Sir Simon Rattle

Music Director, London Symphony Orchestra

© Oliver Helbig


Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music.

For some years Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, in 1980 he became Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, stepping up to Music Director from September 1990 until August 1998.  He is also Founding Patron of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and since the early 1990s, has been a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

In September 2002 Sir Simon became Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker, where he remained until June 2018.

In September 2017, Simon took up the position of Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra.


Video & Audio

From The Green Room


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    Label: LSO Live

    Release Date: 08 Mar 19

    Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle

    London Symphony Orchestra

    Soprano: Karen Cargill

    Tenor: Bryan Hymel

    Bass: Christopher Purves

    Bass: Gábor Bretz

    “Barbican Hall concerts have often transported me to heaven. Some, admittedly, have sent me to hell. The special thrill of Simon Rattle’s virile account of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust is that we can go to both places without penalties, while also having the time of our lives.”

    ★★★★ The Times 

    ‘Sir Simon Rattle realizes Hector Berlioz’s vision in the most extraordinary way. La Damnation de Faust is a stand-alone knock-out.’


    ‘If a single achievement symbolises the British ‘lead’ in performing Berlioz over the composer’s homeland, it could well be the LSO’s legacy with this score…Definitely recommended’


    Record of the Week

    ★★★★BBC Radio 3

    “Bryan Hymel’s Faust is the most convincing soloist. But it’s the vivid detail Rattle conjures up, the brilliant playing and the force and intensity of the choral singing that give greatest satisfaction.”

    ★★★★The Sunday Times

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    Label: BR KLASSIK

    Release Date: 14 Sep 18

    Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle

    Mezzo Soprano: Magdalena Kozena

    Tenor: Stuart Skelton

    Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

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    BERNSTEIN Wonderful Town

    Label: LSO Live

    Release Date: 07 Sep 18

    London Symphony Orchestra

    Sir Simon Rattle

    Danielle de Niese

    Alysha Umphress

    Nathan Gunn

    Duncan Rock

    London Symphony Chorus

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    Label: LSO Live

    Release Date: 06 Oct 17

    London Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Simon Rattle

    Magdalena Kožená

    Christian Gerhaher Gerald Finley

    Bernarda Fink

    Franz-Josef Selig

    Joshua Bloom

    Elias Madlër


    **** ‘[This release] is a credit to the LSO’s own record label… Gerald Finley’s composed yet menacing Golaud is superb, and to have Bernarda Fink and Franz-Josef Selig as Geneviève and Arkel is real luxury casting. Under Rattle’s leadership the orchestra is a true protagonist in the drama.’

    Erica Jeal, The Guardian

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    Label: LSO Live

    Release Date: 07 Jul 17

    London Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

    Violin: Leonidas Kavakos

    Soprano: Julia Bullock

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    TURNAGE 'Remembering'

    Label: LSO Live

    Release Date: 16 Jun 17

    London Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

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    SIBELIUS Symphonies 1-7

    Label: Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings

    Release Date: 08 Dec 15

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

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    SCHUMANN 'Das Paradies und die Peri'

    Label: LSO Live

    Release Date: 02 Oct 15

    London Symphony Orchestra
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE
    Sally Matthews
    Mark Padmore
    Bernarda Fink
    Florian Boesch

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    WAGNER 'Das Rheingold'

    Label: BR Klassik

    Release Date: 29 Sep 15

    Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE
    Wotan: Michael Volle
    Alberich: Tomasz Konieczny
    Loge: Burkhard Ulrich
    Fricka: Elisabeth Kulman
    Mime: Herwig Pecoraro
    Fasolt: PETER ROSE
    Fafner: Eric Halfvarson
    Freia: Annette Dasch
    Erda: Janina Baechle
    Donner: Christian van Horn
    Froh: Benjamin Bruns
    Woglinde: Mirella Hagen
    Wellgunde: Stefanie Irányi
    Flosshilde: Eva Vogel

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    LUTOSLAWSKI Piano Concerto and Symphony no.2

    Label: Deutsche Grammophon

    Release Date: 14 Aug 15

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE
    Piano: Krystian Zimerman

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    SCHUMANN Symphonies 1-4

    Label: Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings

    Release Date: 02 Jun 14

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

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    RACHMANINOV The Bells and Symphonic Dances

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 26 Aug 13

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Rundfunkchor Berlin
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

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    STRAVINSKY 'Le Sacre du printemps'

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 08 Apr 13

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

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    JANACEK Glagolitic Mass & Sinfonietta

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 04 Feb 13

    City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus & Orchestra
    Philharmonia Orchestra
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

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    Rhapsody in Blue: Best of Gershwin

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 28 Jan 13

    St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
    London Sinfonietta
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE
    Piano: Andre Previn
    Piano: Peter Donohoe

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    BEETHOVEN Complete Symphonies

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 01 Oct 12

    Wiener Philharmoniker
    City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE
    Soprano: Barbara Bonney
    Mezzo-soprano: Birgit Remmert
    Tenor: Kurt Streit
    Baritone: Thomas Hampson

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    BIZET Carmen

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 20 Aug 12

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

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    BRUCKNER Symphony no.9

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 21 May 12

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

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    SCHOENBERG Orchestral works

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 08 Aug 11

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

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    Simon Rattle: A Portrait

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 14 Mar 11

    City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE
    Soprano: Janet Baker
    Soprano: Arleen Augér

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    MAHLER Symphony No. 2

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 07 Feb 11

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    Rundfunkchor Berlin
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE
    Soprano: KATE ROYAL
    Mezzo-soprano: MAGDALENA KOZENA

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    The Second Viennese School

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 06 Sep 10

    Berliner Philharmoniker
    City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    Rundfunkchor Berlin
    MDR Rundfunkchor Leipzig
    Ernst Sennf Chor
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE

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    MAHLER Symphony No. 8

    Label: Warner Classics

    Release Date: 06 Sep 10

    City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    London Symphony Chorus
    City of Birmingham Symphony Youth Chorus
    Toronto Children’s Chorus
    Conductor: SIMON RATTLE
    Soprano: Christine Brewer
    Soprano: Soile Isokoski
    Soprano: Juliane Banse
    Mezzo-soprano: Birgit Remmert
    Mezzo-soprano: Jane Henschel
    Tenor: Jon Villars
    Baritone: David Wilson-Johnson
    Bass: John Relyea

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    11 Nov 20 Ticciati, Rattle, and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin bring musical solace to a corona-blighted city Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
    Philharmonie Berlin

    ‘Rattle and his exemplary musicians produced an eloquently romantic account of the score…’

    Jim Pritchard, Seen and Heard

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    06 Sep 20 CBSO 100th Birthday Celebration review – Simon Rattle makes sparks fly as orchestra reunites City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    Symphony Hall, Birmingham

    ‘Firebird, meanwhile, was beautifully done, with finely focused woodwind solos in the Princesses’ Khorovod, a real eruption of violence at the start of the Infernal Dance, and a wonderfully drowsy sensuality in the Lullaby.’

