wed 22/05/2024

Classical Reviews

Grosvenor, SCO, Emelyanychev, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - lightness of touch and a sprinkling of humour

Simon Thompson

Nobody would describe Felix Mendelssohn as a fringe composer, but his piano concertos aren’t exactly central classical repertoire either. They lack the foundational status of Mozart’s and the high Romantic seriousness of Beethoven’s or Brahms’, and Mendelssohn doesn’t help himself in the way that an air of the faintly hilarious hangs around his First Piano Concerto.

Read more...

Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - championing the rich and rare

Robert Beale

Sir Mark Elder’s zest for exploring fresh territory with the forces of the Hallé is unquenched even in his final season as music director. And who better to introduce the Stabat Mater of Rossini – a late flowering of the operatic wizard’s powers – than he, a champion of the rich and rare from operas past?

Read more...

Accentus, Insula orchestra, Equilbey, Barbican review - radiant French choral masterpieces

Bernard Hughes

Last night saw two pieces of late 19th century French choral music – one a hugely popular staple of choral societies around the world, the other a complete novelty, lost for a hundred years – brought together in fascinating juxtaposition by the French period-instrument orchestra Insula, under their founding conductor Laurence Equilbey.

Read more...

Selaocoe, Schimpelsberger, LSO, Ward, Barbican review - force of nature crowns dance jamboree

David Nice

It was good of the EFG London Jazz Festival to support this concert and bring in a different audience from the one the LSO is used to. But how to define it? Jazz only briefly figured in works by Gary Carpenter, Bartók, Barber and Abel Selaocoe. The only category would seem to be All Things Vital and Dancing. Anyone who’d come just for the phenomenal South Africa-born cellist, singer and composer must have been riveted by the rest, too.

Read more...

West-Eastern Divan Ensemble, Michael Barenboim, QEH review - enchantment and conviviality

Boyd Tonkin

What a month, and what a day, for Michael Barenboim to bring the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble to London.

Read more...

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Currie, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh review - maximum minimalism

Christopher Lambton

Chameleon among orchestras, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra hung up its habitual classical cloak in favour of an evening of 20th and 21st century minimalism, curated, presented, and conducted by the star percussionist Colin Currie.

Read more...

Perfection of a Kind: Britten vs Auden, City of London Sinfonia, QEH review - the odd couple

Boyd Tonkin

“Underneath the abject willow/ Lover, sulk no more;/ Act from thought should quickly follow:/ What is thinking for?” In 1936, early in their tempestuous friendship, WH Auden wrote a poem for Benjamin Britten that urged the younger artist to pursue his passions – musical and erotic – and curb his fearful longing for comfort and safety.

Read more...

The Creation, Choirs of King's College & New College Oxford, Philharmonia, Hyde, King's College Chapel, Cambridge - sublime setting for mundane performance

Sebastian Scotney

“Let his words resound on high,” sings the choir in the final chorus of The Creation. In King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, it is hard not to want to look up, to admire the splendour of the largest fan vaulting anywhere in Europe. King’s truly is hard to beat as a setting in which to hear Haydn’s oratorio.

Read more...

L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Monteverdi Choir, EBS, Sousa, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - Handel at his most magical

David Nice

There was a good reason why Milton never added a Moderato, a “middle way”, to his masterly poems on mirth in bright day (L’Allegro) and more reflective pleasures by night (Il Penseroso), and a bad one why Handel allowed Charles Jennens to tack on his own ode to reason; neither poetry nor music should have much to do with pure intellect.

Read more...

Maxim Vengerov, Polina Osetinskaya, Barbican review - masterclass in technique with a thrilling rage of emotions

Rachel Halliburton

For the first half of this spellbinding recital, Maxim Vengerov chose three works framed by one of Romantic music’s most infamous and turbulent stories.

Read more...

Pages

latest in today

Richard III, Shakespeare's Globe review - Michelle Terr...

There’s a fierce, dark energy to the Globe’s new Richard III that I don’t recall at that venue for a fair while. The drilled cast dances...

Between Riverside and Crazy, Hampstead Theatre review - race...

It’s often said that contemporary American playwrights are too polite, too afraid of giving offence. But this accusation can’t be levelled at...

'I think of her as a proto-punk': documentarist Sv...

Anita Pallenberg was a vital presence in the Stones’ most vital years. Her bright eyes and hungry mouth betrayed a ferocious appetite for pleasure...

Passing Strange, Young Vic review - exuberant pocket musical...

From New York’s Public Theater, the venue that nurtured Hamilton, comes another estimable pocket...

theartsdesk Q&A: Eddie Marsan and the American Revolutio...

He’s not the kind of actor who has paparazzi following him...

Album: Samana - Samana

The final track of Samana’s third album is titled “The Preselis,” after the west Welsh mountain range – the place antiquarians suggested as the...

The Great Escape Festival 2024, Brighton review - 12 hours o...

If the weather’s good TGE Beach is a grand start to a day. As it sounds, it’s a purpose-built seafront space to the east of central...

DVD/Blu-ray: Billy Connolly - Big Banana Feet

The most striking thing about the 1976 documentary (restored and re-released by the BFI) is just how polite Billy Connolly comes across as. Not...

Rebus, BBC One review - revival of Ian Rankin's Scottis...

The previous incarnation of Ian Rankin’s Scottish detective on ITV starred, in their contrasting styles, John Hannah and Ken Stott. For this ...

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Sousa, St Martin-in...

Better (much better, indeed) late than never. The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique should have given their cycle of Beethoven symphonies at...