Richard Bratby

From bad joke to 21st-century classic: the best recordings of Korngold’s Violin Concerto

13 February 2021 9:00 am

Erich Korngold was what you might call an early adopter. As a child prodigy in Habsburg Vienna, he’d astonished the…

The music we need right now: James MacMillan’s Christmas Oratorio reviewed

6 February 2021 9:00 am

The two most depressing words in contemporary classical music? That’s easy: holy minimalism. I know, I know. Lots of people…

There’s no better sonic hangover cure: New Year’s Day Concert reviewed

9 January 2021 9:00 am

The best moment in the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Day Concert comes after the end of the advertised programme.…

Hear the greatest Parsifal of our time sing like a Muppet: Jonas Kaufmann’s Christmas album reviewed

19 December 2020 9:00 am

In classical music circles, Christmas arrives with the overture to Handel’s Messiah. Or so they’ll tell you. In truth, festivities…

Refined and dreamy: CBSO centenary concerts reviewed

12 December 2020 9:00 am

For an orchestra to lose one anniversary concert may be regarded as unfortunate. To lose two? Welcome to 2020. The…

The beautiful, haunted symphonies of Franz Schmidt

5 December 2020 9:00 am

The sounds that Franz Schmidt made while learning the trumpet were pretty much unbearable, or so the story goes. In…

Turn it up and feel the walls shake: John Wilson's Respighi reviewed

21 November 2020 9:00 am

Grade: A The strings rear up, there’s a flash of steel from the trumpets, and ten seconds into Respighi’s Feste…

A new opera that deserves more than one outing: Royal Opera's New Dark Age reviewed

31 October 2020 9:00 am

It’s quite a title sequence. Puccini swells on the soundtrack and words flash before your eyes. ‘Ecstatic!’ ‘Spellbound!’ ‘Passionate!’ ‘Dazzled!’…

A silly, bouncy delight: Glyndebourne's In the Market for Love reviewed

17 October 2020 9:00 am

Offenbach at Glyndebourne! Short of Die Soldaten with a picnic break or a period-instrument revival of Jerry Springer: The Opera,…

I pounded my car horn like a Neapolitan cabbie: ENO's drive-in Bohème reviewed

26 September 2020 9:00 am

The email from English National Opera was blunt: ‘Your arrival time is 18.25. If you arrive outside your allocated time…

Affectionate and unthreatening, just like usual: Last Night of the Proms reviewed

19 September 2020 9:00 am

The Last Night of the Proms came and went, and it was pretty much as anyone might have predicted, if…

Why orchestras are sounding better than ever under social-distancing

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Our college choirmaster had a trick that he liked to deploy when he sensed that we were phoning it in.…

Couldn't the BBC have filled at least some of the seats? First night of the Proms reviewed

5 September 2020 9:00 am

The Royal Albert Hall, as Douglas Adams never wrote, is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely,…

Enter the parallel universe that is the Lucerne Festival

29 August 2020 9:00 am

There wasn’t going to be a Lucerne Festival this year. The annual month-long squillion-dollar international beano got cancelled, along with…

The joy of going to a real concert: OHP's Heart of Delight reviewed

22 August 2020 9:00 am

I went to a concert! Not a livestream or download: a real concert, with real musicians, a real conductor, a…

‘Where I grew up, classical music was diversity’: an interview with conductor Alpesh Chauhan

15 August 2020 9:00 am

Richard Bratby talks to Birmingham Opera Company’s new music director Alpesh Chauhan about his Brummie roots, Bruckner and how his BAME heritage is a non-story

Art tackles social distancing and, for once, actually wins: Philharmonia Sessions reviewed

1 August 2020 9:00 am

First there were the home recitals: musicians playing solo Bach in front of their bookshelves, wonkily captured on iPhones. Next…

Model villages aren't just for kids

25 July 2020 9:00 am

Model villages deliver a cheerful jolt to unexamined notions about our own place – and size – in the world, says Richard Bratby

Portrait of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic – Britain's oldest and ballsiest orchestra

11 July 2020 9:00 am

Richard Bratby on Britain’s oldest and ballsiest orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, which has taken on everyone from gang leaders to Derek Hatton

The musical event of the year: Wigmore Hall BBC Radio 3 Special Broadcasts reviewed

13 June 2020 9:00 am

Remember when 2020 was going to be Beethoven year? There were going to be cycles and festivals, recordings and reappraisals;…

I'm still not wholly convinced by Kirill Petrenko: Berlin Phil's Digital Concert Hall reviewed

30 May 2020 9:00 am

At the start of Elgar’s Second Symphony the full orchestra hovers, poised. It pulls back; and then, like a dam…

Drunk singers, Ravel on film and prime Viennese operetta: the addictive joys of classical YouTube

23 May 2020 9:00 am

The full addictive potential of classical YouTube needs to be experienced to be understood. And let’s be honest, there are…

It costs a lot of money to look this cheap: Metropolitan Opera’s At-Home Gala reviewed

2 May 2020 9:00 am

Desperate times call for desperate measures. With the world’s opera houses currently dark, the New York Metropolitan Opera tackled the…

From Middlemarch to Mickey Mouse: a short history of The Spectator’s books and arts pages

24 April 2020 11:00 pm

The Spectator arts and books pages have spent 10,000 issues identifying the dominant cultural phenomena of the day and being difficult about them, says Richard Bratby

The marvel of Mozart’s letters

18 April 2020 9:00 am

It’s 1771, you’re in Milan, and your 14-year-old genius son has just premièred his new opera. How do you reward…