Manchester Classical Music

Manchester Classical Music is a English-speaking blog specialized in the field of classical music and opera. As such, Manchester Classical Music is a qualified source of soClassiQ, like Lucid Culture or The Well-Tempered Ear and many others. The oldest article indexed by soClassiQ is dated 2017-04-27. Since then, a total of 110 articles have been written and published by Manchester Classical Music.

Manchester Classical Music blog activity

Manchester Classical Music seems to be on pause right now, since no article has been published for 3 months. The last article in Manchester Classical Music, "Review of Olga Stezhko's recital 28th February 2020", is dated 2020-02-29.

"On pause" does not mean, however, that Manchester Classical Music will not resume its activity soon, nor that its articles are less interesting than another more active source.

This editorial activity is slowing down compared to the previous period.

Manchester Classical Music in the last 36 months

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Review of Olga Stezhko's recital 28th February 2020

Manchester Classical Music

2020-02-29 08:38:00

Review of Olga Stezhko's recital 28th February 2020 

The Mid-day Concerts welcomed Belarus-born Olga Stezhko for a 40-minute recital of French piano music from the first third of the 20th century. She’s made that her speciality, and her sense of atmosphere and delicacy in Debussy, Ravel and Poulenc are an asset to the music in each case. She achieves most when she’s playing gently: every note has its weight and value precisely expressed, there are telling gaps in the sound tapestry as she weaves it, and even when she turns up the power there can be a kind of nostalgia in her playing – humour, too.Her programme began with Book 2 of Debussy’s Images. ‘Cloches à travers les feuilles’ created a light wash of tone, with clear highlights but still a sense of shape and direction; ‘Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut’ saw a fuller sound emerge, but that, likewise, vanished magically in a fade-away […]

Manchester Classical Music

2020-02-21 09:22:00

Review of Hallé concert 20th February 2020 

It takes a big pianistic personality to make Rachmaninov’s second concerto sound fresh and different, but Boris Giltburg has that personality – and the ability to go with it.His playing of it with Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé was arresting from the very first note – the bass played as a kind of clear grace-note to the first chord, with the formula repeated, at varying speed, on almost every subsequent one in that crescendo sequence – which made it all sound quite menacing.That was followed by an emphatically ponderous way (at first) with the first theme that may have surprised even the accompanying orchestra a little. But that’s the way Boris likes it: deep and soulful in the big themes and dazzlingly brilliant in the helter-skelters. It sounds very Russian (he’s Israeli but born in Moscow) and perhaps a bit flash – but Russian music needs that element, too. […]

Review of Hallé concert 20th February 2020

Review of BBC Philharmonic concert 1st February 2020

Manchester Classical Music

2020-02-02 09:16:00

Review of BBC Philharmonic concert 1st February 2020 

At first sight, putting Myaskovsky’s sixth symphony into a programme immediately following the Hallé’s performance of Beethoven’s ninth might seem an inspired comparison. Both have four long movements, and in both cases the last is a choral one.But in Myaskovsky’s the choral part is actually optional – putting words to the tune of an Orthodox chant that could stand on its own if necessary – whereas you could hardly say that the words are optional in Beethoven’s case.I was glad that Vassily Sinaisky presented the 1923 symphony, though, because it’s a work with a voice all its own. Epic, in the post-Mahlerian tradition of being a journey that crosses many territories, it also seems, subtly, to speak to the Russian nation’s soul in the way that many of Shostakovich’s symphonies did.Maybe Myaskovsky was defying political orthodoxy in one way, because it’s not the conventional darkness-to-light symphony that was routinely expected […]

Manchester Classical Music

2020-01-31 09:12:00

Review of Hallé concert 30th January 2020 

When this last concert of January was first planned by the Hallé and their partners in our Manchester Beethovenfest (probably around two years ago), it can hardly have occurred to anyone that the strains of the Ode to Joy setting in the Choral Symphony would be heard on the eve of the day we left the European Union.Some in the audience were aware of it last night, though, and it was hard to tell whether the standing ovation which greeted the end of the piece was purely in tribute to a great performance (though it was) or also in memoriam of an era of shared European identity.It was good to see a sell-out concert at the Bridgewater Hall again, anyway, and to hear the ‘Manchester roar’ that Charles Hallé used to be familiar with, again arising from the assembled throng. Members of the Association of British Orchestras – whose presence […]

Review of Hallé concert 30th January 2020

Manchester Classical Music

2020-01-19 16:11:00

Review of BBC Philharmonic concert 18th January 2020

Review of BBC Philharmonic concert 18th January 2020 

I doubt there were many listeners for whom the really memorable thing in Saturday’s BBC Philharmonic concert was not The Lark Ascending, Vaughan Williams’ exquisite little tone poem of English open-air tranquillity.That its violin solo was played with a kind of pristine purity by Jennifer Pike was part of the joy of it. A lark, after all, just sings: it doesn’t do ‘expression’ or Romantic emotion. And yet the warmth of tone from her D string was a wonder in itself – and the others equally beautiful. But the piece itself simply grabs you with a few phrases that keep coming again and again: not literal birdsong, but like birdsong in their guileless repetition.Anna Clyne’s Night Ferry, an English creator’s work around 100 years newer (written in 2012) and already promoted to the BBC’s Ten Pieces orchestral pantheon, shares that characteristic. She’s brilliant at repetitive units (ostinati, I guess) that […]

