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London Philharmonic Orchestra, Power, Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

James MacMillanNothing follows Mahler 6 and surely nothing should precede it. Nothing. Even a piece as compelling as James MacMillan’s Viola Concerto here receiving its World Premiere under the extraordinary fingers of its dedicatee Lawrence Power. There’s only so much intensity and so many notes we can take on board in a single concert and I, … [Read More]

Posted on 16/01/2014
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Prom 35: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra & Choruses, Jansons, Royal Albert Hall (Review)

Mariss Jansons conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms. Photograph BBC - Chris ChristodoulouMariss Jansons by no means gave us the whole story of Mahler’s Second Symphony “Resurrection” at his second Prom with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Like Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique from the night before it was a work which pushed the symphonic envelope at the end of the 19th century and shocked everyone with its uncompromising … [Read More]

Posted on 10/08/2013
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London Philharmonic Orchestra, Elder, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

The natural logic of this heady mix of first and second Viennese utterances was turned on its head with Webern’s early tone poem Im Sommerwind opening like a breathy premonition of the autumnal second song of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Pantheism ruled as Mark Elder and the London Phiharmonic Orchestra, through a … [Read More]

Posted on 24/01/2013
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Prom 69: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chailly – Review ****

A grim logic pervaded the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra’s second Prom. Messiaen’s Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum effectively begins where Mahler’s 6th Symphony ends – from the lowest of the lowest depths. Two bass tubas sound the death knell from whence Mahler’s threnody of trombones had offered the last rites. But to precede the turmoil of Mahler’s … [Read More]

Posted on 03/09/2012
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Magdalena Kozenà, Mitsuko Uchida, Wigmore Hall

It’s extraordinary how the symbiosis of spirit and rightness of timbre between an artist and a composer can turn a recital around. The Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena is not a natural recitalist tending to overwork and over-illustrate texts with a physical manner and overactive hands better suited to the stage. But when she and the … [Read More]

Posted on 19/05/2012
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New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Gilbert, Barbican Hall

For the New York Philharmonic to have embarked upon a London residency without Mahler in their portfolio would have been unconscionable. It was they, after all, who brought it to the wider world under their most celebrated music director Leonard Bernstein. But Alan Gilbert, the current incumbent, is no Bernstein – few are – and … [Read More]

Posted on 17/02/2012
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Philharmonia Orchestra, Maazel, Royal Festival Hall

Lorin Maazel may well have set some kind of record here for two of the most protracted and incoherent performances in Mahler history. Even before solo violas had finished tracing out the searching opening line of the 10th Symphony Adagio it was clear that Maazel was inhabiting some parallel time zone from our own. That’s … [Read More]

Posted on 30/09/2011
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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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Philharmonia Orchestra, Maazel, Royal Festival Hall

Watching Lorin Maazel in this the latest instalment of his Philharmonia Mahler cycle was a puzzling and unsettling experience. He was there and yet not there; he was controlled and yet not; he conducted from memory but with a curious detachment. How very strange that music he has loved and lived with all his long … [Read More]

Posted on 29/04/2011
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National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Petrenko, Royal Festival Hall

It must be hard comprehending death when you’ve barely begun living – but the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain has a corporate sixth sense about the subtext of music that never ceases to amaze. Their latest programme reflected on the impermanence of life through two works from the beginning and end of the last … [Read More]

Posted on 25/04/2011
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