February 2019 Concert Reviews

March 2019 Concert Reviews
Pirates of Penzance at Wilton’s Music Hall
Thursday, February 28, 2019 |  I suppose February 28 is the perfect date to see The Pirates of Penzance in a non-leap-year since the plot rather hangs on the relative infrequency of Feb 29. Concerns that having an all-male cast might trip the presentation of the operetta far too far into the realm of camp and drag theatre, are unfounded. 
Philharmonia Orchestra – Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Ibéria, ESA, Pines of Rome – Marianne Crébassa sings Berio’s Folk Songs & Ravel’s Shéhérazade
Thursday, February 28, 2019 |  The Philharmonia Orchestra was on a roll in this marvellous concert, a sequence of substantial twentieth-century French and Italian works, magnificently played and styled. Esa-Pekka Salonen guided his players through the highways and byways of Debussy’s Ibéria with as strong a feel for the first movement’s swagger and brilliance as for its more shadowy corners. ... Marianne Crébassa is also on a roll with opera and concerts, and it’s hard to resist her brand of engagement and personality. Berio’s LP of his Folk Songs, sung by his then-wife Cathy Berberian, was something of a cult when it first came out in the 1960s. ... Salonen gave a short address before ESA (In cauda V) by Franco Donatoni, one of the young Salonen’s composition teachers. Salonen related how he had commissioned this piece, which Donatoni then dedicated to him. Then the composer died, and Salonen assumed the work had died with him... 
LSO – Lahav Shani conducts Weill’s Second Symphony & Stravinsky’s Petrushka – Simon Trpčeski plays Paganini Rhapsody
Thursday, February 28, 2019 |  Lahav Shani – Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s successor in Rotterdam and designate music director of the Israel Philharmonic to follow Zubin Mehta – here made his LSO debut conducting Kurt Weill’s Second Symphony. ... In the Paganini Rhapsody Simon Trpčeski was in relaxed form, clearly at-one with Shani and his performance was marked by an emphasis on playfulness and light... 
Aylesbury Opera – Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila
Thursday, February 28, 2019 |  Although Camille Saint-Saëns composed numerous operas, only Samson et Dalila, 1877, remains in the repertoire. ... Aylesbury Opera engages professional soloists and conductors – that may turn into a real discovery and ones that you knew before they were famous. 
New York Philharmonic – Herbert Blomstedt conducts Peer Gynt & Dvořák 8 – Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays Grieg's Piano Concerto
Thursday, February 28, 2019 |  Herbert Blomstedt, now ninety-one, an outstanding representative of the European tradition of conductors, offered a program of old favorites, and it is remarkable to witness how much energy and vitality he can still muster on the podium, not to mention his alertness and faultless memory. Even if the program was far from adventurous, it was delightful to hear the First Suite from Grieg’s incidental music to Ibsen’s masterpiece Peer Gynt. ... In his reading of Grieg’s Piano Concerto, Jean-Yves Thibaudet reinforced the contrasts in dynamics and mood, as if to breathe new life into this well-worn masterpiece. 
Miserere – The Sixteen at Royal Academy of Arts
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 |  The Royal Academy of Arts is currently showing works by Michelangelo and Bill Viola which explore the power of art to illuminate faith and it was the neatest fit to employ The Sixteen to provide a complementary programme of devotional music. 
London Philharmonic Orchestra – Vladimir Jurowski conducts Wagner & Brahms – Andreas Ottensamer plays Weber & Alice Mary Smith
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 |  This concert was presented as part of the LPO’s Isle of Noises series, a year-long celebration of over three centuries of “music in these [British] islands”, with the piece in focus being Alice Mary Smith’s arrangement of the slow movement from her Clarinet Sonata of 1873. It is music that, on this first hearing for me, conjured in Andreas Ottensamer’s exquisite playing a prayer to awakening nature... ... The hyper-sensual Overture to Wagner’s Tannhäuser opened the concert. Vladimir Jurowski presided – controlled is perhaps more apposite – over a rendition that whilst everything was there it never got quite to its flamboyant aspects. 
Guildhall School of Music & Drama – Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans; conducted by Dominic Wheeler
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 |  As is the way with college opera productions, after a run of a few days, they are never seen again. In the case of Britten’s transformation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Guildhall School, this is cause for regret, because Martin Lloyd-Evans and Ruari Murchison have come up with a staging that allows the various elements of the opera to make their points without banging on about a particular agenda... 
Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami – Riccardo Muti conducts Tchaikovsky 5 & Scheherazade
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 |  Following their Beethoven program in West Palm Beach, Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony travelled south to Miami for a concert epitomizing Russian Romanticism, sounding nothing short of spectacular in Knight Concert Hall. 
Angela Hewitt at Royal Festival Hall
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 |  Angela Hewitt began her International Piano Series recital with J. S. Bach, with whose music she first won hearts and minds. It is not so much that she reinvents Bach, it’s just that she absolutely ‘gets’ how Bach and the next composer in this programme, Beethoven, both transcend their period to become out-of-time figures, and her playing and insight layer both their context and hers. It makes for, particularly in Bach, one of the most convincing annexations of the high Baroque for our later, romantic, impressionistic and abstract times. 
Endellion String Quartet at Turner Sims
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 |  As part of the Endellion String Quartet’s fortieth year, its Turner Sims’s celebrations leapfrogged the centuries. 
Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Kravis Center, West Palm Beach – Riccardo Muti conducts Beethoven
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 |  Riccardo Muti led the Chicago Symphony in a vibrant concert of Beethoven masterworks. An expansive reading of Leonore No.3 showed off the Orchestra’s virtuosity while conveying the dramatic arc of Fidelio... 
Roderick Williams & Andrew West at Milton Court – Frauenliebe und -leben
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 |  Roderick Williams and Andrew West offered an eclectic and thought-provoking programme including Robert Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben (A woman’s love and life) imagined by a male composer and a male poet, Adalbert von Chamisso. 
