Reviews 2014/15 season

Sunday 30 August 2015

Edinburgh International Festival 2015: Bartok/Stravinsky - Gergiev/Bronfman

50Connect, 4 September 2015
Gergiev and the orchestra brilliantly conveyed the unstoppable rhythms and searing orchestral colours of Stravinsky's masterpiece. Indeed this dazzling composition which starts with a bassoon solo still challenges aspiring and experienced bassoonists today. A truly memorable evening!

The Guardian, 1 September 2015
It’s an astoundingly forthright band, with a hefty, glossy sound and bulletproof ensemble, and though Stravinsky’s writing should never sound easy, here the razor-sharp precision was riveting.

Classical Source, 1 September 2015
Gergiev drew theatrical play from the LSO to initiate an awesome spectacle of colours superbly articulated by every musician... The final ‘Sacrificial Dance’ brought The Rite, and the Edinburgh Festival, to a thundering and dramatic close: a timely reminder for those of us ‘north of the border’ as to what the LSO and Valery Gergiev are capable of.

The Scotsman, 1 September 2015
The LSO was firing on all cylinders, the electricity flowed... This was the LSO in vintage form, rampant and visceral.

The Herald, 30 August 2015
The precision of the huge strings ensemble when it came in after the winds intro was stunning, and although the overlapping counter rhythms and pendulum pulses that define the piece were perfectly executed, its percussive qualities never dominated a performance were every note had its full melodic value.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

BBC Proms 2015: Prokofiev Piano Concertos/Valery Gergiev/Daniil Trifonov/Sergei Babayan/Alexei Volodin

Bachtrack, 29 July 2015
Armed with his trusty toothpick, Gergiev guided his tireless LSO through the evening, neither conductor nor orchestra flagging in energy.

The Arts Desk, 29 July 2015
Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra were on top form throughout their long evening. All the demanding woodwind and brass solos were delivered with panache, and the strings offered ideal support for each of the soloists.

Daily Telegraph, 29 July 2015
Never have I seen so many fast and furious hand-crossings, so many dizzying flights from top to bottom of the keyboard, all performed flawlessly by the three virtuoso pianists Daniil Trifonov, Sergei Babayan and Alexei Volodin.

The Guardian, 29 July 2015
There was some tremendous playing. Trifonov brought staggering dexterity to the First and an elegance to the Third that was utterly beguiling.

Evening Standard, 29 July 2015
The audience loved every minute of the whole concert. Not so mad after all, then.

Classical Source, 29 July 2015
This evening was a resounding success. The only other time you hear Piano Concertos back to back is in competition finals. Thankfully we didn’t have to choose between the soloists and there was only one winner – Prokofiev.

MusicOMH, 29 July 2015
[Gergiev's] ability to get the very best out of the LSO players made this marathon concert a fitting end to his tenure as principal conductor.

Financial Times, 29 July 2015
[Alexei Volodin] made [the Fourth Piano Concerto] sound effortless, as did the London Symphony Orchestra, who, throughout this endurance test of a programme, kept all signs of fatigue well under wraps.

The Times, 30 July 2015
... it was down to the London Symphony Orchestra to identify more specific qualities in works never intended to be heard together; gauzy beauty in the psychedelic whirl of the first, cartoonish humour in the second. eerie poise and juicy pops of colour in the third, crisp brilliance in the fifth.

The Independent, 30 July 2015
Daniil Trifonov played the first concerto with the airy brilliance we now expect from him, and Gergiev, on the podium, let his interpretation of this youthful, ardent, nose-thumbing work flower as it needed to.

New Statesman, 29 July 2015
...what could have been either a dry, academic survey of a composer’s output or a flashy pianists’ pissing contest ended up as a dramatic and even emotional evening of outstanding music...Full credit must go to Gergiev, for somehow giving us fireworks and the opportunity to appreciate a well-known composer to a greater depth.

Sunday 5 July 2015

Dove The Monster in the Maze/Walton Symphony No 1 - Sir Simon Rattle

The Times, 7 July 2015
Walton's snarling First Symphony... Rattle went for a high-voltage, glossy approach: the piece burst out of the blocks and stayed at a supernova level throughout. Individual contributions from trumpeter Philip Cobb, bassoonist Daniel Jemison and flautist Adam Walker were dazzling.

The Financial Times, 7 July 2015
The UK premiere of Jonathan Dove's new children's opera could hardly have whipped up a bigger frenzy... When sung with the do-or-die conviction or the LSO Discovery Choirs and LSO Community Choir, the overall product Rattle provoked passionate performances from his orchestra and excellent soloists.

The Guardian, 6 July 2015
If Rattle’s concert last week reinforced expectations of high artistic standards when he joins the LSO, this one will have encouraged those who hope that broadening participation will be similarly high on his agenda.

The Telegraph, 6 July 2015
Rattle made sure the London Symphony Orchestra (augmented by players from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama) never drowned the singers, and paced things unerringly... Championing music education fires him up as much as performance these days, and here he was, fronting a brand-new community opera that brought his two passions together.

The Independent, 6 July 2015
This was semi-staged – with lighting which made the Barbican's wooden screens look like burnished brass – but the drama lay in the music, thanks in large part to Joshua Bloom's wonderful Daedalus, and to the pure-toned ardour of the young choristers.

Classical Source, 5 July 2015
Andrew Rees was an inspired piece of casting as Theseus, his cartoon-like swagger matched by a robust, Siegfried-like heldentenor that galvanised the cringing Athenians. Yvonne Howard sang his mother with elemental warmth and a nicely judged caricature of matriarchal authority; and Daedalus, both the architect of the Labyrinth and its prisoner, was strongly performed by Joshua Bloom. Malcolm Storry set the myth rolling with his vivid portrayal of Minos, clearly a man enslaved by the monster within.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Brahms/Dvorák - Sir Simon Rattle/Krystian Zimerman

The Financial Times, 6 July 2015
Rattle reached out to explore extremes of pace, texture and colour. The result felt truly massive. Many pianists would pale against this backdrop, but Zimerman held his own. His playing had great power, but also an aristocratic poise the the balancing of chords, a clarity in inner parts.

Seen and Heard International, 5 July 2015
The rapport between Rattle and the LSO bodes extraordinarily well for the future. The long orchestral exposition to the first movement was powerful and vast (despite the fairly rapid tempo). The dynamic range was huge, too, from chthonic fortissimi to the quietest of pianissimi. A hard act for most pianists to follow, certainly, and Zimerman’s response was almost superhuman. The rapport between pianist and conductor seemed positively telepathic.

The Guardian, 3 July 2015
The greatest interpreters make you believe you are encountering even the most familiar work for the first time, and Zimerman offered exactly that kind of journey of discovery through the vast span of the Brahms concerto. But this was not just a reading of the score in which every detail was deeply considered and immaculately presented. That technical perfection was only the starting point for a performance of astonishing energy and sometime ferocious intensity.