    ★★★★ Tim Ashley, The Guardian

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    10 Sep 20 LSO/Rattle review – Turnage, Knussen and Britten make an evening to be savoured London Symphony Orchestra
    St Luke's, London

    ‘ The Serenade for tenor, horn and strings seems to be everywhere at the moment, but few performances are likely to be better than this one…’

    ★★★★Andrew Clements, The Guardian

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    31 Aug 20 Prom: LSO/Rattle review — epic and intimate London Symphony Orchestra
    Royal Albert Hall, London

    ‘This programme by the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle (the conductor’s 75th Prom) was an attempt to think creatively about the use of the enormous space, using the idea of distance as a liberator. It ended up almost as much a religious rite as a symphonic concert; a drama revolving around the conflict between darkness and light, between sound and stillness.

    ★★★★ Neil Fisher, The Times

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    05 Jun 20 Resurrection Symphony: Rattle returns to live music-making in Munich The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

    ‘Rattle constantly reminded us in his choice of tempi and shaping of phrases how Mozart’s wind writing so often suggests operatic arias without voices, and his players did him proud. His mouthed bravo to them after the last chord had faded said it all.’

    ★★★★★ Matthew Rye, Bachtrack

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    21 Jan 20 Beethoven, London Symphony Orchestra
    Barbican, London

    ‘fervent, penetrating sounds for Rattle’s birthday’.

    ★★★★Candice Witton, The Times

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    15 Dec 19 A Radiant Revival of ‘Der Rosenkavalier’
    Metropolitan Opera, New York

    ‘…Mr. Rattle plumbs the bustling orchestra music to highlight intricate details, jagged bits and pungent shards of dissonance that often pass by in other performances.’

    Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

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    26 Nov 19 Soirée Recital with Magdalena Kozena and Chamber Musicians
    Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center

    “Mr. Rattle provided sensitive and articulate accompaniment to Ms. Kozena’s eloquent singing.”
    Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, 27 November 2019

    “Sir Simon Rattle [provided] an always attentive and subtle accompaniment at the piano.”
    Edward Sava-Segal, Bachtrack, 28 November 2019

    “Sitting behind the ensemble and largely obscured from view, Rattle nonetheless made his presence felt. There were surprising shifts in dynamics and unanticipated articulations, and his playing was sometimes unexpectedly loud and boisterous. . As Kožená sang the final word of the phrase ‘Fahr wohl, meine Taube’ in ‘Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloss’ from Strauss’s three Ophelia songs, the note Rattle played matched both the slight vibrato in her voice and her mournful mood. It was if the dove of which she sang had been pierced by an arrow released by his fingers.”
    Rick Perdian, Seen and Heard International, 29 November 2019

    “Following in the Shakespearian theme was Richard Strauss’ “Drei Lieder der Ophelia.” The first song, “How shall I know my true love,” bearing a repeating, gently unhinged melodic theme from Rattle’s accompaniment, with Kožená’s outlining of the text matched by the delicately conflicted look on her face. Nicely capturing the sense of almost pitiable madness, the heightened chords of the accompaniment ease back into the melodic theme, tapering off to silence.”
    Logan Martell, Opera Wire, 01 December 2019

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    20 Aug 19 BBC PROM 44; Belshazzar's Feast London Symphony Orchestra
    Royal Albert Hall

    “Like so many of Simon Rattle’s concerts, this high-voltage Prom was as educative as it was enjoyable.”

    ★★★★★ Barry Millington, The Evening Standard

    “The blazing chords of judgment brought supreme shock and awe…”

    ★★★★David Nice, the Arts Desk



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    02 Apr 19 BACH St John's Passion Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
    Royal Festival Hall, London

    “Rattle’s commitment is never in doubt and it sounds marvellous. The playing has gravitas and poise, and the choir sing and act as if their lives depend on it.”

    ★★★★★ Tim Ashley, The Guardian

    “Rattle was fascinating to watch, highly mobile and ranging across the stage, a lively guide for the audience to the complex textures of the work, collegial and unobtrusive in his direction.”

    ★★★★Benjamin Poore, Bachtrack

    “…this event really is an act of communal devotion.”

    ★★★★★ Michael Church, Independant

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    28 Mar 19 Beethoven Symphony No. 9 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
    Symphony Hall, Birmingham

    “Punchy, profound, uplifting: this Beethoven Ninth Symphony was one to stir the passions.”

    ★★★★ Rebecca Franks, The Times

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    22 Mar 19 Lachenmann / Schumann Berliner Philharmoniker
    Philharmonie Berlin

    “Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic not only had a total command of the exact demands and challenging techniques required; they also brought a dazzling clarity to a dense score, creating distinct waves of pure sound that gather and disperse.”

    ★★★★★ Sam Johnstone, Bachtrack


    “Schumann’s Second, a celebrated C-major Symphony, some say the greatest in that key, made an admirable partner for the Lachenmann, and Rattle and the Berliners did it proud.”

    Colin Anderson, Classical Source

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    17 Feb 19 Ramea, Ravel, Rachmaninov London Symphony Orchestra
    Barbican Centre, London

    “The LSO saved their best till last, for this was superb in both sensuous atmosphere and devastating execution.”

    ★★★★Roy Westbrook, Bachtrack

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    13 Feb 19 WAGNER Die Walkure Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundsfunk
    Musikverein, Munich

    “(Simon Rattle) led the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks ( BRSO) from the beginning with determined and passionate conducting, and his musicians answered him with precise interaction and clean and transparent string sounds.”

    Alexandra Richter and Phillip Schober, The Opera Magazine

    “Die „Walküre“ setzt im Rahmen des Merkur-Konzertabos noch mindestens eins drauf – es ist Rattles wohl bisher bestes Dirigat in München”

    Markus Thiel, Merkur


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    29 Nov 18 RAMEAU Hippolyte et Aricie Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin
    Staatsoper Berlin

    “Simon Rattle and a top cast cook up a storm in Rameau’s Greek tragedy.”

    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian

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    16 Sep 18 LSO 2018-19 Season Opening London Symphony Orchestra
    Barbican Centre, London

    “As the final movement hurtled towards its close, the chorus swayed rumbustiously, the children sang out through cupped hands, and the mood turned anarchic – it might have been September outside the hall, but inside spring was breaking out.”

