mon 22/07/2024

Classical Reviews

Gerstein, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - American glitter and sinew

David Nice

How lucky those of us were who grew up musically with the young Simon Rattle’s highly original programming in the 1980s. He’s still doing it at a time when diminishing resources can dictate more careful repertoire, and last night’s Americana proved spectacularly original. Four of the five works gave a different perspective on the decade and a half in which Shostakovich’s very different Fourth Symphony, LSO triumph of the earlier part of the week, failed to reach public performance.

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The Creation, Alder, Clayton, Mofidian, LPO, Gardner, RFH review - dancing gay in green meadows

David Nice

Light and grace must flood the concert hall in Haydn’s The Creation, after a striking-for-its time evocation of Chaos, and periwigged creatures skip around the Genesis picture. With Edward Gardner keeping the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus on their dancing toes, as ever, and three fine soloists carrying the creatures’ share of the beauties, it was a good time for happy creativity.

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Faust, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - violence and wit in Shostakovich, luminosity in Brahms

Ed Vulliamy

The LSO’s apéritif hour “Half-Six Fixes” have an informality that usually works and sometimes doesn’t. But the first of this two-night run of Dmitri Shostakovich’s monstrous and terrifying Fourth Symphony was unforgettable. Panels on the auditorium walls greeted the audience with a portrait of the composer and his famous note: “The authorities tried everything they knew to get me to repent… But I refused. Instead of repenting, I wrote my Fourth Symphony”.

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St Matthew Passion, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Whelan, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin review - fluency, fire and some jaw-dropping solos

David Nice

After last year’s small-scale, big-impact Messiah in the Wigmore Hall, superlatives are again in order for the IBO’s performance of the greatest musical offering known to humankind. With the fluency established by that most supple of directors Peter Whelan at the start of Bach's opening chorus leading to the astonishing heft of nine singers and gleaming instrumentalists at its culmination, we knew we were in for something approaching perfection.

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Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - Bruckner is back

Robert Beale

Sir Mark Elder conducted Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 for his first time in last night’s Hallé series concert, a reflection of his untiring exploration of new territory even as he nears the end of his time as the orchestra’s music director.

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Colin Currie Quartet, Wigmore Hall review - toccatas for triangles and teacups

Bernard Hughes

I have never seen the Wigmore Hall stage more crammed with instruments than for this Colin Currie Quartet concert. Sadly the auditorium was not similarly packed, the hall’s admirable initiative of broadening its repertoire away from mainly dead Germans being disappointingly shunned by the regular patrons.

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'Migrations' String Quartet Weekend, National Concert Hall, Dublin review - memorials and masterpieces

David Nice

It was chance that the National Concert Hall’s weekend of quartet events featuring responses to war and refugees should coincide with the second anniversary of Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine. By late Saturday morning thousands of Ukrainians and friends had processed beneath our windows on Merrion Square with the usual array of flags and heartfelt banners; at 2.30pm we were listening to a Syrian poet’s words about devastation and displacement as set to music by Jonathan Dove.

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RSNO Chorus, Doughty, Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh review - breaking out in anniversary Bruckner

Simon Thompson

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus has a well-established concert life away from the main orchestra; the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus less so. So it was refreshing to get to hear them going it (almost) alone in Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Kirk, and the Bruckner anniversary gave them a good excuse, building their programme around a motet and the E minor Mass.

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Sánchez, National Symphony Orchestra, Martín, National Concert Hall, Dublin review - Spanish panache

David Nice

Ravel’s Boléro, however well you think you know it, usually wows in concert with its disconcerting mix of sensuality, fun and violence. Context can make it even more powerful: in this case as the culmination of NSO Chief Conductor Jaime Martín’s brilliantly programmed Spanish fiesta, a cool and even customer at first after chameleonic Chabrier and fidgety-brilliant, fluid Falla.

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Uproar, Rafferty, Royal Welsh College, Cardiff review - a rare spring in the new music step

stephen Walsh

It’s not often one comes out of a concert of mainly new works with a spring in one’s step. A sigh of relief is rather more usual. But this concert on Thursday by the Welsh new music ensemble Uproar was an exception, partly but by no means exclusively because of the brilliant performance of John Adams’s invigorating, even appropriately uproarious Son of Chamber Symphony with which it ended.

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