The Telegraph, 3 July 2015
Everything about the performance of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor, which took up the evening’s first half, was freshly arresting, yet always in a way that served the composer.

The Arts Desk, 3 July 2015
The two are of one mind about a sound-image for the concerto if inevitably using their different instruments in their own ways. Dvořák must have had in mind an orchestra of soloists: playing with honeymoon-delight for their music director-to-be, the LSO fitted the bill.

Evening Standard, 3 July 2015
Rattle is never afraid to go for the grand gesture and the LSO players responded with playing that was exquisitely weighted and at times demonic... Zimerman's playing had plenty of muscle but there was also a liquid lightness, and the musical space he creates for himself has an elasticity that kept Rattle on his toes.

Bachtrack, 3 July 2015
From the turbulent outset, Rattle and the LSO seemed to be on fire, producing an extraordinary clarity and depth of sound. What struck me about Zimerman’s performance was his rhythmic expressivity, in which he unerringly found the right level of drama, passion and delicacy in this movement, without indulging in interpretive byways and disturbing the structural integrity.

Classical Source, 2 July 2015
Throughout this performance, the integration of soloist and orchestra ensured the music’s formal logic was never outweighed by its expressive rhetoric.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Sibelius/Berlioz - Pablo Heras-Casado/Joshua Bell

The Times, 30 June 2015
Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique is catnip to the LSO. Heras-Casado paced this hallucinogenic journey intelligently... I could have listened to the bucolic woodwind solos for days.

Classical Source, 30 June 2015
Bell introduced the initial theme with perfect poise and matched the conductor's intensity with a dramatic and virile approach. Soloist and conductor were in constant eye-contact, the drama unfolding between them. Heras-Casado coaxing extraordinary colours from brass and woodwinds, and the LSO’s string-playing was exemplary and wonderfully nuanced... This performance revealed the depths of this favourite but ever-surprising Violin Concerto.

Bachtrack, 29 June 2015
Bell revelled in the sense of fantasy and poetry of Sibelius’ violin writing in the first movement Allegro moderato as one theme melted into the next. There was great technical assurance in the fierce double-stopping and long trills of the development section.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Beethoven - Bernard Haitink/Erin Wall/Karen Cargill/Steve Davislim/Hanno Müller-Brachmann/LSC

The Guardian, 23 June 2015
In the overture and symphony we were very much aware of a master at work. Both interpretations were measured and thoughtful, but with no loss of tension and drama. Haitink conducted with the humane warmth and depth of feeling that characterises his Beethoven as a whole. We were left wondering why we don’t hear the piece more often.

Bachtrack, 23 June 2015
It was the LSO winds who really shone. Rachel Gough’s bassoon section showed marvellous sensitivity in their pianissimo mutterings, and Gareth Davies’ tone was irreproachable above the wind section’s lustrous glow, with perfect intonation and blend. Lustre was certainly the word for the orchestral sound.

Seen and Heard International, 22 June 2015
Beethoven’s music becomes animated and joyful, and here the fine LSO Chorus had ample opportunity to show off its disciplined energy. [Haitink's] direction was as vigorous as it has ever been: his baton technique has always been a model of clarity and precision ... the music was perfectly moulded.

Classical Source, 21 June 2015
Attention to dynamics was scrupulous, whether subito or graded, and balances impeccable... here was the adaptable LSO doing its impression of a cultured European ensemble, responding faithfully to each of Haitink’s economic gestures. In the ‘Choral’ Symphony, Haitink belied that he is now 86, for his focus on the music was unstinting and palpable.

Sunday 14 June 2015

Mozart/Mahler - Bernard Haitink/Alina Ibragimova

The Guardian, 16 June 2015
When Bernard Haitink gave his downbeat to the London Symphony Orchestra, it was as though he had cast an instant spell. Ibragimova brought characterful attentiveness to every bar of the opening allegro ... and gave a very personal quietness and depth to the brief, introspective cadenza.

Seen and Heard International, 16 June 2015
Haitink’s Mahler is never self-indulgent and just when ennui was setting in we were off once again on a Mahlerian ride that was akin to being on a rollercoaster in Vienna’s Prater and there were plenty of thrills, spills, excitement and, most importantly, intense drama throughout the one hour span of music.

The Independent, 15 June 2015
[Ibragimova's] opening flourish in the Allegro, and the lyrical outpouring which followed it, was marked by a forceful expressivity which carried the music along as Mozart wanted – flowing ‘like oil’ – and in the Adagio, soloist and orchestra achieved a serene and ecstatic symbiosis.

Classical Source, 14 June 2015
This Mahler 1 was revelatory. I heard timbres and sonorities that were fresh and new, particularly impressive in the quiet passages, while Haitink’s unfussy and clear-sighted direction built the climaxes inexorably.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Previn/Rachmaninov - André Previn/Anne-Sophie Mutter

Seen and Heard International, 15 June 2015
With the composer conducting and the dedicatee as soloist no performance of this work could have been more authoritative. Mutter’s playing was superlative technically and the sounds she drew [from her violin] were gloriously seductive.

The Times, 12 June 2015
Rarely have I witnessed such a striking mismatch between sight and sound. At 86 Andre Previn is physically challenged ... yet when he raises his arms - boy, the years fall away and the LSO surges through Rachmaninov as if galvanised by a Greek god.

Music OMH, 10 June 2015
Mutter’s exceptional technique and tonal refinement were deployed to the full in this performance, matched by dedicated playing of the orchestra under the composer ... surging Russian passion of Rachmaninov’s inspiration brought to life by an orchestra performing at the top of its game under an admired conductor. It was thrilling to hear.

Classical Source, 10 June 2015
The solo part unerringly plays to Mutter’s strengths – not least in allowing her to pursue (yet never indulge) her liking for myriad tonal shadings and timbral inflections to wholly musical, as opposed to merely technical, ends. The LSO was quietly committed in support here and also in an encore.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Bartók/Korngold/Rachmaninov - Marin Alsop/James Ehnes

Bachtrack, 10 June 2015
The performance was remarkably taut and carefully sculpted by guest conductor Marin Alsop ... The rapport between Alsop and the orchestra was evident throughout and this led to some incredible orchestra playing. All in all, a thrilling case was made for this dynamic period in musical history.

The Times, 10 June 2015
Sunday's incandescent performance of Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances ... In almost every way this was a performance made in heaven. Alsop and the orchestra nailed the work's unique atmosphere of nostalgia and final reckoning with life and death ... nothing held back the glittering orchestra.

Seen and Heard International, 8 June 2015
A breathtakingly assured performance of Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto... Ehnes’ spiccato quavers danced with grace and light above the trilling cellos and flute, and the soloist’s bravura passagework was effortlessly mastered – and matched, too, by the individual members of the LSO.

