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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,

1 December

Tel: +44 (0)20 7377 1362

Web: www.spitalfiel­ 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.

Mitsuko Uchida

Royal Festival Hall,

4, 7 December

Tel: +44 (0)20 3879 9555

Web: www.southbankc­ 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.

Bernstein’s Candide

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: 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,

17-29 December

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.

Aurora Orchestra

St George’s Bristol, 30 December Tel: +44 (0)845 40 24 001

Web: www.stgeorgesb­ 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

Web: www.kettlesyar­

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: 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.



Elias Quartet

Theatr Clwyd, Mold, 2 December Tel: +44 (0)1352 701521

Web: www.theatrclwy­

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.demontfort­ 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: 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.leedsconce­ 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.



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.

Dunedin Consort

Dunkeld Cathedral, 1 December Tel: +44 (0)1350 727674

Web: 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 Orchestra

Ulster Hall, Belfast, 13 December Tel: +44 (0)28 9033 4455

Web: www.ulsterorch­ 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.

 ??  ?? Sonata swansongs: Mitsuko Uchida turns to late Schubert
Sonata swansongs: Mitsuko Uchida turns to late Schubert

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