Navigation for The Critic's Chair

The Critic's Chair series ended in March 2015.

Presented by Erica Challis

This week on The Critic’s Chair, Erica Challis reviews the refined playing of trumpeter Alison Balsom with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert.  Thomas Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra give Brahms’ first symphony a wonderful warmth and positive energy, and Tchaikovsky’s lesser known Symphony No. 3 gets a dance-inspired performance by the Russian National Orchestra conducted by Michael Pletnev.  Finally, the São Paulo SO performs Villa-Lobos symphonies inspired by the First World War. 

The Critic's Chair for 28 April 2013

This week on The Critic's Chair, Erica Challis reviews the refined playing of trumpeter Alison Balsom with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert. Thomas Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra give Brahms' first symphony a wonderful warmth and positive energy, and Tchaikovsky's lesser known Symphony No. 3 gets a dance-inspired performance by the Russian National Orchestra conducted by Michael Pletnev. Finally, the São Paulo SO performs Villa-Lobos symphonies inspired by the First World War.

Sound the TrumpetSound the Trumpet
Alison Balsom (tpt), Lucy Crowe (sop), Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor), English Concert/Trevor Pinnock
(EMI Classics 4403292)

Alison Balsom is clearly in love with the glory and grandeur of the Baroque, as well as its more personal side. Playing on the valveless Baroque trumpet, she shows wonderful sensitivity and control in these performances of Purcell and Handel. 

Brahms Symphony NoBrahms: Symphony No 1, Liebeslieder Walzer, Hungarian Dances
Swedish Chamber Orch/Thomas Dausgaard
(BIS SACD 1756)

Thomas Dausgaard  gives Brahms’ first symphony a wonderful warmth and positive energy. Some of it may go faster than you’re used to, but the payoff is a sense of strength and certainty throughout that is very rewarding. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra really play up the dynamcis, and here they are in lively detail so the listener feels close to the action.

Tchaikovsky Symphony NoTchaikovsky: Symphony No 3 in D Major, Op 29; Coronation March
Russian National Orch/Mikhail Pletnev
(Pentatone Classics 5186 383)

Pletnev takes a dance-inspired approach to this, the sunniest of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies. The Third is perhaps the least-known Tchaikovsky symphony; Pletnev’s highly physical, balletic direction makes brings the music vividly to life.


NaxosVilla-Lobos: Symphony No 3 “War” and Symphony No 4 “Victory”
São Paulo SO/Isaac Karabtchevsky
(Naxos 8.573151)

Lush melody and rich orchestration abound in these surprisingly non-military symphonies inspired by events of the First World War. Villa-Lobos is a composer of enormous imagination, and these symphonies are well worth a listen.