Classical Source, 7 June 2015
[In Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances] the LSO responded with deep commitment to the lavish writing. A poignant alto-saxophone solo (Simon Haram) was one of many illuminating passages in the opening movement, while the brass produced appropriate snarls within the second one and leader Roman Simovic added his glassy tone to this macabre waltz. Finally, horns and trumpets blazed thrillingly for their ‘Dies Irae’ in the finale bringing a highly polished account to a close.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Ruston/Mendelssohn/Mahler - Daniel Harding/Janine Jansen

The Times, 4 June 2015
I've never heard the song sound so golden, so delicate, almost ethereal. Her unaffected playing, carefully balanced against the orchestra, created its own beauties, freshening a work easily taken for granted ... we knew this was something special.

The Arts Desk, 3 June 2015
The music ebbed and flowed under her bow... everywhere there were surprises, with new ideas and themes jumping out of the texture and changing the music’s course. Any familiarity with the Concerto on the listener’s part became incidental – Jansen was forging it anew from one note to the next. A mesmerising performance.

Classical Source, 3 June 2015
The ten-minute I nearly went, there opens in brazen and gaudy style, the rhythms gawky, the pace wild, the music full of exciting incident ... The music has plenty of everything, and also the capability to beguile and be enigmatic, and is handled in a highly individual and virtuoso way. In short, in this incisive and pulsating account, I nearly went, there made a terrific impression.

Sunday 24 May 2015

Beethoven/Brahms - Daniel Harding/Christian Tetzlaff

Sunday Times, 31 May 2015
This rendering with the soloist Christian Tetzlaff, breathtakingly brilliant, went from glory to glory.

Seen and Heard, 26 May 2015
So impulsive and inventive was this performance that each moment was utterly transfixing. Tetzlaff was mercurial and teasing, sometimes whispering, then attacking with surprising force, playing with the rhythm and our expectations ... The imaginative richness of Tetzlaff’s performance was spine-tingling – and in its provocative inventiveness, truly Beethovenian.

The Guardian, 26 May 2015
Technically, Tetzlaff is flawless, and the sound he makes with his modern Greiner violin – he doesn’t play a Strad – is effortlessly beautiful. But it’s the way the shape and meaning of every phrase is joyously integrated into a seamless whole that is so utterly beguiling. Harding, meanwhile, conducted like one possessed. Unforgettable: the greatest performance of the work I’ve ever heard.

The Times, 26 May 2015
Sunday night’s performance of Brahms’s German Requiem, conducted by the LSO’s principal guest Daniel Harding, showed off a refinement, clarity and dramatic purpose from the LSC that was consistently thrilling. The chorus’s interplay with Matthias Goerne’s stricken words of contemplation — Herr, lehre doch mich — was spine-chilling.

Bachtrack, 26 May 2015
LSO’s high-voltage sparring with Christian Tetzlaff in a dazzling performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto was tremendously exciting. Full honours have to go to the German fiddler, however, whose very special knack is to play some of the most well-known music in the canon as if he has just made it up on the spot.

The Arts Desk, 25 May 2015
We're note short of star power in London's concert scene, but even by our spoilt metropolitan standards this is a pretty unarguable line-up. With excellence a given, then, it takes quite a lot to startle a crowd into delight – especially on a Sunday night. But that’s what Christian Tetzlaff did with the unassuming freshness and brilliance of his Beethoven... a generous and thrilling bit of music-making not just from Tetzlaff but also the LSO, galvanised into Rattle-level intensity and eagerness by Harding and their soloist.

Classical Source, 24 May 2015
There are those life-affirming renditions that create such a stir as to lodge them into the consciousness, for years to come. Such was this encounter, with Christian Tetzlaff whose account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto set a new gold standard. His playing was utterly compelling, lovingly spontaneous, and embraced the widest possible range of expression (and dynamics) teasing out by turns lyrical tenderness and fiery passion. At times he seemed to draw every ounce of emotion from just one bow stroke.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Balakirev arr Lyapunov/Tchaikovsky/Shostakovich - Valery Gergiev/Nikolaj Znaider

The Times, 15 May 2015
This was a virtuoso performance. The fade out of the final chord, and draining and extinguishing of sound and colour, was extraordinary. This is what makes Gergiev special.

Bachtrack, 13 May 2015
Nikolaj Znaider took control, brusquely grabbing the concerto by the scruff of the neck to give an immensely personal reading. Burnished lower notes gave way to nut-brown sweetness and lyrical intensity at the top. The first movement cadenza was a remarkable piece of storytelling... Even in the Barbican’s wide expanse, the Canzonetta achieved a chamber music intimacy, particularly in the exchange between violin and clarinet, before an exhilarating Cossack finale, fast and frenzied. A Bach Sarabande brought balm to the ears as an encore.

Classical Source, 12 May 2015
Gergiev’s epic approach was uncompromising yet spellbinding, building remorselessly to an all-consuming climax...and then fading to nothing (or somewhere further than our consciousness) and silence, a stillness held even beyond Gergiev lowering his arms, and it could have gone on for longer...I left the Barbican Hall emotionally shredded and discombobulated – taken to somewhere unknown, if not a welcoming place, but with solace offered – and also wondering if this isn’t Gergiev and the LSO’s finest achievement to date.

Thursday 7 May 2015

Brahms/Tchaikovsky - Semyon Bychkov/Isabelle Faust

Seen and Heard International, 10 May 2015
Isabelle Faust played with staggering insight and clarity. In fact she reminded me of some of the older ‘master’ violinists. But this is not to suggest that Faust does not have her own inimitable tone-world, with very well chosen vibrato – never in the ‘troppo’ sense – and a great diversity of tonal registers...As has often been noted Brahms’ writing for the violin is fiendishly complex and difficult.. But Faust managed all this in a way which never brought attention to itself. Altogether this was a most compelling and satisfying concerto experience.

Bachtrack, 8 May 2015
Semyon Bychkov and the London Symphony Orchestra delivered a knockout punch for the Russian in a bruising performance of the Fifth Symphony. Bychkov introduced an element of restraint in the Andante cantabile...he allowed the long phrases time to unfurl naturally – Andrew Marriner (clarinet) and Rachel Gough (bassoon) epsecially eloquent, until brass angrily interrupted with the ‘fate’ motif reminder. The passage featuring solo oboe over pizzicato strings was heartstopping.

Classical Source, 7 May 2015
Her integrated overview of this most symphonic of violin concertos yielded superbly animated brilliance... clinched by her preference for the rarely-played Busoni cadenza... a far remove from a boisterous Hungarian stomp-fest but no less valid, especially with Bychkov raising her game in terms of spontaneity. Without grandstanding heroics, Faust released layer after layer of Brahms at his most subtle and in the process made you hear this work afresh.