    ★★★★Erica Jeal, The Guardian

    “Rattle sharpened the edges of the score and galvanised his forces”

    ★★★★Neal Fisher, The Times

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    18 Aug 18 BBC Prom 48 LSO/Rattle, at the Royal Albert Hall London Symphony Orchestra
    Royal Albert Hall

    “…Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra, who produced subtle, beautiful and utterly beguiling sounds in their all-Ravel Prom.”

    ★★★★★ Richard Morrison, The Times 

    “Rattle’s judgment of the wit, enchantment and sadness of L’Enfant proved similarly immaculate”

    ★★★★ Tim Ashley, The Times

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    10 Aug 18 Edinburgh Festival 2018 London Symphony Orchestra
    Usher Hall, Edinburgh

    “Rattle took Janáček’s gloriously quirky, unbalanced textures at their word, with spectacularly vivid results.”

    ★★★★ David Kettle, The Arts Desk


    “The most remarkable quality that Rattle and the LSO brought to this performance was a sense of athleticism and dexterity, particularly in their breath-taking renditions of the rapid, scurrying second movement, that made this piece a fitting finale to follow the Slavonic Dances.”

    Vivek Santayana, Serenade Magazine

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    09 Jul 18 Review: LSO / Bruckner / Messiaen [DVD/Blue-Ray]
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    30 Jun 18 STOCKHAUSEN Gruppen London Symphony Orchestra
    Tate Modern

    “The importance of making concerts into events is something that Simon Rattle has brought back to the London Symphony Orchestra”… “the music made a forceful impact, but there were moments of quiet, intense beauty too… Rattle encouraged us to move around, quietly, to gain different perspectives”… “This was something different: a live performance, music as an event.”

    ★★★★ Erica Jeal, The Guardian, 01 July 2018

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    20 Jun 18 MAHLER Symphony no. 6 Final performance with Berlin Philharmonic
    Berliner Philharmoniker

    “Rattle received the kind of loud cheering, standing ovation and bouquets of flowers from admirers that used to be reserved for opera divas… There was no disputing the rapport between conductor and orchestra in this final performance together in their home hall.”

    Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 21 June 2018

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    31 May 18 Bruckner 9 Berliner Philharmoniker
    Royal Festival Hall, London

    “The fruits of Simon Rattle’s long partnership with the Berlin orchestra were evident in a magisterial Bruckner Ninth and vivid miniatures by Hans Abrahamsen.”

    ★★★★ Martin Kettle, The Guardian


    “Rattle has a genius for digging beneath surfaces that say one thing and finding chasms of dark matter saying something very different.”

    ★★★★★ Richard Morrison, The Times


    “…erupting with vast fortissimos and disconcerting harmonies, giving every orchestral section from solo woodwind to Wagner tubas to golden-toned strings a chance to shine: Bruckner’s Ninth was the perfect roof-raising epic for Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic”

    ★★★★ Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian

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    13 Jan 18 The Genesis Suite London Symphony Orchestra

    “With Rattle in charge, the LSO is regaining its distinctiveness, not only in its sound but in what it chooses to play – exactly what it and its audience needs.”

    ★★★★ Erica Jeal, The Guardian, January 2018

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    14 Sep 17 English Music - Season Launch London Symphony Orchestra

    “The Elgar was full of perfectly weighted details that usually hardly register. Yet this was no exercise in pedantry, rather a gloriously affirmative celebration of the LSO’s own roots with, at its heart, a Nimrod so hushed and noble that 2,000 people scarcely dared breathe.”

    ★★★★ Richard Morrison, The Times, September 2017


    “…the start of this new era for the LSO could hardly have been more auspicious.”

    ★★★★ Andrew Clements, The Guardian, September 2017


    “Simon Rattle is back in town – and if this concert was anything to go by, there are great things to come”

    ★★★★ Barry Millington, The Evening Standard, September 2017


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    14 Jun 17 JANÁCEK 'Káťa Kabanová' Staatskapelle Berlin
    Staatsoper im Schiller, Berlin

    “Breth’s vision was complemented well by Simon Rattle’s outstanding conducting, which captured unerringly the essence of a score in which moving, deeply human tenderness is never quite allowed to blossom into a warm embrace”

    ★★★★ Hugo Shirley, Bachtrack, June 2017

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    16 Jan 17 LIGETI 'Le Grand Macabre' London Symphony Orchestra
    The Barbican, London

    “Scattergun as the opera’s humour appears, the stunning virtuosity of the score was all the more effective for the taut, disciplined delivery by the LSO under Rattle.”
     ★★★★★ Barry Millington,The Evening Standard, January 2017

    “…shut your eyes and explore the crazy flea-market of the music, conjured up by Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra with masterly grace and virtuosity.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, January 2017

    “Both Ligeti and Rattle rise to the Great Day (or Midnight) of Destruction, director and conductor between them making full use of Barbican spaces for the big rattle-bag processional that unfolds against a ground-bass distortion of the pizzicato theme in Beethoven’s Eroica finale.”
    David Nice, The Arts Desk, January 2017

    “Musically, though, the performance under Rattle is superb. From the opening toccata played on car horns which parodies the canzona from Monteverdi’s Orfeo, to the radiant passacaglia that supports the final scene, everything in Ligeti’s score is heard more vividly than it could ever be in an opera house, and the playing of the LSO is astoundingly good.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, January 2017

    “His score is a wacky hotchpotch of motor horns, sirens, quacking ducks, clocks, baleful brass blasts, eerie polyphonies, allusions to Beethoven, Offenbach and Monteverdi, and vast note-clusters that lift the ending into a cosmic realm after so many sardonic sendups. All this was delivered with razor-sharp precision and unflagging zest by the London Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle’s incisive direction.”
    Richard Morrison, The Times, January 2017

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    11 Nov 16 BOULEZ 'Eclat', MAHLER Symphony No.7 Berliner Philharmoniker
    New York, Boston, Toronto, LA, San Francisco

    “With Rattle and Berlin players, the performance was more colorful and also more emotional, the music stabbed out in scattered phrases and gestures…The fervor and impetuosity of that interpretation was evident Wednesday night, with the substantial benefit of being channelled through the glorious Berliners. This was orchestral playing at its absolute finest. The dark, velvety strings produced enough volume on their own to fill the hall, and their plushness was a superb complement to the opening tenor horn solo. This solo normally overpowers the rest of the orchestra, but Wednesday night the instrument’s great body of sound blended in a true ensemble, deepening the music’s impact…Rattle’s attention to the judicious detail produced delights like a tango feeling in the pizzicato bass part of the second “Nachtmusik.”
    George Grella, New York Classical Review, November 2016

