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 My Classical Notes or The Well-Tempered Ear and many others. The oldest article indexed by soclassiq is dated 2017-04-27. Since then, a total of 111 articles have been written and published by Manchester Classical Music.
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With 1 articles published in the last 90 days, Manchester Classical Music is currently a not very active news source. "Not very active" does not mean that Manchester Classical Music is less interesting than another more prolific source. Each blog follows a specific editorial line, publishing according to its own rhythm.
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The last article in Manchester Classical Music, "My favourite CDs of 2020", is dated 2020-10-28. By 2019, this source had published 31 articles (6 since the beginning of 2020). Over the past 12 months, Manchester Classical Music has published an average of 1 articles per month.
Manchester Classical Music in the last 36 months
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This has been a distinctly different year in many ways, including the kind of CD recordings that have come my way. But, as perhaps a selection that could provide stocking-fillers for Christmas and won’t be too difficult to send by post even when you can’t see people, here are the ones that most caught my interest. Debussy: Sonata for cello and piano; Sonata for flute, viola and harp; Sonata for violin and piano; Debussy-Orledge: Toomai des Eléphants, Petite Valse, A Night in the House of Usher. Pixels Ensemble (Jonathan Aasgaard, cello, Ian Buckle, piano, Fiona Fulton, flute, Vicci Wardman viola, Hugh Webb, harp, Sophie Rosa, violin. Rubicon Classics D 1063. www.rubiconclassics.com This was the pick of the bunch and came quite late in the year – by personal bike delivery from Ian Buckle! It was well worth the wait. All three sonatas were written during the First World War […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]