REVIEWS

Jurowski, Hayward, Ebrahim, LPO, Royal Festival Hall, London
November 29, 2012

Introducing the first of two concerts celebrating the indomitability of the human spirit, Vladimir Jurowski enjoined us to listen to its five works as five movements of a single one.

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Calculated Instability: The Pioneering Sonatas Of C.P.E. Bach
November 20, 2012

If Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach wrote a dull piece of music, I've not yet heard it. And even if there is a workaday piece or two lurking within his 300 keyboard sonatas, you certainly won't find it on this new album by British pianist Danny Driver, who deftly uncovers the surprising restlessness of the music.

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Met’s ‘Masked Ball’ Is Seductive as Airport Parking Lot
November 15, 2012

I expected a lot from David Alden, a director who once turned Tchaikovsky’s “Mazeppa” into a chainsaw massacre.

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Schubert Ensemble, Capucon
November 13, 2012

Private patronage was always the trigger for the composition of classical music, and it’s good to know the system is still alive and well: George Law decided to celebrate his 80th birthday by commissioning a piano quintet from Jonathan Dove.

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'A Late Quartet': Melodrama With A Pounding Musical Heart
November 08, 2012

After a quarter century together as one of the world's top chamber music ensembles, the Fugue String Quartet is falling apart at the seams. A generation older than his colleagues, cellist Peter (Christopher Walken) is experiencing the early symptoms of Parkinson's, and with his sudden retirement, a morass of long-buried resentments and pain come spewing out of his three younger partners: first violinist Daniel (Mark Ivanir), second violinist Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and violist Juliette (Catherine Keener).

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Colorful Lindberg opus gives MusicNOW a strong series opener
October 30, 2012

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been working hard to convince audiences, particularly younger audiences, that if they miss any program in the CSO's contemporary music series, MusicNOW, they will miss something important in their lives. To judge from the large and enthusiastic crowd that turned out for the season's first MusicNOW concert on Monday night at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, that effort is paying off.

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Endymion/Ibragimova, Wigmore Hall
October 25, 2012

It’s good when chamber musicians break the mould and dare to do something different, and Philip Venables’s ‘Romanticism’ deserved a hearing, particularly as it was a Wigmore commission.

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Esa-Pekka Salonen's Excellent Violin Adventure
October 23, 2012

After 17 years molding the Los Angeles Philharmonic into one of the smartest and most adventurous U.S. orchestras, music director Esa-Pekka Salonen called it quits in 2009. Among his reasons for leaving the ensemble was to devote more time to composing.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart La Finta Giardiniera (Freiburger Barockorchester; Rene Jacobs)
October 11, 2012

Having tackled all of Mozart's mature operas (with the exception of Die Entführung), Rene Jacobs and his crack band of period instrumentalists, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, now turn their attention to a little-known early comedy, La Finta Giardiniera – literally, “the pretend garden-girl”.

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Opera Theater Oregon gives 'Old Maid and the Thief' a clever turn
October 09, 2012

Commissioned by NBC and premiered in 1939, Gian Carlo Menotti's "The Old Maid and the Thief" was among the first operas written for broadcast, a chamber-scale piece intended for a popular audience.

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Carl Nielsen Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 (New York Philharmonic; conductor: Alan Gilbert)
September 27, 2012

Alan Gilbert admits that of all six Nielsen symphonies the Third does the most for him. So can he, in the Sinfonia Espansiva’s centenary year, provide the long-awaited ‘has-it-all’ performance that the piece so thoroughly deserves?

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Trifonov's Triumph: Tchaikovsky, Twice Over
September 25, 2012

At just 21 years old, Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, the most recent winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition, is zooming into the classical music stratosphere — and with his new album he's out to prove he's here to stay.

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Josef Suk Prague / A Summer’s Tale
September 18, 2012

Late Romantic composer Josef Suk, Antonín Dvorak’s son-in-law, wrote a substantial body of works, many of them bold and ambitious and deserving of a place in the modern repertory.

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A Late Quartet a love letter to classical music
September 11, 2012

A Late Quartet, Yaron Zilberman’s film about the drama inside a classical string quartet, is a rare case of film illuminating the world of high art.

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Ernest Bloch and Max Bruch Voice in the Wilderness, Schelomo, From Jewish Life; Kol Nidrei
September 06, 2012

Lyrical, romantic and highly Jewish-sounding, the music of Swiss composer Ernest Bloch feels tailor-made for cellist Natalie Clein. Small wonder that this programme of his key works for cello is so successful.

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Classical Lost And Found: Fine Quartets From A Forgotten Frenchman
May 29, 2012

Orphaned at age five from a musical family, French composer Félicien-César David had a religious upbringing, and would go to study at the Paris Conservatory in 1830. But he left after eighteen months, later making his way to Egypt, where music of the East would make a lasting impression on him.

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Klara Min - Pa-mun: Ripples on Water (Piano Music from Korea)
May 21, 2012

In the midst of a dominant Western classical music tradition, Asian classical composers tend to get overlooked, whether it be in live performance or in recordings.

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John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers This Is the Day: Music on Royal Occasions
May 17, 2012

Many will remember that one of the new musical commissions for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 was a work by the king of crowd-pleasing feel-good sacred music, John Rutter. This Is the Day, whilst perhaps not on a par with Rutter's very best anthems, is still a sweetly happy and fresh-sounding piece, and it has now become the title-track for his and The Cambridge Singers' Jubilee year CD.

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The Duke Ellington collective
May 08, 2012

It wasn’t easy being Duke Ellington: every night, along with your tuxedo and your Brylcreem, to put on a mask of urbane sophistication, to say “I love you madly” even when playing to a segregated audience in some Southern dance hall, to give that audience music that was popular in part because of the prejudices it reinforced – the “jungle” style – even as it glowed with a brilliance only available to talent, intelligence and disciplined study.

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Erik Chisholm Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (Danny Driver; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; conductor: Rory MacDonald)
May 03, 2012

It's always fascinating to have musical preconceptions challenged, and the recent revival of the Scottish composer Erik Chisholm's output has done exactly that. Think mid-20th century British music and, whether we're in the late Romanticism of Vaughan Williams and Holst, or even Arnold and Britten's more pared-down vernaculars, there's an expectation of a largely soft, lyrical and frequently elegiac style. Within this context, Chisholm's modernist music is as extraordinary and perplexing as it is beautiful.

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