sat 18/08/2018

Classical Reviews

Manchester Collective, Chetham's, Manchester review - flair and variety

Robert Beale

Manchester Collective is a new and enterprising group of musicians determined not just to create performances of high quality but to offer a new way in which the performances themselves are done. They started from scratch at the end of 2016, and I saw one of the first of their efforts, given at Islington Mill – a laid-back space in the basement of an old industrial building in Salford – in March last year.

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Imogen Cooper, Wigmore Hall review – Viennese schools refreshed

Jessica Duchen

In the right hands, the music of the various Viennese Schools can still sound almost startlingly original. Imogen Cooper’s are very much the right hands, containing a rare, refined artistry that only continues to grow with the years.

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Anthony Marwood and Friends, Peasmarsh Festival - elegies in a country church

David Nice

A magnificent riven oak with gnarly branches stands in the secluded graveyard of SS Peter and Paul's Church Peasmarsh, near Rye. Transport it in your mind to Flexham Park in a very different part of Sussex, imagine it struck by lightning and it could be one of that twisted group which Elgar encountered on a short walk from his Bedham cottage in the summer of 1918, subsequently permeating his massive and masterly Piano Quintet with the ghost  story surrounding them.

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Benedetti, LSO, Noseda, Barbican review – power and focus

Gavin Dixon

Shostakovich is ideal for Nicola Benedetti. His music requires effortless and understated virtuosity, as well as a confident and commanding maturity of interpretation. Benedetti has been demonstrating these qualities since her late teens, and all were evident in this reading of the First Violin Concerto, which proved an intense and compelling listening experience.

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The Abduction from the Seraglio, The Grange Festival review - enjoyable if conventional production

Bernard Hughes

Just as the Last Night of the Proms is an end-of-term party with a concert tacked on, The Grange Festival (like other similar venues) offers a massive picnic interspersed with some opera.

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The Courtesan’s Gaze, Fieri Consort, Handel House review – historical female composers in context

Bernard Hughes

From an early age, Barbara Strozzi would have entertained the guests of her father’s Venetian academy with songs, including her own works. A similarly intimate room at London’s Handel House museum provided a suitable setting for Strozzi’s work to be heard alongside the greatest of late Renaissance vocal composers, Claudio Monteverdi. Monteverdi came out ahead, but only by a nose.

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Bach Weekend, Barbican review - vivid and vibrant celebrations

Gavin Dixon

John Eliot Gardiner was 75 in April, and to celebrate, the Barbican Centre staged a weekend devoted to his favourite composer. Gardiner himself provided the backbone of the event, three concerts of cantatas with his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, while most of the other events were chamber music recitals.

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Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill, Opera North, City Varieties Music Hall review - life as a cabaret

graham Rickson

Peer at the small print and it’s clear that Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill is actually a spruced-up repackaging of a show originally devised by Gene Lerner and arranger Newton Wayland, about whom Opera North’s programme tells us nothing.

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theartsdesk at the Leipzig Bach Festival: a cantata blockbuster

stephen Walsh

If you ever find yourself in Leipzig at a weekend during school term, the Bach motet (and occasionally cantata) performances in the great cantor’s old church, the Thomaskirche, are an absolute must. But if you happened to be in that city this weekend just past, you will have been able to immerse yourself in practically a whole year’s worth of cantatas in the space of a little more than forty-eight hours. 

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Roscoe, BBC Philharmonic, Mena, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - a scenic send-off

Robert Beale

Juanjo Mena, chief conductor of Manchester's BBC Philharmonic for the past seven years, took his official leave of them with a programme reflecting his great love, the music of his Spanish homeland.

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