sun 14/07/2024

Classical Reviews

Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner, Royal Albert Hall

alexandra Coghlan

Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers are something of a musical enigma. Neither their true pitch nor order of movements, their origins, nor even whether they were intended as a complete sequence is known for certain, prompting scholar Denis Arnold to conclude that, “to perform it is to court disaster”. Such a grim augury however has done little to discourage musicians, and in this, their 400th anniversary year, Monteverdi’s Vespers have been ubiquitous.

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Röschmann, Collins, BBCPO, Noseda, Royal Albert Hall

David Nice

Maybe it's a truism that most instrumental music, at least before World War One, aspires to the condition of song. Few have gone farther in that respect than the composers of the three purely orchestral works in last night's Prom.

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Orchestre National de France, Gatti, Royal Albert Hall

Edward Seckerson Daniele Gatti: An evening he'll not forget

It was one of those moments that every conductor (and orchestra) dreads: “The Procession of the Sage” from Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring is in rip-roaring full cry, percussion grinding and scratching, high trumpet screeching – but Daniele Gatti, it would seem, loses a bar somewhere and gives his Orchestre National de France a premature cut-off, leaving the entire brass section between a rock and a hard place. Stop or play on? An ignominious collapse ensues – as big a blunder as I’...

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RSNO, Denève; Ensemble Matheus, Spinosi, Royal Albert Hall

David Nice

Is that asking a lot? Probably not, considering what's already been achieved at this year's BBC Proms. Looking back on it, last night felt implausibly rich yet gloriously digestible, too, at least in retrospect. I couldn't have predicted that I would be so swept away by the jam-packed wonders that came from Jean-Christophe Spinosi's Ensemble Matheus and their soloists.

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The Lying Down Concert: Earthrise, Royal Opera House

Ismene Brown

We should lie down to listen to music much more often. Gravity pulls away the thought and frown lines, smoothes the intellectual tracks and folds on the face, while you feel the blood in your head pumping lushly to dreamier parts of your brain. Joanna MacGregor’s If-A-Tree festival at the Royal Opera House this weekend may well be hitting some fey bases along its way, but Earthrise: The Lying Down Concert - was a spectacularly enjoyable opening event.

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Mattila, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Rattle, Royal Albert Hall

stephen Walsh

My abiding memory of the Berlin Philharmonic’s second Prom under Sir Simon Rattle on Saturday will be of 6,000 people listening with rapt, or at any rate silent, concentration to Schoenberg, Webern

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Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Rattle, Royal Albert Hall

David Nice

Call me a paradoxically wary old Mahler nut, but I reckon that given 24 months of anniversary overkill, it might keep things fresh to catch each of the symphonies live no more than once a year. So, having heard an Everest of a First Symphony from Abbado in Lucerne last August, I thought Rattle's might be the team likeliest to do this far-from-beginner's symphony similar justice.

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Gerhaher, Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, Blomstedt, Royal Albert Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Yet again I leave a Herbert Blomstedt concert with a sense of wonderment and bemusement. Wonderment at the extraordinary music-making that this man is capable of. Bemusement as to why he is not better known, his talents not more widely recognised, his services not more often called upon in this, his 83rd year. Last night's masterful Prom saw him leading the youngsters of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester first into the heavens of Hindemith's Mathis der Maler Symphony and then into...

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theartsdesk at the Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts

stephen Walsh

The Presteigne Festival, which has just ended after a packed long weekend of events of various shapes and sizes, is a music fest with a profile very much its own. Presteigne is one of those enchanting pocket county towns that proliferate along the Welsh borders (Monmouth, Montgomery and Denbigh are others): towns whose municipal status seems to belong in some child’s picture book, and is in fact a thing of the distant past.

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Tognetti, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Cadogan Hall

alexandra Coghlan

Australia has many fine exports – wine, women, gap year anecdotes – but increasingly it is her orchestras that are setting the standard.

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