One of that select band of British pianists to achieve international recognition, Bernard Roberts was in constant demand as a recitalist, chamber musician, accompanist, concerto soloist and teacher. He was acclaimed by audiences and critics, the remarkable breadth of his industry bringing greater recognition for the instrument itself and proving pivotal in inspiring generations of aspiring performers.
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Thursday 19 June 2008
Two enigmatic string quartets: Schubert's A minor "Rosamunde" (1824), with its ambiguous, ever-shifting mood changes between minor and major, plaintive and insouciant; and Beethoven's vast, late C sharp minor (1825-6), with its continuous unfolding of no less than seven oddly assorted movements, adding up to – what exactly?
Wednesday 04 June 2008
Agents taking on young artists have a responsibility to guide in the timing of debut recitals, particularly in this country. The standard of playing heard almost daily – from, for instance, the BBC Young Generation Artists – sets a level of performance that cannot be ignored, especially if a young artist is making a debut at the Wigmore Hall.
Sunday 18 May 2008
Monday 07 April 2008
Since the death of Messiaen, Henri Dutilleux has been widely regarded as the Grand Old Man of contemporary French music, and this Wigmore Hall celebration culminated in the presentation of the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal to the still-active 92-year-old composer.
Winterreise, Wigmore Hall, London<br />RPO/Daniel, Cadogan Hall, London<br/>Macbeth, Queen Elizabeth Hall. London
Sunday 06 April 2008
Wednesday 02 April 2008
When a singer of Alice Coote's temperament and artistry embarks upon the disillusionment and heartbreak of Schubert's "winter journey", she defies and transcends gender. But can a woman access something more from a work that is essentially written within a masculine emotional framework? Is Winterreise, the world's saddest song cycle, richer for that feminine "awareness"?
Thursday 27 March 2008
Classical music has always benefited from the largesse of those who have made their money in non-musical ways, but for young musicians, such sources are now more crucial than ever. The late Derek Butler, who made his fortune manufacturing Nigerian headdresses, is posthumously supporting a huge array of ventures, including the musical prize that bears his name. Now in its second year, it goes to the best postgrad candidate fielded by London's four conservatoires, with a Wigmore Hall concert as the play-off.
Monday 24 March 2008
Never underestimate the potency of newspaper cuttings: for the explosive creativity of Leos Janacek, they were blue touch-paper. Chancing to read a poem-sequence from a supposedly self-educated young ploughman (the programme note suggests they were actually by a journalist), Janacek found himself identifying madly with its chronicle of helpless infatuation and joyous fulfilment – but then he himself was helplessly infatuated with a girl 40 years his junior.
Sunday 24 February 2008
Monday 11 February 2008
Thursday 07 February 2008
This has been a good week for the 23-year-old pianist Wu Qian, who was born and brought up in Shanghai, then trained at the Menuhin School and the Royal Academy of Music. At the Southbank Centre, she made her debut as part of a new piano trio with violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and cellist Leonard Elschenbroich; at the Wigmore, she opened the Young Artists' Platform season with a mini-recital of Brahms and Liszt.
Tuesday 05 February 2008
Under the leadership of the charismatic violinist Thomas Zehetmair, the Zehetmair Quartet have won a string of awards for their recordings of Schumann, Hindemith and Bartok. They only tour one or two programmes a year, but play their full repertoire from memory. Presumably, the idea is that this will enable the players to interact more spontaneously. Alas, on the evidence of this Wigmore Hall concert, it conduces rather to mannerism and eccentricity.
Wednesday 30 January 2008
The Wigmore Hall is celebrating the legacy of the Swiss conductor and patron Paul Sacher (1906-99), who used the millions he married into to commission a string of modern masterpieces from Bartok, Strauss, Stravinsky, Carter, Boulez, Britten et al, and left a research foundation in Basel stuffed with sketch material and memorabilia. This visit by the 12 strings of the ever-welcome Scottish Ensemble led by Jonathan Morton brought forth three of Sacher's best.
Monday 28 January 2008
University of Surrey-based Peter O'Hagan is a formidable scholar-pianist whose recent researches have focused on that most mysterious of post-war conceptions, Pierre Boulez's Sonata No 3 (1955-63) – mysterious, not only because its published sections offer the performer some degree of freedom in the ordering of sections, but because other bits of it remain unpublished, unrevised and even, apparently, uncomposed.
Sunday 13 January 2008
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