Symphony Orchestra of India at Cadogan Hall – Martyn Brabbins conducts Oberon Overture & Rachmaninov 2 – Marat Bisengaliev plays Bruch
Monday, February 25, 2019 |  The understanding and interpretation of West European concert music is not the province of those from a particular geographical location, as the musicians of the Symphony Orchestra of India triumphantly proved on this occasion. ... ...such as to make this listener keen to hear them again – especially with that wholly exceptional conductor Martyn Brabbins. ... ...a perfect lead-in to Max Bruch’s G-minor Violin Concerto, in which the soloist was the SOI’s founding Music Director, Marat Bisengaliev. 
The Royal Opera – Jan Philipp Gloger’s production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte
Monday, February 25, 2019 |  The artificiality of the plot of Così fan tutte being juxtaposed with some of Mozart’s most sublime music and intricate ensembles is a directorial hurdle that has somehow to be surmounted – for the idea that women can change affection within twenty-four hours of a painful separation from their lovers sits uncomfortably with sensibilities, unless one makes the characters superficial and utterly clueless emotionally. 
Catherine Ennis at the Royal Festival Hall organ
Monday, February 25, 2019 |  Catherine Ennis is one of the great movers and shakers in the organ world. 
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival – Leonard Slatkin conducts American Panorama – 6/6 – Steve Reich, Philip Glass, John Luther Adams – Clapping Music, Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists, Become Ocean [live webcast]
Sunday, February 24, 2019 |  Minimalist music brings out the beast in me – foaming at the mouth, howling. I recently had a bad experience with Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians... ... At least his Clapping Music (1972) is short... ... Similar praise for their colleagues Jeremy Epp & James Ritchie, now with Leonard Slatkin and a large Detroit Symphony in attendance, playing Philip Glass – another composer rarely found on my radar (although I have a sneaking regard for his Walt Disney opera). Glass’s Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra (2000) – seven different-sized drums for one player, five for the other, positioned front-of-stage – has its moments... ... But all was saved by Become Ocean, John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning piece from 2014, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot... 
Philharmonia Orchestra – Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Sibelius & Bartók, Truls Mørk plays Salonen’s Cello Concerto
Sunday, February 24, 2019 |  From the glinting Aegean as conjured by Sibelius’s mellifluous pair of flutes with piccolo piping in The Oceanides to the propulsive excitement at the end of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s first return to the Philharmonia Orchestra in 2019 (and since the announcement of his departure in 2021) was a lesson in symbiotic chemistry between conductor and orchestra. ... Salonen’s Cello Concerto was written for Yo-Yo Ma, who brought it to London within three weeks of its March 2017 Chicago premiere, though with the New York Philharmonic on its final tour with Alan Gilbert. I was very impressed then, a view confirmed with the recording to be released next week (LA Phil, Ma and Salonen, as reviewed by our editor) and with this performance with Truls Mørk. 
Kirill Gerstein at Wigmore Hall – Eroica, Exterminating Angel, From the Street, Funérailles, Tombeau de Couperin
Sunday, February 24, 2019 |  At first glance Kirill Gerstein’s Wigmore Hall programme looked a bit too full of shorter pieces, but a thread emerged of heroism with a tendency to melancholy, giving way to mourning and last things. ... He opened both parts of his recital with Liszt... ... The ‘Eroica’ Etude led without a break into Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Variations, on a Theme that makes the little Diabelli Waltz seem sophisticated... ... Gerstein has performed a lot of Thomas Adès’s music, and the latter’s reworking of the Berceuse from Act Two of The Exterminating Angel is completely at home on the piano... ... Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin ended the programme, the six friends, who all died in the First World War, pictured within with great subtlety and affection. 
London Philharmonic Orchestra – Javier Perianes plays Beethoven’s five numbered Piano Concertos, conducted by Juanjo Mena [February 22 & 23]
Saturday, February 23, 2019 |  Enjoying these days a high-profile international and recording career, the Spaniard Javier Perianes, very much a home-grown product who credits the advice of Daniel Barenboim, Richard Goode and Alicia de Larrocha in shaping his ideas, is a man of unfussy stage presence. Very much a player of level wrist and quiet action (Clementi's ‘coin on the back of hand’ technique), he doesn't emote, far from it (a good thing), he gets on with the notes, he delivers a reliable package. But at times his self-effacement goes against the grain. Confining himself to the canon of five, his Beethoven cycle across two evenings was efficiently clean and smooth yet not always as physically or ensemble engaged as it could have been. ... For one professing to admire Schnabel, Michelangeli, Hess, Pires and Lupu, I would somehow have expected heightened insight and 'grit', with Juanjo Mena, for all his palpably agreeable accompaniment and largely immaculate joins, in firmer symphonic charge. He did enough but could have done more, failing to meet his Celibidache-like stance. At reduced strength (strings at 12.10.8.6.4), the London Philharmonic reminded us occasionally that Beethoven's writing can still ensnare the unwary... 
The Royal Ballet – Carlos Acosta's production of Don Quixote
Saturday, February 23, 2019 |  Don Quixote is not a natural fit for the The Royal Ballet; it requires an almost brazen quality which makes the choreography sing and the audience forget the preposterous plot line, and brazen is rarely, if ever, something that can be pinned on this particular company. To give full credit, the current ensemble does its level best to mask their innate polite reserve, although there is always the nagging suspicion that this is not their natural approach. Carlos Acosta’s production is the company’s third after the ballet entered the repertoire in the 1980s, and was preceded by Mikhail Baryshnikov’s spartan version for American Ballet Theatre and then a dusty production of Nureyev’s, borrowed from Australian Ballet under the ill-fated tenure of director Ross Stretton. Neither was ever taken to heart by the audience… 
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival – Leonard Slatkin conducts American Panorama – 5/6 – Dune Acres, 4’33”, Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, West Side Story, Kimberly Kaloyanides Kennedy plays Samuel Barber on The Henry Ford violin [live webcast]
Friday, February 22, 2019 |  Two-hundred-and-seventy-three seconds of ambience (whatever happens, happens), the Romeo and Juliet Story transferred to the West Side, a performance that owes to Henry Ford of a gorgeous Violin Concerto, a Prelude and Fugue that ends up doing Riffs, and the newest of the lot, Dune Acres: the latest instalment of American Panorama, the current Winter treat from Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. ... Kimberly Kaloyanides Kennedy (DSO Associate Concertmaster) then played Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto using the 1703 “Rougemont” Stradivarius on-loan from The Henry Ford... ... To close, some further evidence of Bernstein’s genius, music from West Side Story. 
