To classical music lovers of a certain age, the words “BBC Northern Orchestra, conducted by John Hopkins”, spoken by the veteran BBC North Region announcer Tom Naisby, remain a vivid memory of 1950s wireless listening.
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Monday 27 September 2010
The works of Matteo D’Amico – professor of composition at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia – are rarely performed in Britain, hence the handsome book extolling his prolific output which was thrust into the hands of critics at the world premiere of his ‘Flight from Byzantium’.
Sunday 27 June 2010
Written for Rostropovich, Britten's Cello Symphony is a concerto in all but name.
Friday 11 June 2010
At the spiritual centre of this exciting re-match between Mark Elder and the London Symphony Orchestra was Benjamin Britten’s intellectual and emotional kinship with Dmitri Shostakovich.
Friday 21 May 2010
"No one is retiring from the rock'n'roll business anymore," quips Randy Newman. "Rock'n'roll is like chess but stupider. You've done all your best work at 14," he adds before launching into his typically arch "I'm Dead (But I Don't Know It)" where he encourages us to call out "he's dead, he's dead". We gamely do. The US satirist has never fitted the rock-god bill, he's always been a tad too portly around the gills – resembling an avuncular turtle with a sly, wry smile – but he's always attracted a loyal, similarly shaped, following. And as a lyricist he's right up there with Cohen, Lennon and Dylan.
Friday 23 April 2010
The Borodin Quartet is now well into its seventh decade, the latest replenishment in its ranks being cellist Vladimir Balshin, whose first recording is this trio of distinctively Russian pieces by Borodin, Stravinsky and Myaskovsky.
Monday 29 March 2010
Not all this year’s bicentennial tributes to Chopin will necessarily be by Chopin.
Friday 26 March 2010
If you have problems with the music of Richard Wagner, you aren't alone. It's almost impossible to take such a controversial genius easily on board for straightforward consumption.
Friday 12 February 2010
Sunday 10 January 2010
The Borodin Quartet brings a lot of history to the table – 60 years, to be precise. Personnel may come and go, the balance of personalities may shift, but the identity remains resolutely intact.
Wednesday 06 January 2010
Completed – or so he thought - at the moment of his country’s greatest peril with Hitler’s forces camped in the Moscow suburbs, Sergei Prokofiev’s operatic adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace must have seemed a powerful and patriotic artistic response to the horrors of the conflict engulfing his homeland. But it didn’t work like that in Stalin’s world.
Wednesday 30 December 2009
Isaac Schwartz, who died on 27 December at the age of 86, was a composer whose music adorned some of the most popular films of the Soviet era.
Monday 05 October 2009
French feasts are high on the agenda of the London Symphony Orchestra this season: a strand of their programmes under their principal conductor, Valery Gergiev, is devoted to the world of music as seen by Henri Dutilleux, at 93 France's greatest living composer.
Wednesday 26 August 2009
How do you musically represent the explosion of an atom bomb? Last year John Adams showed us in his new opera Dr Atomic: a succession of shattering brass triads in G sharp minor, with an extra hyper-romantic chord thrown in. Alfred Schnittke's way, half a century ago, was to bombard his audience with everything in his orchestral armoury – string and trombone glissandi, cluster-chords, roars on percussion, and tremolandi all round. But the Nagasaki oratorio which Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra brought to the Proms didn't give us Schnittke the mature and playful "polystylist": this was Schnittke the student, and it showed.
Tuesday 25 August 2009
How do you musically represent the explosion of an atom bomb?
Monday 24 August 2009
Semyon Bychkov is one of the warmest of Russian conductors, and presided over what could have been a rather icy Prom. With a compelling splash of waterworlds in the UK premiere of a new work by Detlev Glanert, Shostakovich's ferocious Symphony No 11 and Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini as sandwich filler, the evening grew in power, finishing on a tremendous high as Shostakovich shook his fist at tyranny.
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