    “Sir Simon led a bracing performance (of Éclat) without the help of a conductor’s score, as he would the concert’s following music. What stands out are his utterly clear indications and full command of this score…Rattle’s approach to the Mahler seventh surprised and delighted me…what Rattle and the BPO brought to their reading was an unsurpassed clarity and exposition of inner detail of which I’ve never heard the like.  How their individual expositions of their instrumental parts were shaped, coaxed, and formed by Rattle was the evening’s particular revelation to me…So it’s safe to say that Rattle and the BPO are truly of one mind by now across this broad landscape… A word about this ensemble: it is unique.”
    John Ehrlich, Classical Scene, November 2016

    “Again and again, Rattle charged up the space between the notes with energetic stillness, then released it with a sudden cue and a spark of sound. The playing had purpose and polish throughout. “Éclat” cogently resonated…The Boulez expressively held its breath; the Mahler barely paused for it. Harmonically volatile, rhythmically mercurial, the Seventh seems forever trying to be more pieces of music than it is. Conductor and orchestra revelled in the multiplicity. Rattle’s pacing was broad enough to let Mahler’s dense counterpoint tangle without letting the thicket impede the journey. The ensemble, practically swamping the stage, leveraged its deep, layered sound into a cauldron of swirling color…Only considerable virtuosity from podium and players ensured that every mood immediately registered, every phrase immediately sang, every rhythmic jump-cut immediately locked into place.”
    Matthew Guerrieri, Boston Globe, November 2016

    “Webern’s Six Pieces are famously terse giants. The composer plucks sounds from a massive orchestra and gives each thought a single exhalation, nothing more. Cough, and a climax has sped by. Rattle made the score sound at once expansive and intimate, rendering a vast emotional panorama in close-up whispered detail. Threads of melancholy, terror, joy, and wistfulness were wound so tightly together that there was almost no time to register one before moving on to the next…In each of these moments, Rattle and the orchestra showed us the blackness behind the notes, an emptiness made more infinite by bright shards of beauty.”
    Justin Davidson, The Vulture, November 2016

    “In Rattle’s hands the result, while calculated and precise, was filled with curious life. Gestures became conversations of sentences which combined into paragraphs, and then chapters that remained open and unfinished…Much of the astonishing agility was due to Rattle’s simple and direct manner. While many lesser conductors will cue everyone and everything, including the oboist’s mother, Rattle moved with singular purpose. His vision seemed complete long before he walked out onstage; its execution inevitable: something you could count on…The Philharmonic’s Mahler was a tale told for the first time. Each climax was fresh and organic and left no sense of what was coming next. The movements were six different behemoths and Rattle left the last movement, and most awesome, as a life-asserting pageant of herculean thrust and ecstasy.”
    Michael Vincent, The Toronto Star, November 2016

    “Rattle, who has brought the orchestra to the hall (Symphony Hall, Boston) three times before in his tenure as musical director, exhibited the rapport that only a great conductor can have with a world-class orchestra…Conducting the Mahler (along with the brief Pierre Boulez piece “Éclat,” that preceded it) from memory, he guided the ensemble with pin-point precision and they responded with an on-point performance that brought goosebumps during the piece’s numerous climaxes and a sense of wonder during its more lyrical moments…In doing so he brought clarity to the symphony’s organic design, which moves from a stormy opening to a joyous finale, two longer movements that bookend three smaller-scaled ones (two of which named “Nachtmusik.”) Each were distinctively rendered – the second, stately but mysterious; the third, a bit sinister (it would be perfect for a horror film), and the fourth, effusively sentimental. The rollicking finale is perhaps the most effusive music Mahler ever wrote, and Rattle conducted it at a furious if exacting pace.”
    Robert Nesti, Boston Edge, November 2016

    “In the first movement Rattle conjured a cloud of dark sonorities from the low strings and winds. The tenor horn solo cut through like a knife. The blustery march that makes up this movement is a barking and at times sarcastic one that seems to look forward to Shostakovich. Its passages were drawn out in paragraphs of sound as Rattle took listeners inside the piece. The soft sections were particularly intimate. The second and fourth movements are labeled “Nachtmusik.” The burbling wind figures of the former created an effervescent texture, and Rattle coaxed a forest of sounds that ranged from radiant horn calls, shimmering strings, and dusky basses. They are a picturesque walk through the night, full of sweeping melodies and soft colors. Rattle and the orchestra gave readings of delicate grace… The finale culminated in phrases of glorious sound, with trumpets sounding round and full in the main theme. The inner sections of this movement sparkled with clarity, and when the principal theme returned, Rattle and the orchestra highlighted its transformation. Sometimes it was bold and brassy, in others broad and sweeping. At piece’s end the theme broke into bright fanfares, which brought the symphony to a rousing conclusion. For Rattle, it was the beginning of a grand farewell.
    Aaron Keebaugh, Boston Classical Review, November 2016

    “Most of the credit for this, one assumes, must go to Rattle and his decade-and-a-half tenure with the orchestra, now coming to an end. Rattle has the ability to see through a score, to X-ray it to find hidden structural principles that help guide him to a perfectly logical, seamless, yet passionate reading of the music he plays. And nowhere was this more evident than in his performance of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, which was the main work on the program Tuesday night…Rattle did the impossible – he made it all make musical sense. And he did so, to my ear, by underplaying the contrasts so endemic to Mahler’s musical palette, by forcing us and his musicians to consider the long game, the through line of emotion and musical logic that underlies all of Mahler’s complex, gargantuan musical thinking…Rattle took Mahler out of the picture by presenting us not him, but his music. He did so through sheer intellectual willpower, by helping us hear connections in the score, balancing moments from movement to movement, illuminating an overall shape. And he was aided in this by superb playing from his team – whether it be from individual wind and brass players with a note here, or a soaring phrase there, or a perfectly balanced string section, or a percussion complement that could pound it out when necessary, but hold back when needed. The result, from 80 minutes of clarity, logic and transparency, was an emotional experience that was the opposite –liberating, joyous, ecstatic.”
    Robert Harris, Toronto Globe, November 2016

    “Rattle got everything he asked for in these performances, and he asked for a lot, from the extremes of ferocity to those of finesse. The orchestra is renowned for its discipline. Rattle also expects the opposite — a display of spontaneity and personality from his players that can bring with it a harshness of attack and climaxes that become overwhelming… As a custodian of the Berlin character and quality, Rattle has done the essential job. As mover and shaker, Rattle has made what is probably still the world’s greatest orchestra also the Old World’s most important one.”
    Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, November 2016

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    10 Oct 16 MAHLER Symphony no.6 The Philadelphia Orchestra