Mark Elder at Royal Academy of Music – Lunchtime concert of Britten, Bax, Sibelius
Friday, February 22, 2019 |  Although only one titled as such, all three of these works – eloquently programmed together – act as a memorial: Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem dedicated to the memory of his parents; Arnold Bax’s clandestinely to the memory of his Irish friend Patrick Henry Pearse; and Sibelius’s final Symphony – at least from a modern perspective – a memorial to his own compositional career. ... ...Mark Elder opted to move from the largest to smallest orchestration... 
Sakari Oramo conducts BBC Symphony Orchestra in Haffner Symphony, Nocturne – Insomnia, and, with Elisabeth Kulman & Stuart Skelton, Das Lied von der Erde
Friday, February 22, 2019 |  Mozart and Mahler with Thomas Larcher as go-between – the course of this BBCSO programme ran smooth and true. And from the opening bars of Mozart’s gloriously confident ‘Haffner’ Symphony, you once again marvelled at Sakari Oramo’s genius for releasing the personality of whatever music he’s conducting. ... Over the past decade, the BBCSO has played a big part in bringing Thomas Larcher’s music to UK audiences. ... Oramo left us in no doubt of Das Lied von der Erde’s ability to open the floodgates of hope, loss, memory and delight. 
Palm Beach Opera – Mozart’s Don Giovanni – Andrei Bondarenko, Joshua Bloom, Caitlin Lynch, Danielle Pastin; directed by Kristine McIntyre; conducted by David Stern
Friday, February 22, 2019 |  Kristine McIntyre has transformed Mozart’s Don Giovanni into a film noir, with staging that mimics scenes from famous exemplars of that genre. ... Palm Beach Opera’s Chorus and Orchestra are in top form, and David Stern skillfully leads a version of the opera that adheres for the most part to the original Prague score... ... Andrei Bondarenko and Joshua Bloom as respectively the Don and his servant make a memorable pair, jousting with each other as well as with the other characters. Leporello’s ‘Catalogue’ aria is terrifically staged and sung... 
Daniil Trifonov at Berliner Philharmonie [live webcast]
Thursday, February 21, 2019 |  On February 9 Medici broadcast live this programme from Carnegie Hall, and less than two weeks later Daniil Trifonov was again beamed to the World, this time courtesy of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall. ... With a Bösendorfer under his hands, Trifonov started with Beethoven, the ‘Andante favori’... ... Bunte Blätter may be a collection of miniatures, but if every one is played, as here and without pause, it becomes a significant and inimitable cycle, respectively dreamy, turbulent and heroic in the first three numbers (there are fourteen), these qualities recurring, differently expressed. Trifonov is impressively attuned to Schumann’s flights of fantasy and consciousness... 
Linbury Theatre at The Royal Opera – world premiere of The Monstrous Child
Thursday, February 21, 2019 |  Remember Loge, who gives Wotan the run-around in the Ring Cycle? Well, he’s back, this time as Loki, begetting hideous children with a giantess called Angrboda, one of which is the aptly-named Hel – half-girl, half-corpse, all-attitude. She is the Monstrous Child of Francesca Simon’s novel, which she has adapted and reduced as a libretto set by Gavin Higgins as the Royal Opera’s first production in its refurbished Linbury Theatre. ... Simon’s Horrid Henry books have been guiding children through the exigencies of growing up for more than twenty years. ...  
Philharmonia Orchestra – Philippe Herreweghe conducts Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV1068/Suite in D) & Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (K551/Jupiter Symphony) – Bertrand Chamayou plays Piano Concerto K488
Thursday, February 21, 2019 |  Working with Philippe Herreweghe, the Philharmonia Orchestra delivered inspirational readings of Bach and Mozart... ... The theme from the ‘Air (on the G-string)’, still able to evoke Hamlet cigars, was a line of spun silk, exquisitely controlled with nothing pedestrian and a gentle easing into cadences. ... By contrast, there followed a less-than-compelling performance of K488. Yes, it was neatly executed, phrases nicely turned, but the work’s sunny disposition never quite blossomed. Bertrand Chamayou has a solid reputation built on the French piano tradition and the Romantics. ... The ‘Jupiter’ Symphony rocked from start to finish 
Stephen Sondheim’s Follies at National Theatre
Thursday, February 21, 2019 |  Stephen Sondheim is divisive to both the listening public and critics alike. Comments on Twitter from the last outing of this Olivier Award-winning production of Follies in 2017 seldom mention the performance, only the music – boring and tuneless, or inspiring and magical. From the standing ovation, the Olivier Theatre was packed only with fans, the cast, many of whom were in the 2017 show, giving a sparkling display throughout two-and-a-quarter glorious hours. 
New York Philharmonic/Matthias Pintscher – Alborada del gracioso & The Firebird – Renaud Capuçon plays Mar’eh
Thursday, February 21, 2019 |  Matthias Pintscher, an extraordinarily gifted conductor/composer, returned to the New York Philharmonic and included his twenty-three-minute Mar’eh (2011) – meaning face or sign, in Hebrew – with Renaud Capuçon as soloist. ... As a curtain-raiser, a spirited, colorful and vibrant performance of Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso (from the piano cycle Miroirs, orchestrated by the composer), a song sung at dawn by a jester. ... It has become increasingly popular to feature the complete score of The Firebird ballet (1910) rather than one of the three Suites, which omit many interesting segments. 
Vienna Philharmonic at Barbican Centre – Ádám Fischer conducts Mahler 9
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 |  Ádám Fischer, the Vienna Philharmonic and Mahler’s Ninth Symphony was a formidable prospect. The Hungarian conductor’s career has shadowed aspects of Mahler’s, his repertoire is all-embracing, and his work, not least with the Vienna Philharmonic and State Opera, has fixed him at the centre of the European tradition. This Barbican Hall performance was not one that would lead the listener towards a contemplation of finality... 
