Album Reviews

Christopher Herrick – Sweelinck: Keyboard Music

by Ben Hogwood

It’s clear that a great deal of care has gone into this release from Hyperion, with relevant booklet notes and biographies to accompany this extraordinary music. And it is extraordinary – confirmed by one listen…



Brahms & Joachim Violin Concertos – Rachel Barton Pine/Carlos Kalmar

by Ben Hogwood

On paper this is just another available version of the frequently recorded Brahms violin concerto, but Cedille have now teamed up with the virtuoso fiddler Rachel Barton Pine to pair it with a substantial work...

Widor: Organ Symphonies 3, 4, 9 – Marie-Claire Alain

by Ben Hogwood

Charles-Marie Widor played a big part in forming the genre of the organ symphony. Strange, you might think, to write a symphony for organ when there’s a full orchestra available to you, but when you...

Don Giovanni: Welsh National Opera @ Theatre Royal, Plymouth

by Johnny Johnson

Set in 16th-century Seville at its premiere in Prague in 1787, Katie Mitchell’s 1996 production, revived by Elaine Kidd, suggests the back streets of a southern European city in the 1930s. The night, in which...

Berkeley – The Berkeley Edition Volume 3 – Richard Hickox, BBC National Orc...

by Ben Hogwood

This year marks the centenary of one of Britain’s less-recognised classical composers Sir Lennox Berkeley, who has unfairly remained in the shadow of more established figures such as Britten and Walton. Credit should go to...

Dvořák – Symphonic Poems – Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Royal Concertgebouw Orch...

by Ben Hogwood

Some of Dvořák’s finest music was written in the twilight of his career. An extended visit to America in the 1890s spawned the New World symphony and the Cello Concerto, both staples of the core...

Hamlet @ Royal Opera House, London

by Jane Morley

Covent Garden has not mounted a production of Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet for 93 years. In many ways, it is easy to see why. You don’t have to be a Shakespeare purist to find something intrinsically...

The Trojans At Carthage @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

After the frankly awful production of the first half of Berlioz’s Les Troyans, The Capture of Troy, the second half had to be approached with trepidation. The good news is that while The Trojans at...

Mozart – Piano Quartets – Paul Lewis, Leopold String Trio

by Ben Hogwood

Mozart is well known for his exploits in the fields of opera, symphony, concerto, mass, chamber and solo music – in fact, just about any classical discipline available at the time was mastered by him,...

Turandot @ Lithuanian National Opera, Vilnius

by Julija Kalpokiene

Puccini’s last opera is the Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theatre’s last premiere of the season. Although the composer did not complete this, his last opera, it is considered by the critics to be one of...

Alcina @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Handel’s tale of the triumph of reason over magic and wanton pleasure was fun when it first opened in 1999. That was mostly because David McVicar’s production was such a feast for the eyes. The...

The Handmaid’s Tale @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s novel of the right-wing fundamentalist republic of Gilead – formed in 2005 when the corrupt and polluted United States collapsed – was disturbing when first published in 1985 and is...

The Cunning Little Vixen @ Royal Opera, London

by John Bench

This enchanting opera, composed by Janácek in 1921 in his seventieth year, is based on a comic strip which appeared in a Czechoslovakian newspaper of the time. The composer admired the story of the half...

Der Rosenkavalier @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Richard Strauss’ best-loved opera is a delicate balance between genuinely moving emotion and slapstick farce. The beautiful, aristocratic Marschallin has found love with 17-year-old Count Octavian but knows that sooner or later he will leave...

Rigoletto @ Coliseum, London

by David Rafaello

If you are a devotee of the National Enquirer or Sunday Sport you may take Rigoletto in your stride, but this sordid and bloodthirsty tale is at best an improbable and at worst a macabre...

The Capture of Troy @ Coliseum, London

by David Rafaello

This first part of Berlioz’s Les Troyans is billed by ENO as ‘The Capture of Troy’ but Richard Jones’s arrogantly inconsequential production of this difficult work just about gives it the coup de grace. Occasionally...

Khovanshchina @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

Modest Musorgsky started nine operatic projects and only finished one – Boris Godunov – and even that gets performed in versions tweaked by other composers Khovanshchina was largely unorchestrated when Musorgsky died and was subsequently completed by...

Tosca @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

A new production of Tosca is always something to look forward to, though the last two at ENO have not been triumphs: playing around with the settings in one of the few operas located exactly...

Xerxes @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

When this production of Handel’s Xerxes opened in 1985, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth, it stunned all who saw it and won numerous awards. The genius of Nicholas Hytner, soon to...

Wozzeck @ Royal Opera, London

by John Bench

The unfinished play Wozzeck, on which Alban Berg’s opera is based, was written in 1837 by Georg Büchner, a German medical student who died from typhus that same year at the age of 23. Berg...

The Fairy Queen @ Coliseum, London

by Helen Wright

I didn’t take an umbrella along to the Coliseum, often a disastrous mistake in view of the current laughable attempt at summer weather offered to inhabitants of London town. I needn’t have worried, however –...