour-long through=composed work by contemporary German composer Heiner Goebbels which combines the music of 17th century composer Matthew Locke, the text from the wartime diaries of American Jewish writer Gertude Stein and Goebbels’s own ingenious musical and dramatic ideas.

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Kopatchinskaja, LSO, Pappano, Barbican review - dancing on the volcano

David Nice

Poetry came an honourable second to sharp rhythms and lurid definition in this choreographic poem of a concert. You don’t get more tumultuous applause after an opener than with Ravel’s La Valse played like this. Vienna may have nearly collapsed after World War One, but the Scheherazade of Fazil Say’s 1001 Nights Violin Concerto lives to see a bright dawn, and Rachmaninov cries “Alliluya’ to whirling demons in his swansong Symphonic Dances.

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Kim, BBC Philharmonic, Gernon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - the sound of brass

Robert Beale

Ben Gernon’s relationship with the BBC Philharmonic has been a richly rewarding one over the close-on seven years since his appointment as their principal guest conductor began, and indeed subsequently. 

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Skride, National Symphony Orchestra, Matheuz, National Concert Hall, Dublin - musical philosophies soar

David Nice

Promising on paper, dazzling in practice: with a superlative soloist and conductor, this programme just soared on wings of philosophy-into-music. The spotlighting of NSO co-leader Elaine Clark provided another thread, from the opening chant of Linda Buckley‘s Fall Approaches through the keen dialogues with collegial Baiba Skride in Bernstein’s dazzling Serenade to the Viennese-waltz Dance Song of Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra.

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Roomful of Teeth, Milton Court review - mellifluous minimalism with a mild manner

Bernard Hughes

If there’s a better name for a vocal group than Roomful of Teeth I have yet to come across it. But if it conjures up images of brash, in-your-face showbiz the reality couldn’t be more different.

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Degun, Scottish Ensemble, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh review - fusion of east and west, ancient and modern

Miranda Heggie

In a fusion of musical traditions both eastern and western, old and new, Scottish Ensemble were joined by virtuoso sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun for an evocative performance of Degun’s own work plus reimagined music by Terry Riley and Hildegard von Bingen at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall.

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