    “Simon Rattle led it (the Philadelphia Orchestra) in a stunning account of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony here at Verizon Hall…As for the Sixth, Mr. Rattle showed complete command on Thursday, conducting from memory. The performance was most notable for its sheer beauty…Mr.Rattle’s order, together with the tautness and ravishing quality of the performance, emphasized Classicism to fine effect.”
    James R. Oestreich, New York Times, October 2016 

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    28 Sep 16 WAGNER 'Tristan and Isolde' The Metropolitan Opera
    New York

    “Mr. Rattle’s performance of Wagner’s monumental score, some four hours of music, impressively balanced clarity and richness, coolness and intensity, intelligence and impetuosity.  Mr. Rattle also brought uncanny transparency to the contrapuntal lines that mingle continuously in the music. Climactic passages crested with sound, and dramatic episodes generated plenty of heat.”
    Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, September 2016

    “Rattle decided on a second act cut that reduces the love duet by about 10 minutes to half an hour.  The previous staging by Dieter Dorn that was used from 1999-2008 was always performed uncut by James Levine and Daniel Barenboim.  Rattle said last week ‘I’ve been begging the orchestra to be more like chiffon than wool’ and after a pulsating, glistening rendition he was greeted by overwhelming cheers and applause.”
    Ronald Blum, The Washington Post, September 2016 

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    03 Sep 16 ANDERSEN 'Incantesimi' DVORAK Slavonic Dances, BRAHMS Symphony no.2 Berliner Philharmoniker
    Royal Albert Hall, London

    “As expansive and romantic as Furtwängler, Rattle found depths of dark passion in the first three movements that this apparently sunny work is rarely credited with secreting. And the finale was super-fast, super-pianissimo and then super-hell-for-leather exuberant, with brazen virtuosity cascading from every corner.”
    ★★★★ Richard Morrison/The Times

    “He (Simon Rattle) and his orchestra…were exhilarating and revelatory at every turn, making a compelling case for Julian Anderson’s Incantesimi in its UK première and, at times in the Brahms, literally suspending the hall’s collective breath…Rattle dispensed with a score for the remainder of the evening, conducting the Dvořák and Brahms with meticulous detail and elsewhere with just a gentle hand on the tiller…I cannot recall ever having heard an account of Brahms’ Second Symphony as thrilling and yet sonically refined as tonight’s. The overwhelming sense of joy at the end of the symphony boiled over into an eruption of applause even as the last affirmation of D major blazed from the stage…The last moments, heralded by those blistering descending trombone lines, were perfection.”
    ★★★★★ Rohan Shotton, Bachtrack, September 2016

    “But if the Anderson gave us the Berlin Philharmonic as spinners of an endless melodic tales, the Dvořák that followed was all about rhythm. These eight orchestra miniatures can so easily sound like a sequence of aphorisms – shiny, witty nuggets that dissolve almost immediately in the ear. With Rattle shaping the set, however, we got something much closer to a suite with a guiding emotional arc, finding pause and contemplation as well as helter-skelter thrills…The plush beauty of sound summoned by this orchestra in full spate never fails to startle, and when this sonic richness is rubbed up against sharp-edged cross-rhythms the effect is giddily exciting. This was music-making both impulsive and crafted – art music with dirty boots…Rattle gave us a symphony (Brahms no.2) at war with itself, constantly torn between two paths, two instincts. The flexibility of tempo, constantly shifting albeit ever so slightly, discouraged resolution or complacency, reminding us that even the most glorious of summer afternoons cannot last.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, September 2016

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    02 Sep 16 BOULEZ 'Eclat' and MAHLER Symphony no.7 Berliner Philharmoniker
    Royal Albert Hall (BBC Proms)

    “No one has ever gone, or is ever likely to go, deeper in the creation of subtle perspectives than Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic…From the first Nachtmusik (“Night-music”) onwards, miracles of sound abounded. Rattle drew a uniquely veiled, mysterious colouring from the horns’ supernatural night processional, applauded by bow-on-wood second violins, and the wailing, klezmer-inflected and oboe-led woodwind in the trio subtly broke the heart.”
    David Nice, The Arts Desk, September 2016

    “After a sunburst of energy on the piano, the piece (Boulez’s ‘Eclat’) unfolded in alternating silences and bursts of activity, Rattle’s imperious forefinger causing sudden volleys of piano and vibraphone to break the gathering tension. The trick is to make the piece seem both relaxed and potentially dangerous, like a cat waiting at a mouse-hole, and Rattle and the players got it just right…It seemed by the end (Mahler’s Symphony no.7) that everyone had had a chance to shine – including Rattle himself, who made the electrifying contrasts of the last movement so extreme they felt like a hallucination.”
    ★★★★★ Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, September 2016

    “The Berliner Philharmoniker led off in ravishing brass colours that punched the air with exalted penetration before softening to an equally glorious restraint. Thereafter, with dynamics that turned on a sixpence and tempo choices to surprise the most seasoned Rattle aficionado, the near-80-minute symphony held together as persuasively as I’ve heard it…The BPO never shed its beauty, even at volume. And wherever Mahler posed a problem, Rattle had a solution. He brought warmth to the first Nachtmusik where other conductors might keep things cool, a choice that brought the night alive with mystery.”
    ★★★★★ Mark Valencia, Bachtrack, September 2016 

    “The Mahler was also brilliantly championed, yet the interpretation’s very flamboyance only underlined the symphony’s baffling non-sequiturs, ending with the “triumphant” finale that seems as debunked by irony as Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony.”
    Richard Morrison, The Times, September 2016

    “The Berlin Philharmonic played it superbly – the brass in particular, following the lead of the tenor horn, which drags the opening movements out of the depths, were faultlessly secure…Before the symphony, Rattle had placed a jewel-like account of Boulez’s Éclat, from 1965, whose soundworld of decaying percussion resonances interspersed with flurries of hyperactivity…”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, September 2016

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    26 Jun 16 MAXWELL DAVIES 'The Hogboon' London Symphony Orchestra
    The Barbican, London

    “It was remarkable how Rattle and his diverse forces achieved near flawless ensemble, with extraordinary finesse to the string tone, exceptional energy in the brass and striking vitality from the woodwind.”
    George Hall, The Guardian, June 2016 

    “Rattle led a lively performance, directed for the stage by Karen Gillingham, with an able cast led by confident young Sebastian Exall as pint-sized hero Magnus…for an old Rattle favourite: Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, brilliantly played and characterised.”
    Richard Fairman, The Financial Times, June 2016

