Thursday 8 December 2011

This Week’s Classical Music Round Up From The Arts Desk

In this week’s classicalmusic coverage on The Arts Desk, we take a trip to Italy with Liszt, play host to an Australian chamber ensemble and cast our eye over the latest CD releases.

Louis Lortie, photo by Elias
At the start of this week, on Monday, 5 December, David Nice gave his verdict on Louis Lortie’s piano recital of the night before at the Wigmore Hall. The concert was a bumper celebration of Liszt’s Italian-inspired works, drawing on both art and poetry from Raphael to Petrarch, to mark his bicentenary year, with the programme including his Années de pèlerinage, Venetian water piece La lugubre gondola and Venezia e Napoli. The result was tough-going and impressive by turns, with Lortie majestic, even imposing one minute, and dazzling with his skill and clarity the next, so that it seemed to Nice like the man must have four hands.

Adele Anthony, photo by Marcia Siriello
Over the weekend Graham Rickson provided his weekly run-down of the top new classical CD releases. Violin concertos were the order of the day, with two separate discs full of them. The first boasts the unlikely pairing of Bartók and Tchaikovsky, with Valeriy Sokolov successfully championing the less-loved Bartók piece and making enjoyable work of the more popular Tchaikovsky piece. The second CD successfully pairs Australian composer Ross Edwards and Sibelius. Adele Anthony is the superb performer, bringing impressive athleticism to the Edwards and thrills aplenty to the Sibelius. The third disc this week comes from John Wilson, known for his superb conducting of music from Hollywood musicals. Made in Britain, however, is of English works from the likes of Vaughan Williams, Elgar and Butterworth. With his emphasis on clarity, richness and, of course, immaculate playing, Wilson for the most part avoids twee-ness and stodge, delivering light, fun and occasionally sublime pieces.

And finally, on 30 November, Alexandra Coghlan caught Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. For all his free-spiritedness and love of surfing, Tognetti and his ensemble were a model of decorum, showing just how serious and disciplined they are about their craft. They brought an added weight to Greig’s String Quartet in G Minor while Shostakovich’s Concerto No 1 was enlivened with joyful trumpet playing from Tine Thing Helseth and particularly masterful piano playing from Simon Trpčeski. With wind and brass joining in for a focused, rhythmic rendition of Mozart’s Symphony No 40, the concert built to a romping finale.

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