Sunday 3 May 2015

Glinka/Szymanowski/Mussorgsky arr Ravel – Krzysztof Urbanski/Nicola Benedetti

Bachtrack, 4 May 2015
[Pictures at an Exhibition]... a work that's been a favourite since childhood and one of which I know every note, which always gives the worry that the performance may not live up to expectations. What happened was the exact opposite: Urbanski and the LSO were outstanding, making me fall in love with the work all over again. This was a concert which included both familiar and less played works, and in both, it showed the LSO absolutely on the top of their game. At 33, Urbanski is amongst the youngest cohort of top conductors and the prospect of seeing a lot more of him is exciting.

Classical Source, 3 May 2015
With close attention paid to the high notes, it was to Benedetti’s great credit that she managed to communicate the range of violin colour whilst the LSO superbly handled the “orchestral depth” (referring to her own description of the piece)... the cadenza has a vigorous, determined character and was adeptly played by Benedetti, who used her fine sense of timing to bring its dramatic nuances to the fore.

Thursday 30 April 2015

Messiaen/Bartok/Tchaikovsky – Tugan Sokhiev/Baiba Skride

Seen and Heard International, 2 May 2015
He put down his baton, stopped time-beating as such, knowing that the LSO could provide clarity of execution without his help, and began to shape the music with all manner of unusual gestures... It was an impressive demonstration of communication and control, for the playing became much warmer and richer in personality... every gesture seemed to have real meaning for the players. The orchestra knew what he wanted and produced its best for him in some thrillingly virtuosic playing. The audience’s response was predictably enthusiastic, and to judge from the positive reactions of orchestral members they too had enjoyed the conductor’s creative leadership.

Bachtrack, 2 May 2015
Béla Bartók’s Violin Concerto no. 2 is incredibly demanding, but Skride handled all its challenges with verve and skill. The warmth of her playing in the lower registers was especially profound, which allowed her to make a powerful musical entrance in the opening movement. She was mesmerizing, with beautiful vibrato and somehow evincing both clean and coarse textures. From the start I was so enraptured by her performance that the orchestra faded into the background.

The Guardian, 1 May 2015
Baiba Skride, replacing the indisposed Midori, was the soloist in Bartók's Violin Concerto No 2. A passionate, heart-on-sleeve player, she attacked the opening with such richness of tone that her Stradivarius sounded more like a viola than a violin. The subsequent swerves between lyricism and aggression were superbly negotiated. Sokhiev is good in Bartók, too, conducting with plenty of edge and bite, and with an innate understanding of the dark beauty of his orchestration; the evening's high point – very exciting.

Classical Source, 30 April 2015
Baiba Skride was simply sensational in the Bartók, eliciting a myriad of tone colours from her Stradivarius. A big player with an exceptionally full tone in the violin’s lower reaches, Skride commands the raw power to match the LSO in full cry. Music of this volatility demands the closest integration between soloist and orchestra, with Sokhiev at the helm it certainly got it.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Boulez/Stravinsky – Peter Eötvös

Boulezian, 28 Apr 2015
The LSO players, one felt, could almost, not quite, have managed the performance for themselves; Eötvös wisely restricted his contributions to when they were necessary. There was no more showmanship to his conducting than to Boulez; and yet, in both cases, true ‘individuality’ of conception and voice resounded all the more strongly. My immediate reaction was to wish to hear the work performed again.

The Times, 27 Apr 2015
The magnificently sombre Rituel: In Memoriam Bruno Maderna was played superbly under Peter Eötvös' direction.

Financial Times, 27 Apr 2015
The centrepiece was a Boulez regular: Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. This was a sharply etched, clean performance in Boulez's fastidiously accurate mould. Salient features - the piercing E flat clarinet, ringing trumpets, attacking rhythms - gave Eötvös' Rite an exciting edge.

Music OMH, 25 Apr 2015
Rituel: in memoriam Bruno Maderna is an entirely different sort of work... The challenge for both players and conductor was to maintain cohesion within and between the ensembles, and to push forward a sense of momentum in what is a strangely anticlimactic work. In this they succeeded – assured collaborative playing by the LSO soloists and commanding but not over-controlled direction from Peter Eötvös.

Classical Source, 24 Apr 2015
A truly memorable performance and also another successful showing for the LSO/Eötvös partnership.

The Arts Desk, 24 Apr 2015
Encouraged by Eötvös, they spun a delicate web of call and response no less effective in its way than the sumptuous, showpiece treatment that the Vienna Philharmonic used to give it with the composer in charge.

Bachtrack, 24 Apr 2015
The Rite of Spring... This was a highly charged performance, angular, with stark contrasts and with each episode pushed to the extremes. Every section of the London Symphony Orchestra was on top form here. Eötvös, clearly aware that the quality of this orchestra gave him greater latitude, drove the tempos, and pushed the dynamics. The results were raw and primal. Utterly compelling.

Sunday 12 April 2015

Pärt/Britten/Shostakovich – Osmo Vänskä/Gil Shaham

The Times, 15 April 2015
Shaham's Bach encore, the gavotte from the E Major Partita, dispatched with characterful precision and a delicious, dancing thrust. We need more playing like that.

The Guardian, 14 April 2015
This was a performance of engaged eloquence and powerful expressivity that explored the darkness within the score and its hints of both insecurity and aggression. Shaham was technically impeccable, also drawing on a range of colour to encompass the music's needs while being vividly supported by Vänskä and the LSO players.

Classical Source, 12 April 2015
In many ways the combination of Gil Shaham, Osmo Vänskä and the LSO was of dream-team status... Shaham’s sheer delight in the music and in the act of music-making had a heart-on-sleeve sincerity to which resistance was futile.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Shostakovich/Liszt – Gianandrea Noseda/Leonidas Kavakos

The Financial Times, 11 April 2015
At all points he [Kavakos] put the music before showmanship, or any temptation to over-adorn the lines. The bareness of the Nocturne's conclusion raised goose bumps. Even when the piece makes insane technical demands... there is no hint of self-congratulatory flashiness. Only a sense of relentless momentum, matter-of-fact and mechanical, and all the more chilling for it.

The Times, 10 April 2015
We listened in awe... Magic happens each time he [Noseda] appears with the LSO.

The Guardian, 9 April 2015
He [Kavakos] plays it, however, like one born to it, with every technical challenge fearlessly met and the emotional trajectory unwaveringly delineated. This was one of Noseda’s finest Shostakovich interpretations, too – lean and sparse, yet at times dauntingly intense.

The Independent, 9 April 2015
Kavakos and conductor Gianandrea Noseda whipped up a demonic storm. And if Kavakos’s way with the Passacaglia was masterly, what he did with his long cadenza even took the LSO leader’s breath away – and he too is no slouch as a virtuoso.

Classical Source, 8 April 2015
The fiddle series could not have got off to a better start than with this outstanding account of Shostakovich No.1 featuring Leonidas Kavakos. From the first bar we were compelled by brooding intensity, Kavakos totally focussed, albeit as the isolated figure that the music dictates if at times screaming an individual’s plight, so too the LSO and Gianandrea Noseda, inside the music to a hypnotic degree.

