Voices

The Labour leader has been rightly scorned for music that merely ticked boxes. He could so easily have been a lot less boring…

Langridge/Norris/Doric Quartet, Wigmore Hall, London

Philip Langridge may have lost his youthful glamour as Britten’s post-Pears tenor mouthpiece - presumably he doesn’t have that vital picture in the attic - but at 70 he’s still debonair.

Richard Ingrams’s Week: We could learn a thing or two from the French

A schoolboy who recently joined an anti-Scientology demonstration in London had his name taken by the police when he refused to lower a placard which called Scientology a cult. Luckily the case against him was dropped after the human rights organisation Liberty intervened on his behalf.

Hallé/Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

It's taken 104 years for Vaughan Williams's Heroic Elegy and Triumphal Epilogue to have its first fully professional outing. Composed in 1901 when he was still virtually unknown, and with no clues left as to its inspiration, the score is headed with a quote from the Bible's Song of Solomon, "Terrible as an army with banners". The first movement, Heroic Elegy, begins with an uneasily insistent string motif, over which a meandering theme is introduced on trombones then horns. The brass worries away at this material until a blazing climax is followed by a threatening timpani ostinato and suggestions of a martial violence are finally subdued with an eerie quietness.

One inspiring owner: Houses of Britain's cultural greats

Museums and galleries are all very well, but it's the houses of Britain's cultural greats which are worth writing home about. Jonathan Christie reports

Album: Andre Previn, An 80th Birthday Celebration, (Sony Classical)

Few conductors have negotiated the line between populist appeal and artistic validity with the elegance of Andre Previn, but even so, it's hard to discern who this supposed birthday celebration is aimed at, so perversely does it fall between all available stools.

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 Cardinall's Musick/Andrew Carwood, Wigmore Hall, London

Near ideal for chamber music and song recitals, the intimate acoustics of the Wigmore Hall might be thought to lack spaciousness enough for unaccompanied choral singing. Not even the accomplished line-up of Andrew Carwood's choir, The Cardinall's Musick, it seemed, could entirely avoid generating a fierce, dry edge to their sound at climactic moments. None the less, their latest appearance in this venue proved an inspiring experience.

<a href="http://edseckerson.independentminds.livejournal.com/3000.html">Edward Seckerson: Classical pickings 2008</a>

In no particular order.... English National Opera: "Riders to the Sea" - Fiona Shaw's "quietly devastating" staging of Vaughan Williams' one act opera; a fitting tribute to to the late lamented Richard Hickox who did so much for the cause of English music.

Riders to the Sea, Coliseum, London <br>Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jansons, Royal Festival Hall, London

Its conductor Richard Hickox may have died, but this slight Vaughan Williams show goes on

Riders to the sea, Coliseum, London

It was always going to be an intense evening, but factor in the untimely death of the man who was to have conducted, Richard Hickox, and it became a profoundly sad one.

Riders to the Sea, London Coliseum, London

It was always going to be an intense evening – but factor in the untimely death of its conductor, Richard Hickox, and it became a profoundly sad one. How typical that Hickox should have been the motivator for English National Opera’s first ever staging of Vaughan Williams’ exquisitely understated setting of J.M.Synge’s Riders to the Sea in the 50th anniversary year of the composer’s death.

Richard Hickox: Conductor who left a prodigious recorded legacy of British music

The sudden death of the conductor Richard Hickox from a heart attack in a Cardiff hotel bedroom puts an abrupt end to a career that was reaping the high-profile rewards of long years of devotion to his craft – in a profession where he might reasonably have expected to enjoy another three decades of music-making.

Conductor Hickox dies at 60

Richard Hickox, described as "one of the world's leading conductors", has died from a suspected heart attack aged 60.

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