Andris nelsons

Even Nelsons’s miscalculations are fascinating: Leipzig Gewandhaus/Andris Nelsons, at the Barbican, reviewed

Imagine growing up with a whole orchestra as your plaything. Richard Strauss’s father was the principal horn of the Munich Opera, and doting relatives funded publication of the teenage Richard’s earliest compositions. At the age of 19 he was assistant conductor of the Court Orchestra in Meiningen, and had rather got used to having world-class musicians at his command. It was the spirit of the age in fin-de-siècle Central Europe, a time and a place where it was perfectly normal for an opera house to have 16 spare horn players hanging around to play offstage effects, where conductors derived their authority from royalty and if (as Alma Mahler describes) the

Three new releases that show the classical recording industry is alive and well

Rachmaninov’s First Symphony begins with a snarl, and gets angrier. A menacing skirl from the woodwinds, a triple-fortissimo blast from the brass, and then the full weight of the strings, hammering out one of those doomy Russian motto-melodies like lead boots dragging you to the bottom of the Neva. ‘Vengeance is mine; I shall repay’ glowers the epigraph that Rachmaninov inscribed at the top of the score, and you’d better believe it. The symphony’s première in 1897 was a disaster that stunned the 23-year-old composer into near-silence. And no question, when the gong roars out at the climax of the finale — on the way to one of the most