wed 21/08/2019

Classical Reviews

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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Total Immersion: Ligeti, Barbican review - exploring a 20th-century master mind

Miranda Heggie

A day devoted entirely to the life and work of György Ligeti celebrated this composer’s remarkable oeuvre through a sequence programme of film, talks and concerts of his music.

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Bevan, Padmore, Foster-Williams, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - rural bliss

Boyd Tonkin

Just as our brief, premature spring collapsed into the bluster of Storm Freya, the Enlightenment certainties of Haydn’s more dependable cycle of nature blew into the Royal Festival Hall.

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Johnson, Carducci Quartet, Warwick Arts Centre review - new work with well-loved quintets

Miranda Heggie

There are those who say, somewhat cynically, that a way for new music to get an audience is to present it carefully packaged up with standard repertoire that will draw a larger crowd.

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Joanna MacGregor, Kings Place review - soul and storm

Boyd Tonkin

How often do two contemporary women composers get to take a stage bow during a solo recital of no more than modest length? Last night at Kings Place, within an eclectic bill of fare dubbed “Soul of a Woman” as part of the venue’s Venus Unwrapped season, Joanna MacGregor performed a brace of piano pieces by members of the audience: the Jamaican composer Eleanor Alberga and, as her unscheduled encore, Freya Waley-Cohen’s “Southern Leaves”.

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Hardenberger, BBC Philharmonic, Storgårds, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - new work trumpets a sun journey

Robert Beale

The BBC Philharmonic and its chief guest conductor John Storgårds introduced their Manchester audience to two new things – possibly three – in this concert. One was a world premiere, and you can’t get much newer than that.

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Kulman, Skelton, BBCSO, Oramo, Barbican review - romantic sign-offs

Peter Quantrill

Time was when the BBC Symphony Orchestra played austerely wholesome programmes of modern and romantic classics to third-full houses.

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