sat 22/02/2020

Barbican

Lise Davidsen, James Baillieu, Barbican review - opulence and the promise of greatness

So much pressure is on for Lise Davidsen to be the next Kirsten Flagstad or Birgit Nilsson, but the question has to be asked: is this just The Voice - a big "just" when a dramatic Wagnerian soprano is at stake - or The Complete Artist? Intimations...

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Beethoven Weekender, Barbican review - genius at work and play

Where to begin with the most appropriated musician in history? The Barbican’s Beethoven 250 celebrations got off to an auspicious start with a weekend of events, styled like a pop festival, which nonetheless put the composer back where he belonged...

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Shostakovich 24 Preludes and Fugues, Igor Levit, Barbican review - an eagle's-eye view

"Citizen. European. Pianist," declares Russian-born, Berlin-based Igor Levit on the front page of his website. One should add, since he wouldn't, Mensch and master of giants. High-level human integrity seems a given when great pianists essay epics:...

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Cargill, BBCSO, Saraste, Barbican review - less is more in Shostakovich

Jukka-Pekka Saraste doesn’t visit London much these days. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and there were rumours that he was in line for the top job. That didn’t happen, and his career soon took him elsewhere – which...

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Bach Sunday with the Suzukis, RAM / Appl, AAM, Milton Court review - father, son and Holy Ghost

Not long after noon on Sunday, strange bells began ringing. In just 11 bars, Bach summons pairs of flutes, oboes and violas da gamba against pizzicato strings and continuo to tintinnabulate against the alto's recitative lines about a "vibrating...

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Beethoven Discovery Day, Batiashvili, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review – reassessing a rarity

#Beethoven250 is in full swing at the Barbican. Like most venues, they are keen to show a different side to the composer in his jubilee year. And the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives ticks all sorts of anniversary boxes. The work is utterly...

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Gautier Capuçon, Yuja Wang, Barbican review - spellbinding moments in circumscribed programme

Why go to hear a cello-and-piano recital in a large hall, and a rather unsatisfying programme (delayed without explanation for 15 minutes, incidentally) spotlighting a transcription of a work which was created for the violin? Two good answers would...

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Bridging the cultural divide: Armenian conductor Sergey Smbatyan on marrying east and west

We’re touring across Europe in January 2020, visiting five countries to perform eight concerts with the world-class violinist Maxim Vengerov as our leading soloist. The tour has been organized by the European Foundation for Support of Culture.As...

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prisoner of the state, Barbican review - beauty, but where is the drama?

You can see the temptation. With three different versions and four different overtures to choose from, as well as all that spoken dialogue to cut, substitute or omit, Beethoven’s Fidelio has always been a Choose Your Own Adventure sort of opera – a...

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Ibragimova, LSO, Stutzmann, Barbican review – grace and gravity

Alina Ibragimova’s solo journey (in 2015) through the peaks and abysses of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas gave me vivid Proms memories to treasure for a lifetime. The Russian-born violinist’s Bach abounds in both majesty and tenderness, as well as a...

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Suzman, London Schools Symphony Orchestra, Edwards, Barbican review - a cabaret from hell

The devil wore all manner of outlandish attire in last night's chameleonic programme devised by Peter Ash, the London Schools Symphony Orchestra's challenging artistic director. There was searing verse from Marlowe, Milton and Goethe; music from...

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National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Martín, Barbican review - songs of protest and resilience

In youth we trust. That can be the only motto worth anything for 2020, as the world goes into further meltdown. So it was startling, stunning and cathartic, two days after the big downer of 3 January - the American horror clown seemingly in...

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