An Italian Songbook at Milton Court
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 |  Played through without interval this was a moving and entertaining (laugh-out-loud) presentation of the forty-six songs of Hugo Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch in new, free and definitely whimsical translations by Jeremy Sams. ... Add a Don Alfonso-type player into the mix in the form of Roderick Williams, alternately egging the couples on or emotionally teasing or manipulating them and you get a general idea of the concept. ... All the singers displayed great skill in inflecting the texts with humour or point, whilst also showing their abilities to alter colours, dynamics and phrasing as mood demanded. Adding to the sense of cohesion was the superb playing of Christopher Glynn... 
The Keble Early Music Festival – Tallis Scholars & Peter Phillips
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 |  An artistic journey from Palestrina to J. S. Bach was the main thrust of this concert forming the opening event of The Keble Early Music Festival. In broad terms this 150-year choral traversal spot-lit the influence of Palestrina’s polychoral style and its ongoing development culminating in Bach’s contrapuntal mastery. Not so much Hannibal crossing the Alps... ... Led by Peter Phillips, The Tallis Scholars succeeded both in illustrative and musical terms... 
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival – Leonard Slatkin conducts American Panorama – 4/6 – George Gershwin, including Porgy and Bess, and the Piano Concerto with Jon Kimura Parker [live webcast]
Sunday, February 17, 2019 |  Although this very welcome six-programme American Panorama series from the DSO and Leonard Slatkin is not intended to be comprehensive of the country’s many musical riches, nor would it be possible to realise this through the current brief, I did wonder if a whole concert devoted to one composer was somewhat restrictive of repertoire. Nothing amiss with a George Gershwin evening of course... ... Who could ask for anything more? We got Porgy and Bess, as arranged by Robert Russell Bennett (1894-1981) into A Concert of Songs (he also compiled the splendid orchestral Symphonic Picture from the opera). ... As centrepiece, Jon Kimura Parker (replacing Jean-Yves Thibaudet) approached the Piano Concerto in a variety of guises... 
LSO – Simon Rattle conducts Rameau to Ravel via Betsy Jolas and Poulenc, Daniil Trifonov plays Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G
Sunday, February 17, 2019 |  Superficially there seemed little to connect these works other that they were all written by French composers, though perhaps a concert does not need to forge explicit links from one item to the next. But it was satisfying to listen to the deeper cross-currents at play in the different styles and forms to reveal that common to the compositions is a certain mercurial sense of fantasy and things not being quite what they seem, conjured up with exquisite craftsmanship. ... The LSO captured those elements superbly with pinpoint precision. But the performances would have been merely mechanical and unengaging interpretations were it not for the infectious rhythmic urgency instilled into them by Simon Rattle... ... Daniil Trifonov’s remarkable artistry was ideally suited to this work. Once unleashed by the crack of the whip which launches the Concerto, his playing unfurled itself like a spring in a seamless volley of notes... 
John Lill in Liverpool – Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 with RLPO & Michael Seal (including Korngold, Gary Carpenter, Britten) in Philharmonic Hall, and a recital in St George’s Hall
Sunday, February 17, 2019 |  As he approaches his seventy-fifth birthday (March 17), John Lill shows no signs of slowing down. In Liverpool he played the Tchaikovsky on Saturday night and then gave a demanding recital the following afternoon. The two venues are first-rate, both with fine acoustics, St George’s being a resplendent neoclassical circular room where Charles Dickens gave many of his readings. ... Gary Carpenter’s Ghost Songs received its third performance (the two previous outings were in November with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Thomas Søndergård). I am hard pressed to think of a new work that has made such a dramatic first impression. 
Philharmonia Orchestra – Jakub Hrůša conducts Dances of Galánta & Slavonic Dances – Denis Kozhukhin plays Grieg
Sunday, February 17, 2019 |  Jakub Hrůša followed-up his Philharmonia Orchestra concert from last November, which featured Dvořák’s First Set of Slavonic Dances as the unlikely yet effective second half. This time it was the turn of the Second and (when taken overall) less-familiar Set, but even finer musically. ... Earlier there was attentive support to Denis Kozhukhin in what was an engaging and insightful account of Grieg’s Piano Concerto... ... Hrůša had begun proceedings with Kodály’s Dances of Galánta (1933), now having regained much of its one-time familiarity in the concert hall. 
Can-Can! [Union Theatre, London]
Saturday, February 16, 2019 |  First of all, this is not Can-Can, the musical by Cole Porter that was staged in 1953 and 1954 with Gwen Verdon and Hans Conried and filmed in 1960 with Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra, Juliet Prowse and Maurice Chevalier. Nor is it straight Offenbach... ... Researching the work of Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld and Cole Porter’s Can-Can, Willmott never found either of them satisfactory for a modern audience. He then set about creating his own version of the Belle Époque events by giving a nod to the music of Offenbach and other composers of the period in order to show how the times and public opinion began to change and find acceptance. 
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival – Leonard Slatkin conducts American Panorama – 3/6 – Age of Anxiety & Appalachian Spring, Adagios for Strings [live webcast]
Friday, February 15, 2019 |  Think Adagio for Strings and Samuel Barber comes to mind (most probably). ... Barber has recently been joined in (almost similar) titular terms by Cindy McTee... ... And to really pile-drive into one’s susceptibilities, there was also Appalachian Spring (water) – square-dances (take your partners) and hymn-tunes, yes, but Copland’s capacity to poignancy is here second-to-none... ... Not that susceptible reactions hadn’t already been under extreme pressure during this concert (given on the morning after the night before), a programme tailor-made for your correspondent, for it also included Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No.2, The Age of Anxiety (1949/65), based on the near-contemporaneous and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Baroque Eclogue” by W. H. Auden. ... Taking the pianistic role here, replacing the unwell Jean-Yves Thibaudet at short notice, was Orli Shaham (sister of Gil and married to David Robertson). She was terrific... 
