GRAMOPHONE Review: Bernstein Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 Baltimore Symphony/Alsop

A disc of two halves, for sure: a somewhat sober “Jeremiah” and a scintillating “Age of Anxiety”. Perhaps there is simply no reply to Bernstein’s feverish intensity in both his recordings of the former; the latter, of course, has the poetic Jean-Yves Thibaudet as protagonist and he is very much a chip off the Bernstein … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Natalie Dessay – Pictures of America Paris Mozart Orchestra/Gibault

Anyone who has ever seen Natalie Dessay on the stage will know what an accomplished actress she is. It is that which has put flesh on her singing and enriched her operatic career. And now a new phase begins. There is talk of films, of straight acting roles – and maybe even adventures at the … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Tchaikovsky Symphonies 4, 5 & 6 Arctic Philharmonic/Lindberg

In a forward to the liner notes for this new BIS release superstar trombonist and composer turned conductor Christian Lindberg writes of his childhood obsession with the Tchaikovsky symphonies and in particular his fascination with the disparity of tempi revealed in different interpretations. His return to the composer’s metronome markings would, he says, probably mark … [Read More]

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chailly, Barbican

MA5_8872There’s an old conductor’s adage which suggests that the only way safe to start Strauss’ Don Juan is to start before the applause has died – that way no one hears any imperfections in the upward rush of strings. Remembering those words made me smile as Riccardo Chailly and his magnificent Leipzig orchestra leapt as … [Read More]

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall

Jurowski - Festival HallMahler’s supersonic Seventh – a grand experiment in sensory colouration if ever there was one – needs no special pleading: it is what it is, a one-off, an oddity, a new departure of no fixed destination. But how different and how much more subtle and individual it sounds through the ears and fine sensibilities of … [Read More]

Philadelphia Orchestra, Nézet-Séguin, Royal Festival Hall

Philadelphia Orchestra Nézet-SéguinThe venerable and venerated Philadelphia Orchestra swept into London bearing gifts and mixed messages from Nico Muhly. Actually that was the title of his crowd-pleasing opener for the orchestra – Mixed Messages (UK Premiere) – and for a moment or two the confusion implicit in the title might have extended to the identity of the … [Read More]

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle, Barbican

Simon Rattle Berlin PhilharmonicSimon Rattle’s Sibelian journey has been long and fruitful and has taken him all the way from Birmingham to Berlin and more particularly the revered Philharmonic where the spaces between the notes now resonate in extraordinary ways and the bass lines are sunk deeper than with any other orchestra on the planet. Beginning their London … [Read More]

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Nézet-Séguin, Royal Festival Hall

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms 2013Music lovers invariably divide into two faction over the Brahms piano concertos: those who thrill to the elemental D minor and those who prefer to bask in the more reflective charms of the sumptuous B-flat Second Concerto. I’m a D minor man myself, secretly convinced that the four-movement Second would prove a far more startling … [Read More]

BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers, Litton, Barbican Hall

Andrew LittonThe problem with programming Charles Ives’ Fourth Symphony – and only the very bold and resourceful and/or the BBC are ever likely to do so – is that it eclipses everything, and I mean everything, in its proximity. And if it was my 90th birthday – as indeed it was on this day for … [Read More]

Prom 64, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Rattle, Royal Albert Hall

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker at the BBC Proms 2014.They were, of course, applauded on to the platform – all of them – and when at the close Simon Rattle turned to us and said “I think you know this already but there is no audience in the world like this one” the tacet response was surely implicit that there is no orchestra in … [Read More]

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