tue 15/10/2019

Classical Reviews

Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall review – full-spectrum Bach from a prodigious talent

Boyd Tonkin

You seldom hear a Champions League-level roar of approval at the Wigmore Hall. Last night, though, Igor Levit drew a throaty collective bark of appreciation from the audience after (for once) an awed hush had followed the final dying cadences of the aria’s return in Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Had he earned it? Absolutely. This recital was first of three devoted to the idea of Variations.

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Benjamin Grosvenor, Barbican review - virtuosity at its classiest

Jessica Duchen

It’s 15 years since Benjamin Grosvenor first strolled onto our TV screens as a prodigiously gifted child in the BBC Young Musician Competition. Today he is a self-possessed young man of 26, in his element on the concert platform, yet without a hint of affectation; and unlike certain musicians who play the same type of music all the time, he ventures constantly into new and sometimes surprising musical territory.

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Takács Quartet, Wigmore Hall review – strong voices in a glorious group

Boyd Tonkin

When critics praise a first-rank string quartet, convention demands they claim that the whole adds up to more than the sum of its parts. True enough, maybe, but with the Takács Quartet, each separate element really does blaze with a soloistic, virtuosic flame. From the first bars of last night’s opener at the Wigmore Hall, as Haydn plays pass-the-parcel with an apparently straightforward tune at the start of his G major quartet Op.76 no.

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Hardenberger, Pöntinen, Wigmore Hall review - superstar trumpeter shows his class

Bernard Hughes

There can be no questioning trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger’s extraordinary mastery: his big, unforced sound, mellifluous legato, athletic virtuosity and utterly controlled high notes.

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Mullova, Philharmonia, Järvi, RFH review – clear paths through the forest

Boyd Tonkin

Visit Ainola, Sibelius’s woodland house by Lake Tuusula north of Helsinki, and you’ll be told the story of the green stove. It appears that the famously synaesthetic Finnish composer identified the shade of his heating installation with the key of F major.

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LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - inner magic eventually joins outward mastery

David Nice

Nearly 17 years ago, Simon Rattle inaugurated his era at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic with Mahler's Fifth Symphony.

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Clara Mouriz, Roderick Williams, Joseph Middleton, Wigmore Hall review - the song recital as mixtape

Sebastian Scotney

It’s the age of the mixtape. And of the Only Connect sequences round.

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LSO, Rattle, Barbican review – a brace of souped-up symphonies

Peter Quantrill

It’s a fair bet that more people now know Harmonielehre as the title of the 1985 orchestral blockbuster by John Adams than the composition manual written by Schoenberg in 1922. Even the title is “typically, ironically John”, as Sir Simon Rattle remarked in a pre-concert interview introducing the YouTube film of the concert. The piece has swallowed up its object of parody.

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I Fagiolini, Hollingworth, St George's Bristol review - Leonardo and music, immortal, invisible

stephen Walsh

Having started their tour at the Barbican on Sunday, I Fagiolini descended on Bristol with their Leonardo da Vinci celebration on precisely the 500th anniversary of the great man’s death, a fact that earned them an extra round of applause from the proud but sometimes neglected Bristolians in St.George’s. 

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Bronfman, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review - weight and wit

David Nice

Vladimir Jurowski is always a conductor for making connections, so one wonders why Brahms's Second Piano Concerto wasn't the first-half choice in this programme from the start (the advertised original had been the much stormier No 1).

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