Blog Archives

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]

Posted on 25/09/2014
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Prom 47, Britten War Requiem, CBSO, BBC Proms Youth Choir, Nelsons, Royal Albert Hall

Baritone Hanno Müller-Brachmann BBC Proms 2014Nothing 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]

Posted on 22/08/2014
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

The Rape of Lucretia, Glyndebourne Touring Opera (Review)

Rape of lucretia - Glynebourne Touring 2013Lucretia is quite literally pulled from the earth like a living artefact – and to the earth she will return. But when we arrive at the contentious final moments of Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia and the Female Chorus – seeking answers for this chaste woman’s violation and death – asks “Is it all?”, … [Read More]

Posted on 20/10/2013
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Posted in Opera, Reviews

Britten “War Requiem”, London Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir, Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

Vladimir Jurowski and London Philharmonic OrchestraBritten’s innate theatricality shines through every single bar of his War Requiem. Atmosphere, drama, suspense, and high emotionalism is to a greater or lesser degree written into the piece (something which the naysayers always latch on to). And yet, with its planes of sound so precisely appropriated there is an acoustical part to be … [Read More]

Posted on 13/10/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Briefly… Peter Grimes, London Philharmonic, Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

I think we can now say with absolute certainty that Stuart Skelton is the pre-eminent Peter Grimes of the present time. Just as Peter Pears originated the role for a whole generation and Jon Vickers redefined it and Philip Langridge made us re-think it, so Skelton has become Grimes, reconciling the bluff fisherman with the … [Read More]

Posted on 29/09/2013
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Posted in Asides

“Billy Budd”, Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Review)

billy budd image richard hubert smith“This is not his trial, it is mine”, says Captain Fairfax Vere as he sees the inevitability of Billy Budd’s condemnation. “My heart’s broken, my life’s broken”, he concludes, and by having him bear witness to Billy’s execution as his older, tormented self, director Michael Grandage has him (Vere) effectively witnessing his own. Billy’s death [Read More]

Posted on 11/08/2013
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Posted in Opera, 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

Britten “War Requiem”, Bergen Festival (Review)

In Bergen’s Grieg Hall – one is tempted to say the Hall of the Mountain King – the 2013 Bergen Festival concludes with the mournful tolling of bells. A consonant “Amen” – like a healing benediction – is the last word and with it comes perhaps a glimmer of hope. But the mood is sombre … [Read More]

Posted on 07/06/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Philharmonia Orchestra, Gabetta, Ashkenazy, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

Sol GabettaDeath comes in many guises but in this ingeniously devised Philharmonia concert he most definitely did not have the last laugh. That was for Shostakovich and a curiously ticking time bomb of percussion which first surfaced in his Fourth Symphony when Stalin branded him a renegade but which later became a kind of defiant titter … [Read More]

Posted on 22/02/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

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