Dvořák, Janáček, Britten - Bachtrack

Rattle’s conducting gripped thanks to immaculate pacing and momentum rather than through 3D effects; moreover, he coaxed luscious playing from all his sections in the three inner movements, so much so that it was practically a concerto for orchestra, especially when the LSO’s sumptuous low strings combined to ring forth with lustrous basso beauty.

All told there was a tingle to this concert, as if musicians and audience alike saw clearly for the first time what riches lie ahead for the LSO. It was a special day, a Rattle day, with likely many more to come.

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Season 2018/19 opening concert: Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, Britten - The Spectator

[...] With Simon Halsey’s LSO chorus now equalling his Birmingham choir for clarity, precision and expressive range, [the Britten] was a real celebration. Rattle kept it spacious, as well as sprightly. Clayton and Watts went at their ‘cuckoos’ and ‘jug jugs’ with heroically straight faces and, while the final orgy practically foamed with sap (Britten’s cow horn bellowed out from the circle), the earlier sections were punctuated by moments of intense sensitivity — not just to Britten’s grab-bag of texts (everything from Auden to The Knight of the Burning Pestle), but to his orchestral colours too. The chorus warmed its chords from within and merged its timbre with the shimmer of the vibraphone.

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Season 2018/19 opening concert: Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, Britten - The Arts Desk

Allan Clayton’s performance, and in particular in 'When Will May Come?', brought the thought home that he is in the line of the very greatest tenor interpreters of Britten.[...] It was a stunning performance which will stay in the mind for a long time. The London Symphony Chorus and three choirs from Tiffin School were excellent, with the LSC’s diction and unanimity and the wide range of volume quite remarkable. Alice Coote, clutching the score close, brought a lieder singer's sensitivity to her contribution, and Elizabeth Watts's tone was resplendent.
The LSO is in great shape [...]. The Rattle era is well under way.

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Season 2018/19 opening concert: Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, Britten - Financial Times

Britten’s Spring Symphony [...]foreshadows the community works that Britten was to write later and part of the pleasure is how it draws in young and old, including here the London Symphony Chorus, various Tiffin children’s choirs, and a well-chosen trio of soloists, comprising soprano Elizabeth Watts, mezzo Alice Coote and the ever more impressive tenor Allan Clayton. Rattle brought mystery and joy to this spring bouquet of poetry and music, which closes with a patriotic hymn to London.

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Season 2018/19 opening concert: Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, Britten - Evening Standard

To open his second season as music director of the LSO, Sir Simon Rattle offered, as he did last year, a challenging programme of British music that characteristically stretched performers and audience alike. [...] All that and three fine soloists: Elizabeth Watts, Alice Coote and Allan Clayton, not to mention the orchestra itself which played immaculately throughout.

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Season 2018/19 opening concert: Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, Britten - Classical Source

It may be September and the summer in decline towards autumn, but the start of the London Symphony Orchestra’s concert schedule for 2018-19 looked to the season of beginnings and awakenings with Britten’s Spring Symphony (1948-9) as the climax of this programme. The fine trio of vocal soloists did more than justice to the different registers and moods of the various texts set (mainly Elizabethan and seventeenth-century) – Elizabeth Watts brimming with light and sparkle in her few contributions; Alice Coote richer toned and questioning for Herrick’s ‘Welcome, Maids of Honour’ and Auden’s ‘Out on the Lawn’; and Allan Clayton sturdy and lyrical, whilst bringing great alacrity to Richard Barnfield’s ‘When will my May come?’.

[There was] vivid detail pointed up by Simon Rattle and the LSO, with alternately atmospheric soundscapes and strongly-driven celebrations of the incoming of warmth and new life [...].

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Bernstein, Dvorak, Janacek (Lucerne Festival) – Seen and Heard

The audience was left in no doubt that this partnership of the LSO and Simon Rattle has much to offer audiences in future.
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Season 2018/19 opening concert: Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, Britten - The Times

Britten’s Spring Symphony isn’t done often [...]. Rattle sharpened the edges of the score and galvanised his forces, which included the tenor Allan Clayton, the mezzo Alice Coote and the soprano Elizabeth Watts (all excellent), as well as assorted, joyous Tiffin’s school choirs, so many that they were treading on our toes in the stalls. We’re heading for winter, but in Rattle’s LSO it seems to be permanent spring.

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On the Town at the BBC Proms – Seen and Heard International

What a worthy tribute this was to Bernstein. It was a pleasure to be in the company of such a talented ensemble of singers and musicians.
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Season 2018/19 opening concert: Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, Britten - The Guardian

Who else but Simon Rattle could have sold out the Barbican Hall with this programme? The London Symphony Orchestra’s season-opener was a medley of British music, new, newish or obscure in the first half, with Britten’s choral extravaganza Spring Symphony, big but hardly a blockbuster, in the second. A year after he took over the orchestra, Rattle’s presence on the podium still hasn’t lost its sparkle.

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John Wilson conducts On the Town at the BBC Proms – The Arts Desk

Distinctive voices within the LSO included Liz Burley as jazz pianist, Philip Cobb taking to the sassy trumpet style ... and saxophonist Howard McGill … It all added up to a zinging tribute on the 100th anniversary of Bernstein’s birth
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Season 2018/19 opening concert: Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, Britten - Seen and Heard International

Rattle chose his soloists with care. Alice Coote’s fruity, full sound was perfect for this music, while Elizabeth Watts’ glowing soprano brought a sense of ecstasy to the experience. Allan Clayton is an emerging tenor of simply huge talent his voice powerful but always with a heart of lyricism that perfectly suited Britten’s lines.

The choir, as is to be expected from the London Symphony Chorus, was characteristically excellent. [...] Rattle paced the work so that it became more than the sum of its parts, the LSO 100% behind him. The sheer power of the orchestra-only passages in the first part was utterly remarkable; the piece deserves championing to this degree, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

One of Rattle’s spoken points was to refer to the sheer variety of the treasure-trove of English music; the concert itself proved more than words ever could just how varied in jewels this trove really is.

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Ravel at the BBC Proms – The Spectator

Rattle and his orchestra cast a wonderfully bracing musical spell — just acidic enough to temper the material’s sweetness.
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