As part of the diverse mental attic that this blog is, this post simply lists live music I have heard, as best my memory serves. In some cases, I am also motivated to write about what I heard.
- Wien und Venezia, a concert comprising mostly German choral music, by the Anton Bruckner Choir, under Christopher Dawe, at St Clement Danes Church, Strand, London, 11 October 2014. Chitarrone played by Richard MacKenzie, violin Liam Shinar, viola & violin Andrew Stern, organ Paul Ayers. The Bach and Mendelssohn stirring.
- Anthony Marwood and friends, including the Heath Quartet, at the Wigmore Hall, playing Mendelssohn’s Octet, London, 7 October 2014. A thrilling performance, certainly one of the best I have heard. The last movement was taken faster than usual, so it much better invoked the feeling of a wild fight between Good and Evil for Faust’s soul. Good prevailed, but the speed meant that it was only by a whisker. Those speedsters Felix Mendelssohn and Eduard Reitz would have loved this version. The programme also included Enescu’s Octet, but I wanted to leave with the Mendelssohn in my ears, so did not stay for the Enescu.
- St James Sinfonia and New London Singers at St James Anglican Church, Picadilly, London, under Paul Goodwin, 2 October 2014. The programme comprised:CPE Bach – Magnificat
JS Bach – Singet dem Herrn
Nystedt – Immortal Bach
Zelenka – Miserere
Pärt – Collage sur B-A-C-HSoloists were:Grace Davidson soprano
Martha McLorinan mezzo soprano
Nathan Vale tenor
Stephen Kennedy bass.
The acoustics of this church suit choral and orchestral music much more than they do chamber music (see below), and this was a superb concert. Zelenka’s Miserere is spine-chilling in its harmonies. Nystedt’s dissonances are also tender and moving. It is a wonder that CPE Bach’s Magnificat is not performed more often, so good it is. The suspended seconds are achingly beautiful, and the final Amen chorus has to be the greatest, most rousing chorus of the whole 18th century – better, even, than The Messiah’s Hallelujah. With the simple scale-like melodies of the first and last movements, one can hear that the young Mendelssohn must have had this work in mind when he composed his own Magnificat. How great it would be to hear them both performed together.
- Members of Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, at King’s Place, London, playing Brahms String Sextet #1, Shostakovich’s Two Pieces for String Octet, Op. 11, and Mendelssohn’s Octet in E flat, Op. 20, 25 September 2014. Hall 80% full. The Brahms proved to me again how conservative and turgid this composer is, a Henry James of the acoustic, without James’ irony or sensitivity. If I never hear another chamber work by Brahms, it will still be too soon. The Shostakovich was exciting and thrilling, as he always is. The Mendelssohn was marred by the American woman sat next to me, acting as if attending her first ever classical concert, who drank too much too quickly at interval, and returned to her seat with hiccups: there were thus 9 people in this octet! Even closing my eyes gave no relief, as her hiccups could be felt all along our row of seats. Hard to concentrate on the playing with such rhythmic overlay.
- Quartet Volute, at St. James Church, Picadilly, playing Hayden Opus 50 # 1, and Beethoven Opus 18 # 6, 27 August 2014. About 150 people present. The resonant acoustic of this Church make it most unsuitable for the delicacy of chamber music. The playing was fine, but the sound arrived muddy and echoing. Pity.
- Pekka Kuusisto and Teemu Korpipaa: Improvisations on Bach’s Partita in D minor, at St Eanswythe’s Primary School, Folkestone, 24 May 2014. Review here.
- Sacconi Quartet, RCM Chamber Orchestra under Christopher Bucknall, and Pekka Kuusisto, performing Stephen Deazley’s Folkestone Road, Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen, and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, at St Mary and St. Eanswythe’s Church, Folkestone, 24 May 2014. A review here.
- L’Orchestre du Monde, under Janusz Piotrowicz, and Giovanni Guzzo (violin), performing The Hebrides Overture, Violin Concerto in Em, Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Symphony No. 3, at Cadogan Hall, London, 20 May 2014. A very fine performance, although the conductor seemed to be following rather than leading. Or else, perhaps, I was sitting in a zone where some laws of physics were suspended, because the sound of the downbeat reached me sooner than the sight of it.
- Sinfonia d’Amici, under David Alberman, performing Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (Konrad Elias-Trostmann), and Beethoven’s 4th Symphony, at Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke’s, 21 April 2014. Among the best performances of the Mendelssohn I have ever heard, Elias-Trostmann’s tone was warm and rich. His instrument is by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. The acoustics helped – this hall is very intimate, as befits a Hawkesmoor Church, and there is no stage. Thus, sitting in the front row is the next best thing to being an orchestral member oneself.
