Classical music

Even Nelsons’s miscalculations are fascinating: Leipzig Gewandhaus/Andris Nelsons, at the Barbican, reviewed

21 May 2022 9:00 am

Imagine growing up with a whole orchestra as your plaything. Richard Strauss’s father was the principal horn of the Munich…

Too affectionate, not enough cruelty: Don Pasquale, at the Royal Opera House, reviewed

14 May 2022 9:00 am

There are many things to enjoy in the Royal Opera’s revival of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, but perhaps the most surprising…

Why I booed Birtwistle

7 May 2022 9:00 am

Keith Burstein recalls a key moment in the battle for emancipation from the ivory tower of atonalism

Igor Levit deserved his standing ovation; Shostakovich, even more so

16 April 2022 9:00 am

Music and politics don’t mix, runs the platitude. Looks a bit tattered now, doesn’t it? For Soviet musicians, of course,…

Pitch-black satire drenched in an atmosphere of compelling unease: ETO's Golden Cockerel reviewed

2 April 2022 9:00 am

Blame it on Serge Diaghilev. Rimsky-Korsakov died in 1908 and never saw the première of his last opera, The Golden…

Astonishing, if unnecessary, grandstanding: Barbara Hannigan's La voix humaine reviewed

12 March 2022 9:00 am

I think it was when she leaned forward and balanced on one leg that Barbara Hannigan jumped the shark. It…

The genius of Iannis Xenakis

5 March 2022 9:00 am

This year is the centenary of the birth of Iannis Xenakis, the Greek composer-architect who called himself an ancient Greek…

Deserves to become an ENO staple: The Cunning Little Vixen reviewed

26 February 2022 9:00 am

Spoiler alert. The last words in Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen come from a child playing a frog. The story…

Ralph Vaughan Williams: modernist master

5 February 2022 9:00 am

He is caricatured as a populist and purveyor of ‘folky-wolky’ melodies, says Richard Bratby, but Vaughan Williams was a modernist master of uncompromising originality

Not pleasant, and not in tune, but unarguably compelling: Royal Opera's Nabucco reviewed

22 January 2022 9:00 am

Nabucco, said Giuseppe Verdi, ‘was born under a lucky star’. It was both his last throw of the dice and…

A booster shot of sunlight: Unsuk Chin's new violin concerto reviewed

15 January 2022 9:00 am

Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra began the year with a world première. Unsuk Chin’s Second Violin Concerto…

The genius of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker score

18 December 2021 9:00 am

The enduring appeal of The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s ravishing score is nothing less than the sound of Christmas

Reprehensible – but fun: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra's Complete DG Recordings reviewed

11 December 2021 9:00 am

 Grade: B It must have been an interesting day in the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s press office when Blair Tindall’s memoir…

In defence of the earworm

4 December 2021 9:00 am

That strain again… it’s the morning after the concert and one tune is still there, playing in the head upon…

Hockney’s Rake’s Progress remains one of the supreme achievements

20 November 2021 9:00 am

With Glyndebourne’s The Rake’s Progress, the show starts with David Hockney’s front cloth. The colour, the ingenuity, the visual bravura:…

Very much NSFW: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet/Quatuor Danel at Wigmore Hall reviewed

30 October 2021 9:00 am

‘Drammatico’, wrote César Franck over the opening of his Piano Quintet, and you’d better believe he meant it. The score…

Small but perfectly formed: the Royal College of Music Museum reopening reviewed

30 October 2021 9:00 am

Haydn is looking well — in fact, he’s positively glowing. The dignified pose; the modest, intelligent smile: it’s only when…

How the culture wars are killing Western classical music

9 October 2021 9:00 am

Ian Pace on musicology’s culture wars

The best recordings of the Goldberg Variations

2 October 2021 9:00 am

I sometimes think the classical record industry would collapse if it weren’t for the Goldberg Variations. Every month brings more…

A terrific night of opera: Zanetto/Orfeo ed Euridice, Arcola Theatre, reviewed

18 September 2021 9:00 am

For a one-hit composer, we hear rather a lot of Pietro Mascagni. His reputation rests on his 1890 debut Cavalleria…

Opera della Luna is a little miracle: Curtain Raisers at Wilton’s Music Hall reviewed

11 September 2021 9:00 am

Arthur Sullivan knew better than to mess with a winning formula. ‘Cox and Box, based on J. Maddison Morton’s farce…

A short history of millionaire composers

24 July 2021 9:00 am

Art is supposed to emerge from poverty but extreme wealth does not preclude talent, as the history of composers proves. By Richard Bratby

Comedy genius: Garsington Opera's Le Comte Ory reviewed

17 July 2021 9:00 am

Melons. An absolutely cracking pair of melons, right there on a platter: the centrepiece of the banquet that the chaste,…

The promoter the critics love to hate: an interview with Raymond Gubbay

19 June 2021 9:00 am

Richard Bratby talks to one of Britain’s most successful impresarios about his promoter’s nose, Arts Council spinelessness and ENO madness

A new recording throws fresh light on Mahler's puzzling Tenth Symphony

12 June 2021 9:00 am

There are many Symphonies No. 10 by Gustav Mahler, or none. The situation is rare, if not unique, in the…