Manchester Classical Music

2019-12-19 12:51:00

Here are a few CD recordings that came my way this year – a totally personal selection but all really well worth a listen: Ethel Smyth: Fête Galante; Liza Lehmann: The Happy Prince. Soloists, Lontano Ensemble, conducted by Odaline de la Martinez, and Felicity Lott with Valerie Langfield (Retrospect Opera RO007) Retrospect Opera are doing remarkable things in recording neglected British works. Here they offer a quality performance of Smyth’s ‘Dance-Dream’, Fête Galante, which is really a one-act opera designed to be performed with dancing. But it works well in sound only: it’s an evocation of the world of commedia dell’arte, with its unhappy Pierrot a loser in love, but telling a story where (like Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci) real jealousy and passion take over from simulation, with fatal effects. The sleeve notes and packaging are exemplary, telling us everything needful about the work and its background in 1923. Smyth’s talent […]

Manchester Classical Music

2019-11-19 16:48:00

Review of Opera North's The Greek Passion 

Opera North have put a huge amount of resource into this new production of Martinů’s last opera (in the original, 1957-written, version).It needs a long cast list – there are 19 named roles in the programme, and none is overwhelmingly more important than the others – and the chorus members have a vital role to play, because it’s essentially about two communities and they represent both.The villagers of Lycovrissi are to present a Passion play (the imagery of the opening tableau, in Christopher Alden’s production here, is reminiscent of the Oberammergau play, now only a few months away from its next round of performances). Roles are allocated, almost too precisely true to life: Yannakos the postman will be Peter; young Michelis will be John; Katerina, a widow, and Panait, her drunken lover, will be the Magdalen and Judas respectively. And the shepherd Manolios will be Christ.Manolios takes his role seriously […]

Review of Opera North's The Greek Passion

Manchester Classical Music

2019-11-14 14:20:00

Review of Opera North's Giulio Cesare 

Back after seven years, one of Opera North’s best productions of baroque opera returns, and with a cast that’s almost as universally strong as it was in 2012. One of them – counter-tenor James Laing, as Tolomeo, the narcissistic, psychopathic, moody and lecherous baddie of the story (aka Ptolomy, to ancient historians) – indeed returns to his role, just as horrifyingly antipathetic as before. The story is of Julius Caesar in Egypt. It opens when his erstwhile Roman rival, Pompey, has already been murdered by Ptolomy – the overture is accompanied by a helpful dumb-show in which we see him knifed by Tolomeo and his general, Achilla. Ptolomy’s sister and incestuous queen, Cleopatra, however, not only is competing with her brother/husband for supreme rule in Egypt but also sets out to seduce Caesar. Pompey’s widow, Cornelia, and son, Sesto, are out for revenge, though Cornelia is desperately vulnerable to […]

Review of Opera North's Giulio Cesare

Review of BBC Philharmonic concert 2nd November 2019

Manchester Classical Music

2019-11-03 16:09:00

Review of BBC Philharmonic concert 2nd November 2019 

Ever wondered what swarming bees, murmurations of starlings, a plague of locusts and night-time insect sounds are like when expressed in music?Philip Grange has the answers. His Violin Concerto, given its world premiere by Carolin Widmann and the BBC Philharmonic under Ben Gernon, is explicitly about all those. The programme note spells it out: the world of swarms, flocks and plagues is mainly expressed by the orchestra through the single-movement work’s fast sections, and the night insects come into it in the context of the slower ones, where the violin has extended solos.But there’s more. The point of these evocations of the natural world (which Philip Grange links with mammalian herds, as well) is to say something about the individual and the group – how we can think as rational individuals and at the same time find the ‘whim of the group’ counts for more. He even refers to ‘the […]

Manchester Classical Music

2019-10-13 12:18:00

Review of English Touring Opera's The Silver Lake at Buxton Opera House 

Premiered in 1933, The Silver Lakewas the last theatre work Kurt Weill completed before being forced out of Germany by the Nazis. His collaborator was Georg Kaiser, a gifted playwright who was very successful in the Weimar Republic era, and it’s altogether a more poetic and fanciful creation than most of his work with Berthold Brecht.The fast-moving succession of scenes (with a narrator to make sure you don’t miss anything) nonetheless convey a clear social message. It begins with the poor and hungry queuing for inadequate handouts because they can’t afford the food shops’ prices, and quickly points out that this is because capitalism dictates that prices must remain high, even if the food itself is getting thrown away to ensure that demand outstrips supply.A crowd bursts into a shop and loots it, but the character on whom we focus, Severin, takes just one rare thing: a pineapple. He’s shot […]

Review of English Touring Opera's The Silver Lake at Buxton Opera House

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