Showing posts from February, 2021

Jeffrey Skidmore's 70th birthday

POPULAR EX CATHEDRA CONDUCTOR TURNS 70 JEFFREY SKIDMORE'S 70TH BIRTHDAY by Christopher Morley Like Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, Jeffrey Skidmore probably has in his attic a picture of himself which does all the ageing for him. See him downstairs and you would never believe this conductor of Ex Cathedra is about to turn 70. For all the worldwide success he has achieved with this chamber choir which was his brainchild Jeffrey remains remarkably modest and down to earth, with absolutely no "side" to him. Our Birmingham-based careers in music have developed side-by-side for over 50 years, and he tells me how his began, thanks to an inspirational teacher. "I went to Bournville School in Griffins Brook Lane, and the music teacher was Walter Jennings (who now lives with his wife Linda in Plas Gwyn, Elgar's old home in Hereford). "They were both music graduates of the University of Birmingham, and introduced me to the music scene in the city, in

Beethoven Violin Sonatas at the Wigmore Hall

IMPRESSIVE BEETHOVEN VIOLIN RECITAL AT THE WIGMORE HALL LANA TROTOVSEK AND MARIA CANVIGUERAL streamed from the Wigmore Hall ***** After their recent triumphant recital at the Wigmore Hall, Slovenian violinist Lana Trotovsek and Spanish-Catalan pianist Maria Canvigueral returned for the latest in the venue's streamed online performances, transcending all the limitations imposed by the current situation. Sound quality cannot be the same as when experiencing a live performance, not least in such an acoustically comfortable room, so we could not quite fully appreciate the gorgeously rich tone of Trotovsek's instrument. Visually, concentrating upon a tiny computer screen becomes wearing, but adroit camera-work here gave us several perspectives, including some we would never experience live in the concert-hall unless we were swinging from the chandeliers. The duo have made a speciality of Beethoven Violin Sonatas, and here we heard three of them, beginning with a joyous ac

Giya Kancheli Symphonies on CD

SYMPHONIES BY A GEORGIAN COMPOSER KANCHELI COMPLETE SYMPHONIES: Tibilisi Symphony Orchestra / Kakhidze ★★★★ Georgian composer Giya Kancheli's music created a stir in the 1980s when a thaw in the cold war allowed music from the Soviet Union's satellite states to reach the west. His seven symphonies, and much more, were recorded by the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra under their long-time chief conductor, and Kancheli's close friend, Djansug Kakhidze. They mostly appeared on the Olympia label, now defunct, and have long been unavailable. Cugate Classics have remastered the original tapes in a five CD box set. His music was often compared to Arvo Part's "holy minimalism" but while both men are harmonically conservative, Kancheli extends his slow moving, hypnotic style to epic proportions – tedious or mystically enlightening according to taste. The five CDs are available separately and I'd advise newcomers to explore Mourned by the Wind, an often ravishingly

Wonderful Elgar CD reviewed

CAPUCON, HOUSH, RATTLE AND LSO IN WONDERFUL ELGAR RELEASE ELGAR VIOLIN CONCERTO AND VIOLIN SONATA Renaud Capucon, London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle, Stephen Hough Erato 0190295112820 This is an absolutely wonderful coupling of two of Elgar's most heartfelt works, and all concerned deserve the utmost credit for putting the music before their own self-projecting. This has not always been the case with the soloists in Simon Rattle's previous recordings of the Concerto, and I have heard far too many overblown accounts of the Sonata which blow away its fragility. On this recording he concerto's opening tutti has the most understated but appropriate portamenti in the violins, never overdone or selfconscious, and Renaud Capucon's entry is grippingly grieving, heralding a deeply personal, heartfelt response to this most personal of violin concertos. His delivery is busy, but also with the space lovingly to caress a phrase. Collaboration between the soloist an

Latest CBSO review

ENERGETIC CBSO CONCERT UNDER MICHAEL SEAL CBSO Streamed from Symphony Hall January 28 **** Over half a century ago Hugh Macdonald. one of this country's leading Berlioz experts, wrote in a BBC Music Guide that the composer had described his Rob Roy Overture as "long and diffuse". "And so it is," confirmed the critic. "It should never be performed before an audience who are not wholly aware that Berlioz was ashamed of it." Rob Roy is a rarity in the concert-hall, but Symphony Hall gives it socially-distanced room-space for this latest streamed concert by a reduced CBSO. And in fact Berlioz was brutally honest with himself, and Macdonald right to quote him, and to repeat it in his lengthy article in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Even in this willing, muscular performance under Michael Seal's eloquent conducting this emerged as a disproportionate, sagging and over-long piece. The Scottishisms are quaint, and we do ge