    “The Hogboon was Max’s last major work before he died earlier this year, and — as unleashed by Simon Rattle, the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Guildhall School Singers and Symphony Orchestra and the children of the LSO Discovery Choirs — it’s poignant, uproarious and a marvellous testament to Max’s vision of music as an essential creative force…As if that wasn’t enough excitement, however, after the interval Rattle tamed another monster: Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, in which the LSO was joined by Guildhall players for a plus-size performance.Rattle brought a lean, keen edge to music that’s too often treated as a series of lurid postcards, and in doing so ratcheted up the tension to thrilling heights. In a word, fantastique.”
    Neil Fischer, The Times. June 2016 

    “..his (Simon Rattle’s) sharing of skills and inspiration made for a viscerally exciting Berlioz Symphonie fantastique in the second half, the LSO boosted by more than 30 Guildhall students. Having given a riveting masterclass in giant-scale chamber music, Rattle unleashed his forces in a Witches’ Sabbath of roof-raising energy. For those children who stayed, an unforgettable night with the orchestra.”
    Helen Wallace, The Arts Desk, June 2016

    “Rattle on the podium simply melded into this crowded vision and somehow kept everyone singing and playing from the same sheet.”
    Jasper Rees, The Telegraph, June 2016

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    17 Apr 16 HAYDN 'The Seasons' London Symphony Orchestra
    The Barbican, London

    “It’s a work that suits Rattle, with his fondness for drive and detail, uncommonly well. It’s easy to forget the experimental nature of Haydn’s music, but here it was impossible to escape the novelty of effect within the cumulative span of the whole. Fine articulation from the London Symphony Orchestra’s strings and wind brought out a myriad details as frogs croaked and crickets sang. There was wit and humour throughout, but also great majesty as pealing brass suggested the grandeur of God revealed in creation…And the whirling wine harvest waltz – Rattle took it at an almost daunting speed – was glorious in its detail and elation.”
    The Guardian, Tim Ashley, April 2016 

    “This performance of Haydn’s The Seasons opened with hard-stick timpani, lean sound and sharp attack. Anybody with their eyes closed could have sworn it was a period orchestra…Rattle has always relished the old master’s rude sense of humour and the down-to-earth conviviality of the man.  Rattle has lost none of his youthful enjoyment of the music and Haydn’s pictorial effects — did the cock ever crow with more rasping joy? — were played up wittily.”
    Richard Fairman, The Financial Times, April 2016

    “It was the relaxed charm that breathed most strongly from this performance, for which Rattle pared down the strings and carefully spotlit the other instruments’ more dramatic incursions…Overall, Rattle convincingly drew out the complexities of Haydn’s eclectic blend of styles that look back to Mozart’s Magic Flute but, in the vigour of the scene-painting, also look ahead to Beethoven’s Pastoral.
    ★★★★The Times, Neil Fischer, April 2016 

    “Haydn’s work, of course, rises above the text and forms one of the greatest of all oratorios, allowing The London Symphony Orchestra to shine in every department, commandingly overseen by Sir Simon Rattle, whose love for the piece was evident in every bar…There was so much outstanding work from the LSO that it seems unfair not to name every section, but there was particularly fine playing from the oboes, bassoons and trombones. The presence of Sir Simon ensured a full house.”
    ★★★★★ Music OMH, Melanie Eskenazi, April 2016

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    26 Apr 16 BRUCKNER and ROTT Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
    Royal Festival Hall, London

    “Eight double basses lined the back of the stage, presiding over the super-sized period-instrument orchestra. They were the music’s beating heart; its guiding spirit was Simon Rattle, one of the OAE’s principal artists, completely at ease as he conducted from memory and on inspired, galvanising form…musically it was utterly compelling. Rattle and the OAE found in the Brahms the ideal blend of beauty and restless energy, with incisive strings and mellow trombones and horns. If you’ve never heard any Rott — it’s rarely programmed — just think Mahler and you’ve got the idea. In this rustic ländler-like scherzo, there were hunting-call horns, folky violin solos and an anxiety-inducing triangle. The OAE got it exactly…And so to the main event: Bruckner’s Cinderella symphony. Rattle allowed the music to ebb and flow with natural feeling. Most remarkable of all was the long Adagio, played with unforgettable intensity and finding a rare serenity.”
    Rebecca Franks, The Times, April 2016

    “It (Brahms’ Tragic Overture) has a beautifully ruminative, nostalgic episode, especially telling here because one could sense the underlying fury of the beginning would come back at any moment. Relishing the moment while allowing us to feel the pull of the future is one of the gifts of a great conductor, which Rattle has in spades.”
    Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, April 2016 

    “On stage with them (the OAE), Rattle seems to unleash a pack of orchestral animals whose blood is up…The Brahms was both impulsive and implacable, spinning between the two sides of tragedy’s coin… A Berlin-style weight of sound lies behind Rattle’s patient approach to the composer, cultivated from Nikisch to Furtwängler to Karajan to Abbado. Space and time was given to Bruckner’s surprising twist back to the pathos of the Adagio. When the first movement’s main theme finally returned, it did so not as a brusque sign-off, but in richly deserved triumph.”
    Peter Quantrill, The Arts Desk, April 2016 

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    13 Apr 16 MESSAIEN and BRUCKNER London Symphony Orchestra
    The Barbican, London

    “Rattle’s ear for balance and clarity makes him an ideal Messiaen conductor. Under his attentive direction, the LSO percussion and wind players delivered the full sonic spectrum of the composer’s visionary Couleurs de la Cité Céleste, with the Messiaen specialist Pierre-Laurent Aimard playing the work’s glittering piano part… When one first hears this work, the soundscape normally makes the greatest impact. In Rattle’s account, though, the unifying roots in plainsong and ritual were just as imposing…Rattle absolutely grasps the sense of personal and tonal struggle that is fundamental to this symphony (Bruckner 8). The tendency to quickness, which was even present in the great adagio, gave the performance a dimension of desperation that one does not often get from a more reverentially anguished Brucknerian approach.”
    Martin Kettle, The Guardian, April 2016

    “There’s far more to Bruckner than his devout, naïve image suggests. Rattle delivered the huge waves of humanity that surge through this score while achieving a level of intensity both subtly graded and consistently maintained… In Rattle’s hands the harps of the Scherzo’s trio sounded less celestial than life-affirming, while the Adagio moved with hard-won conviction in a huge arc from its opening of Mahlerian angst and heavenward aspiration to a sense of spiritual confidence… As with the preceding movements, every bar of the finale was stamped with both urgency and gravity, blazing to a stirring peroration. The players of the LSO covered themselves with glory, as they had done with the preceding performance of Messiaen’s Couleurs de la Cité Céleste…what Rattle and his players did offer was bright, incisive articulation, razor-sharp precision and exuberant brass evoking the seven angels with seven trumpets of the Book of Revelation vision that inspired the composer.”
    Barry Millington, The Evening Standard, April 2016

