A brief review of the great, the good and the fair-to-middling concerts I have attended this year. As regular readers of this blog will know, since April of this year, I have been reviewing for online listings site Bachtrack. This has given me the opportunity to enjoy even more live music, and combines two of my great passions: music and writing. I have included links to my reviews, where appropriate, in this post.
Ian Bostridge at Wigmore Hall. I have been a fan of tenor Ian Bostridge for some years now, after hearing him as the Evangelist in Bach’s St John Passion. A striking concert of songs of love, loss and longing by Purcell, Bach, Haydn, Britten and Weill.
Maurizio Pollini at the Royal Festival Hall. Grand elder statesman of the piano, Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini demonstrated his great range in an extraordinary concert of music by Chopin, Debussy and Boulez.
Prom 54: Marc-André Hamelin. My first ever late-night Prom, and a superb recital of music by Franz Liszt in this his bicentenary year.
Watch this space
Two young performers greatly impressed me this season: the harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani (who I discovered via Norman Lebrecht’s blog), and cellist Joy Lisney. Esfahani, a fiercely intellectual musician, brought the Goldberg Variations to life in new and wonderful ways in his Prom at Cadogan Hall, while Joy, in her London debut at St John’s Smith Square, demonstrated a musical maturity far beyond her years, as well as a commanding yet modest stage presence, and beautiful playing.
Leon McCawley at King’s Place. The final concert in McCawley’s four-recital survey of Mozart’s Piano Sonatas, my first review for Bachtrack, and my first visit to King’s Place.
Charles Rosen all-Chopin concert. How wonderful to see the 85 year old Rosen still performing, touring and enjoying it. A concert which divided critics – there was some uneven playing and several scary memory lapses – I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Prom 68: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with Hélène Grimaud. A concert which definitely falls into the category of “a great night out”. The Pittsburgh SO impressed me with their fine brass and woodwind, and convinced me that I should start going to orchestral concerts again.
Penelope Roskell at Sutton House. Despite a 2-hour trek across London to get to Hackney, it was a pleasure to hear my piano teacher in a concert juxtaposing Bach with Schumann. And Sutton House is a charming venue which deserves our support. (Sutton House Music Society)
Di Xiao at Wigmore Hall. Despite her glamorous photographs, Miss Xiao failed to impress me in her debut at the Wigmore Hall. I think part of the problem for me was the appallingly badly written programme notes and the rather saccharine title of the concert ‘Moonlight Reflections’. However, she gave convincing performances of Ravel and Messiaen, and I would hear her again when she has matured a little.
No review of my concert year would be complete without a mention of my students’ summer concert, a very enjoyable occasion featuring a wide range of repertoire, selected by the children.
Looking ahead to 2012, I have tickets for Peter Donohoe and Mitsuko Uchida (in Schubert’s last three sonatas) at the Southbank, and hope to review Jonathan Biss and Peter Jablonski in January. I am also embarking on a new ‘career’ as an arts reviewer for Bachtrack’s new sister site, OneStopArts, thus adding yet another string to my already rather busy bow!