US Tour 18 March–1 April 2015

New York, Avery Fisher Hall, 18 March 2015

The New York Times, 19 March 2015
Much of the Sibelius heard at the moment is steely, frosty and concerned with structure more than overt emotionality. But the London Symphony learned its Sibelius from Colin Davis, and the warm sound he instilled in this orchestra was the perfect springboard for Mr. Thomas’s superheated, wildly impulsive view of the piece. Fiercely dramatic and often bellicose, this was less a symphony than an epic.

ConcertoNet, 19 March 2015
Yuja Wang played Gershwin the way it should be played. It was a real concerto, but it had the melodies, the vast array of rhythms, the joy, the surprises which spoke for themselves.

San Francisco, Davies Symphony Hall, 22 & 23 March 2015

Examiner, 23 March 2015
MTT led these pieces with stunning clarity, bringing the utmost transparency to the role that every one of the instrumental voices had to play and to the penetrating effects Britten could achieve through blending sonorities.

Examiner, 24 March 2015
This was a reading that served up both the dramatic and the musical qualities in equally generous measures.

San Francisco Classical Voice, 25 March 2015
This British orchestra swung gracefully under its American conductor in Gershwin’s bright, colorful music. Principal trumpet Philip Cobb’s solo in the Adagio movement was of ideally gracious smoothness.

Seen and Heard, 25 March 2015
[Yuja Wang's] sassy take on Gershwin’s Concerto in F on Monday, coupled with Tilson Thomas’ own penchant for letting jazz elements come through, made for one of the finest performances of this work that I’ve heard.

Los Angeles, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 24 March 2015

Orange County Register, 25 March 2015
The orchestra performed the score’s engaging jazz, ragtime and blues with just enough flexibility, while offering plenty of color. And the LSO’s principal trumpet, Philip Cobb, seemed a natural for Gershwin’s sultry solo writing, which opens the central Adagio. Thomas’ affection for Gershwin.

LA Times, 25 March 2015
[MTT] coaxed a huge, solid pizzicato sound from the string sections and dark penetrating brass in the opening movement, scary timpani rolls in the fragmented second movement, building the crescendos in the finale patiently and inexorably with satisfying payoffs at the top.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Britten/Shostakovich/Sibelius - Michael Tilson Thomas/Yuja Wang

The Guardian, 17 Mar 2015
Wang rightly dominated, capturing the concerto's brittle charm and dashing off the finale at a reckless speed that the composer would have approved of.

Classical Source, 15 Mar 2015
The elegance and economy with which the conductor sculpted phrasing and defined instrumental entries was a masterclass, and matched by playing of a special connectivity. The link from the Scherzo into the Finale was a triumph of expectation over hope, made all the more powerful for being able to hear just how precisely detail was released. For all its powerful expansiveness, this was a Sibelius 2 with a large-scale balance between tension and rock-like stability.

Bachtrack, 16 Mar 2015
The performance of Sibelius’ Second Symphony was little short of extraordinary. Tempos were deliberate, rubatos generous and elastic bar lines were stretched every which way, but the LSO followed him keenly to give an electrifying account. I usually enjoy my Sibelius served with Nordic ice, but found this emotional alternative had a powerful draw.

Evening Standard, 16 Mar 2015
Michael Tilson Thomas’s handling of Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes emphasised the storm’s violence and the scrunch of Suffolk shingle with salty textures and biting dissonances. It would have been too overwhelming as interludes for the opera, but in a concert had undeniable freshness. So too did his stark, stirring reading of Sibelius’s Second Symphony.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Colin Matthews/Gershwin/Shostakovich - Michael Tilson Thomas/Yuja Wang

The Times, 17 Mar 2015
The London Symphony Orchestra gave their all to Colin Matthews’ exuberant Hidden Variables; Tilson Thomas duetted at the piano with Yuja Wang in a jazzy Poulenc encore after her glittering performance of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F.

Bachtrack, 14 Mar 2015
The quiet, unnerving music was delivered with such poignancy and emotional depth that it seemed to create a whole world of its own, transporting us from the concert hall into Shostakovich’s creation. The fourth movement brought us back down to earth with an exuberant finale that once again was exemplary of the energy and joy that Tilson Thomas and the LSO radiated throughout the evening.

The Arts Desk, 13 Mar 2015
Tilson Thomas gave us his version of this much contested symphony, and it proved compelling, not least for the superlative orchestral performance. The LSO gave their best for him, just as they have for decades.

The Daily Telegraph, 13 Mar 2015
Some conductors seize our attention through sheer charisma, others by mirroring the music’s emotional journey in their body language. Tilson Thomas does neither. He’s just a superb musician, who uses minimal, efficient gestures to reveal the logic of a piece with maximum clarity.

Classical Source, 13 Mar 2015
This was as much the LSO’s accomplishment – orchestra, yes, but also turning on a sixpence to become a dance band and theatre ensemble – with details given a light touch, even such as the percussion-led opening and trombone glissandos, and Philip Cobb’s evocative trumpet solo in the middle movement was a Miles Davis moment.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Brahms arr Schoenberg/Kodály/Leo Weiner/Traditional/Vladimir Cosma/John Williams/Csampi/Bihary - Kristjän Jarvi/Roby Lakatos/Roby Lakatos Ensemble

The Times, 10 Mar 2015
Lakatos smiles whilst playing passages that would make most violinists cry, accompanied by guitar, piano, bass, second violin and cimbalom, all bite and snap and zing and bottomless pools of coppery, shivery chords. In the Kodály the LSO brass dazzled, Huw Morgan’s trumpet sounding heaven-sent. An encore of Monti’s Czárdás had Roman Simovic, the LSO’s concert-master, duel with Lakatos and the hall explode with applause.

Sunday 1 March 2015

Debussy/Fauré/Duruflé - David Hill/Nicole Cabell/Kelley O'Connor/Duncan Rock/LSC

The Observer, 8 March 2015
The Duruflé was revelatory... Each line was clear and incisive, the LSO chorus tenors in particularly impressive form in the great burst of colour that closes the Kyrie - and Hill's handling of the miraculous unfurling of the In Paradisum was a moment of pure ecstasy.

The Times, 5 March 2015
The mezzo Kelley O'Connor offered soulful prayers in the Pie Jesu. The choir was melliflous and no smudges disturbed the last luminous glow as sopranos, harp, horn and hushed strings tiptoed us toward eternal rest. Curled up in my seat, I was content.

The Guardian, 3 March 2015
The majestic choral singing was first rate and wonderfully majestic. O’Connor struck form in the Pie Jesu. Duncan Rock was the noble, hieratic baritone. Fauré’s Pelléas, meanwhile, beautifully shaped and textured, reminded us what a fine piece it is, and that we hear it all too infrequently.

