October 2019 Concert Reviews

September 2019 Concert Reviews
Glyndebourne on Tour 2019 – Donizetti’s L'elisir d'amore – Benedetta Torre, Sehoon Moon, Matthew Durkan; directed by Annabel Arden; conducted by Ben Glassberg
Sunday, October 13, 2019 |  Annabel Arden’s production of L’elisir d’amore returns to Glyndebourne, this time as a vehicle for two emerging singers Benedetta Torre and Sehoon Moon. 
Berliner Philharmoniker – Paavo Järvi conducts Tapiola & Rhenish Symphony – Janine Jansen plays Tchaikovsky [live webcast]
Saturday, October 12, 2019 |  No sooner had Paavo Järvi opened the Tonhalle’s season (October 2-4) than he was in London for unfinished business as part of a fifty-year celebration (October 6) – links below – and now Berlin for three concerts (10-12). ... Opening Sibelius’s final major work, Tapiola, was a made-distinct timpani motto... ... By contrast the first movement of the ‘Rhenish’ Symphony was a joyous outburst... ... It has been an on-off year for Janine Jansen in terms of appearances. Here she radiated positivity and gave a fabulous account of the Tchaikovsky... 
Westminster Philharmonic at St John’s Waterloo – Jonathan Butcher conducts Shostakovich 9 & Brahms 2 – Charlie Lovell-Jones plays Peter Maxwell Davies’s First Violin Concerto
Saturday, October 12, 2019 |  Picture a dark and desolate northern landscape with icy winds blowing in from storm-tossed seas, and your ears can then slowly begin to adjust to the musical landscape of Peter Maxwell Davies’s First Violin Concerto, commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to celebrate its fortieth-anniversary and given its premiere by the dedicatee, Isaac Stern, in 1986, André Previn conducting. ... In this performance given by the Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra under Jonathan Butcher, the soloist was Cardiff-born Charlie Lovell-Jones... 
Boston Symphony Orchestra – Dima Slobodeniouk conducts Pohjola’s Daughter & Nielsen 5 – Truls Mørk plays Elgar’s Cello Concerto
Saturday, October 12, 2019 |  This intriguing program combined Elgar’s contemplative Cello Concerto with two works less often heard in Symphony Hall. The concert opener was Sibelius’s Pohjola’s Daughter, last played by the BSO under Colin Davis in 1980... ... Dima Slobodeniouk led the BSO in an energetic and compelling account. ... Good things continued to happen when Truls Mørk delivered a remarkably poised and poetic account of Elgar’s Cello Concerto... ... Finally an energetic and engrossing account of Carl Nielsen’s momentous Fifth Symphony, last given by the BSO – conducted by Simon Rattle – in 1993.  
Chelsea Opera at Cadogan Hall – Verdi’s Un giorno di regno
Saturday, October 12, 2019 |  Un giorno di regno (King for a day), Verdi’s second opera and his only other comedy other than his glorious swansong Falstaff often has a rather bad press. ... Chelsea Opera, doing what it does best, showed that this work is as good as many of its predecessors and is to be treasured. 
London Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra – Edward Gardner conducts Verdi’s Requiem
Saturday, October 12, 2019 |  This was the second of four LPO concerts this season with its Principal Conductor designate Edward Gardner, who, when he takes over in 2021, joins a very distinguished maestro elite. On the evidence of this Verdi Requiem, the LPO has chosen very well... 
Glyndebourne on Tour 2019 – Verdi’s Rigoletto – Nikoloz Lagvilava, Matteo Lippi, Vuvu Mpofu; directed by Christiane Lutz; conducted by Thomas Blunt
Friday, October 11, 2019 |  Verdi’s Rigoletto is so taut and doom-laden as the anti-hero is reeled in by Monterone’s curse that it’s a wonder that directors find any room for manoeuvre. Glyndebourne’s new production for this year’s Tour is the company’s first staging of this opera, entrusted to the German director Christine Lutz (recently married to Jonas Kaufmann) and her design team in their Glyndebourne debuts. 
Athens Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall – Yiannis Hadjiloizou conducts Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony
Thursday, October 10, 2019 |  Yiannis Hadjiloizou and the Athens Philharmonic made their Carnegie Hall debut with works by himself, his father Michael Hadjiloizou, and Gustav Mahler. 
