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Francesca Jackes on the dark side of the orchestra
Fateful prophecies and exultant perorations – the enduring spirits of Leos Janacek and Josef Suk ascend from the valley of the shadow of death and another of Vladimir Jurowski’s beautifully crafted programmes for the London Philharmonic makes connections that will profoundly affect the way we hear these works in the future.
The charismatic St. Petersburg-born Vasily Petrenko has really been turning things around at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra since he took over as Principal Conductor in 2005.
Orchestrated animal magic
Last Shop Standing lifts the lid on an industry in tatters. Graham Jones has worked at the heart of record retailing since the golden era of the 1980s. He was there during the years of plenty and has witnessed the tragic decline of a business blighted by corruption and corporate greed. Last Shop Standing is a hilarious yet ahrrowing account by a man who has been there and sold that.
The symphonic debut of a new conductor and orchestra partnership is always an event. Long associated with contemporary music, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra tears into the first of a cycle of Tchaikovsky's symphonies for the German label Orfeo under its young Latvian music director Andris Nelsons.
Andris Nelsons knows that Mahler's Second Symphony is inextricably linked with Sir Simon Rattle's time as Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Back in his native Latvia, Nelsons more or less grew up with the famous Rattle recording of the Resurrection Symphony but, conducting the work with the CBSO, he talks of "polishing the mosaics in a different way". Polish, however, is exactly what was lacking here. At the same time, you could argue that however much this sprawling performance also lacked depth, Nelsons' dynamic interpretation made up for it in breathtaking immediacy and striking theatricality.
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.
A highly charged performance of some of the most erotic music in the orchestral repertoire is as classy as it is explicit
Rattle returns to a love-in
Claudio Abbado's 2001 performances in Rome with the Berliner Philharmoniker has made it into a boxed-set with a re-edited version of their Berlin recording of No 9.
Portentous and banal, "Memory Takes My Hand" is the least interesting of the three works here. Not even Lucy Crowe can make Peter Arnott's lyrics intelligible at the tessitura chosen by Craig Armstrong, and the BBC SO treads water in a score that sounds as though Carl Orff had been reincarnated as an ambient composer.