Bachtrack, 3 March 2015
In the well-known “Sicilienne” harp (Bryn Lewis) and flute (Gareth Davies) formed a winning partnership, and in the concluding “Death of Mélisande” Hill allowed no indulgence, urging the music forward always with an acute ear to instrumental balance.

Seen and Heard International, 2 March 2015
The cool, clear tone of the ladies of the LSO Chorus was a particular delight... David Hill negotiated an eloquent path through the score, and both Nicole Cabell and Kelley O'Connor entered fully into the work's ethereal spirit.

Classical Source, 1 March 2015
Once again, the London Symphony Chorus was on fine form in music whose often intricate translucency can all too easily become turgid if the balance between vocal registers, and with that of the orchestra, goes awry. That this was never an issue was a tribute to the expertise of chorus-director Simon Halsey.

Thursday 19 February 2015

Balakirev/Glazunov/Rachmaninov - Valery Gergiev/Roman Simovic

The Times, 23 February 2015
Simovic played with both physical and linguistic ease, guiding the bittersweet cadenza through to a rondo finale both rough-hewn and bucolic. Here was village fiddler turned virtuoso. Simovic gleefully took risks exceeded only in his chosen encore: the long and devilish transcription made by Nathan Milstein of Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No. 1. This brought the house down.

Seen and Heard, 22 February 2015
This was clearly a well-rehearsed performance, the upper strings supremely together at speed, the brass a wall of magnificence. There was a Tchaikovskian depth of emotion to the long-breathed lines here, the dark side of the piece fully honoured in the first movement so that the Mendelssohnian flickerings of the second movement could make their full mark. The finale had a fascinating underlying joyous feel and a wonderful lyric outpouring. Rachmaninov surely dreamt of a performance such as this.

Bachtrack, 20 February 2015
The soloist was Roman Simovic, familiar to audiences as the orchestra's leader since 2010. He is a stylish player with a sweet lyrical sound and his performance of the Glazunov was neatly self-contained. The slow section flowed beautifully... Milstein's transcription of themes from Liszt's Mephisto Waltz no. 1, allowed Simovic to display demonic virtuosity at greater length in an encore.

Daily Telegraph, 20 February 2015
Roman Simovic had a delightfully sweet-toned lyricism, and an easy, smiling virtuosity. It was just what was needed to reveal the charm in this somewhat earnest, solidly-crafted piece. In his encore, Simovic carried off a feat that on the face of it seems impossible; recreating the heroic piano pyrotechnics of Liszt's Mephisto Waltz no 1, on the four strings of a violin. He made it seem entirely natural.

Classical Source, 20 February 2015
The Symphony was so finely interpreted, setting off different moods and characters in excellent fashion. The problematic opening viola bars in the Scherzo were also admirably solved, Gergiev's tempos throughout being wholly convincing, revealing the astonishing originality of this work to the full.

Sunday 15 February 2015

Liszt/Mahler - Gianandrea Noseda/Alice Sara Ott

The Sunday Times, 22 February 2015
Her [Alice Sara Ott] virtuosity was breathtaking, as was the disjunction between her slender, barefooted prescence and the simply feral assault she mounted on the instrument's bass register near the start. Her total command of this exhibitionistic though compelling music, along with Gianandrea Noseda's fiery Italianate conducting, made the performance treasurable.

The Times, 18 February 2015
The playing was furiously intense and engaged, hard in on the heel of the bow, brutally heavy on the bass. Noseda's Sixth leaves little room to breathe, let along think. It is certainly arresting, this fast-boiling brew of feverish trills, vicious percussion, menacing brass and cimbalom-like confection of harp and cellos; less premonition of tragedies to come than a roar of fury at tragedies already visited.

The Guardian, 17 February 2015
Noseda's approach - never indulgent, always rhythmically taut - perfectly conveyed the sense of its four-movement classical proportions, even with the orchestral apparatus such a vast one, and the music operating over such a span of time.

Seen and Heard, 17 February 2015
This evening of Liszt and Mahler was possibly the best purely orchestral concert I can ever remember! I do not have the words to descibe the Finale enough... Even though I knew what was coming the brass seemed to lull me into a false sense of security making the last fortissimo A minor full orchestra chord even more terrifying in its suddenness than I can ever remember hearing it before. It was as if I had glimpsed Mahler's soul.

Daily Telegraph, 16 February 2015
The soloist was Alice Sara Ott, who despite her sylph-like frame, made the military rodomontade of Liszt's piece ring out with heroic force.
The real challenge [of the Mahler] is the half-hour Finale. This has to recover from the two "hammer-blows" of fate, only to fall at the last, a narrative Noseda shaped with unerring skill.

Bachtrack, 15 Feb 2015
Noseda never let the tension flag once in the long finale, driving on from climax to climax, undercut at each turn, the orchestra responding with vivid playing. A staggering, exhausting, high-octane performance.

Classical Source, 15 Feb 2015
Her [Alice Sara Ott's] virtuosity, of the highest technical accomplishment, was always placed at the service of the music and the wide-ranging journey the Concerto undertakes. Ott additionally gave us great power and drive where necessary; in all, a very fine rendition, such as one rarely encounters in any music.

Thursday 5 February 2015

PatrickBrennan/Berlioz/Tchaikovsky - Sir Mark Elder/Susan Graham

Classical Source, 5 Feb 2015
Graham, in velvety voice, sang within herself but always with vividness and import, expressing from the heart the solitariness of lost love and such haunted images as a cemetery bathed in moonlight and doing so with a real feel for the eerily picturesque.

The Guardian, 6 Feb 2015
... such a performance, full of carefully chiselled detail, made the case for the symphony as one of the great achievements of late Romanticism far better than any more histrionic one might have done.

Bachtrack, 6 Feb 2015
Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony was given a powerhouse rendition which had many things to admire in it. Turbo-charged string playing, light-as-a-feather flutes and lacerating brass were all on aural display, yet it was the quiet playing which impressed most.

Seen and Heard, 8 Feb 2015
The finale, blessed with superbly controlled strings, breathed beautifully without taking us to a place of absolute stillness. This was a thought-provoking reading to end a thought-provoking concert.

Sunday 1 February 2015

Webern/Beethoven/Brahms - David Afkham/Nicholas Angelich

Sunday Times Culture, 8 Feb 2015
The young German conductor David Afkam's Barbican account with the LSO of Brahms's Symphony No 2 was idiomatic, deeply felt and vigorous - altogether distinguished.

Sunday 25 January 2015

Toshio Hosokawa/Ravel/Mahler - Robin Ticciati/Simon Trpceski/Karen Cargill

Seen and Heard International, 26 Jan 2015
The whip crack that begins Ravel's G major concerto took us into a vastly different sound world. Simon Trpčeski and the orchestra played up the jazzy elements of the opening movement with a good deal of flair.