Berliner Philharmoniker/Yannick Nézet-Séguin – Menuet antique, La mer, Prokofiev 5 [live webcast]
Friday, February 15, 2019 |  Away from his twin peaks of Philadelphia and the Met Opera, Yannick Nézet-Séguin opened this latest webcast from the Berliner Philharmoniker with Ravel’s Menuet antique, crisp outer sections encasing a liquid centre... ... La mer fared much better, the mysteries of the deep and surface sparkle well-handled, although the first transition was a little precipitate... ... Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony (1944) can be epic (Bernstein, Celibidache, Ormandy) or stealthy (Dorati, Szell) – all as recorded, ranging from under forty minutes to over fifty. Like many conductors, Nézet-Séguin was straight down the middle time-wise... 
Göteborgs Symfoniker – Santtu-Matias Rouvali conducts Daniel Nelson's Steampunk Blizzard & Sibelius 5 – Martin Grubinger plays Kalevi Aho's Sieidi [live webcast]
Friday, February 15, 2019 |  As big 'northern' programmes go – physically earthy, aspiring skywards, stirring blood and spirit, trembling the ground, incanting spells – the first half of this Gothenburg evening was up there with the best. ... Based in Sweden but American-born, Daniel Nelson studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and University of Chicago... ... Commissioned by the Orchestre National d’île de France, Steampunk Blizzard (2016) was premiered at the Paris Philharmonie in January 2017. ... The tour de force of the concert was Kalevi Aho's percussion concerto, Sieidi... ... ...an impassioned, extraordinarily involved collaborator in the Austrian Martin Grubinger. 
Stile Antico at Wigmore Hall – Arise, My Love – Sensuous Renaissance settings of the Song of Songs
Thursday, February 14, 2019 |  The erotic and sensual poems from the biblical Song of Songs found surprising and gorgeous expression in European sacred polyphony during the Renaissance. For Valentine’s Day at Wigmore Hall, Stile Antico made choice selections, composed in Northern and Southern climes by men and women in holy orders and those not, illuminated by their own intense and committed approach to this repertoire. 
New York Philharmonic/Thomas Dausgaard – Nielsen's Helios & Schumann 2 – Stephen Hough plays Beethoven
Thursday, February 14, 2019 |  For this traditionally formatted program, the New York Philharmonic welcomed Thomas Dausgaard, honorary conductor of the Danish National Symphony, conductor laureate of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony, and designate music director of the Seattle Symphony. He was replacing Zubin Mehta, his indisposition also removing Webern and Schubert. ... Stephen Hough delivered a forceful, dynamic reading of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, his flawless technique and natural manner of expressivity occasionally spiced with artfully drawn nuances so lightly wrought that they enhanced rather than detracted from the flow of the music, all bolstered by Hough’s elegant manner. 
BBC Symphony Orchestra – Alexander Vedernikov conducts Vasks & Shostakovich – Helen Vollam premieres Gavin Higgins’s Book of Miracles
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 |  Pēteris Vasks’s love for, and identification with, his native Latvia – a land endowed with great natural beauty but also torn apart by political upheavals and war – are imbued in the rich textures of his Cantabile for Strings... ... Alexander Vedernikov was in-tune with the sentiments. ... A deeply equivocal mood also closes Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony. ... The central item was by Gavin Higgins (born 1983). Inspired by The Book of Miracles – a sixteenth-century German manuscript that depicts biblical stories from the Old Testament and the book of Revelation, as well as miracles and natural and supernatural phenomena – this substantial thirty-minute Concerto proved to be a perfect vehicle for Helen Vollam (BBCSO principal), her trombone ideally suiting the declamatory role. 
London Sinfonietta & Synergy Vocals at Royal Festival Hall – Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians
Tuesday, February 12, 2019 |  Repetition, pulsation and synchronisation characterised the nature and execution of this Steve Reich traversal, more than forty-five years of his creative energy with Music for 18 Musicians (1976) as the main attraction. So too, in a minor way, Clapping Music... ... Runner – for winds, percussion, pianos and strings – foregrounds melodic threads weaving in and out of ever-changing textures, lives up to its title... 
English National Opera – Phelim McDermott’s production of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten – Anthony Roth Costanzo; conducted by Karen Kamensek
Monday, February 11, 2019 |  Phelim McDermott’s production of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten, the second of the work by English National Opera, makes a welcome return to the Coliseum, the enormous stage of which is integral to realising the arrestingly beautiful designs and concepts of the staging. 
Benjamin Grosvenor, Doric Quartet & Laurène Durantel at Milton Court – Schubert, Chopin, Fauré
Monday, February 11, 2019 |  Schubert at his most tantalisingly incomplete, Chopin in reduced circumstances, and Fauré at his most expansive were all given revelatory performances by Benjamin Grosvenor, the Doric Quartet and, for the Chopin, Laurène Durantel on double bass. 
Khachatryan, Weilerstein, Barnatan, Currie, Gunnell & Walton at Wigmore Hall – Ghost Trio & Realismos mágicos, and transcriptions of Verklärte Nacht and Shostakovich 15
Monday, February 11, 2019 |  Wigmore Hall can have witnessed few concerts like this... ... Most often reserved for the close of a recital, Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’ Trio (1808) launched this concert in commanding fashion. Sergey Khachatryan, Alisa Weilerstein and Inon Barnatan set a bracing tempo for the initial Allegro... ... It is a tribute to the sensitivity of Eduard Steuermann that his 1932 arrangement of Verklärte Nacht (1899) left so idiomatic an impression. Schoenberg himself re-thought its string sextet texture extensively in his reappraisals for string orchestra... ... Following the interval, Colin Currie took the stage for Realismos mágicos (2014), eleven short stories for marimba by Rolf Wallin... ... Evocative is a term often used to describe Shostakovich’s Fifteenth Symphony (1971), even if what is being evoked has been debated from the outset. Victor Derevianko’s arrangement, made soon after the work’s completion and with the composer’s approval, in no way lessens this quality... 
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival – Leonard Slatkin conducts American Panorama – 2/6 – John Williams’s music for the concert-stage and the silver screen [live webcast]
Sunday, February 10, 2019 |  Danger lurks below, the celebrated two-note ostinato gives ominous warning of something fishy; why, it’s Jaws, your not-so-friendly neighbourhood shark, released into the water by Steven Spielberg during 1975 and given a customised soundtrack by John Towner Williams, just one of the cinematic courses served up here by the DSO and laureate chef Leonard Slatkin in this the second instalment of American Panorama. 