London Philharmonic Orchestra – Edward Gardner conducts Bartók’s Dance Suite & Nielsen’s Inextinguishable Symphony – James Ehnes plays William Walton’s Violin Concerto
Wednesday, October 09, 2019 |  Bartók’s Dance Suite dates from 1923 and celebrates the creation of Budapest, combining towns from either side of the Danube. ... Edward Gardner, using his economical and very clear technique, ensured that the LPO achieved stunning accuracy when dealing with complex rhythms. ... When first hearing William Walton’s Violin Concerto with Alan Loveday as soloist and Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting, my reaction was: “this is modern music” and the impression still remains. The three-movement structure includes wide variation of mood and tempo but James Ehnes also explored the more romantic elements. ... Gardner launched Carl Nielsen’s ‘Inextinguishable’ Symphony with speed and force. 
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Tuesday, October 08, 2019 |  In its day Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was a popular musical. It later became a vehicle for Marilyn Monroe when 20th Century Fox cast her in the film version opposite Jane Russell. The show dates from 1949 when it ran for over 700 performances in its Broadway premiere. It is based on comic stories by Anita Loos (1889-1981), the prolific American author of films, plays, novels and memoirs. She wrote Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1925. Subtitled “The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady”, the book’s genesis was a series of humorous sketches which appeared in Harper’s Bazaar magazine. The sketches were all about love and how to get it but done in a non-prurient way. The eventual book became a bestseller and continued to be so through eighty-five editions and was translated into fourteen languages. 
Moscow Philharmonic @ The Anvil Basingstoke – Yuri Simonov conducts Tchaikovsky & Shostakovich – Natalia Lomeiko plays Prokofiev
Tuesday, October 08, 2019 |  It’s just over two years since the Moscow Philharmonic last played at the Anvil. This was another Russian programme and the playing under Yuri Simonov was totally committed and wonderfully polished. ... Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto was a less-involving affair with Natalia Lomeiko technically accomplished but wanting in variety and communication. 
Wigmore Hall – Handel’s Brockes-Passion – Arcangelo & Jonathan Cohen with Sandrine Piau, Stuart Jackson & Konstantin Krimmel
Tuesday, October 08, 2019 |  The Brockes Passion – a rare instance of Handel (perhaps one should say Händel) setting words in his native German – has received a flurry of interest this year, on the occasion of the 300th-anniversary of its only documented performance during the composer’s lifetime. Its origins are cloaked in some mystery as history fails to record exactly when and why it was written. It was likely composed a few years earlier, but it is known that Handel sent it (from England) to Hamburg for a performance, and that Bach was sufficiently impressed by it to own a copy himself... ... Jonathan Cohen’s account with Arcangelo took a few movements to settle down from its not entirely assured opening, with slightly rough-edged strings, and oboes not quite poised in the triple-time lilt of the first aria for the Daughter of Zion. Thereafter their interpretation became more dramatically responsive to the import of the text... ... The Evangelist is every much as central and demanding a part as that in Bach’s Passions. Stuart Jackson was a fairly cool, non-committed exponent of the part until recounting the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross. 
Elizabeth Watts & Julius Drake @ Wigmore Hall – Berg, Chaminade, Rachmaninov, Strauss
Monday, October 07, 2019 |  

Elizabeth Watts and Julius Drake devised a dreamy Wigmore Hall programme of song to chase away the cold and damp of a London Autumn evening. Watts’s lithe and rich soprano took flight immediately with a group of seven Lieder by Richard Strauss... 

Detroit Symphony Orchestra 2019-20 Season Opener – Michael Francis conducts Oberon Overture & Beethoven 5 – Christina & Michelle Naughton and David Fung play Concertos for Two Pianos (Mozart) and Three (Bach) [live webcast]
Sunday, October 06, 2019 |  The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1887, moved into Orchestra Hall 100 years ago. This purpose-built venue was erected in less than five months at the stipulation of Ossip Gabrilowitsch (1878-1936) before he accepted the position of Music Director... ... Michael Francis (formerly a bassist in the LSO and these days chief conductor of Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz and music director of The Florida Orchestra) crafted a fine account of the Overture to Oberon... ... As centrepieces, Concertos for multiple pianos. The Mozart started in stately fashion, but the Naughton sisters (twins) raised the stakes... 
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra – Zubin Mehta conducts Beethoven 7 – Pinchas Zukerman plays Elgar's Violin Concerto [medici.tv live webcast]
Saturday, October 05, 2019 |  The Israel Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta are busy-busy at the moment – eight concerts (each a different programme) over seventeen days, culminating on the Twentieth with Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony, with which Mehta steps down as Music Director after four decades; given Mehta first conducted the IPO in 1961 (and a title was bestowed on him in 1969), the relationship is even longer. ... This second programme of the current eight paired Elgar and Beethoven and reunited Pinchas Zukerman with Mehta... 
