In the age of sexed-up and dumbed-down Messiahs, it is good to be reminded how utterly self-refreshing Handel’s masterpiece is when addressed by the right personnel under a conductor with something to say.
For many music lovers, few works better capture the tragic contradictions inherent in our stated desire for peace versus a propensity to kill each other than Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, commissioned to dedicate a new cathedral in Coventry in 1962 — an English industrial city whose factories, homes and Gothic cathedral had been levelled in the early years of World War II.
Volume 6 of German baritone Matthias Goerne’s remarkable repeat journey through the Lieder of Franz Schubert has arrived at the 14 songs assembled after the composer’s death in 1828, and named Schwanengesang (Swan Song).
Most concert pianists are like modern tennis players. They know that only two or three men and women are ever going to win the major tournaments, which leaves all the rest working harder each day in vain pursuit of an inhuman perfection and an inexhaustible hope.