thu 27/06/2019

Classical Reviews

Vasari Singers, Backhouse, St Bride’s Fleet Street review - rarely heard choral classic soars

Bernard Hughes

London performances of Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto for Choir are like Meaningful Votes: you wait a long time for one, then they come in clusters. After last night’s Vasari Singers performance, there is only three weeks till the London Concord Singers put this choral monster in front of the voting public again. It remains to be seen if John Bercow steps in to prevent even more.

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Bach St John Passion, Les Arts Florissants, Christie, Barbican review – sombre but engaging

Gavin Dixon

William Christie kicked off Passion season in London this year with a particularly sombre reading of the St John.

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Schiff, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, RFH review – antique kit, modern sounds

Boyd Tonkin

Standing next to the warm brown beast of a piano built by Blüthner in Leipzig in 1867, Sir András Schiff advised his audience last night to clear their minds and ears of preconceptions.

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Connolly, Drake, Berrington, Wigmore Hall review – between the acts

Boyd Tonkin

Vary the stale format of the vocal recital and all sorts of new doors open for performers and listeners alike. The only downside, as became clear at the Wigmore Hall last night, is that the audience may hear less of a stellar soloist than they ideally wish.

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Faust, Matthews, LSO, Haitink, Barbican review - glimpses of heaven

David Nice

Vibrant rustic dancing to conclude the first half, a heavenly barcarolle to cast a spell of silence at the end of the second: Bernard Haitink's 90th birthday celebrations of middle-European mastery wrought yet more magic in Dvořák and Mahler after his first concert of Mozart and Bruckner.

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Janine Jansen, Alexander Gavrylyuk, Wigmore Hall review - a totally convincing recital

Sebastian Scotney

Can it happen? That one comes away from a concert with the sense that all of the truth, the shape, the beauty and the urgency of some great works from the classical repertoire has been conveyed as well as is humanly possible? That the programme itself has been a completely satisfying and thought-out whole and has held the attention throughout? Yes, it really can.

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Oelze, Oakes, Gould, BBC Philharmonic, Gnann, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - trio of surprises

Robert Beale

Best laid plans and all that … this concert was originally to have been conducted by the late Oliver Knussen, and of course things had to change after his death. In the end the more recently advertised Ryan Wigglesworth was unable to conduct either, and Moritz Gnann stepped in: he first appeared with the BBC Philharmonic in 2017 and last visited in November.

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Fellner, LSO, Haitink, Barbican review - the master at 90

David Nice

So this is how Bruckner's Fourth Symphony should go. It's taken a master conductor just past his 90th birthday and an orchestra on top form to teach me. No doubt Claudio Abbado and Brucknermeister Gunter Wand could have done so, too, but I never heard them live in this, the "Romantic", and they are no longer with us.

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Berlioz Requiem, Spyres, Philharmonia Orchestra, Nelson, St Paul's Cathedral review - masses and voids

David Nice

Asked to choose five or ten minutes of favourite Berlioz on the 150th anniversary of his death (yesterday), surely few would select anything from his giant Requiem (Grande Messe des Morts). This is a work to shock and awe, not to be loved - music for a state funeral given a metaphysical dimension by the composer's hallmark extremes in original scoring.

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Bernheim, Finley, LSO, Pappano, Barbican review - top Italians in second gear

David Nice

Would Verdi and Puccini have composed more non-operatic music, had they thrived in a musical culture different to Italy's? Hard to say. What we do know is that they both became absolute masters of orchestration – Puccini rather quicker than Verdi, living as he did in an entirely post-Wagnerian era.

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