Blog Archives

Prom 31: Hallé, Coote, Elder, Royal Albert Hall

The levels of refinement now exhibited by the Hallé, the stylishness and elegance of the playing, is alone a measure of the special relationship that they and Mark Elder have cemented over the last decade and a half. The opening bars of Berlioz’ Le corsaire came off the page like a manifesto for French sensibilities … [Read More]

Posted on 10/08/2014
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Benvenuto Cellini, London Coliseum

Benvenuto CelliniHector Berlioz and Terry Gilliam were undoubtedly made for each other – kindred spirits with wild imaginations, impractical demands, and a touch of anarchy. But Berlioz was a chaotic dramatist at best and in a piece like Benvenuto Cellini which he and his librettists described as an Opéra semi-seria but was in truth a miserable … [Read More]

Posted on 06/06/2014
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Posted in Opera, Reviews

London Philharmonic, Petrenko, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

Vasily PetrenkoVasily Petrenko used his baton like a piratical rapier to galvanise the London Philharmonic violins in their flourishes of derring-do at the start of Berlioz’ Overture Le Corsaire. And the brilliance was in the quicksilver contrasts, the lightness and wit of inflection which lent a piquancy to the panache of this great concert opener. … [Read More]

Posted on 22/02/2014
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Prom 33: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Uchida, Jansons, Royal Albert Hall (Review)

Mitsuko Uchida performs with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra at the BBC PromsPrecious few musicians can instill such a sense of intimacy into their playing as to have us believing that the Royal Albert Hall is Wigmore Hall and that their performance is for an audience of one and not six thousand. Mitsuko Uchida is among the select few. Indeed there were feats of projection in pianissimo … [Read More]

Posted on 09/08/2013
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Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Elder, Royal Festival Hall

Such is Berlioz’ persuasive theatricality that even when he is rearranging Shakespeare one is inclined to ask not what the Bard is doing for him but rather what he is doing for the Bard. His unprecedented Symphonie Dramatique Roméo et Juliette doesn’t so much re-enact but reflect on the unfolding drama and the joy of … [Read More]

Posted on 19/02/2012
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Britten Sinfonia & Voices, Elder, Queen Elizabeth Hall

The onstage mingling of orchestra, soloists, and conductor prior to this seasonal performance of Berlioz’ L’enfance du Christ was presumably designed to lend a more intimate, informal tone to the start of the evening so that the music could “emerge”, as it were, without the usual formalities of bows and applause. And it might not … [Read More]

Posted on 09/12/2011
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London Symphony Orchestra, Douglas, Roth, Barbican Hall

Programming Liszt is like counting calories: you can blow your entire month’s intake in less than an hour. Whoever thought of pairing the Symphonic Poem Mazeppa with the 2nd Piano Concerto – presumably the conductor Francois-Xavier Roth – clearly placed musical symmetry over sensory overkill. One tub-thumping Cossack march might quicken the senses; two in … [Read More]

Posted on 07/01/2011
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