LSO – John Eliot Gardiner conducts Schumann’s Manfred Overture & Spring Symphony – Piotr Anderszewski plays Beethoven
Sunday, February 10, 2019 |  As with the LSO‘s previous Schumann-based concert conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the encore was as then, Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream ‘Scherzo’, a neat bit of cap-doffing between the two composers as well as a nod back to 2016 when the same forces had celebrated Mendelssohn so brilliantly. ... This concert had originally been programmed as all-Schumann, with Piotr Anderszewski playing the Piano Concerto, but for whatever reason he changed to Beethoven’s First... 
Members of the New World Symphony – Purcell, Beethoven’s Archduke Trio and, with Kelvin Thomas, Peter Maxwell Davies's Eight Songs for a Mad King
Sunday, February 10, 2019 |  The New World Symphony, which describes itself as America’s Orchestral Academy, is a post-conservatory training program co-founded thirty-one years ago by Michael Tilson Thomas. ... Next came a robust reading of Beethoven’s ‘Archduke’ Trio, the players well-coordinated, the two string instruments singing out with consistently beautiful tone. ... Eight Songs for a Mad King featured Kelvin Thomas, brilliant as George III, a role he has been performing for over thirty-five years, including collaborating with Peter Maxwell Davies on a recording in 2015, the year before his death. 
Scottish Opera's Anthropocene at Hackney Empire
Saturday, February 09, 2019 |  Hackney Empire continues its campaign to be the capital’s third opera house as it hosted London performances of Scottish Opera’s newest commission – hot on the tails of the world premiere performance in Glasgow on January 24 (and, in between times, in Edinburgh). Anthropocene is the fourth work by Stuart MacRae and librettist Louise Welsh for the company. 
Daniil Trifonov at Carnegie Hall [live webcast]
Saturday, February 09, 2019 |  At best Daniil Trifonov is phenomenal. At worst he's troubling. His gestures, gesticulations and grimaces disturb. I'd go so far as to say he's unwatchable, certainly in the spot-lit, emotionally bared, eyes-staring-out-of-socket-and-soul, limp-hair-brushing-the-keyboard close-up of live-streams such as the present Carnegie Hall/Medici one. 
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Winter Festival – Leonard Slatkin conducts American Panorama – 1/6 – Gould, Tower, Bernstein, Thomson, and Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite [live webcast]
Friday, February 08, 2019 |  It’s about this time of year that the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin go into Winter Festival overdrive: six programmes over three weeks, played twice and with a webcast of each. This time Slatkin is ‘On the trail’ of a diverse selection of music by American composers. ... Forty-odd years after its composition, I am pleased to now catch up with Joan Tower’s Sequoia. Tower, one of several 1938 American babies who have grown to notable careers as composers – including Bolcom, Corigliano and Wuorinen – issued Sequoia as her first orchestral work... ... Ferde Grofé is best-remembered for scoring George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, first for Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra and then for generic symphony orchestra. His original music is often in Suite form, of which the five-movement Grand Canyon... 
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House concert – Antonio Pappano conducts Stravinsky & Tchaikovsky – Anita Rachvelishvili sings Rachmaninov
Friday, February 08, 2019 |  Antonio Pappano will be much missed during his upcoming sabbatical year. His presence guarantees standing room only even when the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House makes the transition from pit to stage as here in less-familiar fare. ... Rachmaninov, like Sibelius, was a first-rate composer of songs whose contributions to the genre have been held back by linguistic factors and the absence of customary transliterated titles and standard arrangements. ... Pappano, clearly irked initially by the clapping between numbers, managed to convey his preference for silent contemplation, while Anita Rachvelishvili shone in what must be congenial repertoire for all that she was positioned behind a music stand. ... Following the interval, Tchaikovsky’s masterly Third Suite lived up to expectations... 
BBC Symphony Orchestra – Karina Canellakis conducts Beethoven 7, Thomas Oliemans gives UK premiere of Thomas Larcher’s Alle Tage
Friday, February 08, 2019 |  The final chords of Beethoven’s Symphony were not the last bit of business, for Karina Canellakis was presented with the Critics’ Circle’s Emerging Talent Award, and her relationship with the BBC Symphony Orchestra is developing nicely on this its third outing. ... Austrian Thomas Larcher has been championed by the BBCSO recently. This time his 2015 Alle Tage (Every Day, although I prefer All Days), Canellakis returning to the work having conducted it last August in its Austrian premiere at Bregenz. ... Harking back to two song-symphonies of a century ago – Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony – this is a substantial seven-movement work, lasting just over forty minutes, with three orchestral movements joining four settings of lyrics by fellow-Austrian Ingeborg Bachmann, one time librettist for Henze (Der Prinz von Homburg, and Der junge Lord). 
Steven Osborne at Kings Place – Piano Sonatas by Schubert (D960) & Prokofiev (6 & 7), and Morton Feldman’s Extensions 3
Friday, February 08, 2019 |  Over the past decade or so Steven Osborne has come up with some touchstone performances – Debussy Préludes, Vingt Regards, Pictures at an Exhibition come to mind – and in this Kings Place recital it was clear that his powers of perception continue to take his audiences with him. ... In the first movement of his ultimate Piano Sonata, Schubert lays out his material as though on an assembly line... ... It was the sort of performance that sends you out a better, wiser person at the end of a recital, but Osborne elected to give Prokofiev the last word in two of his formidable ‘War Sonatas’ (the other is No.8). ... In between the two Sonatas, Osborne played Morton Feldman’s Extensions 3, which in this context was like sound in profound trauma. 