London Philharmonic Orchestra – Susanna Mälkki conducts Britten & Sibelius – Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays Elgar’s Cello Concerto
Saturday, October 05, 2019 |  Spare a thought for emerging artists. Expectations can easily be ratcheted up, especially when the individual quickly comes to be associated with one particular work. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, now widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading young musicians, has already taken Elgar’s Cello Concerto on a number of outings. How would he fare in partnership with Susanna Mälkki and the London Philharmonic? 
English National Opera – Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld
Saturday, October 05, 2019 |  Just how sharp or hard-hitting do you perceive the satire of operetta should be? This is the question that will largely decide how one might react to English National Opera’s new staging of Orpheus in the Underworld... 
English Touring Opera @ Hackney Empire – Kurt Weill’s Der Silbersee/The Silver Lake
Saturday, October 05, 2019 |  Even by English Touring Opera’s standards, this is adventurous – an epic pre-war German work that has rarely seen the light of day since its premiere. Der Silbersee was the last thing Kurt Weill wrote before he and his wife Lotte Lenya fled to Paris, then on to the United States, where he reinvented himself. 
Christian Gerhaher & Gerold Huber @ Wigmore Hall
Friday, October 04, 2019 |  Christian Gerhaher’s facility to suffuse his singing with often revelatory textual insight, particularly in his native German, is acknowledged. He has an unerring ability to draw an audience in, and to create a wonderful sense of the intimate, as here at Wigmore Hall... 
English Touring Opera @ Hackney Empire – Mozart’s Il Seraglio
Friday, October 04, 2019 |  The opulent red and gold interior of Hackney Empire made a perfect setting for the launch of ETO’s production of Mozart’s knockabout Seraglio. Written in 1782 as an escape drama, and set in a sultan’s harem, the opera deals with issues as contemporary as Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. 
Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall – Franz Welser-Möst conducts Mahler 5 – Yefim Bronfman plays Jörg Widmann’s Trauermarsch
Friday, October 04, 2019 |  Both of these works address the theme of farewell. Jörg Widmann’s Trauermarsch, a piano concerto in all but the title, was inspired by the ‘funeral march’ that opens Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and was written for Yefim Bronfman. ... Trauermarsch offers a great deal for listeners and performers to appreciate, and Franz Welser-Möst was kept amply busy throughout. 
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Cadogan Hall – Kirill Karabits conducts Hummel, Liszt & Strauss
Friday, October 04, 2019 |  As Gerard McBurney pointed out in his pre-concert talk, providing essential context of the importance of Weimar in the German consciousness of art over the last few centuries, Liszt – “Kapellmeister Extraordinaire” for twenty-four years in Weimar – was such a prolific composer that works are still being unearthed in archives. While Kirill Karabits has been music director in Weimar he has been on a mission to discover more Liszt and has revived after 160 years the curious melodrama Vor hundert Jahren (A Hundred Years Ago) which Liszt composed for a celebration of the centenary of birth of Friedrich Schiller. 
OAE @ RFH – Masaaki Suzuki conducts Mendelssohn’s Elijah
Thursday, October 03, 2019 |  Masaaki Suzuki joined the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a fascinating reading of Mendelssohn’s dramatic Elijah. 
The Royal Ballet – Manon [Sarah Lamb & Vadim Muntagirov]
Thursday, October 03, 2019 |  Another season, another run of Manon at Covent Garden. It shouldn’t feel routine or safe or predictable, but it does, and if the decision to open with Kenneth MacMillan’s ever-popular take on the Abbé Prévost’s eternal tale of the downfall of the irresistible convent girl and her infatuated lover was made for box office reasons, then it is a decision which has blown up in their face, given the empty seats visible on this first night. 
BBC Symphony Orchestra Opening Concert of 2019-20 Season – Sakari Oramo conducts William Alwyn’s Miss Julie
Thursday, October 03, 2019 |  It is no wonder that August Strindberg’s Miss Julie has generated, at last count, four operas – this BBCSO season-launcher by William Alwyn, by Ned Rorem, Philippe Boesmans, and, most recently, Joseph Phibbs – since the 1888 play, which not surprisingly fell foul of the censors, first appeared in Copenhagen. ... It was a bold move on the part of the BBCSO and Sakari Oramo to present this rarely performed British opera by a composer whose considerable output is well-represented by recordings, less so in the concert hall. 
New York Philharmonic – Jaap van Zweden conducts Symphonie fantastique – Augustin Hadelich plays Sibelius
Thursday, October 03, 2019 |  Now in his thirties, German-born violinist, Augustin Hadelich, has reached a level of musical sophistication and technical proficiency that are both extraordinary and impressive. Especially noteworthy is his combination of pinpoint accuracy and a cultured sweetness of tone. These two characteristics worked well for Hadelich in a splendid performance of Sibelius’s masterful Violin Concerto. 
