Joshua Redman and Still Dreaming at the Manchester Jazz Festival

Although I am fond of jazz, I do not normally write blogs about it, primarily because I have insufficient knowledge and vocabulary to confidently exercise critical faculties. But I had the urge to communicate my responses to this special occasion:…

Leeds Lieder: Mahler’s Knaben Wunderhorn

Although Mahler’s Knaben Wunderhorn songs with orchestra are well known, one rarely encounters them with piano; and this version, presented by Leeds Lieder at the University of Leeds, was a revelation. Of course one misses the variety of instrumental sound,…

My Concert Highlights 2016

Schoenberg’s massive Gurrelieder at the Edinburgh Festival conducted by Donald Runnicles:  no wonder he turned to serialism; he couldn’t go any further with tonality Steven Kovacevich‘s piano recital at the Buxton Festival: a profundity, particularly with Schubert’s A Major Sonata,…

Leeds Lieder 2016

Founded in 2004 by Jane Anthony, Leeds Lieder has had the laudable aim of fostering performances of, and growth of audience interest in, an area of music making somewhat neglected in the regions. It has not been an easy challenge….

Lieder Recitals and Texts

A recital at this year’s Buxton Festival, given by soprano Sarah-Jane Lewis and baritone Gareth Brynmor John with pianist Simon Lepper, offered an interesting combination of duets and songs by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky. However, an audience cannot appreciate…

Roderick Williams: French Song Recital

I have said before, and I will say again, that for concert series which have good price/quality ratio I know nothing better venue than the Wesley Centre in Harrogate. For £6 a seat for an hour at Monday lunchtimes, you…

Festival of Czech Chamber Music at the RNCM

Each January at the Royal Northern College of Manchester there is a chamber music festival, focusing on a particular theme and presenting some prominent musicians alongside the talent of the College’s own students. This year it was Czech music, or…

My Concert Highlights 2014

Anna Prohaska‘s outstanding Lieder recital at Edinburgh: vocal assurance, combined with great  interpretive skills and artistic integrity Thomas Allen‘s defiant and moving Winterreise in Oxford: an astonishing (and for me reassuring) celebration of reaching 70, and part of the extraordinary…

Schubert’s complete Rosamunde in Vienna

It was certainly enticing. The illustrious Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the venerable Nikolaus Harnoncourt were at home in the Musikverein giving a rare outing for the complete incidental music which Schubert wrote for the play Rosamunde. In some respects, it…

Cédric Tiberghien’s Bartok Piano Recital

An all-Bartok piano recital? In Harrogate? On a Monday lunchtime? You might not have expected much . But wait a moment! This is the Wesley Centre (previously known as Chapel) with its famous and wonderful Yamaha piano, and this is…

Oxford Lieder and the Schubert Project

Now you might think that Oxford Lieder with its Schubert Project boldly presenting all of Schubert’s songs was biting off more than can be chewed, or at least risked convincing its audiences that with such a multitude there must be…

Die Winterreise in Oxford by Thomas Allen (at 70)

Three days of Schubert Lieder at Oxford which made one gasp in astonishment at his extraordinary powers of invention, in capturing in song the heights and depths of human emotions. While many of the songs were unfamiliar, this was not…

Recital by Anna Prohaska at the Edinburgh Festival

My experience with lieder recitals which, though devoted to a single theme, jump around between languages, styles and composers has not always a been happy. The programme “Behind the Lines 1914-2014” given by  Anna Prohaska and  Eric Schneider at Edinburgh’s …

Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale at the Northern Aldborough Festival

The annual round of summer music festivals is upon us. What are our expectations of them? Some would seem to flourish on combining concerts with talks, walks and pleasurable social activities. Some attempt to bring quality music to geographical areas…

The Haydn Festival at Bridgnorth

For lovers of Haydn like myself the annual festival at Bridgnorth in Shropshire would seem to be a must. Performances in an attractive town of a range of his works, revealing what a brilliant composer he was, innovative, inventive and…

London’s Conway Hall as Concert Venue

It was, for me, hugely nostalgic to return after fifty years to the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square. The Hall, a redoubtable fortress – I was going to say spiritual home – in London of rationalism, humanism and atheism…

A Recital in York of Early Romantic Lieder

Lieder recitals appear to have become all the rage. Up in the North, we have Leeds Lieder, and other music organizations are getting in on the act. The RNCM has a Day of Song coming up, and yesterday it was…

Stravinsky and a New Piano Concerto with the Concertgebouw

You are in Amsterdam at a concert given by one of the world’s great orchestras. Its principal conductor, Mariss Jansons, has cancelled and has been replaced by a young Italian, Gustavo Gimeno, previously better known as the orchestra’s percussionist. The…

The Messiah in Harrogate

I refuse to hear the Messiah every year, because over-familiarity can spoil its impact. Also, during the Hallelujah Chorus I stubbornly remain seated because I find the tradition of standing to be silly. Nevertheless at the Harrogate Royal Hall performance,…

Jayson Gillham’s Recital at Ripon

Ripon Cathedral Concert Society has for a number of years provided some of the most exciting chamber music concerts in North Yorkshire. A year or so ago its future was, with declining audiences and diminishing resources, uncertain. However, a largely…