The best classical and opera in January 2021—Manchester's Hallé Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Plus Fenella Humphrey & Daniel Grimwood at St Mary’s Perivale
December 7, 2020
Mark Elder & Isata Kanneh-Mason, Broadcast from Hallé Orchestra, from 28th January

Manchester’s Hallé and the principal conductor Mark Elder are one of the UK’s great orchestral partnerships. The orchestra kicks off 2021 with Sibelius’s Third Symphony—a folk legend in an elegant classical frame. Elder pairs the symphony with Richard Strauss’s lyrical Serenade for Winds, written when the composer was just 17 years old, and there’s more precocity from pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, who at just 24 makes her debut with the Hallé as the soloist in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. 

Scottish Chamber Orchestra & Maxim Emelyanychev, Streaming 11th February

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has been a highlight of the Covid-era concert calendar with its wide-ranging programmes and unexpected repertoire collisions. There’s plenty to choose from in 2021, but this pairing of Prokofiev’s Symphony No 1—the composer’s homage to Mozart and Haydn—and Stravinsky’s irrepressible neoclassical ballet Pulcinella is hard to beat. The SCO’s brilliant young artistic director Maxim Emelyanychev conducts. 

Fenella Humphrey & Daniel Grimwood, St Mary’s Perivale, 24th January

Where larger venues have closed their doors during the pandemic, the small 12th-century church of St Mary’s Perivale has kept them wide open—digitally, at least. Don’t missing rising star violinist Fenella Humphreys and pianist Daniel Grimwood playing music by Grieg, as well as two neglected 19th-century talents: pioneering black composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and America’s Amy Beach—the first woman to achieve real success as an orchestral composer.