sun 26/05/2024

Classical Reviews

CBSO, Nelsons, Symphony Hall Birmingham

David Nice

Yes, he can make the music smile when it needs to as much as he does himself. Had we but cash enough and time, many of us Londoners would travel more often to witness what further heights young Latvian Andris Nelsons can persuade the already world-class City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to scale.

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Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Libor Pešek, Cadogan Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic A young Libor Pešek:

You can't ever expect immediate liftoff from a rusty old Lada. Spluttering, shaking and rattling make up as much of the first few minutes of the experience as...

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Staatskapelle Berlin, Barenboim, Royal Festival Hall

Edward Seckerson

The returns queue gets longer and so does the wait – considerably longer than the 69 minutes of programmed music in this the second of the Daniel Barenboim Beethoven/Schoenberg series. But what a satisfying two–course meal it was: Schoenberg’s “transfigured night” of desire and confession, Verklärte Nacht, and Beethoven’s grandest piano concerto, No 5, “The Emperor”.

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Philharmonia Orchestra, Ashkenazy, RFH

David Nice

There are still pockets of musical snobs who want to keep Elgar's two symphonies for the English, and off the worldwide roll call of orchestral masterpieces. Yet a steady line of international conductors - from Solti and Svetlanov to Haitink and Previn - has proved them the adventurous equal of anniversary composer Mahler's symphonic giants.

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LPO/ Vänskä, Royal Festival Hall

Edward Seckerson Osmo Vänskä: 'When Vänskä conducts Sibelius he doesn’t just traverse the musical landscape, he inhabits it'

Whoever said it was better to journey than to arrive might have been thinking of Sibelius. The arrivals can be pretty spectacular – as here in Osmo Vänskä's tremendous account of the Second Symphony – but the getting there – or not – is what this music is all about. When Vänskä conducts Sibelius he doesn’t just traverse the musical landscape, he inhabits it, breathing it in, feeling its pull, overawed at the threshold of where sound becomes silence and vice versa. He is Sibelius’ eternal...

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BBCSO, Mälkki, Barbican Hall

David Nice Susanna Mälkki: electrifying in a technicolor programme

Fashionable concertgoers, if you'll forgive the oxymoron, may have missed the raciest heartbeat of a dizzying week. While Barenboim's Beethoven and Vänskä's Sibelius packed in the cognoscenti at the Royal Festival Hall, kids tagging along to the BBC Symphony Orchestra's "Family Music Intro" and a hardcore of rare-repertoire collectors at the Barbican were treated to a parade of oddball scores dazzlingly communicated by another of those amazing Finnish conductors, Susanna Mälkki, and...

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Così fan tutte, Royal Opera/ Joyce DiDonato, Wigmore Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Two very different lessons on love this week. From the Aphrodite-like Joyce DiDonato at the Wigmore Hall, there emerged a correct, wise, honest way to achieve an enamoured state; from the familiarly fickle cast of Così fan tutte - an almost unwatchably faulty bunch of emotional primitives in Jonathan Miller's production for the Royal Opera - very much the wrong way.

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Staatskapelle Berlin, Barenboim, Royal Festival Hall

David Nice

Anyone who can sell out four concerts of Beethoven and Schoenberg, even if it's only half-scary Schoenberg, surely looms large in the public imagination. Daniel Barenboim is a great humanitarian figure, and has been a thought-provoking interpreter of the classical and romantic piano repertoire for nearly 60 years, so it's not surprising that half of London wants to hear him in th

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LPO, Vänskä, Royal Festival Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

As was hoped, Osmo Vänskä, the livewire music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, showed us exactly why he's the greatest living Sibelian last night in the first concert of the London Philharmonic's Sibelius cycle.

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Nico Muhly & the Britten Sinfonia, The Roundhouse

joe Muggs

Nico Muhly didn't have to work much to puncture any atmosphere of classical recital formality at the Roundhouse: he only needed to be himself. Young, slightly dorky and very camp, wearing a black garment that blurred the boundaries between cardigan and bathrobe, and bantering lightly with the audience, the Vermont-born New York-based composer gave the impression that he couldn't take himself too seriously if he tried.

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