Crowdfunding is a new word for a very old practice in the classical music business, as two piano trios getting their Wigmore premieres on the same day have demonstrated. The money for Kaija Saariaho’s trio Light and Matter came from many sources, of which the Britten Sinfonia, whose players performed it, was only one. Others contributions came from the Wigmore Hall, Aeolian Chamber Players, the Library of Congress, a Swedish ensemble, a Swiss foundation, and 10 private donors.
What an irony: while cash-strapped English National Opera cancels its much-trumpeted ‘Orfeo’ at the Bristol Old Vic, the Royal Opera House presents its first-ever staging of Monteverdi’s masterpiece in that erstwhile temple to psychedelic rock, the Chalk Farm Roundhouse.
Andras Schiff is a recent convert to the fortepiano, and his recital of two late Schubert sonatas on an instrument from the composer’s own time was a revelation. Made by Brodmann in 1820, this beautiful fortepiano had been owned by the Austro-Hungarian royal family, and restoration had revived all its original strengths.
Winter’s Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession is the title of the eclectic and stimulatingly off-beat book Ian Bostridge has just published, and that obsession is at once Schubert’s and his own.
It’s quite something to present a major work by a major composer which hardly anyone in the audience has heard, but that’s what Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra did with Schumann’s oratorio Das Paradies und die Peri.
The brightly coloured tracksuits are gone, replaced by sober suits and ties, and they’ve traded in their Youth Orchestra title for the more mature Symphony Orchestra, but close your eyes and there’s no mistaking the energy, urgency or identity of the musicians of Venezuela’s Simón Bolívar Orchestra.
It made perfect sense for the opening concert of Kings Place’s Minimalism Unwrapped season to begin with the back-to-the-future frisson of plainsong, because, as The Sixteen’s director Harry Christophers pointed out mid-way through this concert, medieval polyphony’s beginnings were as explosive - and as viscerally exciting - as Stravinsky’s Rite was eight centuries later. Only in the twentieth century did composers find the nerve to create dissonances as crunchy as those of the thirteenth-century monks.
Even Natalia Osipova can’t always defy gravity. Making her debut in the Royal Ballet’s production of Don Quixote, the Russian star fell after a soaring leap. Though she finished the act with impressive dash, she had to pull out of the rest of the show. Young Akane Takada stepped in for the last two acts, dancing with superb assurance.
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