The Guardian, 27 Jan 2015
If the Hosokawa glowed from within, Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G positively glittered, thanks to pianist Simon Trpčeski, whose playing was witty, buoyant and always in cahoots with the orchestra.

Seen and Heard, 26 Jan 2015
The LSO’s playing was superlative in every way, throughout the concert.

Bachtrack, 26 Jan 2015
The quality of the LSO’s string sound is well known and loved, but in case anyone had forgotten, this work provided a splendid showcase for it: richness, lustre and precision dynamics.

Classical Source, 26 Jan 2015
Ticciati's conducting was made the more impressive by his insistence on a wide gradation of dynamic, even down to ppp, and wonderfully observed, raising the stature of this very well-played performance by several cubits. Recently the LSO has given us truly memorable accounts of Mahler symphonies - the Ninth under Daniel Harding and the First from Nikolaj Znaider - and Ticciati's was fully in the same class.

Sunday 18 January 2015

Verdi/Prokofiev/Falla/Rimsky-Korsakov - Xian Zhang/Valentina Lisitsa

Financial Times, 20 Jan 2015
The overture to Verdi's La forza del destino hurtled to its fate. The Spanish dances in the second suite from Falla's The Three-Cornered Hat pounded the red-hot earth. Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol sizzles at full force in the midday heat.

Seen and Heard, 19 Jan 2015
To close we heard Rimsky’s splendid Capriccio espagnol, an abandoned, bright and jolly display of the very first order. The piece is a splendid romp, and it was clear the orchestra enjoyed themselves as much as the audience.

The Independent, 19 Jan 2015
This unashamedly showy work may be a mere parade of effects, but with live-wire direction from the Chinese conductor Xian Zhang, Lisitsa and the London Symphony Orchestra beat up an admirable storm. Zhang and Lisitsa seem made for each other.

Classical Source, 19 Jan 2015
...we were in good hands. Zhang’s conducting was intensely dramatic and appealingly lyrical in turn, and her intense rapport with the LSO was clear enough.

Bachtrack, 19 Jan 2015
Zhang drew playing of such brio from the LSO... the ballet’s finale, found brass and percussion stamping out the rhythms, castanets employed enthusiastically.

Thursday 15 January 2015

Webern/Berg/Ligeti/Stravinsky - Sir Simon Rattle/Barbara Hannigan

The Express, 25 Jan 2015
The concert ended with Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. Rattle and the LSO captured the primitive energy of the score, and the dark foreboding that leads to the final sacrifice. Unforgettable.

The Sunday Times, 25 Jan 2015
The soprano Barbara Hannigan was the passionately assured soloist in a moving, thrilling evocation of the opera; and, tricked out as a saucy schoolgirl in white shirt and tartan miniskirt, she easily met Ligeti's madcap demands in Mysteries of the Macabre.

musicOMH, 21 Jan 2015
Rattle led an assured and compelling interpretation, rich in colour and detail and achieving a terrifying climax in the fourth movement funeral march... Luxuriance of texture and intensity of emotion were the hallmarks of the performance of Berg’s Three Fragments from Wozzeck that followed.

The Times, 19 Jan 2015
The Webern was made to sound like Mahler taken to the next level: harmonically abrasive and orchestrally deconstructed, yet full of late romantic anguish made thrillingly vivid.

The Daily Telegraph, 19 January 2015
Rattle, for his part, threw himself into the antics of Ligeti’s piece with gusto.

The Observer, 18 Jan 2015
...he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra on Thursday in Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring with a zest, fury and joy that stirred a thrilling sense of renewal in these dark days. In this, and in Webern’s haunting Six Pieces for Orchestra, the LSO’s playing was at once meticulous and, as required, explosive.

Financial Times, 18 Jan 2015
As the second part unfolded its slow, atmopsheric introduction, Rattle seemed to plunge ever deeper into some far-distant world. The LSO players seconded him wholeheartedly, as they had all evening.

Bachtrack, 18 Jan 2015
The LSO’s performance was absolutely stunning; they not only played it faultlessly, but managed to convey the emotional depth of the Six Pieces convincingly.

Classical Source, 16 Jan 2015
He brought the Pieces alive, the LSO confident of every colour, nuance and dovetailing phrase... from suspenseful shadows to a seismic and desperate climax, and then a shocking silence in its aftermath.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Schumann Das Paradies und die Peri - Sir Simon Rattle/Sally Matthews

The Sunday Times, 25 Jan 2015
Impassioned contributions from everyone involved... and the soprano Sally Matthews in the title role shatteringly resplendent. Mark Padmore was a fiercely eloquent Narrator, the LSO Chorus a potent force.

The Times, 13 Jan 2015
Rattle polished up these jewels to a glittering shine.

The Guardian, 13 Jan 2015
Mark Padmore was a model of clarity as the narrator, Bernarda Fink her usual unfussy, perfectly poised self as the Angel, while having Kate Royal, Andrew Staples and Florian Boesch (spellbinding in his aria at the beginning of the third part) as the other soloists made for a luxury lineup.

Classical Music Magazine, 12 Jan 2015
In Rattle’s hands, the work leapt forward, lithe and wary... the male chorus exploded with shocking force, evoking war and ‘rivers of blood’. Even their English consonants couldn’t dampen the seething energy chorus master Simon Halsey had inspired from them.

The Telegraph, 12 Jan 2015
...he drew refined playing from the strings and winds especially. The LSO hasn’t often played with such cultivation recently.

The Independent, 12 Jan 2015
Rattle and co gave it the best possible airing, with Mark Padmore as the narrator, Sally Matthews as the Peri, and a first-class line-up of subsidiary soloists.

London Evening Standard, 12 Jan 2015
Sally Matthews as the Peri fully engaged our sympathies for the resourceful spirit, capturing alike her plaintive entreaties and her vibrant exultation at the prospect of redemption.

The Arts Desk, 12 Jan 2015
But best of all was Rattle himself... technically, his conducting was flawless, and his ability to negotiate Schumann’s often abrupt transitions gave the piece a sense of flow it may otherwise have lacked. His communication with the musicians is direct and powerful, the result more of a shared passion than of any histrionics at the podium.

Classical Source, 12 Jan 2015
The classical-sized LSO (with five double basses) was at its elegant best in Schumann’s luminous orchestration, and Rattle’s empathy with the work’s symphonic weight and song-like intimacy transcended its sentimental origin.

Opera Brittania, 12 Jan 2015
Rattle carefully marshalled these forces: his ear for balance remains as keen as ever, and there were some ravishing examples of phrase and hushed dynamic. But what really impressed anew was his ability simply – simply! – to enable a performance, rather than impose one.

