Nielsen’s Maskarade Overture should have been the ideal way to launch the 2015 BBC Proms. In the festival’s 120th year, one would expect that the first concert would begin with a bang. While the actual fireworks came after Gary Carpenter’s Dadaville, the musical fireworks were saved for the end.
Japan-born British clarinettist Anna Hashimoto compiled a wide-ranging programme for her ‘Roots’ recital at St John’s Smith Square. Performing works from Britain and Japan as a soloist, accompanied by pianist Daniel King Smith and as part of the Atéa Wind Quintet, this was one of Hashimoto’s two recitals at the venue as part of its young artists’ scheme, which offers mentoring, performance opportunities and support to musicians early in their careers.
Joshua Bell and friends brought their brief residency at Wigmore Hallto a fiery finale with impassioned performances of Smetana and Dvořák. These chamber pieces became virtuoso vehicles in the hands of the five musicians, with the dialogic nature of the repertoire prompting the players to spur one another on. The first half of the programme may not have been up to the same high standard, but this was still a successful and memorable collaboration.
The Minimalism Unwrapped series at Kings Place has been questioning the concept of minimalism as much as affirming a body of works embodying the genre and its ideals. The Duke Quartet’s concert was no exception, juxtaposing Kevin Volans’ episodic Hunting:Gathering with the narrative sweep of John Tavener’s The Hidden Treasure. While the programme effectively juxtaposed the individual voices of each of the composers, the Tavener received the most striking performance by far.
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.