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]

Prom 59, “Elektra”, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Bychkov, Royal Albert Hall

Christine Goerke and Gun-Brit Barkmin BBC Proms 2014.How much familial dysfunction and lust – whether for sexual gratification or revenge – can one take in a single weekend? Salome and Elektra back-to back may on paper seem like a feast of divine decadence but no sooner had one become accustomed to the sickly sweet air of the former when the putrefaction of … [Read More]

Prom 58, “Salome”, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Runnicles, Royal Albert Hall

SalomeIt has been said many times (and by Strauss himself) that the title role of Strauss’ Salome requires at least two different voices. Nina Stemme has both of them. And so seamlessly, artfully, are they rolled into one that it is hard to think of any other singer at the present time who better encapsulates … [Read More]

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