Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Classic Year for Music and Opera

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Classic Year for Music and Opera

Article excerpt

JUST a few days to Christmas and it's already time to take a look back on the year that's gone. Here are my memories of the outstanding classical performances of 2012.

One came in April, from the St Petersburg Philharmonic under Yuri Temirkanov.

No orchestra sounds quite like this - and their playing of Tchaikovsky, Prokoviev and Shostakovich reminded you of a unique tradition.

May brought the highlight of the whole year - Elgar's The Apostles, by the Halle under Sir Mark Elder. It went to the BBC Proms later, but Manchester heard it first (and there's a CD already). The final Halle Thursday of the season was memorable, too, as Alice Coote and Lars Cleveman sang in Mahler's Das Lied Von Der Erde, again with Sir Mark.

The Reflections On Debussy festival, in the first half of the year, brought great experiences, and none more serendipitous for me than the world premiere of Yoshihiro Kanno's Sky Maze, a duo for organ and piano. There aren't many such pieces in existence, and this one was amazing. Another world premiere was that of Last Train To Tomorrow, written by Carl Davis for the Halle Children's Choir and Halle Orchestra. It tells the story of the Kindertransport of 1938-9, and challenges its singers to real heights. A standing ovation showed what they achieved.

The Halle Choir and Children's Choir sang Stravinsky's Symphony Of Psalms for Sir Mark with thrilling effect later in the year, in a concert which began with a showpiece for first violins, under Lyn Fletcher's leadership: Prokoviev's unaccompanied Sonata. It was beautifully nuanced and characterful. The BBC Philharmonic and chief conductor Juanjo Mena have done great things during 2012 - a November programme of Bach and Bruckner showed how he is stretching their horizons, and the Phil's luxurious string sound and resplendent brass were never better used than in the holy fervour and anguished aspiration of the Bruckner ninth symphony. …

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