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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]

Posted on 01/09/2014
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Elgar The Apostles, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Chorus, Davis, Barbican Hall

Sir Colin Davis photo Chris ChristodoulouSir Adrian Boult laid the foundations for its revival, more recently Sir Mark Elder found astonishing illumination within it, and now a third knight of the realm – Sir Andrew Davis (the latest recipient of the Elgar Medal) – chivalrously stamps his authority on it and brings it in from the cold. Elgar’s The Apostles[Read More]

Posted on 13/04/2014
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Elgar “The Dream of Gerontius”, Davis, Barbican

Some performances evolve so naturally, so inevitably, that they feel – bespoke. Andrew Davis has a long history with both the BBC Symphony Orchestra (who gave him his first big break) and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius and from that moment in the Prelude where the cellos intimate some eternal lullaby to the ebbing arpeggios … [Read More]

Posted on 07/04/2014
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The Last Night of the Proms, Royal Albert Hall (Review)

Marin Alsop conducts at the Last Night of the PromsAs it came to pass, Marin Alsop’s nationality was rather more of a factor than her gender on this historic Last Night of the Proms – but her deft put-down of remarks made only the week before (pace Petrenko) suggested that it might take a little more time (it’s only 2013, for heaven’s sake) … [Read More]

Posted on 08/09/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Prom 8, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Adès, Royal Albert Hall (Review)

Thomas AdèsDeath becomes him. Enter Thomas Adès, composer, conductor, and now grim reaper. The much-anticipated World Premiere of his Totentanz rolled into the Proms like a black juggernaut, an invitation to the dance that none could resist sitting out. And even the work’s dedicatee, Witold Lutoslawski, and kindred spirit, Benjamin Britten, were celebrated in this their … [Read More]

Posted on 18/07/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Prom 1, BBC Symphony Orchestra & Choruses, Oramo (Review)

The 119th season of BBC Proms opened not with a bang but with barely a murmur. A thrumming, like the beating of tiny insect wings, like the hum of summer, looked towards not just the season ahead but eternity. Julian Anderson’s setting of words by the mystical 19th century naturist Richard Jeffries had a syncopated, … [Read More]

Posted on 13/07/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Donizetti’s ‘Belisario’ marches in…

Among Donizetti’s 75 or so operas Belisario has all the credentials to be much more than just a curio. It was written in the wake of Lucia di Lammermoor‘s triumph and represents the composer in full maturity eager to break new ground and empowered to do so boldly. The ferocious opening chords are like … [Read More]

Posted on 29/10/2012
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Posted in Asides

The Last Night of the Proms – Review ****

Brittania always rules on the Last Night of the Proms – but in this Olympic year she really ruled. I’m still puzzled as to why they couldn’t find a home-grown Olympic Fanfare and not one recycled from Los Angeles 1984, though I suppose one “chariot of fire” from our lusty rendition of Parry’s Jerusalem trumps … [Read More]

Posted on 09/09/2012
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Prom 24: BBC Symphony Orchestra, Davis, Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall can be an intimate place, mysteriously transforming on occasions from monster auditorium to private salon. There’s something about a small group of players, or in this case singers – the BBC Singers – in close harmony that effects that transformation and so it came to pass that the short vocal preface … [Read More]

Posted on 03/08/2011
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BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Bychkov, Barbican Hall

Ask not for whom the bell tolls. Rachmaninov didn’t: he knew. Or rather he was convinced that they all tolled for him. His splendid choral symphony The Bells is full of ominous premonition with even the “Silver Sleigh Bells” of a lost youth – scintillating with some of the composer’s most expensive orchestration – promising … [Read More]

Posted on 20/03/2011
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