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Prom 63: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Rattle – Review *****

It was, without doubt, the most breathtaking musical segue of this or any other Prom season and it unlocked a programme with Simon Rattle’s musical intellect written all over it. First came the cosmic vibrations of Ligeti’s Atmosphères where the Berlin Philharmonic’s famed pianissimi made silence almost indistinguishable from sound and where such were the … [Read More]

Posted on 31/08/2012
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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Prom 55: Britten “Peter Grimes”, English National Opera, Edward Gardner – Review ****

You can take the opera out of the opera house but you can’t take the opera house out of the opera – not when the spirit of David Alden’s benchmark 2009 production of Britten’s Peter Grimes resides so potently in English National Opera’s collective psyche. Company members may have come and gone in the interim … [Read More]

Posted on 25/08/2012
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Prom 54: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Petrenko – Review ****

I’m not quite sure what Her Majesty would make of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ 9th Symphony or more particularly of the fractured fanfare flourishes which greet her so rowdily and enthusiastically through its opening pages – but as one who has welcomed Mr. Bond 007 into her chambers we know her to be intrepid.

Davies’ … [Read More]

Posted on 24/08/2012
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Prom 46: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Manze**** – Review

Vaughan Williams’ three greatest symphonies in chronological sequence and at the heart of this extraordinary Prom – even better in realisation than on paper – the ineffable Romanza of the Fifth: haunted by one war, fearful of another. Admittedly there came with Andrew Manze’s highly individual readings an element of culture shock as if Vaughan … [Read More]

Posted on 17/08/2012
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Prom 37: Elgar “The Apostles”, Hallé Orchestra & Choirs, Elder – Review*****

For those of us who have always regarded The Apostles as the least of Elgar’s great trilogy of religious oratorios the magnificence of Mark Elder’s Hallé performance will have coaxed if not demanded re-evaluation. The Albert Hall is, of course, a wondrous place in which to unfold these multitudinous happenings if – and it’s a … [Read More]

Posted on 11/08/2012
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Prom 32: Bernstein “Mass”, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Järvi – Review

Pace the naysayers (and there are still many of them): Bernstein’s Mass IS a masterpiece. But it’s also a theatre piece and what unfolded here at this inexplicably belated Prom premiere (inexplicable because if ever there was a Prom piece, this is it) was so static and oratorio-like and even grand in that time honoured … [Read More]

Posted on 07/08/2012
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Prom 13: West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Barenboim, Royal Albert Hall – review

On the evidence of the series so far I doubt anyone was expecting Stravinsky’s favourite Beethoven Symphony – the 8th – to spring from the starting blocks with the kind of propulsive dynamism implicit in the composer’s metronome marking. But I for one had anticipated a more athletic response from Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra … [Read More]

Posted on 25/07/2012
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Prom 5: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Mena, Royal Albert Hall – review

Beginning and ending in C major – but only just (Sibelius’ 7th Symphony is the most equivocal C major in music) – this BBC Philharmonic Prom under their new Chief Conductor Juanjo Mena began by reasserting that there is really only one concert hall in the world which Strauss’ philosophic variations – or much ado … [Read More]

Posted on 18/07/2012
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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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Prom 58: Mendelssohn “Elijah”, Gabireli Consort & Players, McCreesh, Royal Albert Hall

When the fiery chariot finally arrived to transport Elijah aloft and the antiphonal trumpets and drums and assorted ophicleides of Paul McCreesh’s mightily augmented Gabrieli Players Consort and Players were rent asunder by the open-stopped thrust of the Royal Albert Hall organ you suddenly realised why the Victorians became damp with ecstasy at the very … [Read More]

Posted on 29/08/2011
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