wed 19/02/2020

Classical Reviews

Prom 13: Des canyons aux étoiles..., BBCSO, Oramo review – cursory contemplations of earth and sky

Peter Quantrill

Messiaen’s language of juxtaposition over development was always susceptible to the “greatest hits” phenomenon that began to suffuse his music with contented wonder during the 1970s. While younger colleagues were throwing toys out of the pram and marbles at walls during the late 1960s, he was putting heart and soul into a synoptic concert rite – part concerto, part cantata, all-consuming – based on the Transfiguration of Jesus.

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Prom 12: Benedetti, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Wigglesworth - adrenalin highs and string sound to die for

David Nice

In the Netherlands, Mark Wigglesworth is already a musical legend for his work with Dutch youth orchestras. Hopefully, in addition to the year and a bit when he wrought miracles at English National Opera, he will become so in the UK after his training of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. That culminated in last night's Prom, with more than a little help from co-inspirer Nicola Benedetti.

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Prom 8, Faust, BBCSO, Eötvös review - terrific orchestral showcase

Bernard Hughes

By happenstance, this Prom was fully topical, with Debussy’s languorous Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune fitting for one of the hottest days in London’s history, and the “Infernal Dance” from Stravinsky’s Firebird mirroring the infernal political dance taking place simultaneously in Downing Street.

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Prom 3, CBeebies: A Musical Trip to the Moon review - a celebration of the Apollo 11 landing

Gavin Dixon

This year’s Proms for children were entitled “Off to the Moon”, and audiences were invited on a musical space voyage to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. The format was a mix of orchestral music, kids’ programmes on big screens and CBeebies presenters keeping the show rolling.

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Prom 2, Bell, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Hrůša review – Bohemian rhapsody, and refinement

Boyd Tonkin

Eighty years ago this summer, Neville Chamberlain’s indifference to the peoples of Czechoslovakia – “a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing” – reaped its harvest of total war. These days, we have no excuses for not knowing a lot more. And the opening concerts of this year’s BBC Proms have shown why we should.

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Prom 1, BBCSO, Canellakis review - space-age First Night

Gavin Dixon

A new commission, a Romantic tone poem and a choral spectacular – standard fare for the First Night of the Proms. Traditionally, the First Night sets out the themes for the season ahead, but the rationale behind much of this programme was paper-thin.

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Londinium, Griffiths, St John’s Waterloo review - a choral Grand Tour

Bernard Hughes

Since 2005 Londinium has carved out a niche in the London choral scene as a purveyor of creative programming, exploring often neglected musical byways or making surprising connections and juxtapositions. Last night the idea was a musical Grand Tour of Europe, as taken by aristocratic young men in the 18th century, and a well-crafted and very satisfying concert resulted.

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Alder, The Mozartists, Page, Wigmore Hall review - a Mozart feast for eyes and ears

David Nice

Seven European cities, seven works: from an eight-year-old's First Symphony composed in what is now Ebury Street to the towering concert aria for Josepha Dushchek of Prague's Villa Bertramka, Ian Page's latest Mozart cornucopia took us on a rich and at times startling journey, a testament - as Page wrote eloquently yesterday in his article for The Arts Desk - to the abiding need for...

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The Anvil, Royal, Purves, BBCPO, Gernon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester - disturbing, baffling and moving

Robert Beale

Two hundred years ago next month, an assembly of around 60,000 people gathered on St Peter’s Fields in Manchester to protest about their lack of political representation. Speakers addressed the crowd, bands played and banners were carried.

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Chetham's Symphony Orchestra, Chetham's Chorus, Threlfall, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester - a thrilling triumph

Robert Beale

As end-of-term concerts go, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony is a biggie. In fact it’s hard to imagine any place of secondary education where they would even contemplate it.

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