Michael White’s music news: LSO in Trafalgar Square; Proms this week; sax in Peckham; City Music Foundation

Friday, 13th August 2021 — By Michael White

London Symphony Orchestra in Trafalgar Square

The LSO perform in Trafalgar Square on Sunday, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Photo: PA Media Group

THERE are easier places to make music than Trafalgar Square with its relentless traffic noise, but Simon Rattle and the LSO are not without a certain noise potential of their own; and they’ll be throwing everything they’ve got at passing buses this weekend when they deliver a free open-air performance under Nelson’s single eye on Sunday afternoon (August 15). If you’re lucky and the wind’s in the right direction you’ll hear them play a core-classics programme of Dvořák, Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saëns, courtesy of BMW who pay for it all. Kick-off is 6.30pm, but as space is limited and there’s no booking, you’re advised to arrive early. Take an umbrella, have fun. Details: lso.co.uk/whats-on

FROM opera director Graham Vick to the much-loved Valerie Solti, there have been too many deaths in British music during recent months; and among them was the Islington-based composer Anthony Payne who will go down in history as the man who completed Elgar’s 3rd Symphony from the fragments that were all Elgar left. But Payne’s own music had a substance that deserves to be remembered. And it will be at the Albert Hall for this Friday’s Prom (August 13) when the BBC Symphony play a memorial tribute – alongside Berlioz’s orchestral song cycle Les nuits d’été sung by one of the intensely beautiful voices of today, Dame Sarah Connolly.

Other must-hear Proms this week include a Nordic night on Saturday when Icelandic pianist-of-the-moment Vikingur Olafsson and Finnish conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali join the Philharmonia Orchestra in Bach, Mozart and Shostakovich. There’s an opera gala on Monday based around the Covid-relevant themes of separation and reconciliation. And on Tuesday the punchily polemical harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani demonstrates that his instrument doesn’t just belong to the past, with performances of modern concertos by Gorecki and Joseph Horowitz.

Everything is at the Albert Hall where it’s turned out to be easier to get in than I predicted the other week: no queues at the doors, and plenty of seats available. Just bear in mind that there are problems at South Ken tube station and with bus access along Kensington Gore, so allow extra travel time. And otherwise, listen on Radio 3, where every concert gets broadcast live. Details: bbc.co.uk/proms

IF you venture down to Peckham, there’s a multi-story car park close to Peckham station that’s acquired a certain cachet as an edgy (and well-ventilated) concert venue. Through the summer it’s programming a season called Bold Tendencies. And this weekend you can hear the spangly saxophonist Jess Gilham playing Piazzolla (August 13), plus the mesmerising Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov pairing Schubert with the austere Soviet composer Galina Ustvolskaya (August 14). If you’ve never heard Kolesnikov, drop everything and go to this: he’s special. Details: boldtendencies.com

SOMETHING else pretty special is the 18th-century Great Hall in St Bart’s Hospital, Holborn where the City Music Foundation provides a platform for outstanding young artists in recital. At 1pm on August 18 there’s an attractive programme of English song by tenor Richard Robbins with pianist Guy Murgatroyd. It’s free-access, but you have to book: citymusicfoundation.org  And don’t assume that, being free, it’s not worth bothering with. CMF events are serious, high-quality and pukker. Sieze the opportunity.

Related Articles