mon 23/05/2022

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Berrut, ECO, Guzzo, Cadogan Hall review - Schubert with a smile

Bernard Hughes

I came for the Schubert and it didn’t disappoint. Which was good, as the Mozart and Stravinsky did, a little.

Vondráček, LSO, Tilson Thomas, Barbican review - mixed messages

Gavin Dixon

Conductor and pianist came at Liszt from opposite directions last night. Michael Tilson Thomas is a venerable presence at the podium and has been Laureate Conductor of the London Symphony for decades. Their relationship speaks of deep empathy and close communication.

Dandy, BBC Philharmonic, New, Bridgewater Hall,...

Robert Beale

Saturday’s concert by the BBC Philharmonic was in large measure about the Mahlers – Gustav and Alma. The former’s First Symphony formed the...

Classical CDs: Double reeds, double pianos and...

Graham Rickson

 Mozart, Hummel and Vanhal – Bassoon Concertos Sophie Dervaux (bassoon/conductor), Mozarteumorchester Salzburg (Berlin Classics)The...

Osborne, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall,...

Robert Beale

The Mancunian tribute to Ralph Vaughan Williams – a symphonic cycle shared by the BBC Philharmonic and Hallé – reached its conclusion with the Eighth...

Buchbinder, Gewandhausorkester Leipzig, Nelsons, Barbican / COE Soloists, St John's Smith Square review - European sophistication in spades

David Nice

Sonic wonders from a great orchestra in the City and chamber ensemble in Westminster

Baráti, Bournemouth SO, Riveiro Böhm, Lighthouse, Poole review - a quartet of musical child prodigies

Ian Julier

A telling demonstration of how less really can be more

Ridout, SCO, Manze, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh review - sensual mystery and searing intensity

Simon Thompson

Welcome return for an imaginative programmer of British music from Dowland to Clyne

CBSO Musicians, Hockley Social Club, Birmingham review - creative coalescence of music and dining

Miranda Heggie

Third instalment of what's now a slick creative collaboration

Bevan, Williams, Bebbington, RPO, Davan Wetton, Barbican review - Vaughan Williams celebrated

Bernard Hughes

Anniversary marked by three classics and a peculiarity

Rangwanasha, Williams, Hallé Orchestra and Choirs, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - epic Vaughan Williams

Robert Beale

Two extraordinary symphonies take to the high seas with noble captain and crew

RSNO, RCOS Students, Søndergård, Usher Hall, Edinburgh - a massive gesture of solidarity

Christopher Lambton

From Scottish maelstrom and Norwegian trolls to a Bavarian mountain-top

'An invitation to stillness and reflection': saxophonist and composer Christian Forshaw on collaborating with top choir Tenebrae

Christian Forshaw

On the vocal quality of his chosen instrument and an invitation to stillness

Kožená, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - Berlin to Broadway, and back

Boyd Tonkin

A Kurt Weill evening with more polish than grit

Classical CDs: Toyshops, begging gods and a good year for Austrian music

Graham Rickson

Classical piano music, French symphonies and a big box of ballets

Esfahani, CBSO, Morlot, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - ghostly enchantments

Richard Bratby

Haunting UK premiere for Bent Sørensen's exquisite but elusive harpsichord concerto

Beethoven Cello Sonatas 1, Elschenbroich, Grynyuk, Fidelio Café review - towards epic song

David Nice

The privilege of close-quarters thrills from a live-wire duo

Six Brandenburgs: Six Commissions, Chamber Domaine, Malling Abbey review - metaphysical brilliance

David Nice

Bach binds together six equally compelling new works and some of the UK's top players

Faust, English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner, St Martin-in-the-Fields review – gusto and grace

Boyd Tonkin

Wit and vim invigorate favourite Haydn and Mozart

Moore, LSO, Zhang, Barbican review – virtuosity worn lightly

Gavin Dixon

A spectacular new trombone concerto and a colourful reminiscence of China

Hallé, Wilson, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - valedictory Vaughan Williams

Robert Beale

Contrasting radical young Holst with an 80-year-old’s final symphony

First Person: composer Michael Price on responding to Bach's Second Brandenburg Concerto

Michael Price

'The Malling Diamond' is one of six commissions for an ambitious Music@Malling project

Gillam, NYOS, Hasan, Usher Hall, Edinburgh - stunning variety from the new generation

Christopher Lambton

Over 100 young people play at the highest level in Respighi, Harle and Shostakovich

Bach and Pärt St John Passions, Voces8, ECO, Cadogan Hall / Gesualdo Six, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - contrasting Easter stories

Bernard Hughes

Baroque and minimalist Passions weave magic in their different ways

Classical CDs: Bounce, bluster and Blätter

Graham Rickson

Choral music for Easter, plus contemporary opera and Swiss orchestral delights

Bournemouth SO, Karabits, Lighthouse, Poole review - more voices from the east

Ian Julier

Azeri composers followed by Shostakovich in another adventurous BSO programme

BBC Philharmonic, Wilson, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester - passionate advocacy for Vaughan Williams

Robert Beale

Precision and vivid effects mark both filmic and symphonic styles

Kang, National Symphony Orchestra, Bihlmaier, National Concert Hall, Dublin review - hats off, another top conductor

David Nice

Interpretative excellence peaks in a phenomenal Schumann Second Symphony

Classical CDs: Escalators, dead leaves and a sixth-century bard

Graham Rickson

Welsh song, 21st century chamber music and some masterful brass playing

Footnote: a brief history of classical music in Britain

London has more world-famous symphony orchestras than any other city in the world, the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra vying with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Royal Opera House Orchestra, crack "period", chamber and contemporary orchestras. The bursting schedules of concerts at the Wigmore Hall, the Barbican Centre and South Bank Centre, and the strength of music in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff, among other cities, show a depth and internationalism reflecting the development of the British classical tradition as European, but with specific slants of its own.

brittenWhile Renaissance monarchs Henry VIII and Elizabeth I took a lively interest in musical entertainment, this did not prevent outstanding English composers such as Thomas Tallis and William Byrd developing the use of massed choral voices to stirring effect. Arguably the vocal tradition became British music's glory, boosted by the arrival of Handel as a London resident in 1710. For the next 35 years he generated booms in opera, choral and instrumental playing, and London attracted a wealth of major European composers, Mozart, Chopin and Mahler among them.

The Victorian era saw a proliferation of classical music organisations, beginning with the Philharmonic Society, 1813, and the Royal Academy of Music, 1822, both keenly promoting Beethoven's music. The Royal Albert Hall and the Queen's Hall were key new concert halls, and Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh established major orchestras. Edward Elgar was chief of a raft of English late-Victorian composers; a boom-time which saw the Proms launched in 1895 by Sir Henry Wood, and a rapid increase in conservatoires and orchestras. The "pastoral" English classical style arose, typified by Vaughan Williams, and the new BBC took over the Proms in 1931, founding its own broadcasting orchestra and classical radio station (now Radio 3).

England at last produced a world giant in Benjamin Britten (pictured above), whose protean range spearheaded the postwar establishment of national arts institutions, resulting notably in English National Opera, the Royal Opera and the Aldeburgh Festival. The Arts Desk writers provide a uniquely rich coverage of classical concerts, with overnight reviews and indepth interviews with major performers and composers, from Britain and abroad. Writers include Igor Toronyi-Lalic, David Nice, Edward Seckerson, Alexandra Coghlan, Graham Rickson, Stephen Walsh and Ismene Brown

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