Reviews & features: Classical

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War and peace announced as themes for Edinburgh International Festival 2014

18 Mar 2014

Programme highlights includes works involving The Kronos Quartet and Handspring Puppet Company

War and peace, conflict and conciliation are the grand themes being tackled in Jonathan Mills’ final year as director of the Edinburgh International Festival. The 2014 programme, announced today, explores music, dance, theatre and other arts not just…

Dido and Aeneas/Bluebeard’s Castle - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 24 Aug 2013

27 Aug 20134 stars

Oper Frankfurt present a contrasting programme of warm, doomed love and psychological nightmare

In combining Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Oper Frankfurt have created a deeply powerful theatrical and musical experience for their audiences. Both productions are provocative but in quite different ways. While Barrie…

Mitsuko Uchida - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Tue 13 Aug 2013

14 Aug 20134 stars

The celebrated pianist performs Bach, Schoenberg and Schumann at the EIF

It doesn't get any more temple-of-high-culture than Mitsuko Uchida at the Usher Hall during the EIF, and everything suggested that tonight was going to obey the wacky rituals of the contemporary classical concert. The Usher Hall itself seemed to have…

Worbey and Farrell: Deviations On the Piano

4 Aug 20133 stars

Polite piano duets à la Classic FM takes place at the Edinburgh Festival

En route to the Assembly Rooms, a retired chap in all-terrain sandals describes walking out of a comedy show once the farting competition began. If only he had chosen Worbey and Farrell instead: two polite and well-mannered fellows in waistcoats playing…

Hiva Oa, Tinderbox Orchestra and Numbers Are Futile join forces for Decagram

29 Jul 2013

The collaborative concert is designed to highlight the talents of ten leading underground artists

Every ten days since April, a new artist has been unveiled as part of the line-up of Decagram, a collaborative concert designed to highlight the talents of ten leading underground artists from the Edinburgh music scene. One by one – with stealth and…

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Interview: American soprano Angel Blue set for 2013 Edinburgh Festival with American Lulu

15 Jul 2013

Young opera singer in production of unfinished opera relocated to jazz bars of Deep South

When American soprano Angel Blue isn’t performing or rehearsing operas, there are two places she would rather be. First is in her Toyota Avalon, cruising about her hometown of Los Angeles. ‘I miss my car so much when I’m here working in the UK,’ she…

Five pianists appearing at 2013 Edinburgh International Festival

15 Jul 2013

Andreas Haefliger, Lars Vogt, Mitsuko Uchida, Nikolai Lugansky and Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Mitsuko Uchida. Bach, Schoenberg and Schumann are on the agenda for this ‘poet of the piano’. Lars Vogt With Ian Bostridge on tenor duty, Germany’s Vogt plays Ives, Brahms and Schumann as the pair explore love and nostalgia.

Programme for the Edinburgh International Festival 2013 puts artists and technology centre-stage

12 Mar 2013

Tod Machover, the Wooster Group and Oper Frankfurt among the EIF programme highlights

A crowd sourced orchestral work by boundary breaker Tod Machover is just one of the many highlights of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival programme. Set over three weeks this August, the EIF’s line-up includes an homage to Allen Ginsberg with…

Five electronica composers at the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival

6 Aug 2012

Terry Riley, Laurent Garnier, Craig Armstrong, Abel Korzeniowski, Isao Tomito and Ryoji Ikeda

So the Edinburgh International Festival can be regarded by some as... how does one put this delicately... highbrow? Scholarly? Of course that’s not the Festival’s fault. That’s the fault of us lowly plebeians who refuse to dive into the deep immersive…

Opera North bring The Makropulos Case to 2012 Edinburgh International Festival

11 Jul 2012

Janáček opera features soprano Ylva Kihlberg and Tom Cairns

As Opera North prepare to bring us a new version of The Makropulos Case, Kate Molleson recalls the history of a tale whose central character is either a nihilistic vixen or feminist icon

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Interview: Soprano Sophie Bevan set for 2012 Edinburgh Festival

11 Jul 2012

Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bach and Handel

‘Fun’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘luck’ are words which crop up regularly in conversation with Sophie Bevan. The 28-year-old soprano clearly enjoys her chosen career and the growing number of prestigious opportunities which are coming her way. They may be fun and…

Ravi Shankar - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Mon 22 Aug

24 Aug 20114 stars

A mesmerising show of classical Indian music as part of 2011 EIF

Ravi Shankar crossed over into popular culture with his associations with various 60s musicians, working with and/or influencing the likes of The Beatles, The Kinks and The Byrds. Going on to play at iconic festivals such as Woodstock and The Monterey…

Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra at 2011 Edinburgh International Festival

16 Aug 2011

Programme of Messiaen, Tchaikovsky and Unsuk Chin

When it comes to Edinburgh’s festivals, most Koreans have an upside-down view. Thanks to enormous hit shows from Korea such as the Matrix-style circus spectacle Jump! and last year’s Chef!, the Fringe has a huge profile back in South Korea. What goes on…

Fringe show The Trains explores Holocaust

10 Aug 2011

Music and video with score by Steve Reich, Weill, Mahler, Puccini and Górecki

Songs from the Holocaust might seem too dark a subject to tackle. But Greek-born singer Marika Klambatsea is convinced that even music from this bleakest of periods can be life-affirming. ‘Music can help people overcome tragedy. From these songs, you…

Qing Cheng

21 Jul 2011

Epic, millenium-spanning Chinese love story part of the China Fringe Festival

A night at the opera takes on a whole new meaning with Qing Cheng, an elaborate yet moving Chinese musical making its European debut at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall as part of the China Fringe Festival. Top billing in a week of cutting-edge entertainment from…

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Opera Die Frau Ohne Schatten set for 2011 Edinburgh International Festival

7 Jul 2011

Russia's Mariinsky Theatre and Jonathan Kent bring Strauss opera to EIF

To say Jonathan Kent's EIF opus is 'a bit' epic is like saying Edinburgh gets 'a bit' busy in August. This summer the Brit director joins forces with Russia's Mariinsky to stage the little-seen Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow). A cast…

Amjad Ali Khan to perform set of morning ragas on sarod at EIF 2011

7 Jul 2011

Edinburgh 11am concert accompanied by Ravi Shankar's evening ragas

The sarod may not be as familiar an instrument to western audiences as the sitar made famous by Ravi Shankar, but virtuoso player Amjad Ali Khan is happy to establish its proper context. 'Ravi Shankar's teacher was a sarod player,' says Khan on the line…

Theatre, music and dance highlights from the 2011 Edinburgh International Festival

7 Jul 2011

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Semiramide and King Lear among picks

The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) has been a benchmark for quality and innovation in the performing arts since its inauguration nearly 65 years ago. This year artistic director Jonathan Mills builds his programme around the multi-faceted…

Music highlights from the 2011 Edinburgh International Festival

7 Jul 2011

Melvyn Tan and Bamberg Symphony Orchestra among picks

Melvyn Tan. The Queen's Hall morning concerts can usually be relied on for a few Festival surprises. Hearing perfectly formed piano music by 18th century Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti alongside Sonatas and Interludes by 20th century American John…

Qatsi trilogy with Philip Glass live score highlight of Edinburgh International Festival

5 Jul 2011

EIF 2011 screening of Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi

One of the earliest Edinburgh screenings of Koyaanisqatsi, the first of Godfrey Reggio’s remarkable trilogy of films scored by minimalist composer Philip Glass, was in an old porn cinema opposite what is now the Festival Theatre, then a bingo hall.

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Edinburgh International Festival 2011 IN festival membership scheme

24 May 2011

EIF and The List deal for half-price tickets, events and freebies

Edinburgh International Festival - in association with The List magazine - are offering members of an innovative and exclusive membership scheme a whole host of half-price tickets, event passes and freebies for the 2011 Festival season. Membership to…

Opera Bohemia

23 Aug 20104 stars

Talented new company's Fringe debut

As the name may suggest, Opera Bohemia’s title was inspired by the aspiring artist characters in Puccini’s La Bohéme. Founded by two former RSAMD students, Alistair Digges and Douglas Nairne, this new opera company is a wealth of extraordinary fresh…

Barockestra: Rocking the Classics

23 Aug 20103 stars

Enthusiastic rock take on well-known classical pieces

Rock interpretations of well-known classical pieces from Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and the like featuring a full rock band, opera singer and ballerinas to give a foot-tapping tour of the greats. Overlaid with a cheesy humour that you could only…

The avant garde planet of Boguslaw Schaeffer

12 Aug 2010

An 80-year-old Polish polymath is set to be the discovery of the Fringe, says Mark Fisher

Boguslaw Schaeffer reckons he’s living in the year 2048. It’s as plausible a claim as anything else you could say about this extraordinary Polish octogenarian. His name might not be widely known, yet he has led a breathtakingly creative life. As a…

Sarah Connolly

12 Aug 2010

Mezzo soprano returns to jazz roots

Among other things, 2010 is likely to be memorable as the year of the mezzo-soprano at the Edinburgh International Festival. Joyce DiDonato, Petra Lang and Christine Brewer, who replaces the indisposed Susan Graham, are just three of the famous names…