    “Last and most imposing of Bruckner’s completed symphonies, the Eighth invites and frequently receives architectural comparisons. Such talk of pillars and cathedrals could only be wide of the mark in the wake of this unconventional, beautifully prepared and deeply humane performance by the London Symphony Orchestra and their principal conductor designate, Sir Simon Rattle… The tempi were flexible, so that one episode eased into the next and although the pulse often changed, the harmonic undertow remained strong and steady. So did the narrative coherence of a piece which is often heard in terms of imposing but essentially static blocks placed beside one another for contrast more than continuity… Evidently rehearsed and run in after concerts in Luxembourg and Paris, there was much truly quiet playing to treasure – the first movement expired like a guttering flame – but more pertinently the distinction between forte and fortissimo always meant something. Never once blasting or blaring, this was a Bruckner performance for the unconverted.”
    Peter Quantrill, The Arts Desk, April 2016

    “The mosaic-like Couleurs de la cité céleste, for solo piano, winds and percussion, is not an easy piece to love. But Rattle knows how to make it work: by indulging its extremes…every transition to stillness and grandeur came as more of a shock; Rattle negotiated them with precision…we heard the eighth symphony, probably the most monumental of them all, in a performance showcasing Rattle’s trademarks: roaring climaxes, perfectly balanced brass, sumptuous lower strings…in squeezing out every shred of warmth, Rattle gave us something that communicated directly, reminding us that, within this stony edifice, there lurks a Romantic soul. It also triggered genuine passion in these musicians, who clearly love playing under him.”
    ★★★★ Hannah Nepil, The Financial Times, April 2016 

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    19 Mar 16 WAGNER 'Tristan and Isolde' Berliner Philharmoniker
    Baden Baden Easter Festival and Philharmonie Berlin

    “Jedenfalls gehört bei der diesjährigen Produktion der Osterfestspiele Baden-Baden die Hauptrolle ganz und gar dem Orchester. Schon im Vorspiel zum ersten Aufzug ist zu hören, wie exakt der instrumentale Satz durchleuchtet und im Inneren belebt, wie also auf fast kammermusikalische Transparenz hingearbeitet wird. Zugleich steht das berühmte Vorspiel aber im Zeichen einer Farbenpracht, einer klanglichen Opulenz und einer Kraft, wie sie so nur dieses Orchester zu realisieren vermag. Das ist die Basis, auf der Rattle Bögen zu spannen weiss, welche die Weite dieser Musik ungeschmälert spürbar werden lassen.”
    Peter Hagmann, Neue Zuercher Zeitung, March 2016 

    “Was Sir Simon im Graben zaubert, ist die Frucht einer langen Reise mit seinem Orchester durch französische Klangwelten, einer konsequenten Erziehungsarbeit. Hell und funkelnd klingt sein „Tristan“ wie die Vorstufe des „Pelleas“, der er ja de facto auch war, bei aller Wagner-Ablehnung Debussys. Im polyphon durchbluteten Klanggewebe prunken erlesene Soli; nur selten schäumt das Orchester machtvoll auf, bei der „Nacht der Liebe“, in „Isoldes Liebestod“.Die hochpräzise unterstützten Sängerstimmen können sich so wunderbar entfalten.”
    Isabel Herzfeld, Der Tagesspiegel, March 2016

    “Schon der Beginn des Vorspiels mit der exquisiten, extrem homogenen Cellogruppe… legt die Messlatte hoch. Das zerbrechlichste Pianissimo hat noch höchste klangliche Qualität. Die Crescendi und Decrescendi sind subtil und ganz organisch. Simon Rattle dirigiert mit kühlem Kopf und heißem Herzen. Vor allem entwickelt er mit den Berliner Philharmonikern eine Flexibilität, die das schnelle Umschlagen der Stimmungen zu einem Hörerlebnis macht. Das Orchester wird zu einem Meer – ruhig oder stürmisch, besänftigend oder aufwühlend, aber immer in Bewegung! Für die Einschwingvorgänge der Bläser nimmt er sich Zeit… Die Musik atmet, hat Luft und Raum. Dabei bleibt der Orchesterklang selbst in den dramatischen Ausbrüchen immer rund und warm. Die Farbmischungen zwischen Blech und Holz sind subtil. Die Soli entfalten eine besondere Atmosphäre. Nach Akzenten wird der Tuttiklang sofort zurückgenommen, sodass die Interpretation immer transparent bleibt, ohne an Dramatik zu verlieren.”
    Georg Rudiger, SÜDKURIER, March 2016 

    “Musikalische blieben hingegen kaum Wünsche offen. Wenn die Berliner Philharmoniker vom Konzertpodium in den Orchestergraben eines Opernhauses wechseln, ist das immer ein künstlerisches Ereignis. Und Sir Simon «zaubert»! Sein «Tristan» klingt ganz schlank, durchsichtig, fast wie französischer Impressionismus. Rattle liebt die dunklen Farben: Bassklarinette und Englisch Horn kommen wunderbar zur Geltung, und die legendäre Cellogruppe der Philharmoniker darf in satten Kantilenen schwelgen.”
    Die Welt, March 2016 

    “Das Ereignis dieses Abends ist die musikalische Interpretation. Und gerade mit jenem Liebestod, der musikalischen Apotheose eines jeden “Tristan”, lässt sich exemplarisch zeigen, wie ergreifend Simon Rattle und die Berliner Philharmoniker Wagners Partitur umsetzen. Rattle hält diesen wunderbaren Klangkörper zurück, ganz so, wie es der Komponist notiert: p, pp, piu p steht da immer wieder, um Isoldes Weltabgewandtheitspredigt ganz für sich wirken zu lassen. Und dann plötzlich dieser Forte-Ausbruch: “Heller schallend… Da ist er, der musikalische Rausch in immer wieder neuen Wellen. Rattle gelingt eine der farbigsten “Tristan”-Deutungen der vergangenen Jahre, ungemein differenziert und kontrastiert in Tempo und Dynamik, hinreißend musiziert gerade auch im Solistischen und überdies hervorragend ausbalanciert mit den Sängern: zweifellos der beste Opernauftritt Rattles und der Philharmoniker in vier Jahren Osterfestspiele.”
    Alexander Dick, Badische Zeitung, March 2016 

    “Das Orchester ist der Star. Simon Rattle und seine Berliner Philharmoniker inszenieren Wagner. So vehement und eindringlich, so subtil und deutend, dass man manchmal versucht ist, die Augen zu schließen, sich ganz dem Orchesterklang hinzugeben…”
    Pforzheimer Zeitung, Sandra Pfäfflin, March 2016 