- London Symphony Orchestra under John Eliot Gardiner, performing Mendelssohn’s Ruy Blas Overture, Schumann’s Violin Concerto (with Alina Ibragimova), and Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, at the Barbican, London, March 2014. What an awful piece of music is the Schumann! Although its performance, like that of the two Mendelssohn pieces, was excellent.
- Handel’s Semele, by King’s Opera and King’s Baroque, directed by Jordan Theis and conducted by James Way, in the Chapel of King’s College London, Wednesday 12 March 2014. A superb production, and well worth seeing in the two remaining performances. What is the opposite of po-faced? This is a witty and funny production, one which does not take itself or opera too seriously. Clever use of ipads as (video) mirrors and for selfies, and of lights and video monitors generally. Excellent use of the physical space, especially up and down the central aisle. Some of the singing was simply stunning, and filled the Chapel gloriously. The long reverb of this room, however, sometimes made it sound as if orchestra and singers were not perfectly in synch, which was perhaps an artefact of where I was sat.
- Re-enactment of Benny Goodman’s famous 16 January 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert, by Pete Long and His Goodmen, at Cadogan Hall, London, 26 January 2014. I grew up listening to a recording of this concert, so I greatly enjoyed the music. The re-enactment, however, had some oddities. Goodman was famous for playing with black musicians, but the band on stage at the Cadogan was entirely white. Many of the musicians also appeared quite old – in their 70s and even 80s. In this regard, they matched the audience, who were almost entirely over 50.
- The Vienna Piano Trio (Bogdan Bozovic – v, Matthias Gredler – vc, Stefan Mendl – p) at the Wigmore Hall, London, 18 January 2014, playing: Beethoven’s Trio in D “Ghost” (Op 70, #1), Henze’s Kammersonate, and Mendelssohn’s Trio #1 in D Minor (Op. 49). For an encore, the second movement of another Beethoven trio was played. Absolutely superb and thrilling playing, this was the performance of a lifetime. Bozovic’s tone was treacly and sublime, especially in the Mendelssohn. Oh, to achieve such a tone! His face was also very expressive, and he kept looking to the cellist, but received little response. Despite this, the performance was extremely tight, and demonstrated the strength of dedicated ensembles over ad hoc collections of stars; I was reminded of the disappointing performance of the same Mendelssohn trio by Vadim Repin, Mischa Maisky, and Lang Lang at the RFH in 2011 (see below).
- The Messiah, by Mousai Singers and Solistes de Musique Ancienne, directed by Daniel Cook, in The Chapel, King’s College London, 11 December 2013. Another superb Messiah from this orchestra, albeit with a different choir.
- Rolf Hind, at the Milton Concert Hall, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, 5 December 2013, playing: Liszt’s Nuages Gris, James Weeks’ Gloomy Clouds and Siciliano; Mark Simpson’s Barkham Fantasy, and John Adams’ Phrygian Gates. As when I heard him perform the piece in Liverpool, Hind’s performance of Phrygian Gates was sublime.
- The Magic Flute, by the English National Opera, in a production by Simon McBurney, London, 3 December 2013. As with all his theatrical work, this production was visually stunning. I particularly liked the actor shoals – flocks of birds, a group of people moving around the stage, each person dressed in black, and each rustling paper.
- Maggini Quartet at King’s Place, London, 1 December 2013, playing quartets by Mozart (Hoffmeister), Bridge (#2 in Gm), and Mendelssohn (#3 in D, Op. 44-1). Performance spoilt by poor intonation of the first violinist, and a lack of togetherness. The two middle movements of the Mendelssohn were so loose they sounded as if played by two ensembles with slightly different timings – one comprising the first violinist, and the other comprising the rest of the quartet. I had not thought of these movements as difficult, until hearing them done poorly. Perhaps more rehearsal together would have helped.
- Matthew Jorysz, recital on the organ of King’s College London Chapel, 18 November 2013, playing JS Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Minor BWV537, Dieterich Buxtehude’s Canzonetta in G BuxWV 171, William Cole’s Broken Chaconne (world premiere), and Edward Elgar’s Sonata in G, Op. 28, Movement 1: Allegro Maestoso.
- Unfunny music: BBC Symphony Orchestra, under Sakari Oramo, with Olli Mustonen (piano) and Sergei Nakariakov (trumpet), at the Barbican, London, 2 November 2013, playing Tristan Murali’s Reflections/Reflets and Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto #1.
- Members of the Philharmonia Orchestra under Alejo Perez, at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in a memorial concert for Christophe Bertrand, playing his Virya, Madrigal and Yet (all UK premieres). The concert was part of a series on Music of Today, curated by Unsuk Chin, who spoke before the music.
- Ljova and the Kontraband, at Jamboree, Cable Street, Limehouse, London, Wednesday 23 October 2013.
