Reviews & features: Classical

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Ute Lemper with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

19 Aug 20144 stars

Stellar interpretations of Weill and Brecht at the Edinburgh International Festival

What a treat. Ute Lemper is the peerless interpreter of the Weimar songbook, making her cabaret competitors look like greasy lightweights. And the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by American Lawrence Foster, have the most fun with these lush…

I Do, Do I

17 Aug 20144 stars

Musician Greg Sinclair creates profound nonsense with kids at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Is I Do, Do I even a kids’ show? Well, yes and no. Edinburgh-based cellist and actor Greg Sinclair’s multi-layered, deceptively simple offering is actually for anyone – there’s nothing aimed directly at children here, although its free-thinking…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014 interview: Jonathan Mills on his Sandakan Threnody

15 Aug 2014

The outgoing artistic director of the festival discusses his WWII memorial piece

Back in March, Jonathan Mills announced the theme for this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. He wanted the programme to look at the relationship between conflict and culture – how war and political unrest leave their mark on art. It probably…

Edinburgh International Festival 2014: exploring death camps through music

15 Aug 2014

Holocaust survivor Samuel Pisar and the Pavel Haas Quartet among contributors to EIF's music strand

Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony The man who wrote West Side Story also wrote this sweeping, tense work for a narrator, choir and orchestra, his tribute to Kaddish – a hymn traditionally sung in the synagogue at times of mourning. Holocaust survivor Samuel…

Decomposed! My Brother's Turning into a Zombie

9 Aug 20144 stars

Funny, horror-themed kids' classical music show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Finding a way in to classical music for children is an endless challenge. The misconception that it’s boring and meant exclusively for old people is a genuine hurdle the genre has to leap. So it’s refreshing to find the Classical Mayhem company…

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Edinburgh International Festival 2014: 10 unmissable programme highlights

22 Jul 2014

Featuring Kronos Quartet, Helen Lawrence and Ganesh Versus the Third Reich

Czech Philharmonic Two concerts from the orchestra conducted by Jiri Belohlavek. The first features Nicola Benedetti as they tackle Janácek, Korngold and Martinu together, while the second has mezzo soprano Bernarda Fink singing the powerful ‘Biblical…

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…

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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…

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…

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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

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…

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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…

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…