tue 17/07/2018

contemporary classical

Prom 1, BBCSO, Oramo review – spectacular First Night of the Proms

The First Night of the Proms is always a tricky one to programme, bringing together themes of the season, perhaps a new work and, most importantly, a grand finale. This year’s Prom No. 1 ticked all the boxes, and without feeling like pick-n-mix. It...

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Tenebrae, Short, St John’s Smith Square review - choral majesty in New World marvels

They started as they meant to go on. Randall Thompson’s lush, consoling six-minute Alleluia, written in 1940, couldn’t be a better opener for Tenebrae, one of this country’s finest, most musically alert and expressive vocal ensembles. Technically,...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Handel, Holloway, Korngold, Nielsen

Handel: Sonatas for Violin and Basso Continuo The Brook Street Band (Avie)A slimmed-down Brook Street Band give us nine of Handel's violin sonatas on this disc. Autograph manuscripts only survive for five of them, but the other four sound...

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Manchester Collective, Chetham's, Manchester review - flair and variety

Manchester Collective is a new and enterprising group of musicians determined not just to create performances of high quality but to offer a new way in which the performances themselves are done. They started from scratch at the end of 2016, and I...

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The Path to Heaven, RNCM, Manchester review - tragedy, truth, passion

Adam Gorb’s The Path to Heaven, with libretto by Ben Kaye, is his longest work to date (almost two hours’ running time without interval) and on a story that could hardly be more tragic – the Holocaust. Its premiere at the Royal Northern College of...

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Mamzer Bastard, Royal Opera, Hackney Empire review - inert Hasidic music-drama

Striking it lucky with a successful new opera is a rare occurrence, though every company has a duty to keep on trying. The Royal Opera hit the jackpot with 4.48 Psychosis, a highly original approach to Sarah Kane's profound and authentic play by...

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Ryuichi Sakamoto: 'Ideally I'm recording all the time, 24 hours a day' - interview

Ryuichi Sakamoto has conquered underground and mainstream with seeming ease over four decades, never dropping off in the quality of his releases. Indeed his most recent projects, following his return to public life after treatment for throat cancer...

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Cuckmere: A Portrait/Environment 2.0, Brighton Festival review - landscape, politics and art collide

Sitting between the South Downs and the sea, Brighton’s borders are defined by nature. The Downs’ 2010 designation as a National Park also legislatively limits urban encroachment. The typically beautiful Sussex village of Falmer is on the city’s...

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BBC NOW, Alexandre Bloch, Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff review - tonal music in an avant-garde sense

This is the 50th Vale of Glamorgan Festival, and as its founder and director, John Metcalf, reminded us in a brief post-interval speech, he has been at all of them. Indeed the festival has increasingly mapped itself on to his personal view of what a...

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4.48 Psychosis, Royal Opera, Lyric Hammersmith review - despairing truth in song and speech

Depression, with or without psychotic episodes, is a rare subject for drama or music theatre - and with good reason: the sheer unrelenting monotony of anguish and self-absorption is hard to reproduce within a concentrated time-span. So we still...

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Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review – cosmic perspectives

Space is big – that seems to be the message of Unsuk Chin’s new oratorio Le Chant des Enfants des Étoiles. The work sets texts, ranging from the Baroque to the present day, concerned with space and scale. The work’s cosmic aspirations are reflected...

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Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall review – music for the ages

Frederic Rzewski marked his 80th birthday with a visit to the Wigmore Hall, for the premiere of his aptly titled Ages. The pianist Igor Levit is an ardent champion of Rzewski’s music and was the prime mover behind the commission (though it was...

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