Music

Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber at the piano in their 2016 Wigmore Hall recital. Photo: Amy T. Zielinski / Redferns

A Winterreise that included a mistake of genius

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of approach to performing Schubert’s Winterreise, though sometimes there’s doubt or dispute about which…

A musical Sarah Kane: composer Rebecca Saunders. Photo: IRCAM Manifeste

Is this the most important living British composer?

26 January 2019 9:00 am

If you take awards seriously (which of course you shouldn’t) you could argue that Rebecca Saunders is now Britain’s most…

Philipp Fürhofer's handsome and often ingenious designs for the Royal Opera's overcomplicated new production of The Queen of Spades. Photo: ROH 2018 / Catherine Ashmore

Never quite pivots from thesis to drama: Royal Opera’s Queen of Spades reviewed

19 January 2019 9:00 am

We increasingly accept the collision between life and art. Whether we’re puzzling over the real identity of Elena Ferrante, choosing…

King's College Choir rehearsing for the Christmas Eve 'A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols'. Photo credit: Geoff Robinson Photography / REX / Shutterstock

All hail Mrs C.F. Alexander, author of 'Once in Royal David's City'

15 December 2018 9:00 am

In this 200th anniversary of the birth of Mrs C.F. Alexander, author of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, all of…

Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica performing performing Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Concertino for Violin and Strings in 2014. Photo: Hiroyuki Ito/ Getty Images

As a symphonist, Mieczyslaw Weinberg was a master: Weinberg Weekend reviewed

1 December 2018 9:00 am

It’s a strange compliment to pay a composer — that the most profound impression their music makes is of an…

RLPO and the NDR Radiophilharmonie performing Britten's War Requiem in Liverpool Cathedral. Photo: Liverpool Philharmonic / Mark McNulty

Britten’s War Requiem almost sounded like a masterpiece – but it isn’t, is it?

17 November 2018 9:00 am

‘What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?’ We’ve heard a lot, lately, of the knell that tolls through the…

Wilhelm Furtwängler shaking hands with Hitler after a concert in 1939. Photo: Ullstein Bild/ Getty Images

The truth about Wilhelm Furtwängler

20 October 2018 9:00 am

The morning after the first night of Ronald Harwood’s Taking Sides in May 1995, I received a call from Otto…

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the LSO at the Barbican

Rattle’s recapitulation: LSO/Simon Rattle at Barbican reviewed

22 September 2018 9:00 am

A pregnant silence, a peaty belch from the tuba, and the scrape of brass on brass as gears lock into…

Letter signed by Wagner from an exhibition at the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden in 2013

As a writer, Richard Wagner was both sublime – and unreadable

22 September 2018 9:00 am

No one any longer denies the immense significance of Wagner’s musical-dramatic achievement, even if they find it repellent. But his…

‘Catholic music is often excruciating – I call it “Joan Baez meets Hildegard of Bingen in a 1970s cocktail lounge.”’ Baez: Pierre Andrieu /AFP/Getty Images Bach: Rischgitz/Getty Images

How Bach lifted my spirits at my mother's funeral

15 September 2018 9:00 am

I was at a funeral the other day at which the music was so inspiring that I struggled to feel…

Chorus of approval: the ENO chorus gives it the full Broadway, triple threats to a man, in Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan (Photo: Genevieve Girling)

Often baffling but ultimately entertaining: Britten’s Paul Bunyan reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘I feel I have learned lots about what not to write for the theatre…’ There’s a prevailing idea that the…

Kirill Petrenko conducting the Berlin Philharmonic at the 2018 Proms. Photo: BBC/Chris Christodoulou

The gentle side of Bruckner: Rotterdam Philharmonic's Prom reviewed

8 September 2018 9:00 am

The lady behind me on Kensington Gore clearly felt that she owed her friend an apology: ‘It’s Bruckner. I don’t…

‘I’m unusually disaster-prone’

The man who’s spent 40 years trying (and failing) to become a pop star

8 September 2018 9:00 am

Michael Hann talks to the critically acclaimed musician who has been trying (and failing) to become a pop star since 1979

Jozsefs Lendvai and Lendvay with Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra at the Proms. Image: BBC/Chris Christodoulos

The Budapest Festival Orchestra makes other orchestras look routine and oafish

1 September 2018 9:00 am

Looney Tunes was always at its best when soundtracked by a Hungarian gypsy dance. (Watch ‘Pigs in a Polka’ if…

A Beggar’s Opera that beggars belief in Edinburgh

25 August 2018 9:00 am

Robert Carsen’s new updating of The Beggar’s Opera is a coke-snorting, trash-talking, breakdancing, palm-greasing, skirt-hiking, rule-breaking affair — and every…

Currentzis's Beethoven asked us to listen with our bodies rather than our minds

4 August 2018 9:00 am

Some conductors conduct from the fingers — think of Gergiev’s convulsive gestures, flickering up and down the keyboard of an…

The indispensable recorded legacy of Rafael Kubelik

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Rafael Kubelik is watching Wimbledon when I enter his suite at the Savoy. ‘Tennis fan?’ I ask, slightly surprised. He…

The virtuoso virtue-signallers of classical music

7 July 2018 9:00 am

All my life I’ve wanted to compose music, and now I’ve done it. I’ve written a sonata for solo flute…

Pianist Clifford Curzon, composer Sir Arthur Bliss and musicologist Hans Keller at the very first Leeds International Piano Contest. Photo: Erich Auerbach / Getty Images

You vote for my pupil, I’ll vote for yours – the truth about music competitions

23 June 2018 9:00 am

A young Korean, 22 years old, won the Dublin International Piano Competition last month. Nothing unusual about that. Koreans and…

Garsington makes as good a case as you can for Strauss's frothy Capriccio

9 June 2018 9:00 am

‘Is there an end [to this opera] that is not trivial?’ asks the Countess in her final bars of Richard…

Cold and confusing: Garsington's Die Zauberflöte reviewed

9 June 2018 9:00 am

The picnic hamper’s open, the bubbly is chilled, and country house opera is starting to eat itself. When you arrive…

One of the last remaining all-boys' choirs in Britain, St George's Chapel Choir, which sang in the recent royal wedding in Windsor

I dread the extinction of boys’ choirs

2 June 2018 9:00 am

One by one, cathedrals have succumbed to the inevitable. In blazes of publicity, with front-page photographs of girls in cassocks…

What a wasted opportunity: Jonas Kaufmann's Four Last Songs reviewed

26 May 2018 9:00 am

No wonder we have a problem with classical music in this country. The week started in celebration. The stats are…

How does David Matthews get away with writing symphonies with tunes in them?

19 May 2018 9:00 am

‘All fish in flood and fowl of flight/ Be mirthful now and make melody’ writes the poet William Dunbar in…

The glums: Marisol Montiel and Ana Luisa Montiel in Taryn Simon’s ‘An Occupation of Loss’

Grief-conjurors, space-mincers and earth-shovellers: performance roundup

19 May 2018 9:00 am

They enter two by two. Grannies, mainly. Headscarved, mainly. Some locking arms. A bit glum. Like rejects from Noah’s ark.…