The Metropolitan Opera – Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Puccini’s Turandot – Christine Goerke, Eleonora Buratto, Yusif Eyvazov, James Morris; conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Thursday, October 03, 2019 |  In this fifteenth revival of Franco Zeffirelli’s shimmering staging of Puccini’s final masterpiece, Turandot, Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts his first Puccini opera at the Met and does an unequivocally masterful job of coordinating the orchestral and vocal forces. 
Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall – Franz Welser-Möst conducts Merry Wives & Rosenkavalier – Beethoven with Yefim Bronfman, Anne-Sophie Mutter & Lynn Harrell
Thursday, October 03, 2019 |  On Carnegie Hall’s 19-20 opening night, launching a season-long Beethoven 250 celebration, Franz Welser-Möst led the Cleveland Orchestra in a genial program with a distinct Viennese flavor. The occasion was dedicated to Jessye Norman, who died earlier this week. 
Gerald Barry’s The Intelligence Park @ Linbury Theatre
Wednesday, October 02, 2019 |  Gerard Barry’s first opera, The Intelligence Park, has taken just shy of thirty years to attain its second staging – the first being at the Almeida Theatre in 1990. 
London Philharmonic Orchestra – Vladimir Jurowski conducts Richard Strauss’s Alpine Symphony – Nicola Benedetti plays Edward Elgar’s Violin Concerto
Wednesday, October 02, 2019 |  Following hot on the heels of Antonio Pappano and the National Youth Orchestra of the USA at this year’s Proms, Vladimir Jurowski led the LPO on a similarly brisk traversal of the Alps in Richard Strauss’s final great tone poem. ... Equally impressive was the reading of Elgar’s Violin Concerto. Nicola Benedetti has only recently taken it up and hers may still be an interpretation in progress but it was a notably passionate performance... 
Academy of Ancient Music – Richard Egarr conducts Dussek’s Mass in G & Beethoven’s complete Egmont music with narration by Stephen Fry
Wednesday, October 02, 2019 |  The Academy of Ancient Music launched its 2019-20 season with a Missa solemnis not heard for two centuries by one of the music world’s more scandalous mavericks. It sounded too good to miss. Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812) wowed audiences throughout Europe as a piano virtuoso... ... Not surprisingly, Beethoven’s music is incidental in a particularly noticeable way, and the nine numbers were linked by a narration that followed Egmont from triumph to the greater glory of his martyrdom. Stephen Fry was marvellous... 
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts Ruth Gipps’s Second Symphony and Walton’s Troilus & Cressida – Alison Balsom plays Thea Musgrave’s Trumpet Concerto
Wednesday, October 02, 2019 |  Thea Musgrave’s Trumpet Concerto (2019) was premiered at this year’s Cheltenham Festival by Alison Balsom. Readers will recall the clutch of concertante works that Musgrave wrote in the late-1960s and early-1970s... ... Beforehand, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla made a persuasive case for the Second Symphony (1945) by one-time CBSO oboist Ruth Gipps... ... While it has enjoyed several revivals, William Walton’s opera Troilus and Cressida (1954) has never quite recovered from the lukewarm reception as meted out (by public and critics alike) at its premiere. 
Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich – Paavo Järvi’s first concert as Chief Conductor and Music Director – Arvo Pärt’s Wenn Bach Bienen gezüchtet hätte & Sibelius’s Kullervo
Wednesday, October 02, 2019 |  The veteran Tonhalle Orchestra, founded in 1868, isn't one to rest on its laurels. ... With Paavo Järvi taking up the reins as chief conductor, a grounded new chapter is under way. 
English National Opera – Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice – Alice Coote, Sarah Tynan & Soraya Mafi; directed by Wayne McGregor; conducted by Harry Bicket
Tuesday, October 01, 2019 |  First, full marks to ENO for programming. Having chosen the myth of Orpheus as a theme for its new season, the company opens with the earliest of the operas to be presented, Gluck’s seminal Orpheus and Eurydice (1762) which ushered in a reform of the genre in favour of a more direct and simple form of expression. But in the year which also marks the 150th-anniversary of the death of Berlioz, whose own original (in both senses) operas have come under greater scrutiny as a result, it is apt that his version of the work is the one presented. 
Yulianna Avdeeva @ Queen Elizabeth Hall – Chopin, Schumann, Schubert
Tuesday, October 01, 2019 |  This was Yulianna Avdeeva’s fifth London recital since she won the 2010 Chopin Competition. The Russian artist was only the second woman to win it (Argerich was the first, in 1965), and she beat Daniel Trifonov, Lukas Geniusas and Ingolf Wunder, so she keeps good company. Her repertoire, ranging wide over the past nine years, has included rather than showcased Chopin, and that has raised questions about preferences and affinities. 


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