sat 22/09/2018

Classical Reviews

Prom 15, Lewis, BBC Philharmonic, Gernon - a masterful Emperor took the musical laurels

alexandra Coghlan

There’s a particular quality to light seen from shadow. Think of the surface of the water glimpsed, hazy and haloed, as you swim upwards after a deep dive, or the smudged edges of city lights seen from a night flight. This concert by Ben Gernon and the BBC Philharmonic was an exercise in adjusted perspective.

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Prom 12, Weilerstein, BBCSO, Canellakis review - energetic 20th century classics

Bernard Hughes

Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto combines the composer’s usual angst and nerviness with a sardonic humour, right from the opening bars, where the cello and orchestra seem to be playing in contradictory keys. At last night’s Prom, cellist Alisa Weilerstein played the opening motto not as a challenge, but as the continuation of a conversation already in progress.

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Proms at...Roundhouse / Proms 9 & 11 review - rituals from Messiaen to Mahler

David Nice

Once the Proms season is under way, you soon regret dissing the prospectus.

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Prom 5, Pelléas et Mélisande, Glyndebourne review - for the ears, not the eyes

stephen Walsh

What a fabulous score Pelléas et Mélisande is, and what a joy to be able to hear it in a concert performance without the distraction of some over-sophisticated director’s self-communings. Well, if only.

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Prom 4, Simpson, BBCPO, Mena review - terrific Lindberg, brooding Shostakovich

Bernard Hughes

The fourth Prom of this season featured only two contrasting pieces, pitching the unabashed joyfulness and good humour of Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto against the angst and defiance of Shostakovich’s “Leningrad” Symphony. It was the former that left the greater impression.

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Proms at...Cadogan Hall 1, Perianes, Calidore String Quartet review - mysteries and revelations

David Nice

Light-filled Cadogan Hall is hosting the most fascinatingly programmed concerts in a Proms season not otherwise conspicuous for its adventurousness. There's also an honourable pledge to premiere at least one new work by a female composer in each event, honouring the centenary of votes for women.

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Prom 3, BBC Young Musician at 40 review - multi-layered birthday cake

David Nice

How do you go about co-ordinating a spectacular like this, the first ever BBC Young Musicians' Prom? With 23 brilliant soloists from clarinettist Michael Collins, not even the winner of the first event 40 years ago, to 16-year-old Lauren Zhang, who stunned us all with her fleet interpretation of Prokofiev's monster Second Piano Concerto this year, commissions or reworkings dealing with batches were the best idea...

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Prom 1, BBCSO, Oramo review – spectacular First Night of the Proms

Gavin Dixon

The First Night of the Proms is always a tricky one to programme, bringing together themes of the season, perhaps a new work and, most importantly, a grand finale. This year’s Prom No. 1 ticked all the boxes, and without feeling like pick-n-mix.

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Tenebrae, Short, St John’s Smith Square review - choral majesty in New World marvels

David Benedict

They started as they meant to go on. Randall Thompson’s lush, consoling six-minute Alleluia, written in 1940, couldn’t be a better opener for Tenebrae, one of this country’s finest, most musically alert and expressive vocal ensembles. Technically, the piece is undemanding so a successful performance of it rests entirely upon expressive control.

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theartsdesk in Orkney: St Magnus Festival 2018 - choral music to the fore

David Kettle

With – unusually – no visiting orchestra at this year’s St Magnus International Festival in far-flung Orkney (the fall-out from delayed funding confirmations, we’re assured), there was a danger that the annual midsummer event might have felt a little – well, quiet.

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