wed 08/04/2020

Classical Reviews

Prom 15: Bavarian RSO, Nézet-Séguin review - perfect Beethoven, nuanced Shostakovich

David Nice

While we wish the great Mariss Jansons a speedy recovery, no-one of sound heart and soul could be disappointed by his substitute for the two Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra Proms, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, whose supreme art is to show the score's construction in the face, with gestures to match.

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Prom 14: The Creation, BBC Proms Youth Choir, BBC Philharmonic, Wellber - Haydn on the edge

Jessica Duchen

Hello sun, hello great whales, hello choral counterpoint. If there is a more life-enhancing work than Joseph Haydn’s oratorio The Creation, I’ve yet to hear one.

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theartsdesk at the Three Choirs Festival - the beautiful and the damned

stephen Walsh

Our greatest Berlioz scholar, David Cairns, has called Le Damnation de Faust “an opera of the mind’s eye, not of the stage,” and I’ve certainly never seen a production that successfully staged its curious, episodic, actionless mixture of set piece, romantic brooding, and flickering cinematic imagery.

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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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