January Preview: Concerts

Ten concerts to see in London during January 08, plus the best of the rest around the country

1 January 2008

Adam Fischer

With the Christmas rush out of the way, it's time to start thinking of how to fill those long January nights.

The wealth of concerts on offer in London particularly can be bewildering, with as many as five different venues presenting a diverse range of programmes on any one night. The temptation may be to stick to safe bets such as Gergiev's Mahler cycle with the LSO at the Barbican and Barenboim's marathon performance of the Beethoven sonatas at the Festival Hall. But aren't we a little saturated with celebrity performances of complete cycles of warhorses from the Germanic canon? While there's a certain novelty about Gergiev performing Mahler, Barenboim tackling Beethoven and Angela Hewitt doing Bach are known quantities to say the least (and not, as it happens, to my taste).

In reality, it's often the performances by lesser-known but high-quality artists which turn out to be the most fulfilling. Therefore, we've put together an alternative list of ten events taking place in London in January which promise to challenge or stimulate in a different way to the normal fare, followed by the best of the rest. And there are highlights from elsewhere in the UK, as a reminder that places like Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool are home to some of the greatest orchestras in the country.


Top Ten Concerts of January (London)

4-6 January
Paul Plummer's Strauss Song Series with soloists including Elizabeth Watts and Rebecca Bottone (Wigmore Hall)
An opportunity to explore the great opera composer's extraordinary song output.

7-11 January
Park Lane Group's New Year Residency at the Purcell Room (South Bank Centre)
Thirty-three outstanding young artists perform over fifty works written between 1934 and 2007.

8 January
Ailyn Pérez/Stephen Costello/Iain Burnside: Rosenblatt Recital (St John's Smith Square)
A recital by two up-and-coming opera singers, including works by Verdi (Rigoletto and La traviata), Mascagni (L'amico Fritz), Donizetti (Lucia di Lammermoor) and Bernstein (West Side Story).

13 January
Wihan Quartet and Raphael Wallfisch (Wigmore Hall at 11am)
Schubert's masterful String Quintet in C, D956, played by the brilliant Czech quartet and the London-born cellist.

16 January
The King's Consort/Matthew Halls: Lo Spozalizio – the traditional wedding of Venice to the Sea as performed in 1600 (Cadogan Hall)
A recreation of the lavish Ascension Day festivities devoted by Venetian mariners to the patron saint of sailors, San Nicolò.

18-20 January
Judith Weir: Telling the Tale – various events (Barbican Hall)
The BBC Symphony Orchestra's annual weekend devoted to a contemporary composer at the Barbican offers a challenging range of events.

18 January
Razumovsky Ensemble: Beethoven and Bruckner Quintets (Wigmore Hall)
Oleg Kogan returns with another tempting programme played by some of the world's great soloists.

25 January
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Adam Fischer: Bartok, Beethoven and Dvorak 9 (Royal Festival Hall)

The Hungarian conductor leads the LPO in three exceptional masterpieces, including Bartok's Second Violin Concerto.

29 January
Gabrieli Consort/McCreesh: Handel's La Resurrezione (Christ Church, Spitalfields)
Soloists including Rosemary Joshua and Jonathan Lemalu join Paul McCreesh for Handel's exceptional vocal work.

30 January
King's Singers Fortieth Anniversary: Music from the Hispanic Golden Age (Cadogan Hall)
Sixteenth-century vocal works from Portugal, Spain and Mexico provide the ideal showcase for the much-admired ensemble.

Simon Keenlyside

Other concerts of note in London

6 January
London Symphony Orchestra/Roth: Film Night (Barbican Hall)

7 January
Kopelman Quartet: Shostakovich and Beethoven at 1pm (Wigmore Hall)

8 January
London Schools Symphony Orchestra/Richard Armstrong: Janacek, Strauss and Dvorak (Barbican Hall)

9 January
Simon Keenlyside/Malcolm Martineau: Butterworth, Schumann and Poulenc (Wigmore Hall)

12 January
Xue Fei Yang: Classical Guitar works performed for free in the Royal Festival Hall's Clore Ballroom at 4pm
Verdi's Macbeth Live from the Met at 6.30pm (Barbican Cinema and Picturehouse Cinemas)
Wihan Quartet: Mozart, Beethoven and Dvorak (Wigmore Hall)
Metropolitan Sinfonia/Emma Kirkby: Mozart and Schubert (St John's, Smith Square)
London Symphony Orchestra/Gergiev: Mahler Symphony Cycle (Barbican Hall)

Ian Bostridge

13 January
Elias String Quartet: Dutilleux, Haydn and Mendelssohn (Wigmore Hall)
London Symphony Orchestra/Gergiev: Mahler Symphony Cycle (Barbican Hall)

14 January
Florestan Trio: Mozart and Shostakovich at 1pm (Wigmore Hall)
Röschmann/Bostridge/Quasthoff Trio: Schubert Lieder at 7pm (Barbican Hall)
Bostridge / Daneman / Drake: Cabaret Songs by Porter, Coward and Weill at 10.30pm (LSO St Lukes)

16 January
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jaap van Zweden/Emanuel Ax: Beethoven and Mahler 5 (Royal Festival Hall)
Early Opera Company/Christian Curnyn/Lucy Crowe: Blow's Venus and Adonis (Wigmore Hall)

