More establishment than experimental, classifying the late composer is no easy task
Igor Fyodorovitch Stravinsky
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Monday 25 April 2011
Sometimes one needs to read programme-notes in advance, sometimes it’s wise not to. It was definitely a mistake to read what concept-choreographer Klaus Obermaier had to say about the ‘live 3-D visuals’ he was going to impose (with the aid of a dancer) on the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’.
Thursday 07 April 2011
When the Arts Council axe fell last week, the Britten Sinfonia was one of the few musical clients to emerge significantly richer, in recognition of its ground-breaking work both abroad and in less culturally-favoured parts of Britain.
Malcolm Smith: Boosey & Hawkes manager whose expertise made him a mainstay of the classical music scene
Friday 11 March 2011
Malcolm Smith was one of those unsung heroes whose efforts glue the fabric of musical life together. Joining the music publisher Boosey & Hawkes as manager of the Hire Library in 1969, he got to know thousands of musicians, whose decisions often depended on his efficiency. If you were a conductor or orchestral manager planning to perform, say, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring or an opera-house intendant putting on Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, it was Smith and his team who made sure the performing material – the parts the musicians put on their music-stands – was up to date and delivered on time.
Thursday 10 March 2011
In 1918, Edward Elgar underwent a highly dangerous operation for a 61-year old man in those times – the removal of an infected tonsil. Recovering consciousness after sedation, he asked for a paper and pencil, and composed the melody that would be the first theme for his Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85.
Tuesday 22 February 2011
They’ve called this unprecedented five-day residency “The London Concerts” and having already shown off the youthful core of players at the heart of this venerable and venerated orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra duly expanded from chamber to symphonic proportions and crossed the river from the Southbank to the Barbican for what was by any standards a wondrous display of high-end artistry.
Friday 11 February 2011
What is Englishness in music? The young string players of the Britten Sinfonia don’t pose the question explicitly in their current touring programme, but it’s hovering in the surrounding ether.
Friday 11 February 2011
The “Infernal Dance” goes on. But in this the second instalment of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s well-named Bartok series it was Stravinsky who ultimately called the tune and dictated the footwork. A thrill-packed performance of The Rite of Spring brought people to their feet but there’s quite nothing like the context of a well-made programme to maximise its impact.
Wednesday 12 January 2011
Thursday 25 November 2010
What a journey we took here from the muted half-lights of Stravinsky’s Scherzo Fantastique to the tumultuous bell-laden prophecy at the close of Shostakovich’s 11th Symphony.
Friday 19 November 2010
It's difficult dealing with icons, especially when you're domesticating them. Coco & Igor charts the love affair between designer Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and composer Igor Stravinsky during his spell at her holiday home outside Paris.
Wednesday 18 August 2010
It was somewhat ironic that amidst the profusion of orchestral perfumes emanating from Scriabin’s 1st Symphony those seated closest to the orchestra were momentarily overcome by the acrid scent of burning electrics. The illuminated panels across the rear of the Royal Albert Hall platform certainly chose their moment to go on the blink. Not that they were anything like the kind of light-show that Alexander Scriabin had in mind when he began thinking in psychedelic colours. The timing, though, was almost poetic.
Friday 06 August 2010
Jan Kounen's drama picks up more or less at the point when Coco Before Chanel (with Audrey Tautou) left off – with Coco mourning the death of her lover Boy Capel and hitting her stride as the most celebrated couturière in France.
Friday 06 August 2010
This new version of Carmina Burana has been praised for its stripped-down approach, which eliminates some of its cod-medievalism. But like Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, it's that primeval spirit which gives Orff's masterwork much of its mythopoeic appeal.
Thursday 05 August 2010
Musical time-travel can often spring surprises, but the three-hour experience represented by Proms 24 and 25 was a uniquely strange journey.
Sunday 27 June 2010
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