sat 16/10/2021

Classical Music reviews, news & interviews

Tamestit, LSO, Ticciati, LSO St Luke's review - viola as chameleon, palpitating Brahms

David Nice

Returning to LSO St Luke’s, formerly a beacon in the darkness of semi-lockdown for the lucky few allowed to feast upon the London Symphony Orchestra from the gallery, felt the same, yet different, like so much since most of the rules were relaxed.

Two-Piano Gala, Kings Place review - five pianists, two pianos, too many pieces

Bernard Hughes

I’ve always loved the sound of two-piano music: the amazing range of available textures, the interplay of parts and the sense of collaboration between soloists.

Gabriela Montero, Kings Place review -...

David Nice

As the Statue of Liberty appears in Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant, our improvising pianist proclaims “The Star-Spangled Banner”, only for it to...

Bavouzet, Manchester Camerata, Takács-Nagy,...

Robert Beale

The joint enterprise of soloist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy, with Manchester Camerata, in recording publicly all Mozart’s...

theartsdesk at the Two Moors Festival - birdsong...

David Nice

First came the difficult decision: whether to experience performances by great musicians whose work I already knew in the second, Exmoor-based...

Geniušas, SCO, Emelyanychev, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - glorious return to a much-missed venue

Simon Thompson

Abundant energy from conductor and orchestra, less so from the soloist

Philharmonia, Rouvali, RFH review - the really big orchestra is back for cosmic Strauss

David Nice

Who'd have thought it? Two enormous scores in one dazzling concert

The Creation, Academy of Ancient Music, Cummings, Barbican review - back to choral paradise

Boyd Tonkin

A joyful and lavish rebirth for Haydn's happy masterpiece

Gerhaher, Faust, Wigmore Hall review - husky shadings and dark hues

Gavin Dixon

Night themed recital presents new Berlioz arrangement, plus rarely heard Schoeck

Carnac, BCMG, Kemp, Music@Malling Festival - lyrical Turnage frames abstruse fancies

David Nice

Bittersweet spells from the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in rural Kent

Iestyn Davies, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Kings Place review - Elizabethans and extraterrestrials

Boyd Tonkin

Four centuries of London's musical life anchored by a star counter-tenor

Classical CDs: Lieder, folk song and a neglected conductor receiving his due

Graham Rickson

Box sets of German songs and vintage orchestral treats, plus ethnomusicology, lively piano duets and lots of foxtrots

Nicola Benedetti, Barbican Hall review – from Bach to the Highlands via New Orleans

Boyd Tonkin

A bold solo voyage through three centuries of violin virtuosity

Kanneh-Mason, Terfel, RPO, Philharmonia Chorus, Petrenko, RAH review - an anniversary feast

Jessica Duchen

Full chorus and giant orchestra reunite at last to celebrate 75 years and counting

Black British Musical Theatre 1900-1950, Wigmore Hall review – a disappointing missed opportunity

Bernard Hughes

Lecture-recital leaves more questions than answers about an interesting subject

Esther Yoo, Yekwon Sunwoo, Wigmore Hall review - Korean duo needs time to develop

Sebastian Scotney

A mixed bag in this new violin-and-piano duo's recital

LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - a glimpse into Bruckner’s workshop

Gavin Dixon

A compelling case made for each version of the 'Romantic' Symphony

Leeds International Piano Competition Finals, Leeds Town Hall review - a hi-tech, low carbon musical celebration

Graham Rickson

Upbeat close to one of the UK's great musical events

Podium odes to joy: conductors at the 2021 BBC Proms


Comsummate photographer Chris Christodoulou's annual gallery yields more treasures

Our Future in Your Hands, Peckham School Choirs, Multi-Story Orchestra, Stark, Bold Tendencies review - blazing community epic

David Nice

Kate Whitley's latest work involving local schoolchildren is a big symphonic eco-plea

Last Night of the Proms, BBC review - a feast of unusual morsels in a traditional wrapper

Christopher Lambton

15 composers and more in the latest take on a worldwide phenomenon

Devieilhe, Tharaud, Wigmore Hall review - French soprano attracts young audience

Sebastian Scotney

Debussy brings joy...and disappointment

First Person: pianist Filippo Gorini on head, heart and the contemporary in Bach's 'The Art of Fugue'

Filippo Gorini

Taking off from a masterly marriage of rigorous means and expressive ends

Classical CDs: Star sopranos, forest spirits and a Mexican funeral march

Graham Rickson

A debut disc from a young German soprano, an ear-stretching Icelandic string quartet and two collections of nonets

St Matthew Passion, Arcangelo, Cohen, BBC Proms review – journey to the end of night

Boyd Tonkin

Bach's great Gospel tragedy crowns a Proms season of hope and healing

Through hoops and hurdles to sheer joy: BBC Proms Director David Pickard on a season like no other

David Pickard

It isn't over yet, but an international institution has already triumphed against the odds

Proms Festival Orchestra, Wigglesworth, BBC Proms review - brilliant work in progress, perfect Adagietto

David Nice

Freelance musicians prove an army of generals, marshalled by a great British conductor

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, RLPO, Hindoyan, BBC Proms review - wood magic and swashbuckling show-offs

David Nice

The cellist meditates, the Liverpudlian orchestra lets rip with its lively new chief conductor

Chiejina, Sinfonia of London, Wilson, BBC Proms review - a musical arrival for a special favourite

Alexandra Coghlan

Arresting musicianship finally gives Korngold his due

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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