17 January
Philharmonia/Vladimir Ashkenazy/Evgeny Kissin: Prokofiev, Roussel and Debussy (Royal Festival Hall)

19 January
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Roberto Minczuk/John Lill: Beethoven and Rachmaninov (Royal Festival Hall)

20 January
Angela Hewitt: Book One of Bach's Forty-Eight Preludes and Fugues (Royal Festival Hall)
Georg Solti Academia di Bel Canto: Award-winning young artists celebrate the tenth anniversary of Solti's death with works by Italian opera composers (Wigmore Hall)

21 January
Andreas Scholl and Friends: Handel Cantatas (Barbican Hall)
Takacs Quartet (Queen Elizabeth Hall)

Natalie Dessay

22 January
Classical Opera Company/Ian Page/Susan Gritton: Works by the 'London' Bach (Wigmore Hall)
London Symphony Orchestra/John Eliot Gardiner: Pure Beethoven (Barbican Hall)

23 January
Ewa Podleś/Garrick Ohlsson: Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Mussorgsky (Wigmore Hall)
The Brodsky Quartet with Willard White: 'Close to You' III: a tribute to the Hollywood String Quartet (Cadogan Hall)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Krivine/Gidon Kremer: Brahms, Sibelius and Zemlinsky (Royal Festival Hall)

24 January
Philharmonia/Vladimir Ashkenazy/Evgeny Kissin: Prokofiev and Roussel (Royal Festival Hall)

26 January
Natalie Dessay (Barbican Hall)

27 January
Young Concert Artist Trust Mozart Birthday Concert: Mozart and Beethoven with Llyr Williams and Mark Simpson at 3.15pm (Cadogan Hall)
Christopher Maltman/Malcolm Martineau: Britten, Poulenc and Shostakovich (Wigmore Hall)
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Janowski/Lugansky: Bruckner and Mozart (Barbican Hall)

28 January
Bernarda Fink/Roger Vignoles: Alma and Gustav Mahler, Berg and Wolf at 1pm (Wigmore Hall)
Daniel Barenboim: Beethoven Sonatas Cycle 1 (Royal Festival Hall)

29 January
English Chamber Orchestra/Paul Watkins: Stravinsky, Haydn and Shostakovich (Cadogan Hall)
Philharmonia Martin Musical Scholarship Fund: A recital by the winners of the Ensemble Award, including works by Schubert, Rachmaninov and Mendellsohn (Purcell Room)
Zehetmair Quartet: Haydn, Bartok and Schumann (Wigmore Hall)

30 January
Basel Chamber Orchestra/Paul McCreesh/Angelika Kirchschlager: Berlioz's Les nuits d'ete plus works by Mendelssohn and Sibelius (Queen Elizabeth Hall)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jurowski: Turnage, Ravel and Prokofiev (Royal Festival Hall)

31 January
Philharmonia/Jarvi/Grimaud: Mussorgsky, Beethoven and Sibelius (Royal Festival Hall)
Nash Ensemble/Ailish Tynan: Schubert (Wigmore Hall)


January Highlights Elsewhere in the UK

Truls Mork plays the World Premiere of McCabe's Cello Concerto


17/19 January 2008
CBSO/Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jonthan Biss (piano)
Beethoven Piano Concerto No 3 and Bruckner 9 (Symphony Hall, Birmingham; programme repeated at Cheltenham Town Hall on 18 January)


24 January 2008
BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Jac van Steen, Huw Watkins (piano)
Christian Jost's Cocoon Symphonie, Huw Watkins' Piano Concerto and David Sawer's Byrnan Wood (St David's Hall, The Hayes, Cardiff)


17 January 2008
Hallé/Mark Elder, Truls Mørk (cello)
R. Strauss' Don Juan, John McCabe's Cello Concerto (world premiere) and Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances (Bridgewater Hall)

19 January 2008
BBC Philharmonic/Vassily Sinaisky
Schoenberg's Pelleas and Melisande, Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer and Debussy's La Mer (Bridgewater Hall)

30 January 2008
The Hallé's 150th Anniversary Concert presented by Dame Janet Baker
Mark Elder (conductor), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone) and Polina Leschenko (piano) perform a range of works associated with the historic orchestra (Bridgewater Hall)


19 January 2008
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Harry Bicket
Bach's Suite No.3 for Orchestra, Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No.3 in E minor (premiere of reconstruction by Marcello Bufalini), Hesketh's Like the sea, like time (world premiere) (Philharmonic Hall)

24 January 2008
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Mackerras, Midori (violin)
Sullivan/Mackerras's Pineapple Poll, Suite, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Delius's Paris – The Song of a Great City and Elgar's Enigma Variations (Philharmonic Hall )


19 January 2008
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Garry Walker and the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet  
Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks, HK Gruber's Manhattan Broadcasts, Beamish's Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and strings (World Premiere), Wilson's Symphony No 5 (Queen's Hall)

By Dominic McHugh


See also our Top Twenty Concerts and Classical Review of the Year 2007 here.

See also our Top Twelve Recordings and Review of the Record Industry in the Year 2007 here.

See also our Top Twelve Operas and Opera Review of the Year 2007 here.