Richard Bratby

The joy of Haydn's string quartets – here are the best recordings

4 April 2020 9:00 am

As Joseph Haydn was getting out of bed on the morning of 10 May 1809, a cannonball landed in his…

Bleak humour, resourcefulness and wit: Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Quarantine Soirées reviewed

28 March 2020 9:00 am

There’s a certain merit in bluntness. ‘Quarantine Soirées’ was what the Budapest Festival Orchestra called its response to the crisis,…

Bigamists, lunatics and adventurers: the raucous world of 19th century British music

21 March 2020 9:00 am

The world of 19th-century British music was raucous, but are there any masterpieces waiting to be rediscovered? wonders Richard Bratby

If your instinct is to undermine Beethoven, you’re directing the wrong opera: Fidelio reviewed

7 March 2020 9:00 am

‘People may say I can’t sing,’ said the soprano Florence Foster Jenkins, ‘but no one can ever say I didn’t…

Eurotrash Verdi: ENO’s Luisa Miller reviewed

29 February 2020 9:00 am

Verdi’s Luisa Miller is set in the Tyrol in the early 17th century, and for some opera directors that’s a…

Weill's Broadway opera is made for telly: Opera North's Street Scene reviewed

21 February 2020 10:00 pm

It’s a sweltering night in Manhattan, circa 1947, and on the doorstep of a brownstone tenement three women are waiting…

Are we going to have to start taking Calixto Bieito seriously? ENO’s Carmen reviewed

15 February 2020 9:00 am

Calixto Bieito’s Carmen: three words to make an opera critic’s heart leap. Until quite recently, Bieito was the operatic provocateur…

Inspired programming and a proper celebration: Barbican's Beethoven Weekender reviewed

7 February 2020 10:00 pm

Beethoven wears a feather boa and pink shades. He wrangles an electric guitar. A red lightning flash streaks across that…

The joy of Radio 3’s Building a Library

1 February 2020 9:00 am

So, you’ve fallen in love with a piece of classical music and you want to buy a recording. The problems…

The audience were in tears: Christian Gerhaher/Gerold Huber at the Wigmore Hall reviewed

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

‘Popular’ classical music is a relative term. Show me someone who thinks Beethoven is surefire box office, and I’ll show…

Warmth, energy and gripping momentum: Stephen Hough’s Wigmore Hall residency reviewed

18 January 2020 9:00 am

In the summer of 1878 Johannes Brahms finally succeeded in growing a beard. It was his third attempt. ‘Prepare your…

Beer, sweat and jockstraps: the real history of the CBSO

21 December 2019 9:00 am

In childhood, the theme tune to The Box of Delights was the sound of Christmas. The melody was ‘The First…

Don’t tell me model railways aren’t art. My little engine is a thing of spirit and beauty

14 December 2019 9:00 am

It’s a summer day at Llangenydd station, and the afternoon train is already late, not that anyone seems to mind.…

Sadistic and repellent and thrilling: Mascagni’s Iris reviewed

7 December 2019 9:00 am

If you’ve ever felt that poor Madama Butterfly had a bit of a raw deal, then you really, really don’t…

Meet the unrivalled Sun King of early music, William Christie

23 November 2019 9:00 am

It’s morning in the garden of William Christie, and he’s talking about home improvements. ‘I planted three pines up there…

Ravishing and poignant: ENO’s Orphée reviewed

23 November 2019 9:00 am

Billy Wilder, asked for his opinion of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical version of his movie Sunset Boulevard, famously replied: ‘Those…

Why are Haydn’s operas so lousy? La fedelta premiata reviewed

16 November 2019 9:00 am

There’s a book about musicals that every opera lover should read. Not Since Carrie by Ken Mandelbaum is a history…

Malcolm Arnold was a traumatised wreck of a man at his death but his music was joyous!

19 October 2019 9:00 am

Never meet your heroes, they say. But if you grew up with classical music in the 1980s, there was fat…

More misogynistic than the original: ENO’s Orpheus in the Underworld reviewed

12 October 2019 9:00 am

It’s Act Three of Emma Rice’s new production of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, and Eurydice (Mary Bevan) is trapped…

Simon Rattle’s Messiaen is improving with age

21 September 2019 9:00 am

Two flutes, a clarinet and a bassoon breathe a chord on the edge of silence. As they fade, the sound…

Needed a shot of Stolichnaya: The Tchaikovsky Project reviewed

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Grade: B+ I’m not sure about ‘Projects’. Aren’t those what ageing rockers produce, in a haze of sedatives, when their…

Why this première felt important: James MacMillan’s Fifth Symphony reviewed

24 August 2019 9:00 am

All symphonies were sacred symphonies, once. Haydn began each day’s composition with a prayer, and ended every score with the…

Bracing and provocative – but would Wagner have approved? Arcola’s Rheingold reviewed

10 August 2019 9:00 am

When it comes to the opening of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Mark Twain probably put it as well as anyone: ‘Out…

Clare Presland as Susanna in Il segreto di Susanna at Opera Holland Park Image: © Ali Wright

It’s not fair – I liked Il segreto di Susanna before it was cool: OHP’s double bill reviewed

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Should a secret pleasure ever be shared? Spoiler alert: Susanna’s secret, unknown to her husband Gil, is that she smokes.…

An overcooked blowout: Glyndebourne’s Die Zauberflöte reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Think back to when you were 12, and the sensation of re-opening your favourite book. (This is The Spectator; I’m…