- Matthew Searles, recital on the organ of King’s College London Chapel, 21 October 2013, playing JS Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B Minor BWV544, Nicolas de Grigny’s Recit de Tierce en taille, and Camille Sant-Saens’ Sept Improvisation, # vi and # vii.
- Sacconi String Quartet, in The Temple Church, Tuesday 15 October 2013, playing Puccini’s Crisantemi, Verdi’s String Quartet in Em, Purcell’s Chaconne in Dm and Britten’s String Quartet #2 in C, Op. 36 (the last two played without pause).
- Alex Goodwin, recital on the organ of King’s College London Chapel, 7 October 2013, playing JS Bach’s Prelude in B Minor BWV544 and Ebarm’ Dich Mien, O Herre Gott BWV 721, Louis Vierne’s Berceuse, #19 from 24 Pieces en style libre Op. 31, William Walton’s Three Pieces from Richard III (arr. Robert Gower), Frank Bridge’s Adagio in E Minor and Kenneth Leighton’s Paean.
- Christopher Woodward, recital on the organ of King’s College London Chapel, 30 September 2013, playing Simon Preston’s Alleluyas, Bach’s Passacaglia in Cm (BWV 582), Finzi’s Forlana (from Five Bagatelles for Clarinet and Piano, arr. Robert Gower), and Louis Vierne’s Symphony #1, op. 14, movements iv and vi.
- quartet-lab at London’s Wigmore Hall, 15 September 2013, playing Mozart’s Divertimento in D K136, Bartok’s Duos for 2 Violins, William Byrd’s Sanctus, and Beethoven’s String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, “Serioso”. The quartet comprises Pekka Kuusisto, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Lilli Maijala and Pieter Wispelwey. With the exception of cellist Wispelwey, the quartet stood, with Kopatchinskaja playing in barefeet. Byrd’s Sanctus was played as a short prelude, without pause, to the Beethoven. The Grauniad review is here, the Independent here.
- Pekka Kuusisto (violin) and Olli Mustonen (piano), at London’s Wigmore Hall, 11 April 2013, playing Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A (Op. 30, #1) and Mustonen’s Sonata for Violin and Piano (world premiere).
- The Choir of King’s College London and Baroque Ensemble under David Trendell, in Bach’s St. John Passion, with Rupert Charlesworth as the Evangelist, Chapel of King’s College London, March 2013. The bright and resonant acoustics of this chapel were filled perfectly by this warm interpretation. In the German Lutheran tradition, the Rev. Richard Burridge gave a short sermon before the interval, on Bach’s imperfect use of John’s gospel text.
- Chilingirian Quartet and Bulgarian Friends, at King’s Place London, as part of the Second London Festival of Bulgarian Culture, November 2012, playing Moreni (Dobrinka Tabakova, composed 2007), Piano Quartet in Eb (Schumann), and the Octet (Mendelssohn). The additional performers in the Octet were Ivo Stankov and Yana Burova (violins), Dimitar Burov (va), and Tim Wells (cello). As an encore, the performers replayed the Scherzo of the Octet.
- Solistes de Musique Ancienne, in St James Church, Picadilly, directed by Joel Newsome, playing Leclair (Recreation Deuxieme de Musique), Corelli (Christmas Concerto, Op. 6, No. 8) and Bach (Cantata BWV 132), October 2012. The second half (which I missed) included Allegri’s Miserere Mei, Deus and Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus RV807. Another fine performance from this great ensemble. Of the music, the Leclair was justly forgotten, the Corelli very well known but not profound, and only the Bach worth the effort of braving the heavy rain to hear. The acoustics of the church, with its barrel roof and its wide balcony on 3 sides, supported by 5 stone columns down each side, had a strong reverberation. The sound was thus strong and clear, although the bass soloist in the Cantata did not project his voice well: that he was looking down at, instead of out at, his score, meant his voice hit the floor instead of the audience. Why do singers in churches so often not project their voices, I wonder? Does singing in a church make them timid? The soprano at this concert was an exception, superbly filling the length of the church to the top of its high ceiling with her voice. (The program notes do not, sadly, name the soloists.)
- Brass in Tyalgum: Queensland Conservatorium Brass Band at the 21st Annual Tyalgum Classical Music Festival, Tyalgum Literary Institute Hall, Tyalgum, NSW, September 2012.
- 68th Annual Composers Conference and Chamber Music Center Concert in Jewett Arts Centre, Wellesley College, Wellesley MA USA, August 2012, including performances of: Concertino by Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942), Year without Summer by Jacob Gotlib, Excerpts from 44 Duos for Two Violins by Bela Bartok (1881 – 1954), fluttuazione/attimo by John Arrigo-Nelson, Trio for Piano, Oboe and Bassoon by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), Reves Transcendants by Hendel Almetus, and the Horn Trio in Eb Major by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). I last heard Brahms’ horn trio 37 years ago (in Murwillimbah, with the piano part played by David Urquhart-Jones) and even after all these years I think this combination of instruments perverse and unpleasant; those aspects of the horn timbre that combine well with the piano sound clash with the aspects which combine well with the violin sound, and likewise for the other two pairings. What a shame nobody listens to this piece: If they did, no one would play it.
- Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire playing Mozart (Piano Concerto #20 in D minor) and Villa Lobos’ Momoprecoce, Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, and Mussorsky/Ravel’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Boston Symphony Orchestra under Marcelo Lehninger at Tanglewood, July 2012. There is a review here.
- Mendelssohn in Mansion House: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, under Edward Gardner, with Alina Ibragimova, in the Egyptian Room of Mansion House, London, June 2012.
- Organ and Trumpet: Richard Hall, organ, and Robert Landen, trumpet, in St Mary le Bow Church, Cheapside, London, June 2012.
- Brahms’ String Sextet #2 in G and Mendelssohn’s Octet, performed by the Piatti and Castalian Quartets in Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music, 3 May 2012. The Sextet was performed by the Castalian 4tet together with David Wigram (viola) and Jessie Richardson (cello) from the Piatti. The Octet had some unfamiliarities: chiefly, an extra note after each ascending phrase in the 1st violin in the theme of the first movement, the extra note being lower than the top of the phrase. The first time, I thought I heard a mistake. A second time and I thought perhaps I was hearing some acoustic artefact, an echo perhaps. By the time the theme returned, with these extra notes still to be heard on each phrase, I thought either a deliberate affectation or perhaps the performers were not playing the standard score. Was this the original manuscript version, perhaps, which Mendelssohn later revised? In any case, the standard version is better, as the force of the ascending phrase is reduced with a lower note after each top-most one.
- Bach’s St John’s Passion, Solistes de Musique Ancienne and Siglo de Oro in St Stephen’s Church, Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead, London, April 2012.
- Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Britten Sinfonia and Sinfonia Voices, under Andreas Delfs, London Barbican, March 2012.
- Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Baroque Ensemble of The Royal Academy of Music and the Choir of King’s College London, under David Trendell, King’s College Chapel, London, February 2012. An excellent and moving performance. The acoustics of the KCL Chapel are very clear, with little reverb, and the sound was full. The organ continuo part was shared by Christopher Woodward and Richard Hall, the current College Organ Scholars.
- Pekka Kuusisto (violin) and Britten Sinfonia under Thomas Ades, in a program of Couperin, Stravinsky and Ades (Violin Concerto), Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, February 2012. PK also briefly played the piano.
- Baiba Skride (violin) and Lauma Skride (piano) in Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B-flat (K454) and Mendelssohn’s Sonata in F, Wigmore Hall, London, December 2011.
- Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra under Yuri Bashmet, London, December 2011.
- Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (excerpts) and Mass in B Minor, Brandenburg Baroque Soloists and Medici Choir, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London, December 2011.
- Handel’s Messiah, Solistes de Musique Ancienne and Siglo de Oro in the Church of St Giles-in-the-Field, Holborn, London, December 2011.
- Mendelssohn in Wigmore Street: Scottish Ensemble and Alasdair Beatson playing Stravinsky and Mendelssohn, Wigmore Hall, London, October 2011.
- Queensland Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra, under Michael Morgan and with Cameron Jamieson (violin), playing Mozart and Arriaga, Brisbane, August 2011.
- String Fest 2011, including Grammar Chamber Strings, Ferny Grove State High School Chamber Orchestra, Mansfield High School Camerata, Brisbane Girls Grammar School Senior Strings, Somerville House Strings, and the Festival String Orchestra, at Brisbane Grammar School, August 2011.
- A Celebration of 125 Years of the Salvation Army in Bundamba, Queensland, August 2011.
- Premiere of Two Boys, opera by Nico Muhly, performed by English National Opera, London, June 2011: I say thee, Yay, Mr Muhly, Yay!
- Daniel Hope (violin) and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Mendelssohn’s E-Minor Violin Concerto (original version) and Respighi’s Pines of Rome at Royal Festival Hall, London, May 2011.
- Mulatu Astatke (vibes, keyboards, percussion) at Jazz Cafe, Camden, May 2011.
- Luka Sulic (cello) and Nadav Hertzka (piano) at Wigmore Hall, London, May 2011. Winner’s Recital for the RAM Patron’s Award 2011. Program included Debussy Cello Sonata, Sibelius (Valse, Berceuse and Rondino) and Britten’s Cello Sonata in C. A superb performance. I could only catch the first half, which meant I left humming the catchy final theme of the Britten. Both these artists will be worth watching in the future.