News

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.

Prom 39, Brabbins Royal Albert Hall, London<br/>Prom 43, Salonen Royal Albert Hall, London<br/>Prom 46, Bychkov, Royal Albert Hall, London

Decades later and we've grown to love Birtwistle's rich and strange sound world. A concert to celebrate the composer's 75th birthday is met with shock and awe &ndash; as well as affection

Album: Bartok / Shostakovich Violin Concertos, (Ambrosie/Naive)

The raw immediacy of Yossif Ivanov's tone is the first thing to strike in this pairing of two of the mid-20th century's most pungent violin concertos.

Sir Edward Downes: Conductor celebrated as one of the finest Verdi interpreters of his generation

Edward Downes spent more than 50 years of his life at Covent Garden Opera House, as prompter, répétiteur, translater and, of course, conductor. He spent four years as the music director of Australian Opera, but returned at least once a season to Covent Garden where, in 1992, he was appointed assistant music director and principal conductor of the Royal Opera. He had been knighted the year before. He was one of the finest Verdi conductors of his generation, and in 1995 he launched an ambitious plan to perform all Verdi's operas at Covent Garden by 2001, the centenary of his death, a plan which unfortunately foundered from lack of funds. Downes's other great strengths were in Russian opera, especially Prokofiev and Shostakovich, though he did not neglect Tchaikovsky or Mussorgsky, and in 20th-century opera: he conducted several premieres and British premieres.

Elaine Padmore: 'Musicians loved Ted. He was a strong man with clear ideas'

Ted Downes had a formidable love and knowledge of opera – particularly Russian opera – and his pebbly glasses made him look like Shostakovich, who was one of Ted's great heroes. He was a huge Verdi man and was instrumental in creating the Verdi festival in London's Covent Garden in the 1990s. I remember when he and David McVicar came for the 2001 production of Rigoletto. I had to introduce them to each other and wondered how they would get on. But Ted was marvellous with younger people and very interested in their ideas, and this senior conductor and rising director got on fantastically well. The revival of this production of Rigoletto in 2005 was one of the last things Ted was able to conduct.

Boris Pokrovsky: Opera director whose career at the Bolshoi crossed five decades

Boris Pokrovsky dominated Soviet opera for over 50 years and his productions – lavish, traditional, even sometimes staid – defined the Bolshoi style. But his chamber opera company often moved in a very different direction.

Orion Symphony Orchestra, Cadogan Hall, London

Another night, another student orchestra. If you want to learn the secret of classical music's perennial good health, look no further; the conservatoires are bristling with talent. The Orion draws its players from all four London conservatoires, and the Sonitus Chamber Choir, which joined it for this event, does likewise. One purpose of this orchestra is to promote "unjustly forgotten masterpieces"; another is to give the players experience of working under real-world pressure.

The Brothers Karamazov, Barbican, London

It's a brave (or foolhardy) man who dares to make an opera of Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. Throughout the long first act of Alexander Smelkov and Yury Dimitrin's adaptation for the Mariinsky Theatre, the effect was a little like speed-reading it while under the influence. If you didn't know the novel at all, the seemingly reckless dash of the narrative, the dislocation of characters and ideas, will have left you feeling marooned in some grand farce. To some extent, Dostoyevsky's last novel is just that – the anatomy of a chaotic society and the human conditions driving it. But still I wonder if the composer and his librettist have got the balance right between the grimly ironic and the tragic?

Smelkov The Brothers Karamazov, Mariinsky Theatre/ Gergiev, Barbican Hall

It’s a brave (or foolhardy) man who dares to make an opera of Dostoyevsky’s seminal novel The Brothers Karamazov.

LSO / Previn, Barbican Hall, London

It doesn't seem so very long ago (but it was) that André Previn crossed over from the darkside (aka Hollywood) and sought the classical limelight in London. He sported a Beatles haircut and a spring in his step, and Eric Morecambe called him Mr Preview.

London Symphony Orchestra/ Previn, Barbican Hall

It doesn’t seem so very long ago (but it was) that Andre Previn crossed over from the darkside (a.k.a. Hollywood) and sought the classical limelight in London.

Yo-Yo Ma/Kathryn Stott, Barbican Hall, London

They sit closer than do most duo recitalists, reflecting the now intimate nature of their musical partnership. Indeed there was one note of Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata in A minor when a pizzicato in the cello and a staccato quaver in the right hand of the piano chimed in such a way as to belie the fact that there was absolutely no eye contact. Pure musical telepathy.

Pehr Henrik Nordgren: Modernist composer who incorporated folk music into his work and relished his artistic freedom

Pehr Henrik Nordgren was a rare phenomenon among composers: he wrote music which held a place at the forefront of contemporary culture and which also managed to speak directly to his listeners. He took an essentially humanist view of the composer's role:

Prom 70 Messiaen St Francis of Assisi<br/>Prom 71 Mahler CSO &ndash; Haitink <br/>Prom 72 Shostakovich/Mozart CSO Haitink/Perahia, Royal Albert Hall, London

Other concerts pale beside four-and-a-half hours of Messiaen which aim to catch the rapture of prayer

A concert for Ossetians &ndash; to Russia's tune

Many have lost relatives, some no longer have homes, but they all put on their best evening dress and flocked to Tskhinvali's central square to see one of the world's most famous conductors lead an emotional concert in support of his people – and Russian military action.

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Career Services

Day In a Page

A
Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen