House music: Flora Willson’s watching and listening highlights

Our critic enjoys a masterly, socially distanced first night of the Proms, a new series by Opera North made to listen as you walk and a striking Met performance by Lise Davidsen

For the past six months, live has largely meant livestreamed and concert-going has become an armchair pursuit. Like many, I’ve watched performances from other continents and even in purely virtual spaces – all while sitting at my desk. The increased access to performance has been extraordinary, but we have lost a sense of what music sounds like in a specific space.

This week, I’ve been yearning for live atmosphere. A concert by the Carducci Quartet as part of the Presteigne digital festival, for instance, had me by the throat. The premiere of Emma-Ruth Richards’ Tenebris Litterarum – all sinewy lines and tone colours clouded by mutes – was followed by a fearless, exhilarating performance of Janáček’s String Quartet No 2, “Intimate Letters”. However, the final all-Beethoven instalment of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Summer Sessions just didn’t do it for me. Although the Quintet for Piano and Winds, Op 16, and an early trio for piano, flute and bassoon were nicely done, the woodwind were so closely miked you could hear the constant mechanical clatter of instruments.

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