Monday, 21 December 2015

Wigmore Hall saves Christmas

At this time of the year the transport system closes down - cancellations, roadworks, traffic jams, possible bad weather, insane crowds in the West End......   No wonder the music business goes into hibernation at this time of year. There's no serious music at the South Bank until 22nd January (Calleja)! Unless you like Dudamel (though there's a solitary piano recital). The Barbican wakes up from Raymond Gubbay on 9th January with Pelléas et Mélisande, but having heard Rattle conduct it with the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Philharmonie, I don't think the LSO at the Barbican will top that.

The Wigmore Hall closes after 23rd December and reopens 27th, though the last pre-break concert, with Ensemble Correspondances, presents 17th century French Noël. On Monday 28th, the celebrated Max Emanuel Cencic (photo at right) sings Hasse and Vivaldi with Armonia Atenea.  I'm tempted because he's wonderful.  I first heard him live in recital  when he was 17 years old, after he left the Vienna Boys Choir.  Previously, I'd heard him as a 12-year-old treble singing Mahler Symphony no 4. His voice never really broke, and he trained it so he could keep singing male soprano repertoire. Thirty five years later, he's a countertenor with immense range and style. I've already booked tickets for New Years Eve at the Wigmore Hall with Andrew Carwood and the Cardinall's Musick – British choral music – Britten, Warlock, Howells, Holst, Moeran, RVW and Gerald Finzi.

The Wigmore Hall's first big Monday afternoon concert on 4th January features Benjamin Appl. He's very young but extremely promising (read more about him by searching this site). Appl is singing Schumann, Wolf and Brahms with Graham Johnson, no less. What a good way to start the new year!  The Wigmore Hall complete Schubert song series continues on Wednesday January 6th with two concerts, both with Graham Johnson. Birgid Steinberger, Daniel Johannsen and Benjamin Appl sing Schubert's "Gothic Songs of Horror",  seldom heard live, while Christopher Maltman sings later in the evening. The Schubert Song series continues with a very interesting programme on Monday 11th with Luca Pisaroni and Wolfram Reiger - don't miss this! Pisaroni has an intuitive understanding of the Lieder genre,  and a warm, Italianate timbre which suits these songs exceptionally well.  Do not miss!

Plenty more chamber music, early music and recitals, including the ever-lively Royal Academy of Music Song Circle (Jan 17) and then Classical Opera does a  Mozart evening with Louise Alder and Benjamin Hulett. By then, the Barbican is back to normal programming but the South Bank has a week yet to go.

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