sat 13/07/2024

Classical Reviews

Bach's Easter Oratorio, OAE, Whelan, QEH review - the joys of springtime

Boyd Tonkin

Waiting, and hoping, may prove just as intense an experience as the fulfilment of a wish – or of a fear. Bach knew that, and infused his Easter Week music with a sense of suspense and anticipation built into vocal and instrumental lines that build and strive and stretch towards a climactic revelation that, until the very end, remains just out of reach. 

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Schubert Piano Sonatas 4, Paul Lewis, Wigmore Hall review - feverish and sometimes violent

Ed Vulliamy

“Death doesn’t scare me at all,” said my friend Christopher Hitchens during our last telephone conversation. “After all, it’s the only certainty in life. Dying, however, scares me shitless”.

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Bach St John Passion, Dublin Bach Singers, Marlborough Baroque Orchestra, Murphy, St Ann's Church, Dublin - choral fire

David Nice

Was it worth taking a risk on a more humbly presented St John Passion in Dublin after the best St Matthew I’m ever likely to hear (from Peter Whelan and the Irish Baroque Ensemble in St Patrick’s Cathedral)?

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Bach Passions, Dunedin Consort, Mulroy/Jeannin, St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral/Queen's Hall, Edinburgh review - twin peaks

Simon Thompson

The annual St Matthew Passion from the Dunedin Consort is one the most reliably beautiful jewels in Edinburgh’s musical year. They do the St John Passion much less frequently; in fact, this is the first time I’ve heard them do it, maybe motivated by its tercentenary this year.

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Our Mother, Stone Nest review - musical drama in a mother's grief

Bernard Hughes

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater is one of the most ineffable masterpieces of the 18th century, its poignancy increased by the fact that the 26-year-old composer died shortly after writing it. A medieval meditation about Mary at the foot of the cross, it pitches two voices against a small orchestra, presented in a dramatised production this week by the young historical performance ensemble Figure.

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Gillam, Hallé, Poska, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - an experience of colour and fun

Robert Beale

There was a common factor in the superficially disparate elements of this Hallé concert, and it wasn’t just the fact that both soloist and conductor were female. It was an experience of the colours of the music and a sense of enjoyment of what orchestral music offers.

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Ensemble Augelletti, London Handel Festival, Charterhouse review - dynamic framing of the honorary Englishman

Rachel Halliburton

One of the many delightful discoveries in this dynamic, imaginative lunchtime concert was that Handel and Telemann had a thing for sending each other flowers. Not bouquets, but earthy bulbs and tubers, “I am insatiable where hyacinths and tulips are concerned, greedy for ranunculi, and especially for anenomes,” Telemann wrote.

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St Mary's Music School, RSNO, Søndergård, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - a shining role for young choristers

Christopher Lambton

For the second year in a row the Royal Scottish National Orchestra chose to share its platform in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall with the young musicians of St Mary's Music School. As RSNO chief executive Alistair Mackie pointed out in a short opening speech, the links between the two organisations run deep, as many players in the RSNO started their musical careers at St Mary's.

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Bevan, Williams, BBCSO, MacMillan, Barbican review - inspirational journey from darkness to light

Rachel Halliburton

It began with the tolling of a lone bell and ended in a transcendent blaze of golden light.

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Hughes, SCO, Kuusisto, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh review - Clyne shines, Grime fragments

Simon Thompson

Most concert promoters will tell you that contemporary music tends to be, to put it politely, a tricky sell, which is one of the reasons why it’s most often programmed alongside Beethoven or Tchaikovsky. A whole programme of the stuff tends to be box office suicide, so it’s almost never done.

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