Concert reviews: Britten's Peter Grimes, 26 & 28 September 2013

'Sometimes even performances of works that you know very well, and have heard and seen countless times, can take you completely unawares and emerge with unexpected force ...'
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 27 September 2013 

On 26 & 28 September 2013, the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, gave two semi-staged performances of Britten's Peter Grimes, at Symphony Hall Birmingham and Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall in London. Here are the press reviews ...

 

'Jurowski's opera experience showed with his sympathetic accompaniment of the soloists, while his handling of the six interludes generated a rich symphonic poem characteristic ... Watching Jurowski handle the constantly changing rhythms of Sunday Morning revealed a conductor on peak form ... This was indeed concert opera with a difference, and in a different class.'
Geoff Read, Seen and Heard International, 29 September 2013

'This, the first event of the Birmingham International Concert Season, proved to be exceptional both from a musical and dramatic perspective bringing facets of Benjamin Britten's operatic masterpiece prominently to the fore. The London Philharmonic Orchestra, in Symphony Hall's bright and clear acoustic, provided some outstanding playing and many felicities that might lie dormant in an opera-house pit were here brought into strong relief.'
Alexander Campbell, Classical Source, 27 September 2013

'Stuart Skelton was simply heartbreaking as a shambling, bewildered Grimes, implying derangement in this lonely fisherman, his vocal flexibility allied to despairing body-language.'
Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post, 27 September 2013

'Given today's most accomplished interpreter of the violent-visionary fisherman, Stuart Skelton, and a conductor in Vladimir Jurowski always poised hawk-like to claw revelatory new detail from the score, the musical performance was as unforgettable as they come.'
David Nice, The Arts Desk, 29 September 2013

'This was Jurowski's first Grimes and the point at which it truly ignited was that amazing Grimes/Balstrode (Alan Opie) duet in the teeth of the approaching storm. When Skelton roared "And here I shall stay!" Jurowski unleashed the London Philharmonic at a tempo which took the storm's fury to the edge of possibility and made those high violin repeated notes sound like a terrible ringing in the ears.'
Edward Seckerson (blog), 29 September 2013

'Vladimir Jurowski's way with the score was brisk, tense and taut' 
Hilary Finch, The Times, 30 September 2013 (online access for Times subscribers only)

'This concert staging, tellingly directed by Daniel Slater, made a powerful opening to the London Philharmonic's season ... [Jurowski] launched into the spiky opening with typical laserlike precision, and made the orchestra an active protagonist in summoning up the fierce elements of the Suffolk seaside setting.'
John Allison, The Telegraph, 30 September 2013

'A fine evening of music, performance and stage-craft ... By the time Grimes, as determined by Balstrode, was living his last minutes and heading out to sea never to be seen again, very poignantly done here, the LPO and Jurowski had artistically been walking on water.'
Colin Anderson, Classical Source, 30 September 2013

'Vladimir Jurowski conducted a fascinating Britten Peter Grimes with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall. Fascinating, because Jurowski finds things in Britten other conductors don't get in the first place ... '
Doundou Tchil, Classical Iconoclast (blog), 29 September 2013

'With an interpretation of white hot intensity from Jurowski, superb playing by all sections of the LPO and a cast that could hardly be bettered today, and you have a performance that was overwhelming in its dramatic and musical intensity ... this performance reminded us not only of what a great artists he is, but that Peter Grimes is a masterpiece. I for one cannot think of a more fitting way to honour Britten's centenary.' (5 stars)
Keith McDonnell, What's On Stage, 29 September 2013

'Vladimir Jurowski's affinity with the LPO is beyond question by this point in their decade-long professional relationship, and his clinical, driven approach to the score brought some beautifully clear playing from the orchestra. And time and again, a scene's climax would arrive almost by surprise, and be all the more breathtaking for it.' (5 stars)
Paul Kilbey, Bachtrack.com, 30 September 2013

'The LPO played superbly under the baton of its principal conductor Vladimir Jurowski ... To hear the music played as the masterpiece that it is, packed with drama and yet with no particular slant placed upon it, was the essence of this sensational evening.' (5 stars)
Sam Smith, MusicOMH.com, 1 October 2013

'We didn't need church, shore, hut or pub – we saw them in our mind's eye, inhabited by a high-calibre cast and silhouetted by vividly coloured orchestral playing, not least in an immaculately tuned "Morning" interlude and a Passacaglia of Prokofiev-like spikiness.' (5 stars)
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 4 October 2013

'One of the most dramatically gripping and emotionally poleaxing performances I have ever heard of a piece that seems to grow in stature with every performance.'
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 6 October 2013 (online access for Times subscribers only)