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The Magic Flute, English National Opera, London Coliseum (Review)

ENO Magic Flute with Ben Johnson and Devon Guthrie photo by Robbie JackOut of the mouths of babes… the wise child that is Simon McBurney takes his cue from the “three young boys steeped in ancient learning” – a description he takes literally by transforming them into little old men – and spirits us through Mozart’s The Magic Flute with a mix of naiveté and cunning, invention, … [Read More]

Posted on 08/11/2013
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Posted in Opera, Reviews

London Symphony Orchestra, Uchida, Ticciati, Barbican Hall (Review)

From Mozart’s pen to Mitsuko Uchida’s fingers and one last time for Sir Colin Davis – Mozart’s wistful Rondo in A minor. If ever music crossed thresholds this not so little Rondo with its lilting Siciliana-like melody does. Eternity seems to be within its grasp as its sorrowful theme acquires ever more entrancing ornamentation … [Read More]

Posted on 20/09/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Le nozze di Figaro, Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Review)

It’s the season of free love in Michael Grandage’s 1960s take on Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro – everybody’s at it; and since you can’t tell the men from the girls (or even the boys in Cherubino’s case) issues of sexual identity assume an added significance. The period would seem to be a reasonably good … [Read More]

Posted on 09/06/2013
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Mitsuko Uchida, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

Mitsuko UchidaThe magic usually descends quickly in a Mitsuko Uchida recital but the opening Bach of this rescheduled Festival Hall concert – a pair of Preludes and Fugues from Book 2 of The Well-Tempered Klavier – took a while to draw attention from the farthest reaches of this unfriendly recital space. Could it be that the … [Read More]

Posted on 07/03/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Rattle, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

Period instruments demand absolute honesty from their players. Their sound is their personality – candid, quirky, eccentrically beautiful – but their soul is revealed in the spirit of the playing where beauty is not skin deep and the expressiveness of phrasing in the strings is created in the bow arm and from a truthfulness of … [Read More]

Posted on 30/01/2013
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London Philharmonic Orchestra, Tetzlaff, Vänskä, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

Some symphonies are natural curtain-raisers: Sibelius’ Third is one. Music began with rhythm and in this piece the cellos are the distant drummers who bring us back to basics with their curt opening measures. Osmo Vänskä clipped the rhythms are kept them on a tight rein – because he knows how this piece goes, how … [Read More]

Posted on 01/11/2012
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Mozart “Don Giovanni”, English National Opera, London Coliseum (Review)

Don Giovanni ENO“Coming Soon”, declares the contentious poster, though even the notion that Don Giovanni would have the time or the inclination to open the packet leave alone use the condom hardly squares with the reckless dash of Mozart and Da Ponte’s narrative. No matter – at least the show itself has lost some of its dead … [Read More]

Posted on 18/10/2012
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Mozart “Le nozze di Figaro”, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

It’s the age of long hair and raging hormones, wide lapels and wider collars, the age of new found “permissiveness” where the world and his dog are gagging for some extra-curricular congress and the great and good are headed for their lavish Spanish villas with or without the wife. We’re outside just such a villa … [Read More]

Posted on 28/06/2012
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Staatskapelle Berlin, Barenboim, Royal Festival Hall

The furtive opening bars of Mozart’s C minor Piano Concerto No. 24 were shrouded in a mellowness of tone that made them welcoming rather than darkly unsettling and as the well upholstered sound of the venerable Staatskapelle Berlin took hold we were cast back into an era of sound and style that was altogether “other”. … [Read More]

Posted on 17/04/2012
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Mozart “Don Giovanni”, Royal Opera House

There is hell-fire enough at the close of Francesca Zambello’s 2002 staging of Don Giovanni to consume not just the Don but the entire production. Not such a bad idea, I found myself thinking, as the Commendatore’s gigantic gauntlet descended, its accusing finger aflame. There’s nothing quite like a burst of pyrotechnics to gee up … [Read More]

Posted on 22/01/2012
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