tue 22/10/2019

Royal Albert Hall

Richard Thompson 70th Birthday Celebration, Royal Albert Hall review - not just a family affair

So it’s your birthday. Not just another one but your 70th. So who’s on the guest list? Let’s see – master concertina player Alasdair Anderson, the "guvnor" Ashley Hutchings, Husker Du’s Bob Mould, bassist extraordinaire Danny Thompson, Fairporters...

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George Ezra, Royal Albert Hall review - a thumping good time

"The reason why it's so special to be here," says Ezra halfway through the show, "is because this is where I saw so many of my heroes". Tonight is the 26-year-old's debut at the Royal Albert Hall and the look on Ezra's face says he can't quite...

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Prom 72/3: Aurora Orchestra, Collon review – Berlioz not quite lost in showbiz

For a few seconds last night, the Royal Albert Hall turned into London’s biggest – and cheesiest – disco. At the end of the Ball movement in the Aurora Orchestra’s dramatised version of the Symphonie Fantastique, Berlioz’s tipsily lurching waltz...

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Prom 71: Dunedin Consort, Butt review – Bach to the drawing-board please

Blame it on the box set. The four Bach Orchestral Suites fit neatly together as a recording project. They used to fill out the four sides of a double LP back in the early stages of the baroque revival. Completists and collectors could rejoice then,...

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Prom 69: Stikhina, Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov – dark textures and powerful passions

Semyon Bychkov was a surprising choice to take over the Czech Philharmonic last year, a conductor with few obvious connections to Czech music. But on the strength of this visit to the Proms, they make a good team. Bychkov communicates fluently with...

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Prom 66: In the Name of the Earth review - John Luther Adams's ambitious choral spectacular

This is the kind of thing that the Proms does well – indeed, where else would it get an outing? A "big event" piece of massive scale in terms of size and duration, in many ways a modern Spem in Alium, but where Tallis’s 1570 piece demands 40 singers...

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Prom 63: Wang, Staatskapelle Dresden, Chung review – private passions

Weirdly enough, it was “Tea for Two” that definitively proved her class for me. As a second encore to Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, after a mesmeric transcription of that composer’s Vocalise, Yuja Wang’s goodbye treat channelled the mighty Art...

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Prom 60: Ax, Vienna Philharmonic, Haitink review - moving mountains at 90

His movements are minimal (perhaps they always were). A more intense flick of the baton, a sudden wider sweep of the expressive left hand, can help quicken a tempo, draw extra firepower from the players, but Bernard Haitink's conducting is still the...

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Prom 59: Benvenuto Cellini, Monteverdi Choir, ORR, Gardiner review - don't stop the carnival

So we never got the ultimate Proms spectacular, the four brass bands at the points of the Albert Hall compass for Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts, in the composer's 150th anniversary year. Yet Sir John Eliot Gardiner has learnt how to work the...

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Prom 55: Jephtha, SCO & Chorus, Egarr review - shock of the new in sacrificial oratorio

Human sacrifice has a disconcerting and wonderful effect upon great composers, above all when it involves the supremely queasy issue of a father vowing to offer up his child: think of Britten with Abraham and Isaac, Mozart with Idomeneo and Idamante...

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Prom 53: Connolly, Gregory, Tappan, BBCSO & Chorus, Davis review - citizens of the world unite

Let's be clear: this was a Prom of world-class works by English composers, not a conservative concert of English music. Politically speaking, Elgar was one of the few on the right, but how different inwardly, speaking through the poet Arthur O’...

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Prom 47: Schönheit, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Nelsons review - Bruckner doesn’t quite take flight

After Thursday night’s concert I celebrated the Proms’ exploration of unfamiliar repertoire via the CBSO. The following evening saw the festival diving back into mainstream repertoire – as it must also do – conducted by the CBSO’s previous music...

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