thu 23/05/2024

Classical Reviews

Bach B minor Mass, The Sixteen, Barbican Hall

David Nice

As one who came to know the B minor Mass singing in a clogged, 150-strong choir, I welcomed the authentic-movement rush in the 1980s to  whittle it down to What Bach Might Have Wanted (if, indeed, he had lived to hear his ideal religious compendium performed in its entirety). For a while, it shrivelled to anorexic dimensions in the shape of Joshua Rifkin's one-voice-per-choral-line hypothesis.

Read more...

London Symphony Orchestra, Adams, Barbican Hall

Edward Seckerson

What would you imagine the composer John Adams might choose to conduct – apart, that is, from a little something he himself made earlier? Well, the first of two London Symphony Orchestra concerts this week brought no big surprises: Sibelius’ Sixth Symphony was in essence a little like returning to his minimalist roots – a bunch of insistent melodic cells and dancing ostinati. Flanking it, as if to reassert that everything Adams writes is essentially operatic, was orchestral music...

Read more...

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Marc Minkowski, Barbican

Igor Toronyi-Lalic Pergolesi: 'We know that a member of the audience struck Pergolesi's head with an orange at the premiere of the opera L’Olimpiade.'

It always repays to push a world-class orchestra beyond their comfort zone. The BBC Symphony's sound emerged from the refashioning hands of period specialist Marc Minkowski like a naked body from a cold shower: convulsively invigorated and invigorating all those that knocked into it. It was a joy to hear: the best, most intriguing period-playing I've heard for quite a while. For sure the orchestra were more comfortable in Stravinsky's Pulcinella, which went off like a spinning...

Read more...

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Jansons, RFH

David Nice

There was I, up to that point, very grateful to be hearing so fresh an approach to a heavyweight, admiring the way the crack Bavarian players sang and danced in every line that so often stays numb until the mechanics of horror let rip, but wondering what the many younger listeners in the audience might be taking from the masterclass.

Read more...

OAE, Ivan Fischer, QEH

Edward Seckerson

If Beethoven’s Third Symphony Eroica was the seismic upheaval, not just for Beethoven but for the entire symphonic movement, then the Second Symphony was most certainly the pre-shock.

Read more...

Vienna Philharmonic, Lorin Maazel, Barbican

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Shuffling about the podium like a cha-cha-chaing Jack Lemmon, slam-dunking his first beats, kicking out his heels for second beats, épéeing the trombone entries like a toy toreador, it wasn't hard to see why Lorin Maazel gets such a regular critical roasting. During The Rite of Spring he was almost playing up the vulgarian tag. "You want vulgar? I'll give you vulgar. Take that ridiculously elongated glissando! And that totally out-of-place ritardando! And that gob-...

Read more...

Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax, Barbican Hall

Ismene Brown

In every partnership there is a leader, and it’s not always the featured name. While the hall was packed with Ma followers for this rare cello-and-piano recital, what emerged was a richly sensitising foretaste of what the Emanuel Ax residency is going to offer over the next fortnight. This is one marvellous pianist.

Read more...

Maurizio Pollini, Royal Festival Hall

Jonathan Wikeley

Was it Chopin’s birthday or wasn’t it? To be honest, no one at last night’s Royal Festival Hall concert probably gave a damn, so wrapped up were they in Maurizio Pollini’s playing. And what playing it was too. The man just sits down and gets on with it – there’s none of that airy-fairy flamboyance and arm waving that certain younger...

Read more...

MacMillan's St John Passion, Barbican Hall

David Nice

A fervent believer, James MacMillan has no time for what he's called the "instant spiritual highs" of composer-gurus like Glass, Gorecki or John Tavener.

Read more...

Philip Glass: Satyagraha, ENO/ LSO, Alsop, Barbican

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

It has always been a cornerstone of my personal philosophy that beauty and insight can be found in the very lowest of common denominators. That Big Brother, Friends, Love It magazine or Paris Hilton provide revelations about life that are of as much consequence, of as much wonder, as any offered up by the classic pantheon. That that which the people respond to must and usually does have plenty of merit lurking within it.

Read more...

Pages

latest in today

Richard III, Shakespeare's Globe review - Michelle Terr...

There’s a fierce, dark energy to the Globe’s new Richard III that I don’t recall at that venue for a fair while. The drilled cast dances...

Kolesnikov, Wigmore Hall review - celestial navigation throu...

Like his baggy white suit, pitched somewhere between Liberace and Colonel Sanders, Pavel Kolesnikov’s playing was spotless at the...

Between Riverside and Crazy, Hampstead Theatre review - race...

It’s often said that contemporary American playwrights are too polite, too afraid of giving offence. But this accusation can’t be levelled at...

Album: Isobel Campbell - Bow to Love

Isobel Campbell has maintained a consistent career on the fringes of popular music for three decades. She's made a home in the area where...

'I think of her as a proto-punk': documentarist Sv...

Anita Pallenberg was a vital presence in the Stones’ most vital years. Her bright eyes and hungry mouth betrayed a ferocious appetite for pleasure...

Passing Strange, Young Vic review - exuberant pocket musical...

From New York’s Public Theater, the venue that nurtured Hamilton, comes another estimable pocket...

theartsdesk Q&A: Eddie Marsan and the American Revolutio...

He’s not the kind of actor who has paparazzi following him...

Album: Samana - Samana

The final track of Samana’s third album is titled “The Preselis,” after the west Welsh mountain range – the place antiquarians suggested as the...

The Great Escape Festival 2024, Brighton review - 12 hours o...

If the weather’s good TGE Beach is a grand start to a day. As it sounds, it’s a purpose-built seafront space to the east of central...

DVD/Blu-ray: Billy Connolly - Big Banana Feet

The most striking thing about the 1976 documentary (restored and re-released by the BFI) is just how polite Billy Connolly comes across as. Not...