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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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Posted in Classical Music, Reviews

Prom 20: Wagner “Götterdämmerung”, Staatskapelle Berlin, Barenboim, Royal Albert Hall (Review)

Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung at the BBC PromsAnd so Wotan’s ravens flew home and at the twilight’s last gleaming the immortals were consumed by fire and water. All was finally and irrevocably redeemed by the power of love and the most beautiful of all the leitmotifs in Wagner’s Ring rolled out across the Albert Hall like a benediction. It was a defining … [Read More]

Posted on 29/07/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Opera, Reviews

Prom 15: Wagner “Die Walküre”, Staatskapelle Berlin, Barenboim, Royal Albert Hall (Review)

BBC Prom 15 Nina Stemme and Bryn Terfel in Die WalküreAn evening of high drama: a very public altercation between conductor and concert master, a Wagnerian memory lapse from the leading lady, but one of the most thrilling accounts of Die Walküre you will ever hope to hear. Hearing is believing, it is said, but as the static electricity crackled through the Staatskapelle Berlin’s delivery … [Read More]

Posted on 24/07/2013
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Posted in Classical Music, Opera, Reviews

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

Wagner “Der fliegende Holländer”, Zurich Opera, Royal Festival Hall

Why anyone these days would want to perform Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer with an interval when even the three act version was so plainly fashioned to be performed without one is beyond me. There is that tell-tale repetition of the music ending act one at the beginning of act two – a kind of “Previously … [Read More]

Posted on 16/12/2012
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Posted in Classical Music, Opera, Reviews

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

Wagner “The Flying Dutchman”, English National Opera

The front curtain at the London Coliseum is a rare sight these days and suggested that we might for once be about to experience Wagner’s celebrated Overture without “illustration”. With Edward Gardner and the ENO Orchestra identifying the perfect storm, with those sizzling open fifths in tremolo violins and heroic horns pitching us into its … [Read More]

Posted on 29/04/2012
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Wagner “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”, Royal Opera House

The years have undoubtedly taken their toll and what seemed so fresh and new in 1993 – the pristine abstractions of Richard Hudson’s design, the washes of orange and gold light, the assertively jolly Brueghelesque costumes – now looks a little pantomimic. And yet the Shakespearian artifice of Graham Vick’s thoughtful and much-admired staging of … [Read More]

Posted on 20/12/2011
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Wagner “Die Fliegender Holländer”, Royal Opera House

We actually don’t need the billowing front cloth, the torrential rain, or strafing searchlights – from the moment Wagner lays bare those sizzling open fifths in the strings he does the tempest-tossed thing for us. Indeed that Overture presages the legend of the Flying Dutchman in ways that not even Tim Albery’s beautifully lit and … [Read More]

Posted on 19/10/2011
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Prom 74: The Last Night

There were funeral pyres to light, mountains to climb, and, of course, there was Jerusalem to build. All in a Last Night’s work. Another record-breaking season – an astonishing 94% of capacity – thundered to a close with the usual assortment of incongruous “turns”. Ours not to reason why Bartok was rubbing shoulders with Brünnhilde … [Read More]

Posted on 11/09/2011
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Posted in Reviews

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