BBC Music Magazine
Paul Riley picks the month’s best concert and opera highlights in the UK
The best opera and concerts across the country
LONDON Spitalfields Music
The Tower of London,
Tel: +44 (0)20 7377 1362
Web: www.spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk Handel meets composer-turn-tablist Shiva Feshareki, while Purcell is mashed up with Manchester rock phenomenon The Smiths: conductor André de Ridder’s second Spitalfields Winter Festival has no truck with complacency. More straightforwardly it’s to the
Tower of London with William Byrd where, on 1 December, the Odyssean Ensemble ponders a Catholic composer’s response to turbulent times.
Royal Festival Hall,
4, 7 December
Tel: +44 (0)20 3879 9555
Web: www.southbankcentre.co.uk Pianist Mitsuko Uchida’s ongoing Southbank Schubert project continues with a pair of absorbing recitals. The first culminates in the penultimate A major Sonata D959, the second concludes with the composer’s mighty sonata swansong: D960 in B flat.
Barbican, 8, 9 December
Tel: +44 (0)20 7638 8891
With the Bernstein 100th birthday celebrations preparing to pack up camp, the London Symphony Orchestra has one final hurrah up its sleeve. Conductor Marin Alsop returns for two concert performances of his witty operetta Candide. Tenor Leonardo Capalbo is the incurably optimistic young suitor, soprano Jane Archibald his longsuffering Cunégonde.
Steven Isserlis and friends
Wigmore Hall, 17 December
Tel: +44 (0)20 7935 2141
Web: www.wigmore-hall.org.uk Two days before his 60th birthday, cellist Steven Isserlis throws a brilliant musical party. Pianists Radu Lupu and András Schiff, violinist Joshua Bell and baritone Simon Keenlyside are among the guests to wish many happy returns with music by Schumann and Fauré as well as the three Bs: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.
Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel
Royal Opera House,
Tel: +44 (0)20 7304 4000
With Christmas nigh, Royal
Opera House unveils a timely new production of Humperdinck’s fairytale masterpiece – a seasonal touchstone ever since its premiere was conducted by Richard Strauss in December 1893. Director-designer Antony Mcdonald references the Brothers Grimm in a staging conducted by Sebastian
Weigle in which the sweettoothed protagonists are sung by sopranos Hanna Hipp and Jennifer Davis.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
The Anvil, Basingstoke, 1 December
Tel: +44 (0)1256 844244
A symphonic debut – the student Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1 – and Stravinsky’s neo-classical game-changer Pulcinella flank the bitter-sweet musings of Walton’s Cello Concerto. The soloist is Johannes Moser (see pxx); Kirill Karabits conducts.
Chiaroscuro Quartet and Kristian Bezuidenhout
Turner Sims, Southampton, 6 December
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 5151
Period keyboard wizard Kristian Bezuidenhout teams up with violinist Alina Ibragimova’s equally stylish period-instrument quartet for the chamber incarnation of Mozart’s beguiling A major Piano Concerto, K414.
He prefaces it with the C minor Sonata, K457 and, not to be outdone, the Chiaroscuros oblige with the first of Beethoven’s Razumovsky Quartets: Op. 59 No. 1 in F major.
St George’s Bristol, 30 December Tel: +44 (0)845 40 24 001
Web: www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk There might be a few Strauss waltzes to humour the traditionalists but, conducted by Nicholas Collon, the Aurora Orchestra’s ‘Viennese New Year’ majors on Mozart. Compounding the easy-going good humour of the Figaro overture and Symphony No. 39, Imogen Cooper is the soloist in that most genial of piano concertos, K453 in G.
Britten Oboe Quartet
Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, 6 December
Tel: +44 (0)1223 748100
Oboist Nicholas Daniel’s crack ensemble explores a rich seam of music for oboe and strings by Moeran, Lutyens, Knussen and Mozart – spliced with the Françaix Cor Anglais Quartet, Judith Weir’s Sundew for violin and cello, and excerpts from JS Bach’s Goldberg Variations in the Dmitry Sitkovetsky arrangement for string trio.
Luis Gomes and Carole Presland
Holkham Hall, 11 December
Tel: +44 (0)1328 713111
Web: www.holkham.co.uk Holkham’s opulent Marble Hall welcomes the Portuguese tenor Luis Gomes for an evening of songs by Rachmaninov, Fauré and Bellini as well as operatic arias by Mozart and Verdi. They’re interspersed with piano music by Liszt and Ravel played by Carole Presland.
NORTH AND WALES
Theatr Clwyd, Mold, 2 December Tel: +44 (0)1352 701521
In Mold (see ‘Venue of the Month’, left) the Elias Quartet offsets Haydn’s late String Quartet Op. 77 No. 1 and the first of Beethoven’s middleperiod Razumovsky Quartets with a selection of Purcell’s contrapuntally lithe Fantasias. De Montfort Hall, Leicester, 5 December
Tel: +44 (0)116 233 3111
Web: www.demontforthall.co.uk Principal guest conductor Santtu-matias Rouvali scales the heights of the Alpine Symphony in an enticing all-strauss programme that features a suite from Der Rosenkavalier, and – sung by soprano Sophie Bevan – the glorious Four Last Songs.
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, 9 December
Tel: +44 (0)121 6162616
Web: www.bcmg.org.uk Birmingham’s fearless champions of the new celebrate Coventry-born Brian Ferneyhough’s 75th birthday in the company of the Arditti Quartet and clarinettist Oliver James. Three works spanning nearly 40 years of his career lead the celebrations alongside music by fellow Midlanders Jonathan Harvey, Charlotte Bray and – a Midlander by adoption – Michael Wolters.
Ailish Tynan and friends
The Venue, Leeds, 11 December Tel: +44 (0)113 376 0318
Web: www.leedsconcertseason.co.uk Focusing on ‘Schubert & Friends’ the current Leeds International Chamber Season adds the clarinet of Katherine Spencer to a Lieder line-up of soprano Ailish Tynan and pianist Sam Haywood – opening the door not only to Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock, but to rarely heard songs by Spohr for the same forces. Schumann’s Op. 39 Liederkreis prefaces some of Schubert’s most popular songs.
AND N IRELAND
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, 1 December
Tel: +44 (0)141 353 8000
The RSNO marks Krzysztof Penderecki’s 85th birthday with two concerts (the first is in Edinburgh the night before) in which the Polish composer conducts his Second Violin Concerto – written for and performed by Anne-sophie Mutter. He follows it with Tchaikovsky’s fate-obsessed Symphony No. 5.
Dunkeld Cathedral, 1 December Tel: +44 (0)1350 727674
Web: www.dunedin-consort.org.uk Ahead of Handel’s Messiah in Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Dunedins delve into the Spanish Golden Age. Under co-founder Ben Parry (see ‘Backstage with’, above) they perform Victoria and Guerrero beside those of Scottish contemporaries David Peebles and Robert Johnson. James Macmillan and Morten Lauridsen add a contemporary twist.
Ulster Hall, Belfast, 13 December Tel: +44 (0)28 9033 4455
Web: www.ulsterorchestra.org.uk Framed by the vivacious Polonaise from Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin and a suite culled from Sibelius’s incidental music to King Christian, Respighi’s Trittico Botticelliano anticipates Christmas with its central panel depicting the Adoration of the Magi. Aina¯rs Rubik¸is, the recently installed music director of Berlin’s Komische Oper, conducts.