thu 23/05/2024

Classical Reviews

I Fagiolini, Hollingworth, Kings Place review - magnificent Monteverdi Vespers

Bernard Hughes

It was great to see Kings Place full on Saturday night for I Fagiolini’s take on the Monteverdi Vespers, added, rock’n’roll style, as an “additional date due to public demand” after the Friday show sold out. And it was superb.

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Fung, RPO, Schwarz, Cadogan Hall review - high style from new cellist and conductor on the block

David Nice

You go to a concert, three-quarters of it popular classics – also great masterpieces – having been told you have to hear a brilliant young cellist, and into the bargain you also discover a remarkable conductor and an orchestra on top form shedding transcendental light on the familiar. So everybody’s happy.

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Mahler 2, LPO, Gardner, RFH review - an interpretation of superlative resonance and clarity

Rachel Halliburton

Epic and intimate, philosophically anguished and rhapsodically transcendent, Mahler’s "Resurrection" Symphony remains one of the most mountainous challenges of the orchestral repertoire. For the opening of the Southbank’s new season Edward Gardner and the London Philharmonic Orchestra delivered an interpretation of superlative resonance and clarity, in which it felt that we explored every detail of the foothills as well as the earth-shaking views from the top.

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Mad Rush, Carol Williams, RFH review - a rainbow of organ colours

David Nice

Big Ben was chiming the quarter-hour as I hit the South Bank side of the river after a not terribly inspiring Remain rally in Parliament Square. What delight, then, to hear the wacky and wonderful Carol Williams playing Vierne’s “Carillon de Westminster” as the opening fanfare of her Royal Festival Hall organ hour. It’s one of my two favouite organ voluntaries – the other being the most famous, “the Widor Toccata”, and she ended with that. All was well, in fact, from start to finish.

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The Ossianic Ballads, Edinburgh Quartet, Màiri MacMillan, National Library of Scotland review - good ingredients get lost in the mix

Miranda Heggie

To coincide with the National Library of Scotland’s first bi-lingual exhibition Sguel/Story, an exhibition in English and Scottish Gaelic which celebrates stories and storytelling, the library presented a performance of newly reinterpreted Gaelic ballads with string quartet arrangements from composer Ned Bigham.

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Mahler 9, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - beginning a celebration

Robert Beale

For someone who said when he first took the helm at the Hallé that he “didn’t do much Mahler”, Sir Mark Elder has a pretty good track record. He’s conducted all the symphonies except one over 20 or so years at the Bridgewater Hall, and two of them have been heard under his baton more than once.

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Frang, Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Jurowski, Barbican review - on the summit

Boyd Tonkin

These days British orchestras count themselves lucky if they can see, and plan, five years ahead. In Bavaria they do things rather differently. As the ducal court ensemble, and later the house band of the Munich opera, the Bayerisches Staatsorchester can trace its history back to 1523. Last night the BSO, as part of a six-country tour to mark its 500th anniversary, arrived at the Barbican with the first of two programmes conducted by music director Vladimir Jurowski.

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Brahms Piano Sonatas, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Wigmore Hall review - when giants meet

David Nice

To master even one of Brahms’s three early sonatas is a colossal task for any pianist. To play them all with towering authority in a single concert takes a phenomenon. Elisabeth Leonskaja seems just that more than ever in her late 70s; not only is there no loss of the epic stops she can pull out in the most tumultuous music, but for all her poise, she’s also still willing to embrace the craziness and iconoclasm of the 20-year-old composer as if the works were written yesterday.

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Fatma Said, Tim Allhoff, Lafayette Club review - from Fauré to the Middle East and back

Rachel Halliburton

It’s proving to be an extraordinary year for Cairo-born soprano Fatma Said, one of the most exciting musicians to bridge the gap between the Arab and the Western classical music worlds. This April she made her debut at the Carnegie Hall, while as artist in residence at the Wiener Konzerthaus she will be collaborating with musicians including Marin Alsop and the acclaimed Polish countertenor Jakub Jozef Orlinski.

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Denk, Danish String Quartet, Wigmore Hall review - metaphysical strings, the piano as chameleon

David Nice

Few pianists manage stylistic perfection in both Mozart and Ligeti, but to Jeremy Denk it seems to come naturally. We should have heard the riveting contrasts in quick first-half succession, but European air traffic control had wasted much of the Danish String Quartet’s day and they hadn't arrived by the start of the concert. So perfect programming went out the window and Ligeti had to stand alone before the interval.

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