Blog Archives

Philharmonia Orchestra, Lugansky, Petrenko, Royal Festival Hall

Liadov crafted more than his fair share of curtain-raisers – but to what end? One might imagine The Enchanted Lake – an atmospheric and beautifully scored miniature – as the prelude to an opera or full-length ballet; there would be method and consequence in that. But as a piece in its own right its six … [Read More]

Posted on 24/04/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Verdi “Requiem”, Philharmonia Orchestra & Chorus, Gatti, Royal Festival Hall

It was clear that there was an Italian on the podium. While muted strings invoked an atmosphere so crepuscular that that one involuntarily closed one’s eyes the murmur of voices intoning the words “Requiem aeternam” seemed to come from deep inside the cathedral. The theatricality of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem is inescapable but what was … [Read More]

Posted on 21/04/2013
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Philharmonia Orchestra, Goerne, Koh, Salonen, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

We began with the most beautiful moments in all of Ravel and ended with the ugliest. For the final concert, the climax, of the Philharmonia’s revelatory Lutoslawski retrospective Woven Words the fastidious Frenchman proved the perfect framing device for three of the equally fastidious Polish composer’s finest pieces. Crossing the threshold of the “Fairy Garden” … [Read More]

Posted on 22/03/2013
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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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Philharmonia Orchestra, Zimerman, Salonen, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

Of all the heavyweight anniversaries being celebrated this year the name of Witold Lutoslawski will have been less at the forefront of peoples’ minds had the Philharmonia Orchestra and their Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor not chosen to honour him with their Woven Words retrospective. I myself met Lutoslawski many years ago around the time … [Read More]

Posted on 31/01/2013
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Lehar “The Merry Widow”, Philharmonia Orchestra, Wilson, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

Lehar’s Merry Widow has been been spreading enchantment across the globe for well over a century. She’s the vintage champagne of operettas and the prospect of John Wilson popping her cork was more than a little enticing. Wilson, one feels, instinctively knows how this music goes and indeed did so before even the composer put … [Read More]

Posted on 03/12/2012
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Philharmonia Orchestra, Davis, Royal Festival Hall

The occasion was Delius’ 150th birthday but more broadly it was a celebration of Englishness. Vaughan Williams’ lark ascended once more, the Philharmonia’s concert master Zsolt-Tihamér Visontay effecting the transfiguration of song into mystic musing with elegantly nuanced fingerwork and fluttery trills transporting us slowly but surely into the ether.

Delius’ rarely heard Cello Concerto … [Read More]

Posted on 30/01/2012
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Philharmonia Orchestra, Salonen, Royal Festival Hall

Sometimes the most disturbing images exist only in our imaginations – and so the questions posed in the preface to Bartok’s operatic masterpiece Duke Bluebeard’s Castle become especially pertinent: “Where did this happen – outside or within? Where is the stage – outside or within?” The answers, surely, lie “within”, making the prospect of a … [Read More]

Posted on 04/11/2011
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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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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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