Music

Affectionate and unthreatening, just like usual: Last Night of the Proms reviewed

19 September 2020 9:00 am

The Last Night of the Proms came and went, and it was pretty much as anyone might have predicted, if…

Why orchestras are sounding better than ever under social-distancing

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Our college choirmaster had a trick that he liked to deploy when he sensed that we were phoning it in.…

Couldn't the BBC have filled at least some of the seats? First night of the Proms reviewed

5 September 2020 9:00 am

The Royal Albert Hall, as Douglas Adams never wrote, is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely,…

Enter the parallel universe that is the Lucerne Festival

29 August 2020 9:00 am

There wasn’t going to be a Lucerne Festival this year. The annual month-long squillion-dollar international beano got cancelled, along with…

Art tackles social distancing and, for once, actually wins: Philharmonia Sessions reviewed

1 August 2020 9:00 am

First there were the home recitals: musicians playing solo Bach in front of their bookshelves, wonkily captured on iPhones. Next…

Beethoven 32 piano sonatas were his musical laboratory – here are the best recordings

18 July 2020 9:00 am

If you want to understand Beethoven, listen to his piano sonatas. Without them, you’ll never grasp how the same man…

Portrait of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic – Britain's oldest and ballsiest orchestra

11 July 2020 9:00 am

Richard Bratby on Britain’s oldest and ballsiest orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, which has taken on everyone from gang leaders to Derek Hatton

Britain's choirs are facing oblivion

11 July 2020 9:00 am

Britain’s choirs are facing oblivion. Yet they’re also terrified of returning. One story explains why. Picture this innocent choral-society scene…

After weeks of silence, Royal Opera reopened with a whimper

20 June 2020 9:00 am

It was the fourth time, or maybe the fifth, that I found myself reaching for the tissues that I began…

The musical event of the year: Wigmore Hall BBC Radio 3 Special Broadcasts reviewed

13 June 2020 9:00 am

Remember when 2020 was going to be Beethoven year? There were going to be cycles and festivals, recordings and reappraisals;…

I'm still not wholly convinced by Kirill Petrenko: Berlin Phil's Digital Concert Hall reviewed

30 May 2020 9:00 am

At the start of Elgar’s Second Symphony the full orchestra hovers, poised. It pulls back; and then, like a dam…

Drunk singers, Ravel on film and prime Viennese operetta: the addictive joys of classical YouTube

23 May 2020 9:00 am

The full addictive potential of classical YouTube needs to be experienced to be understood. And let’s be honest, there are…

The best recordings of the greatest symphony

16 May 2020 9:00 am

I am daunted. Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony is a work that I regard with love, awe and even anxiety. I always…

Michael Tanner remembers the greatest musical experience of his life

25 April 2020 9:00 am

No surprise: the greatest musical experience of my life was Parsifal at Bayreuth in 1962. I thought at the time…

The marvel of Mozart’s letters

18 April 2020 9:00 am

It’s 1771, you’re in Milan, and your 14-year-old genius son has just premièred his new opera. How do you reward…

The best recordings of my favourite Passion

11 April 2020 9:00 am

In the autumn of 1632, a man called Kaspar Schisler returned home to the small Bavarian town of Oberammergau. He…

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…

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…

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 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…