With the Oxford term having finished and finding myself with a bit of time on my hands, I decided to take a look back over the most memorable concerts which I’ve seen this year. In no particular order, here are my top 6:
May 19th – Harry Christophers and The Sixteen
The Sixteen’s Choral Pilgrimage saw them turn their immaculate sound to music by Brumel, Lassus and Josquin. Their carefully balanced textures and clarity of entries made for an immersive listening experience, lending a sense of intimacy to the space of Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral. Brumel’s Earthquake Mass was a particular highlight.
June 23rd – Gustavo Dudamel and the SBYOV
As an avid fan of both Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, I had booked well over a year in advance for their return to London with a programme of Britten and Beethoven. I was not disappointed. Following a headline-making appearance in Stirling with the participants of the ‘Big Noise’ scheme, this most inspiring of orchestras gave a rousing concert. The atmosphere was buzzing, and the silence of the audience after the encore of Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ spoke volumes.
September 29th – Vladimir Jurowski and the LPO with London Philharmonic Choir and the London Symphony Chorus and soloists
Performing a programme of lesser-known Russian works (including Rodion Shchedrin, Miaskovsky and Denisov), the LPO sparkled under Jurowski in Royal Festival Hall. The orchestra excelled in their performance of these demanding works, making use of a broad range of colours. All of the players demonstrated both technical finesse and intensity of vision, making this a gripping concert.
October 12th – Sandrine Piau and Roger Vignoles
The opening concert of the 11th Oxford Lieder Festival set the bar high for the rest of the festival. In a programme including Fauré, Poulenc and Chausson, Piau’s performance was full of poise. Her subtlety was well-matched by Vignoles’ sensitive accompaniment, and the pair brought an elegant simplicity to this repertoire.
November 16th – Phantasm and Daniel Hyde
The viol consort brought a spaciousness of sound and rhythmic vitality to the music of Gibbons, Lawes and Jenkins in Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford. Imbuing sprightly passagework with an expressive quality, the programme allowed the players to show both their virtuosity and their sensitivity to nuances of mood
December 1st – Nicholas Cleobury with Oxford Bach Choir, English Chamber Orchestra and Elizabeth Atherton
Britten’s Two Psalms was given a stunning world premiere in Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre. This early work was accompanied by an equally gripping performance of the composer’s Ballad of Heroes, and some perceptive Beethoven topped off the evening.