wed 19/02/2020

choral music

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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Mahler's Eighth, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - a symphony of 600

“Try to imagine the whole universe beginning to ring and resound” wrote Gustav Mahler of his Eighth Symphony. “There are no longer human voices, but planets and suns revolving.” It’s an image that captures the impossible scale and mind-boggling...

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Bowers-Broadbent, Theatre of Voices, Kings Place - grit needed in the oyster

Not everyone who flocked to Day Two's evening concert in Kings Place's year-long Nature Unwrapped: Sounds of Life celebrations will have realised that they were catching parts two and three of a trilogy. The masterpiece had come earlier, in a 5pm...

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Charpentier Christmas settings, Solomon's Knot, St John's Smith Square review - pastoral shades

There is no mention of Marc-Antoine Charpentier in David Cairns's comprehensive Berlioz biography. It seems extraordinary that the master of the most intimate and moving of musical Christmas stories, L'enfance du Christ, knew nothing of the next...

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Williams, LPO, Alsop, RFH review - sleek lines and pastoral tones

The London Philharmonic’s Isle of Noises, a year-long festival dedicated to music of the British Isles, drew towards its close with this programme of Butterworth, Elgar and Walton. Marin Alsop was a good choice to lead, especially for Walton’s...

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The Apostles, LPO, Brabbins, RFH review - Elgar's melancholy New Testament snapshots

The Apostles is a depressing work, mostly in a good way. Elgar's one good aspirational theme of mystic chordal progressions is easily outnumbered by a phantasmal parade of dying falls, hauntingly shaped and orchestrated. After The Dream of Gerontius...

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Bevan, The Sixteen, Genesis Sixteen, Christophers, Barbican review - MacMillan transcends again

Verdi, Elgar, Janáček, John Adams - just four composers who achieved musical transcendence to religious texts as what convention would label non-believers, and so have no need of the "forgiveness" the Fátima zealots pray for their kind in James...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Gounod, James MacMillan, Johannes Pramsohler

 Gounod: Symphonies 1 and 2 Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Yan Pascal Tortelier (Chandos)Roger Nichols’ lucid sleeve note underlines the point that Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique singularly failed to kick off a 19th century French symphonic...

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theartsdesk at the Three Choirs Festival - the beautiful and the damned

Our greatest Berlioz scholar, David Cairns, has called Le Damnation de Faust “an opera of the mind’s eye, not of the stage,” and I’ve certainly never seen a production that successfully staged its curious, episodic, actionless mixture of set piece,...

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Monteverdi Vespers, Cummings, The English Concert, Garsington Opera Chorus review – Gloria in the Chilterns

Scholars still wrangle over the work now known as Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. Was this an integral piece written for a single liturgical occasion, or a sort of anthology of luxury items assembled to help the composer’s bid to escape the underpaid...

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The Anvil, Royal, Purves, BBCPO, Gernon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester - disturbing, baffling and moving

Two hundred years ago next month, an assembly of around 60,000 people gathered on St Peter’s Fields in Manchester to protest about their lack of political representation. Speakers addressed the crowd, bands played and banners were carried.The local...

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London Mozart Players, Davan Wetton, St Giles Cripplegate - rousing Shakespearean revel

The festival Summer Music in City Churches is in only its second year, filling a gap left by the demise of the long-running City of London Festival. This year’s festival had the theme of Words and Music and offered an enticing programme of recitals...

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