The best concerts to book now for December 2017by Alexandra Coghlan / November 13, 2017 / Leave a comment
Cecilia Bartoli & Sol Gabetta
Barbican, 1st December
What’s better than one soloist at the peak of her musical powers? Try two. Italy’s reigning mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli is joined by star Argentinian cellist and friend Sol Gabetta. Together they will stage a “dolce duello”—a sweet duel of musicianship with each urging the other on to greater feats of virtuosity. No one puts on a classical show like Bartoli, and this performance—part-concert, part-friendly competition—promises plenty of spectacle. It’s also a brilliantly crafted project inspired by famous musical duels of history, and one that pairs well-known showpiece arias by Handel and works by Gluck and Boccherini with little-known baroque pieces by Raupach, Caldara and Pollarolo.
John Tavener: The Protecting Veil
Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, 1st December and St John’s Smith Square, London, 2nd December
This astonishing piece (a cello concerto by any other name), which was nominated for a Mercury Prize in 1992, translates the voice of the Virgin Mary into an endless, wordless song of transcendent beauty, unfolding in long, meditative arcs over a string orchestra that swells, surges and, eventually, stills. This performance, by the wonderfully expressive soloist Matthew Barley, is prefaced by a “living programme note” that unpacks the piece, before putting it all back together again.
Tenebrae: Le Temps de Noel
King’s Place, 16th December
Carol concerts are ten-a-penny in December, and if you fancy something a little more exciting than the usual then this might just fit the bill. Top London chamber choir Tenebrae are joined by rising young cellist Oliver Coates for some Christmas music that reshapes the definition of carols. There’s Britten and Poulenc, but also more unusual works by Howard Skempton and Jonathan Harvey, as well as Pulitzer-Prize winning John Luther Adams.