Music

How the KGB infiltrated classical music

13 May 2017 9:00 am

Spare a thought for Emil Gilels, still revered today by Russians as the foremost pianist of the Soviet era. The…

The finest Wotan around: Latvian bass-baritone Egils Silins

I still have no idea what the LPO’s Belief and Beyond Belief season was about

6 May 2017 9:00 am

The London Philharmonic Orchestra’s ‘Belief and Beyond Belief’ season is drawing to a close, without making it in any degree…

I didn't think playing all Scriabin's piano sonatas in one afternoon was possible

29 April 2017 9:00 am

Just before Peter Donohoe played the last of Alexander Scriabin’s ten piano sonatas at the Guildhall’s Milton Court on Sunday,…

This is how you reimagine Bach’s St John Passion

22 April 2017 9:00 am

‘The dripping blood our only drink/ The bloody flesh our only food…/ Again, in spite of that, we call this…

London’s orchestral scene is dead. Time to change the music – and some CEOs

15 April 2017 9:00 am

For much of the past half-century, London has been the world’s orchestral capital. Not always in quality, but numerically without…

Was the founder of the Boring Music Society a neglected genius?

1 April 2017 9:00 am

It’s always promising when the orchestra won’t fit on the stage. For the UK première, some 97 years after it…

Time to retire: pianist Maurizio Pollini at the Royal Festival Hall in March 2016

Maurizio Pollini needs to retire

25 March 2017 9:00 am

There’s a moment in the finale of Beethoven’s Appassionata sonata when the frenzied piano writing turns unexpectedly jolly. The late…

Did Igor Levit’s latest Beethoven recital deserve to be booed?

4 March 2017 9:00 am

Nothing pleased Iannis Xenakis more than a great big rattling storm. The sound of a thunderclap would have him running…

Spare us the gerontophilia

11 February 2017 9:00 am

Brahms didn’t always have a beard. The picture in the London Symphony Orchestra’s programme book showed him clean-shaven, and rightly.…

Not many concerts should be as devastating as this: Philharmonia Orchestra/Nelsons reviewed

28 January 2017 9:00 am

It used to be said that Bruckner composed the same symphony nine times, whereas, thanks to the comparative frequency of…

Does Radio 3 really need to tiptoe around every controversy?

21 January 2017 9:00 am

This week the Southbank Centre began its ‘Belief and Beyond Belief’ festival — a series of concerts and talks claiming…

The sound of very earnest millennials making music: The xx’s I See you reviewed

21 January 2017 9:00 am

The xx is a trio of Londoners whose eponymous first album, released in 2009, has defined the way pop music…

Nonsense squared: Alice’s Adventures Under Ground reviewed

31 December 2016 9:00 am

Gerald Barry loved playing organ for Protestants as they allowed him a lie in. Then they found out he wasn’t…

A surprising number of great composers were fond of the bottle – but can you hear it?

10 December 2016 9:00 am

‘Brahms and Liszt’ is a lovely bit of rhyming slang, but it doesn’t have the ring of authenticity. Can you…

Elvis would have loved it: Elvis in Concert at the O2

3 December 2016 9:00 am

Elvis Aron Presley departed this world on 16 August, 1977. Even if you delight in conspiracy theories and believe the…

I always thought the North and classical music didn’t mix

12 November 2016 9:00 am

Years ago, when I met a famous concert pianist, I was surprised when he greeted me in a northern accent.…

Charles Own performing at the London Piano Festival, Kings Place. Photo: Amy T. Zielinski/Redferns

Life’s too short for ‘well-crafted’ pieces by musical mediocrities – and Handel

15 October 2016 9:00 am

There’s a folder in my computer’s external hard drive in which you’ll find 24 complete recordings of the Bach Cello…

Performing the Goldberg Variations on the piano involves too many compromises

1 October 2016 9:00 am

The churning, rheumatic mechanism of a harpsichord — notes needling your ears like drops of acid rain — doesn’t necessarily…

Why are so many composers drawn to the Stabat Mater?

1 October 2016 9:00 am

Music likes to tell the same story over and over again. This is part of its tradition but even individual…

The day I tried to rescue the alcoholic former Master of the Queen’s Music

10 September 2016 9:00 am

I was looking forward to going to Malcolm Williamson’s opera English Eccentrics set to a text by Edith Sitwell at…

Sacred ground: Elvis at Graceland, 1957

Memphis is a dream destination for music lovers – but how long will this last?

3 September 2016 9:00 am

The bad news for old rock’n’rollers is that there’s not much time left to stay at Heartbreak Hotel — these…

Mick Jagger at Knebworth, 1976

Stevie Wonder, Genesis, punk and the Stones – 1976 was the year that changed music

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Forty years ago, I spent 14 hours in a large field near the A1 in Hertfordshire. I had just taken…

Electronic Dance Music is not for rebels – it’s for tyrants and drones

30 July 2016 9:00 am

Electronic Dance Music is dying. You may not have noticed. It may not affect you directly. But it’s a really…

In search of Mozart’s Tempest

16 July 2016 9:00 am

This must rank as the most heartbreaking example of premature chicken-counting in musical history. ‘Gotter has made a marvellous free…

Satie invented the cultural poison that is Muzak – why should he be celebrated?

9 July 2016 9:00 am

After peaking at around the tenth instalment, birthday celebrations get progressively less interesting, for their subjects at least. I remember…