Matt Bianco at Islington Assembly Hall
Friday, February 08, 2019 |  Then came the warm-up pre-recorded playlist of velvet Latin Jazz fusion hits: Shakatak's 'Easier Said Than Done', The Blow Monkeys’ 'Crying for the Moon', The Style Council's 'The Lodgers', Segio Mendes's 'Batucada', Marcos Valle's 'Crickets Sing for Anamaria', Joyce's 'Feminia' and finally the George Benson anthem 'Give Me The Night'. ... The stage was then set for double-bass Jeff Gaskin, drums Sebastiaan de Kroy, keyboards Graham Harvey, trumpet Martin Shaw, MD and tenor sax Dave O'Higgins, vocalist Elisabeth Troy, and lead singer and founding member of Matt Bianco, dapper in a three-piece tweed suit with velvet trim, Mark Reilly... 
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra – Andrés Orozco-Estrada conducts Schicksalslied & Miraculous Mandarin – Lise de la Salle plays Brahms [live webcast]
Friday, February 08, 2019 |  A programme of unusually juxtaposed masterworks journeying tempestuousness, neon-lit brilliance, garish climax and the contemplation of middle age. ... I first came across Lise de la Salle in 2005... ... A youthfully impassioned artist playing an even younger composer tended to be her way with Brahms's D-minor Concerto, replacing an indisposed Leif Ove Andsnes. ... Under its Colombian/Austrian music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada, who succeeded Paavo Järvi in 2014, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, richly padded with some pedigree principals, provided de la Salle with all the support she could wish for. ... Bartók's Miraculous Mandarin ballet-score – the complete version, premiered in Weimar Republic Cologne in 1926 – played to virtuosity and the temperament of Orozco-Estrada. ... Setting words by Hölderlin, Brahms's tripartite Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny), completed in 1871 post-German Requiem and Alto Rhapsody, less familiar these days, was supremely delivered. 
LSO – John Eliot Gardiner conducts Euryanthe Overture & Rhenish Symphony – Isabelle Faust & Kristian Bezuidenhout play Mendelssohn’s Double Concerto
Thursday, February 07, 2019 |  John Eliot Gardiner’s latest squeeze with the LSO is the Symphonies of Robert Schumann, wonders of the repertoire. Sir John Eliot took the ‘Rhenish’ by the scruff of the neck but without manhandling it. ... As centrepiece, Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Piano, an impressive piece, and not just because the composer was fourteen at the time... ... It received a sparkling and shapely outing, the soloists’ virtuosity serving the music – Kristian Bezuidenhout playing a handsome-looking and -sounding fortepiano and Isabelle Faust allowing herself some vibrato... ... The concert started with the Overture to Weber’s Euryanthe... 
Philharmonia Orchestra – Peter Eötvös conducts Schoenberg, Bartók, Stravinsky, and the UK premiere of his Multiversum
Thursday, February 07, 2019 |  Peter Eötvös, born in Transylvania in 1944, brought up in the fifties and sixties on a radical intake of Bartók, Ligeti and Kurtág, and a subsequent collaborator, in Cologne and Paris, of Stockhausen and Boulez, has long been an iconic contemporary force. ... For the UK premiere of his three-movement Multiversum (2017), a co-commission on a grandiose scale, a radically different order of three-dimensional spatial arrangement came into play, taking most of the interval to set up, reflecting the essence of the work's inspiration, the idea of separate rather than mixed sounds, of, Eötvös says, the theory of “universes [existing] side by side and independently of each other” – the multiverse. Accordingly, en bloc, strings were placed on the left of the conductor, woodwind to the right, with a phalanx of brass in front of the percussion in a west-north-east sonic trajectory. 
Beatrice Rana at Queen Elizabeth Hall – Chopin Studies, Ravel Miroirs, Stravinsky Firebird
Thursday, February 07, 2019 |  Beatrice Rana chose three works that traversed a century of developing virtuosity, including the piano as illustrator and all-encompassing of the orchestra, prefaced by Studies of visionary beauty: technical challenges elevated to unparalleled depth and feeling. ... Miroirs, Ravel’s paintings in sound from 1905, was further proof of Rana’s facility and filigree virtuosity. ... Then she unleashed her big guns for an eye-popping account of transcriptions from The Firebird. 
Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca & Sonia Prina at Wigmore Hall: Vivaldi – The Muses
Thursday, February 07, 2019 |  The Muses referred to in this Wigmore Hall concert’s title were those three musicians who – hypothetically or in fact – inspired Vivaldi to compose the sort of items featured. His relations with the singer Anna Girò were the cause of salacious (though probably ill-founded) gossip, but it was clearly the source for some vivid vocal music. ... Both that and the aria from Griselda (to a text by the celebrated Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni) are furious, volatile settings. They brought out an androgynous quality from Sonia Prina as her forceful tone was reminiscent of a fuller-voiced, lower-range countertenor with its reedy intensity. 
New York Philharmonic – Jaap van Zweden conducts Brahms’s German Requiem
Thursday, February 07, 2019 |  Jaap van Zweden led the New York Philharmonic and Concert Chorale of New York in a distinctive reading of Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem. 
Mahler Chamber Orchestra & Mitsuko Uchida at Royal Festival Hall – Mozart Piano Concertos 19/K459 & 20/K466 and Berg’s Lyric Suite
Wednesday, February 06, 2019 |  Despite standing next to one another in numerical sequence, Mozart’s Piano Concertos in F-major and in D-minor are poles apart in the emotional worlds they inhabit, even if the latter’s minor-key turmoil is not necessarily as ruggedly raw and proto-Beethovenian as commentators often suggest – I think of Schumann’s words about the G-minor Symphony No.40 (possessing “Grecian lightness and grace”) as also applying here to some extent, rather than reading back into the work any Romantic angst which was alien to Mozart’s spirit. ... In directing the two Concertos from the piano, Mitsuko Uchida’s performances with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra imparted to both a certain flickering, nervous energy that brought them into somewhat closer proximity in expressive terms than might be expected. 
Israel Philharmonic/Yoel Levi at the Adrienne Arsht Center Miami – Schubert 3 & Bruckner 7
Wednesday, February 06, 2019 |  Stepping in for Zubin Mehta, whose indisposition has kept him from undertaking the Israel Philharmonic’s current North American tour, Yoel Levi led the Orchestra in a pair of Symphonies from opposite ends of the nineteenth-century. 
