COMPARING NOTES – PizzaExpress Live Holborn

Comparing Notes brings stars of the West End and Broadway to PizzaExpress Live Holborn. In a lively and informal mix of performance and conversation host Edward Seckerson will be getting up close and personal with these musical theatre luminaries, exploring the stories behind the songs and the personalities behind the artistry.

The series opens … [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Elgar The Dream of Gerontius – Soloists, Staatskapelle Berlin/Barenboim

There is probably no such thing as the perfect Gerontius. Every recording is flawed in some way. Even the classic (and glorious) Barbirolli has Kim Borg’s misshapen vowels to contend with. But the inspirational nature of the piece relies so much on temperament to carry it into the ascendency that perfection is probably not such [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Prokofiev Symphonies 1 & 7/Lieutenant Kijé Suite – Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Sokhiev

Tugan Sokhiev has impressed me in the past – his Tchaikovsky Fourth with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse in particular – but some of his choices here are puzzling and one, baffling.  

He is certainly mindful of the parody rife in Lieutenant Kije and the militaristic colours heralding the “virtual” hero’s birth are [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Legrand Concertos for Piano & Cello – Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France/Frank

I have long adored the songs and admired the talent of Michel Legrand, inflected as it is with a jazzer’s free-ranging melodies and oblique harmonies – but the devilish inventiveness of these concert pieces took even me by surprise. The fact is they don’t really sound like anyone else, and even if you were to [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Sibelius Symphonies 1 & 6 – BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Søndergård

The solo clarinet which stands on the threshold of Sibelius’ symphonic journey is quite simply the palest, chilliest, loneliest sound in the world. Thomas Søndergård has a nose for such things and his Sibelius – as we have already heard in the first release of the series coupling the Second and Seventh symphonies – is [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Mahler Das Lied von der Erde – Jonas Kaufmann Vienna Philharmonic/Nott

When you are as big a star as Jonas Kaufmann, when your instrument is fach-defying and your choices in terms of the repertoire seemingly boundless, you get to do pretty much what you want – including, it seems, re-conceiving Mahler’s seminal song-symphony for a single voice. It’s hard to know who thought this was a [Read More]

GRAMOPHONE Review: Elgar Symphony No. 1 / Introduction and Allegro – BBC Symphony Orchestra/ Doric Quartet/ Gardner

With each new disc that arrives, it becomes clearer and clearer that Edward Gardner is evolving into something really special. If I was permitted only one “library” choice for the works under scrutiny these would not be they – but they can and should be applauded for their lucidity and clarity and insightful honesty. There [Read More]

SATURDAY CLASSICS: BBC Radio 3, Easter Saturday 13.00

On Saturday 15th April, I will be indulging myself with more than a few of my favourite things for two whole hours on BBC Radio 3’s Saturday Classics, with a highly personal selection of music mainly from the theatre. Composers include Rameau, Richard Rodgers, Leonard Bernstein, Britten, Bernard Herrmann, Shostakovich, Gershwin and Gilbert and Sullivan. … [Read More]

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]

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