It seemed strange that Pierre Boulez should be absent at his own 90th birthday celebrations, especially those of an ensemble with whom he holds such a strong connection. Having been closely involved with the ensemble during the 1960s, Boulez was appointed Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra between 1971 and 1974. He was widely considered to have raised the standards of the ensemble, who gave a number of premières of Boulez’s own music. Comprising of two films, three concerts and a talk, the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Total Immersion day could only ever scrape the surface of Boulez’s contribution to music. The selected works emphasised the longevity and the range of his musical output, ranging from 1945-2005. The lunchtime concert featured Boulez’s Piano Sonata no. 2 (1947-1948) and his Éclat/Multiples (1965, 1970), offering a glimpse into the composer’s aesthetic stance at three different moments.
A characteristically wide-ranging programme from the Britten Sinfonia marked the release of their new disc. Naturally, Dmitry Sitkovetsky’s arrangement of the Goldberg Variations were at the heart of the strings-only programme, which also featured works by Locatelli, Hans Abrahamsen and a world première from London-based Tom Coult. However, the success of the interpretations greatly varied, resulting in a concert which piqued interest but did not necessarily satisfy.
Even amongst a season featuring an impressive array of commissions and premières by Magnus Lindberg, Harrison Birtwistle, James Horner, Colin Matthews and Benjamin Wallfisch, Julian Anderson’s newest work stands out as one of the most exciting events in the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2014-2015 programme. Formerly the ensemble’s composer-in-residence (between 2010 and 2014), the partnership produced a number of high-class works and recordings. This latest work proved once again Anderson’s mastery of the orchestral medium, but fell flat in other aspects.
Touted as a forgotten pioneer, CPE Bach shines in the spotlight of this new release from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Recorded live at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2014 under the baton of Rebecca Miller, this recording brings together five symphonies which show Bach at his finest; bursting with daring gestures and unexpected changes of direction, the music drips with drama.