Evgeny Kissin at Barbican Hall – Chopin to Scriabin via Schumann and Debussy
Wednesday, February 06, 2019 |  The wunderkind prodigy is now forty-seven and well on track to grand seigneur status in the piano world, yet after nearly four decades of performing, an irresistible aura of inscrutability still clings to Evgeny Kissin. 
New York Philharmonic/Kahchun Wong – Lunar New Year Concert
Wednesday, February 06, 2019 |  The New York Philharmonic offered a diverse and interesting program to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Kahchun Wong, winner of the 2016 Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition and chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony, made his debut with the Philharmonic. ... Tan Dun is arguably the most frequently performed composer from China. His immensely creative, exploratory and deeply moving Violin Concerto is based upon Chinese ritual and court music... ... Bomsori Kim gave an impressive performance... ... So Young Park followed with a fine rendition of ‘Der Hölle Rache'. 
Corinthian Chamber Orchestra at Queen Elizabeth Hall – Michael Seal conducts Tintagel & Walton 1 – Zoë Beyers plays Britten’s Violin Concerto
Monday, February 04, 2019 |  The Corinthian Chamber Orchestra was formed in 1995 under the direction of the late Alan Hazeldine, and in the almost quarter-century of its existence it has developed into one of London’s finest amateur orchestras. Apart from what one might term a ‘normal’ concert season for a chamber orchestra, once a year additional instrumentalists are engaged to take part in a full orchestra concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. ... Britten’s Violin Concerto is very different music. ... ...it was patently clear from the first few pages of her initial entry that in Zoë Beyers the work had found an ideal interpreter. 
The Royal Opera – Janáček’s Katya Kabanova – Amanda Majeski, Pavel Černoch, Susan Bickley, Andrew Staples; directed by Richard Jones; conducted by Edward Gardner
Monday, February 04, 2019 |  I still think that Richard Jones’s much-ridiculed staging of the Ring Cycle for The Royal Opera got to the core of much of Wagner’s epic, and there are many other operas that have thrived on his maverick views of human nature underpinned by a profound sympathy and affection for particular characters. His new staging of Janáček’s Katya Kabanova, however, sometimes seems like Jones on autopilot. ... Amanda Majewski presents Katya as the out-of-step outsider very thoroughly, although she, rather than the direction, suggests a desire for empowerment more clearly than Janáček’s brilliantly crafted realisation of a heroine who gets her stature from vulnerability, imagination, innocence and a fatally big soul. ... And from the scene-setting Prelude onwards, Edward Gardner draws a depth of tenderness and at times unbearable lyricism from the Royal Opera Orchestra that anchor and support the staging with unerring insight and compassion. 
Philharmonia Orchestra/Paavo Järvi – Coriolan & Rachmaninov 2 – Radu Lupu plays Beethoven
Sunday, February 03, 2019 |  The Lupu effect had the Royal Festival Hall sold out for the first half but somewhat emptier for the second. Those who left at the interval missed an involving, powerful performance of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony – uncut, if omitting the first-movement repeat, coming home in just under an hour. ... Paavo Järvi stamped the music with authority and a feeling for style and paragraphing... ... So, to the draw of the night, a rare, much anticipated appearance by Radu Lupu, held in awe by a younger generation endowing him with the mystique of a Lipatti or a Michelangeli... 
BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus – John Butt conducts Johann Sebastian Bach’s Mass in B-minor
Saturday, February 02, 2019 |  Under the leadership of John Butt, the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra delivered a top-class performance of J. S. Bach’s Mass in B-minor, one that elevates the tradition of Leonhardt and Harnoncourt. 
London Philharmonic Orchestra – Robin Ticciati conducts Bruckner 7 – Christian Tetzlaff plays Sibelius’s Violin Concerto
Saturday, February 02, 2019 |  Two works beginning on the outer edge of audibility, one greeted with a spontaneous ovation, the other with more considered enthusiasm. Robin Ticciati and the LPO know each other well, and the result in this Sibelius and Bruckner programme was playing of superlative quality. ... ...Christian Tetzlaff, so completely inside the score’s majesty, intimacy and remoteness that he didn’t drop a stitch when a string snapped about four minutes in... 
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Juanjo Mena – Haydn Trauer, Janáček Vixen & Sinfonieta – Julian Rachlin plays Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto
Saturday, February 02, 2019 |  The evening began with Haydn’s E-minor ‘Mourning’ Symphony, one of his most serious excursions into the genre. The work acquired its title when, later in his life, the composer said he would like the lyrical third-movement Adagio played at his funeral. Juanjo Mena and the Boston musicians delivered a well-played and seamless account... ... Things livened up considerably when Julian Rachlin delivered a remarkably exuberant account of Mendelssohn’s E-minor Violin Concerto... 
Berliner Philharmoniker/Marek Janowski – Bruckner – Mass in E-minor & Symphony 6 [live webcast]
Friday, February 01, 2019 |  It was just a year ago that Mariss Jansons conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker in Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony; now it was Marek Janowski’s turn, a Bruckner statesman, not least in Geneva (Suisse Romande Orchestra) and Paris (Orchestre Philharmonique). ... The first half had consisted of the second of Bruckner’s three Mass settings, an elusive affair, maybe, but there is no doubting the composer’s sincerity – some might say blind belief – in which it seems that his signature style is masked by his Catholic devotion...  
BBC Singers/Andrew Griffiths at St Peter’s Eaton Square – Ralph Vaughan Williams & John Pickard
Friday, February 01, 2019 |  Studio concerts have long formed a significant though easily overlooked component of the BBC Singers' activities... ... Known primarily for his impressive sequence of orchestral and chamber works, John Pickard has written several major vocal compositions – including the Edward Thomas song-cycle The Borders of Sleep and Requiem after Sacheverell Sitwell entitled Agamemnon’s Tomb. Mass for Troubled Times is less a setting of the Mass than treatment of lines from that text... ... ...a tough assignment for any choir, but one that the eighteen-strong BBC Singers met with assurance as directed by Andrew Griffiths (a rising star among choral conductors). Prior to this, he had presided over a comparably fine account of Ralph Vaughan Williams's Mass in G-minor... 

 

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