Blog Archives

Prom 59, “Elektra”, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Bychkov, Royal Albert Hall

Christine Goerke and Gun-Brit Barkmin BBC Proms 2014.How much familial dysfunction and lust – whether for sexual gratification or revenge – can one take in a single weekend? Salome and Elektra back-to back may on paper seem like a feast of divine decadence but no sooner had one become accustomed to the sickly sweet air of the former when the putrefaction of … [Read More]

Posted on 01/09/2014
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Prom 58, “Salome”, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Runnicles, Royal Albert Hall

SalomeIt has been said many times (and by Strauss himself) that the title role of Strauss’ Salome requires at least two different voices. Nina Stemme has both of them. And so seamlessly, artfully, are they rolled into one that it is hard to think of any other singer at the present time who better encapsulates … [Read More]

Posted on 31/08/2014
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Prom 53: Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Nézet-Séguin, Royal Albert Hall (Review)

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms 2013With the imminent release of a scorching account of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra set the bar very high (too high?) for their Prom curtain-raiser – Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy-Overture “Romeo and Juliet”. The opening of this piece is a nightmare of woodwind chording and tuning and whilst the quality of … [Read More]

Posted on 23/08/2013
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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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Prom 21: BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Sondergard, Royal Albert Hall (Review)

BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Thomas Søndergård at the BBC PromsThe “Turning Point” in Colin Matthews’ so named orchestral piece is a change of attitude, a sudden seriousness of purpose, a great effort of will to stop moving and take stock of where it – whatever it is – is going. That Matthews did actually stop mid-composition because, precisely as the piece tells us, he … [Read More]

Posted on 30/07/2013
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Prom 14: Wagner “Das Rheingold”, Staatskapelle Berlin, Barenboim, Royal Albert Hall (Review)

Daniel Barenboim conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin in Wagner’s Das Rheingold at the BBC PromsSenses we didn’t even know we had come alive with the sound of that E-flat sunk so deep in string basses that it can be felt as well as heard. But the frisson we experience as this first note starts to resonate has to do with so much more than sound and sensation, atmosphere – … [Read More]

Posted on 23/07/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, 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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Prom 4, Les Siècles, Roth, Royal Albert Hall (Review)

LES SIECLESIt could catch on again – the conductor with an ornate staff whacking out the tempo on the podium. At the court of Louis XIV, Jean-Baptiste Lully would have been thus equipped, conductor turning dancing master with a percussive vigour guaranteed to keep the buggers in step. And so Francois-Xavier Roth effectively became Lully at … [Read More]

Posted on 15/07/2013
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Prom 75: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Haitink, Royal Albert Hall – Review ****

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra can play Haydn’s last symphony – No 104 “London” – in its sleep but that is not, I hasten to add, the impression one wants to take away from any performance of it and especially not in the city that inspired it. The music tells us that Haydn had a rather … [Read More]

Posted on 08/09/2012
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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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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

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