Showing posts from March, 2022

Norman Stinchcombe reviews John WIlson and Thomas Trotter CDs

NORMAN STINCHCOMBE RAVES OVER TWO CDS FROM SYMPHONY HALL FAVOURITES RAVEL: Sinfonia of London / Wilson ★★★★★ Chandos continues its winning formula of conductor John Wilson, his revivified hand-picked orchestra and the wonderful warm acoustic of St Augustine's Church, Kilburn. As in Wilson's Korngold and Respighi recordings, the production team present a sound picture startlingly clear and lifelike, especially in SACD. In the opening bars of 'La Valse' the strands of music whisperingly coalesce into the main theme from utter silence while the climax, as the Hapsburg Empire waltzes itself into oblivion, is cataclysmic. Ravel's five other ballet scores are equally vivid with Wilson's elan, and the Sinfonia's characterful playing. 'Ma Mere L'Oye' is alive with telling detail; Beauty's sinuous clarinet, the Beast's gauchely pleading contrabassoon and the Princess of the Pagoda's tinkling chinoiserie. I never thought Dutoit's 19

Norman Stinchcombe's latest CD reviews -- RVW and Stravinsky

NORMAN STINCHCOMBE REVIEWS MAJOR NEW VAUGHAN WILLIAMS AND STRAVINSKY RELEASES Albion Records is the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society's own recording label and since its formation in 2007 has issued 172 first recordings of little-known works and arrangements. Three newly-released discs continue this tradition with some intriguing rarities. In 'Transcriptions from Truro' ★★★★★ David Briggs, on the 'Father Willis' organ of Truro Cathedral, performs his own transcriptions of 'Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus', Symphony No.5 and 'The Lark Ascending'. In the last of these he is joined by violinist Rupert Marshall-Luck, with Briggs laying down a cushion of sound (one hardly misses the orchestra) while the violin soars and carols above, with Marshall-Luck's rapturous and finely-honed playing enhanced by the warm and expansive cathedral acoustics. The 'Variants' rhapsodic nature is captured convincingly by Briggs, sounding as if originally co

Norman Stinchcombe's latest CBSO review

MIRGA;S STAND-IN MAKES HER CBSO DEBUT CBSO at Symphony Hall ★★★ Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla tested positive for Covid on the morning of this concert forcing her to cancel – three days before the CBSO is due to play in Germany at the start of a European tour. CBSO chief executive Stephen Maddock vowed, "The show will go on." The search is one for a replacement conductor for the early concerts. For this one CBSO assistant conductor Charlotte Politi stepped in, making her debut. Mieczysław Weinberg's fourth symphony was axed, replaced by three minutes of Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake'. Ramrod-straight, sharp-suited and refreshingly unhistrionic, Politi looked very assured all evening. Weinberg's Symphony No.3 in B minor is familiar to regular concertgoers from performances here in 2019 and 2021. Weinberg, along with Shostakovich and others, was subject to the 1948 crackdown by Stalin's cultural henchman Zhdanov. Only the approachable and uplifting was now p

CBSO Nordic concert reviewed

DISAPPOINTING GRIEG, FABULOUS SIBELIUS CBSO Symphony Hall **** Around 50 years ago I heard Nielsen's Helios overture for the first time, and didn't take to it. I've decided it must have been the conductor's fault, for a couple of times closer to the present day I have heard it conducted by Michael Seal and have really warmed to the piece. Seal's most recent delivery of it was with the CBSO for Wednesday's very well-attended matinee, and he built a strong image of Nielsen's sun's progress across the sky during the course of one day (let's not get bogged down in astronomical accuracy). Progress was confidently textured, with chattering woodwind and a sturdy fugue, Seal turning what had seemed a static work to me half a century ago into a living organism. Horns were at their noble best. This all-Nordic programme continued with a disappointing account of the well-loved Grieg Piano Concerto. Clare Hammond was the cool, detached soloist, ne

Welsh National Opera's Jenufa

EMOTIONALLY POWERFUL JENUFA FROM WELSH NATIONAL OPERA JENUFA Welsh National Opera at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff For all its near quarter-century of existence, Katie Mitchell's production for Welsh National Opera of Janacek's Jenufa continues to pack a powerful punch. Perhaps illegitimate birth is no scandal in the western world today, but many of us will remember the stigma that was until recently attached to it, and the impact of the sweet Jenufa's shame upon her immediate family and ultimately her Moravian village is shattering. Mitchell's production is ruthless in its clarity, aided by Nigel J Edwards' stark lighting design and the stark simplicity of Vicki Mortimer's sets. Add to this the vigour and movement of the remarkable WNO Chorus whenever the villagers assemble, and then the solitariness of the principals, locked in their own troubles; the result is emotionally overpowering. Elizabeth Llewellyn, the Jenufa pregnant by her cousin

CBSO. Kopatchinskaja/Grazinyte-Tyla

CBSO FOR UKRAINE CBSO at Symphony Hall, live on BBC Radio3 ★★★★★ The war in Ukraine casts its shadow everywhere. In the morning President Zeklensky said that if his country fell then Putin's forces would target more countries including Lithuania and Moldova. Hours later here was a concert with conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and violin soloist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who were born in those two countries. The CBSO chief executive Stephen Maddock dedicated the concert to the people of Ukraine and a giant screen carried a picture of their country's flag. The concert ended with a special encore, the poignant and tender 'Melody in A Minor' by Ukrainian composer Myrolslav Skoryk which has a special status there akin to Elgar's 'Nimrod' here. Perhaps the solemnity of the occasion accounted for a subdued account of Tchaikovsky's 'Romeo and Juliet' with its vivid, vibrant emotional colours diluted and the magical modulation into the love music mu