Bachtrack, 12 Jan 2015
The music in Parts III and IV continued to be full of melody and full of contrasts, Rattle's sense of pace and balance continued to display the LSO at their very best.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Aaron Parker/Beethoven/Mahler - Nikolaj Znaider/Rudolf Buchbinder

Bachtrack, 19 Dec 2014
... the LSO players have an uncanny ability to maintain their tonal control even at the very loudest dynamics. The endings of the first, second and fourth movements were just stunning, not only for the raw energy, but for the way that the climaxes had been carefully prepared.

Classical Source, 19 Dec 2014
The concert ended with Mahler’s First Symphony. It is no exaggeration to say that this was a superlative account, conducted by Znaider from memory, utterly gripping and involving from first bar to last. In the course of more than fifty years of concert-going and record-collecting I do not think I have heard a greater performance than this – equal, but none greater.

LSO on Film: The Magic and Majesty of Alexandre Desplat

11 December 2014

CultureFly, 12 Dec 2014
As the evening draws to a close, Desplat makes sure to save a little magic for the finale, ending on The Imitation Game, Harry Potter and his work in French cinema. The applause echoing through the Barbican is enthusiastic and well deserved.

The Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition

8 December 2014

Evening Standard
Guardian
Classical Source
Classical Music Magazine
New York Times
Classicalite
Music Times

Sunday 7 December 2014

Brahms - Daniel Harding/Emanuel Ax

Classical Source, 8 Dec 2014
Harding kept all the checks and balances of orchestral splendor and chamber-music intimacy moving with tactful control, and the LSO’s playing was at its superlative, radiant best.

Singapore & Australia Tour

17–30 November 2014

Melbourne, Arts Centre Melbourne: 28 November

Herald Sun, 1 Dec 2014
In the Classical Symphony of Prokofiev the strings particularly impressed. The exposed, stratospheric first-violin figures of the first movement were delicate but never tentative, and the impossibly quick finale was exhilarating for its sparkling precision.

Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Dec 2014
... the body is finely honed with elegant, assertive strings and splendid first-desk personnel among the woodwind, notably the principal flute and oboe.

Sydney, Sydney Opera House: 26 November

Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Nov 2014
Demonic in quick music, musically absorbed in slow, he mesmerised the audience with his performance of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev with commanding concentration and incisiveness.

Limelight Magazine, 27 Nov 2014
... this was Gergiev and his wonderful band setting up their stall in spectacular fashion under 33-year-old leader Roman Simovic

Sydney, Sydney Opera House: 25 November

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Nov 2014
The most impressive element, however, was their responsiveness. Getting 100 people to play as one is hard. Getting them to change direction, or speed, or mood, on a dime, is quite extraordinary. At times it felt like they were making it up as they went along, changing pace on a whim, and yet I struggled to hear a single note out of place.

Limelight Magazine, 26 Nov 2014
[Shostakovich Symphony No 10] is a Gergiev speciality and the LSO’s performance last night could probably not have been bettered anywhere on the planet.

Sydney, Sydney Opera House: 24 November

Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Nov 2014
It was in moments like the second theme of the third movement, that the deep cohesion and unanimity of the LSO's strings shone through, while the finale rejoiced in shrill swagger from the clarinet and raucous percussion.

Bachtrack, 25 Nov 2014
Right from the opening chord, every phrase, every entry, every musical question and its response was presented in a phenomenally translucent way, heard like this only on rare occasions – not only in Australian concert halls but anywhere around the world.

Limelight Magazine, 25 Nov 2014
[Prokofiev Symphony No 5] is one of the few dozen or so genuinely great symphonies of the 20th century and Gergiev and LSO gave the most powerful and intense performances I’ve ever heard.

The Daily Telegraph, 25 Nov 2014
piano, strings and brass (including a show-stopping trumpet solo) all shone as they teased out the cruelty and pain in the sad tale of the puppet Petrushka

Brisbane, Queensland Performing Arts Centre: 22 November 2014

The Australian, 24 Nov 2014
...so searing was the orchestral sound, so thrilling the sense that everyone, right to the back desks of the strings, was playing for their lives.

Singapore, The Esplanade: 20 November 2014

The Straits Times, 21 Nov 2014
Gergiev broke the mould with comfortable tempos for the first three movements, and a brisk but unhurried finale. The finesse and obvious ability of all the musicians made for a polished performance

Singapore, The Esplanade: 19 November 2014

The Straits Times, 20 Nov 2014
The rousing brass fanfare was followed by a series of impressive solo runs from the woodwinds, establishing the tenor of the work, which flourished on its fast-paced and high-octane delivery.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Balakirev/Rachmaninov - Valery Gergiev/Denis Matsuev

Bachtrack, 12 Nov 2014
Under Gergiev’s burning gaze, the LSO carved out a searing Rachmaninov Third Symphony that almost left scorch marks on the Barbican Hall’s wood panelling.

Classical Source, 12 Nov 2014
This was Gergiev and the LSO at their finest, performing music by his great fellow-countryman with extraordinary insight and technical command, passionate yet never overdone.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Elgar/Beethoven/Sally Beamish - Gianandrea Noseda/Nelson Freire/Shuna Sendall/Marcus Farnsworth

The Observer, 9 Nov 2014
The choruses, terrifically delivered by the London Symphony Chorus, range from hymn-like to snarling. If the work continues the musical line stretching from Elgar’s Gerontius to Britten’s War Requiem, no one should complain.

Sunday Times, 9 Nov 2014
Simon Halsey had trained the chorus to a high incisiveness. And the orchestra gave, as it always does, everything it had to the score - one that stood out for absolute clarity of effect, harmonic control, professionalism of every kind.

The Times, 4 Nov 2014
The score is cunningly and energetically crafted ... the music is by turns impassioned, brittle, ironic and enraptured.

Financial Times, 3 Nov 2014
Beamish has paced Equal Voices skilfully and the work feels less than its 50 minutes. But it is ultimately the poetry that packs the punch. Gianandrea Noseda conducted the London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra in a tightly-controlled performance.

The Guardian, 3 Nov 2014
Then for something utterly, exhilaratingly different came Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, played with such astonishing freshness, clarity and unfussy poetry by Nelson Freire, that it seemed as if he and we in the audience were discovering it all over again.

Classical Source, 3 Nov 2014
The most successful aspect of Equal Voices was the urgent reportage style of Marcus Farnsworth’s vivid singing. He released the bite of Motion’s poetry with compelling drama, and there was a similar immediacy to the short, dour, impressionist orchestral interludes that occur through the work’s five sections.

London Evening Standard, 3 Nov 2014
Sally Beamish’s new commission, Equal Voices, proved an ambitious, moving commemoration of the centenary of the First World War... the final section, with its epic sweep and spiritual uplift, soared onto a new level.

The Telegraph, 3 Nov 2014
In the end it was the naïve fervour of the Elgar which actually lingered in the mind. That, and something which had nothing whatever to do with the First World War; a wonderful, glowing performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto from Nelson Freire.