Kirill Gerstein’s most recent recital programme features works which push pedagogic forms to their extreme, exploring their cross-over into concert repertoire. While Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes were full of colour and character, Gerstein failed to draw as much musical interest out of the repertoire in the first half.
The Wigmore Hall audience was transported back to 18th century Italy for Andreas Scholl’s recital programme. Focusing on the Baroque cantata, an intimate song form which explores ideas of love and loss, the evening also presented a number of chamber works: as the programme explained, concerts would often use these to build anticipation for the appearance of the star vocalist, yet these were certainly not lacking in interest. These formal concert works were framed by Venetian gondola songs, providing another glimpse of how the voice was used during this period.
Emmanuel Pahud brings us another album devoted to a high point in the history of the flute. While The Flute King featured music composed for and by Frederick the Great, Revolution focuses on the musical change that accompanied the political and social upheaval in France around 1789.
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.