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Marc-André Hamelin, Wigmore Hall

There is really very little that Marc-André Hamelin can’t or won’t do on or with a piano and he did most of it in this characteristically supersonic recital – including one wholesale assault on the Wigmore Steinway’s bottom octave with his fists. You can blame Villa-Lobos for that. Risky if you’ve just played Stockhausen and … [Read More]

Posted on 07/02/2012
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Prom 74: The Last Night

There were funeral pyres to light, mountains to climb, and, of course, there was Jerusalem to build. All in a Last Night’s work. Another record-breaking season – an astonishing 94% of capacity – thundered to a close with the usual assortment of incongruous “turns”. Ours not to reason why Bartok was rubbing shoulders with Brünnhilde … [Read More]

Posted on 11/09/2011
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Proms 63 & 64: Budapest Festival Orchestra, Fischer, Royal Albert Hall

The surprises came thick and fast – but variants on a theme of Lady Gaga in the style of Bach was not one we might have anticipated. It came courtesy of the young Croatian pianist Dejan Lazic and given his limpid and robust devilry in Liszt’s outrageous Totentanz its capriciousness was entirely in keeping. You … [Read More]

Posted on 03/09/2011
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Staatskapelle Berlin, Barenboim, Boulez, Royal Festival Hall

Liszt and Wagner, Boulez and Barenboim – iconic names, analogous kinships. As conductors and musical soulmates both Boulez and Barenboim have boldly sought and found satisfying answers to the Wagner myth but who, one wonders, could have made the lowering tuba at the start of Wagner’s Faust Overture sound quite so mystifying or indeed so … [Read More]

Posted on 14/06/2011
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Orchestra of the Accademia Nationale Di Santa Cecilia, Pappano, Anvil Basingstoke

The Orchestra of the Academia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia, Rome, brought a little something home grown on this their fleeting UK tour. While their counterparts at the Royal Opera in London were tracing out the ethereal opening measures of the Prelude to Verdi’s Aida, over at the Anvil in Basingstoke the self same music … [Read More]

Posted on 18/03/2011
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Budapest Festival Orchestra, Hough, Fischer, Royal Festival Hall

The Hungarian Presidency of the EU and the start of the Liszt Bicentennial – two very good reasons for some of Hungary’s (indeed the world’s) finest – the Budapest Festival Orchestra – to party. And bringing Esterhazy to Oxford in Haydn’s Symphony No.92 was as good a way as any for Ivan Fischer’s marvellous orchestra … [Read More]

Posted on 17/01/2011
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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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