Press review Leeds Town Hall, Saturday 23rd November 2019: Sir Edward Elgar visualised his own devotional equivalent of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle. This would be a triptych of oratorios focussing on the life of the early Christian Church in Jerusalem. Accordingly, the Apostles and the Kingdom were premiered at Birmingham Town Hall in 1903 and 1906 respectively.
Press review Leeds Town Hall, Saturday 1st June 2019: Cardinal John Henry Newman’s epic poem imagines the spiritual journey of Gerontius from deathbed to after-life. The text inspired Sir Edward Elgar to some of his most descriptive orchestral and vocal writing. Said Elgar at the time of the premiere at Birmingham Town Hall, on 3rd October 1900, ‘Gerontius
Press review Leeds Town Hall, Saturday 16th March 2019: The 13th century Latin poem Stabat Mater (Sorrowful Mother) imagines the sorrow of Mary, Mother of the dying Jesus, during her vigil at the foot of his Cross. Of the many musical settings of the Stabat Mater, those by Rossini and Dvorak are constructed on the grandest scale.
Press review Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Sunday 10th February 2019: Berlioz’s standing in Britain – long greater than in his native France – can only have been further bolstered by the Hallé’s uplifting account of The Damnation of Faust on Sunday evening. This extravagant ‘Dramatic Legend’ – performed here as part of the 150th-anniversary commemorations of the composer’s
Press review Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 10th February 2019: Freely adapted from Goethe, The Damnation of Faust insinuates, idles, roars, croons, swells, bores, hectors, fascinates and dazzles. Berlioz’s 1846 ‘légende dramatique’ is a gluttonous, garrulous, attention-seeking guest in any concert hall. Not quite an opera, it plays almost as cinema: zoom, pan, fade, jump-cut. For each sweet blade of
Press review Black Dyke Band and Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, Handel’s Messiah, Leeds Town Hall, Saturday 8th December 2018: A performance of Handel’s sacred oratorio with the orchestral accompaniment replaced by a brass band is probably anathema to purists. I have to say that, for me and I sensed many others, the Black Dyke Band’s lightness of touch