Nothing has resonated through the unfolding First World War commemorations than the poetry of Wilfred Owen; and in terms of its grim immediacy and enduring heartbreak nothing ever could. Benjamin Britten knew that when he set down his War Requiem for posterity, counterpointing religious posturing with Owen’s indisputable truths. One fought, the other chose not … [Read More]
Applause for the conductor – even if it is Andris Nelsons – is just about the last thing we need to hear when Richard Strauss is about to fling down the brutal chords which spell out the name of Agamemnon. Surely the start of Elektra is now one of those occasions where we must set … [Read More]
Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony “Leningrad” is a tough act to follow but a tougher act to precede and I’m not sure it was ever going to be fair on Emily Howard whose Prom premiere “Calculus of the Nervous System” provided so little to hold our attention for even 15 minutes.
Shostakovich is, of course, the past … [Read More]
At 33, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s Music Dirctor Andris Nelsons is young but still almost a decade older than Richard Strauss was when he showed the world how he planned to go on with his dazzling tone poem Don Juan – a piece with an excess of just about everything except length. Identifying … [Read More]
One can only hope that the ill wind which strips away the cherry blossom at the close of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s feeble 2003 production of Madama Butterfly might soon carry off the entire staging. I’ve seen some cheesy operatic moments over the years but the sight of poor Butterfly in her death throes … [Read More]
The heroics came fast and fervently with Andris Nelsons and the Philharmonia Orchestra emerging from suffocating pianissimi to rip out the exultant fanfares of Beethoven’s Leonora No.3 Overture as if already limbering up to take on Strauss’ critics in Ein Heldenleben. That he saw them off so decisively didn’t, on his present form, come … [Read More]