Music

One hell of a concert: Opera North’s Bluebeard’s Castle reviewed

14 December 2019 9:00 am

Freud knew something about fear. Not the sudden shock of terror, but the creeping, sickening, slow-burn horror of the uncanny.…

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…

Handsome and revivable but I wasn’t moved: Royal Opera’s Death in Venice reviewed

30 November 2019 9:00 am

Premièred within two years of each other, Luchino Visconti’s film and Benjamin Britten’s opera Death in Venice both take Thomas…

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…

How a City lawyer conquered the hardest piano work ever written

9 November 2019 9:00 am

Charles-Valentin Alkan played the piano faster than Liszt and louder than Chopin. The dying Pole left instructions that only Alkan…

In his new piano concerto Thomas Ades’s inspiration has completely dried up

2 November 2019 9:00 am

There’s nothing like a good piano concerto and, sad to relate, Thomas Adès’s long-awaited first proper attempt at the genre…

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…

Joyce DiDonato seduces you within the first 10 minutes: Royal Opera’s Agrippina reviewed

5 October 2019 9:00 am

‘Laws bow down before the desire to rule…’ Centuries before ‘proroguing’ had entered British breakfast-table vocabulary there was Handel’s Agrippina,…

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…

The rude, ripe tastelessness of John Eliot Gardiner’s Berlioz is the perfect antidote to Haitink’s Instagram Bruckner

14 September 2019 9:00 am

Conducting is one of those professions — being monarch is perhaps another — where the less you do, the more…

Why did the Soviets not want us to know about the pianist Maria Grinberg?

7 September 2019 9:00 am

Only four women pianists have recorded complete cycles of the Beethoven piano sonatas: Maria Grinberg, Annie Fischer, H. J. Lim…

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…

West Side Story’s flick-knife-to-the-guts thrill never landed its final blow

17 August 2019 9:00 am

It was as though Damien Hirst had confessed a secret passion for Victorian watercolours, or Lars von Trier had admitted…

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…

Hatsune Miku went on her first tour in 2016

Can computers compose?

3 August 2019 9:00 am

In 1871, the polymath and computer pioneer Charles Babbage died at his home in Marylebone. The encyclopaedias have it that…

A sonic masterclass: the Silesian String Quartet at Wigmore Hall reviewed

20 July 2019 9:00 am

Of all the daft notions about the classical music business, the daftest is that it’s a business at all. Seriously:…

You leave awe-struck but also a bit frazzled: Holland Festival’s Aus Licht reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

In Stockhausen’s Klavierstück XI hands become fists, arms and elbows clubs, shoving, pounding and ker-pow-ing the keyboard to near oblivion.…

Testosterone and passion: Royal Opera’s Marriage of Figaro reviewed

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Another turn around the block for David McVicar’s handsome 1830s Figaro at the Royal Opera — the sixth since the…

Mane event: shaggy blond David Coverdale

David Coverdale, lead singer of Whitesnake, talks hair, love handles and ‘sexism’

29 June 2019 9:00 am

‘Invest in your hair,’ advises David Coverdale, a man with a shag of the stuff glossier than a supermodel’s and…

Where was the sex? Opera Holland Park’s Manon Lescaut reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Where was the desire, the frisson, the flicker of attraction? Hell, where was the sex? I ask because a week…

Easily the best thing I’ve seen at the Grange Festival: Falstaff reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

‘Tutto nel mondo e burla’ sings the company at the end of Verdi’s Falstaff — ‘All the world’s a joke’…

Igor Levit’s Goldbergs were transcendental

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Igor Levit has rapidly achieved cult status, as he certainly deserves. He has already reached the stage where he can…

Composer Amy Beach. Photo: Bridgeman Images

The forgotten masterpieces of Amy Beach

25 May 2019 9:00 am

At the Wigmore Hall last Friday, the Takacs String Quartet and Garrick Ohlsson played a piano quintet that was once…

Andras Schiff Credit: Robert Ghement/EPA/Shutterstock

Anderszewski went at Beethoven’s Diabellis with a nail gun

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Are Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations really ‘the greatest of all piano works’, as Alfred Brendel claims? It’s hardly what you would…