    “Rattle and his orchestra proved that they are such a leading ensemble with an exemplary performance including a great dynamic range and highly musical phrasing. The prelude already showed that there is a reason why the orchestra has such a marvellous reputation. The orchestral performance was ravishing, full of passion and very accurate at the same time. Especially during the second act the orchestra revealed such a high level of musicality and a great sense for the dramatic action. The sheer power of the orchestra during the great dramatic outbreaks was as impressive as the soft chamber music-like attitude during the love scene.”
    Daniel Url. Operatic Musicologist, March 2016

    “This is a towering performance by the Berliners, both piercingly beautiful and dangerously overpowering, matching Wagner’s score for every love-drunk step it takes towards total annihilation… it’s hard to begrudge Rattle for not holding back: if you drive the best sports car in the world, would you keep the brakes on?…Beyond the sheer weight of sound, however, what impresses most is Rattle’s ability to weigh each texture: I’ve never heard the woodwind murmurs of Act II’s nocturnal reverie as pinprick clear; nor the dissonances of Act III as soulfully unwound…Eva-Maria Westbroek, though lustily acclaimed, fares worse as Isolde: the voice spread alarmingly at times, and high notes were cut short or not there at all. There is superb support from Sarah Connolly’s Brangäne, Michael Nagy’s Kurwenal and Stephen Milling’s Mark — but it’s Rattle’s triumph.”
    Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, March 2016 

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    13 Jan 16 RAVEL, DUTILLEUX, DELAGE London Symphony Orchestra
    The Barbican, London

    “If it be a test of a great conductor that he/she can conjure a soundworld within a bar or two, then it is one that Simon Rattle passes with flying colours. Hard on the heels of his revelatory Pelléas Et Mélisande, he here conducted the LSO in an innovative French programme that from first to last had the ring of authenticity.To Daphnis And Chloe, Rattle and his players brought glittering sonorities, a lyrical sweep and a thrilling surge to the finish. With or without a new concert hall, this partnership bodes well.”
    Barry Millington,The Evening Standard, January 2016

    “Sir Simon Rattle led the LSO in a gloriously, daring programme of French music. It was a fascinating concert: probably only the LSO’s Music Director Designate could have put on a programme like this and filled the Barbican… Rattle’s conducting of Le tombeau de Couperin was exceptionally fluid, and he caught the composer’s most sumptuous side in a glorious account of the Second Suite from Daphnis et Chloé.”
    John Allison, The Times, January 2016

    “Rattle is in his element in Dutilleux’s pristine yet sensuous soundworld, beautifully teasing out every textural layer. The kaleidoscopic orchestration of L’Arbre des Songes, which takes the enchanted forests of Arthurian legend as a metaphor for human imagination, glowed with a heady intensity…Rattle’s Daphnis, though, a performance of deep sensuality and remarkable rhythmic precision.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, January 2016 

    “If the London Symphony Orchestra sounded simply magnificent in this programme of 20th century French music, it was their restraint that caught the ear rather than the demonstration of an orchestral engine at full throttle for which they are justly renowned. Tonal refinement and fastidious attention to detail were the key signatures of the evening, as they had been for Debussy’s Pelléas et Melisande at the weekend. These are known particulars of Sir Simon Rattle’s conducting, too.”
    Peter Quantrill, The Arts Desk, January 2016 

    “The French feast began and ended with Ravel in sizes small and large: a buoyant rendition of Le Tombeau de Couperin and, to end the night, the Suite No 2 from Daphnis and Chloe. It’s a Rattle party piece and the maestro coaxed a suitably dazzling climax from his plus-size forces.”
    Neil Fisher, The Times, January 2016

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    09 Jan 16 DEBUSSY 'Pelleas et Melisande' Berliner Philharmoniker and London Symphony Orchestra
    Philharmonie, Berlin and The Barbican, London

    “Rattle’s relationship with this score is a long one, and it unfolds here in spontaneous, giddy arcs of acceleration that shudder into eddying pauses. It’s storytelling of the most instinctive kind, its text picked out in gilded detail by the musicians of the LSO. There’s a delicacy here, even to moments of extreme violence, that seems the musical echo of Sellars’s staging – a series of suggestions, implications, possibilities that rarely coalesces into anything approaching a statement.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, January 2016

    “Simon Rattle also jumbled up the London Symphony Orchestra as Debussy wanted, with woodwind scattered among strings, brass facing inwards on either side, and the second fiddles audience-side of the firsts. The dislocation for the players at the first rehearsal must have been acute, but the result was incredible. I had never heard Debussy’s textures so beautifully blended, the eerie otherworldliness so subtly accentuated, or the LSO sound so mellow. As for Rattle’s ever-fluctuating pacing and rapport with the singers — that was a masterclass.”
    ★★★★★ Richard Morrison, The Times, January 2016

    “Rattle drew playing of rapt, shimmering beauty and extraordinary subtlety, but tender and sensuous as his reading was, the broad, Wagner-influenced paragraphs had nobility, and passages of drama had a flesh and blood quality. Rarely has Maeterlinck’s richly symbolist text been rendered with such immediacy: “the ice has been broken with red-hot iron”, says Pelléas as Mélisande finally declares her love, and again we heard the sizzle.”
    Barry Millington, The Evening Standard, January 2016 

    “Yet this remained a wonderful experience, with Rattle (always at his best in French repertory) drawing silken subtlety from the London Symphony Orchestra’s strings and kaleidoscopic colours from its wind and brass. The fourth-act climax was thrillingly judged, as was the dying fall of the fifth”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, January 2016 

    “Rattle delivered a focused and precise, yet notably sumptuous, account of Debussy’s enigmatic score, while every soloist produced singing of particular focus and precision.”
    Sam Smith, MusicOMH, January 2016 

    “In composing Pelléas et Mélisande Debussy held up a kaleidoscope to Wagner, viewing his music as impressionist shards of colour and light. With its deep, sonorous textures Rattle’s performance came in at the darkest end of the spectrum. Has any conductor made the opera sound more Wagnerian since Herbert von Karajan, Rattle’s illustrious forebear in Berlin? Here was an awesome atmosphere of distant, shadowy legend, a deep well of emotions surging up from below. The LSO’s strings (second violins and violas at the front) have rarely sounded so rich.”
    Richard Fairman, The Financial Times, January 2016 

    “And Mr. Rattle and his orchestra? Perfectly sublime…“Pelléas” is rightly his signature piece. Mr. Rattle’s conducting was sensational. “Pelléas” perfectly suits his ability to craft pillows of sound, to build tension through color and balance, to sculpt phrases that are stretched taut and to refine dynamics to the most astonishing, distinct grades…Here he turned his orchestra into another character, one representing the subconscious urges of the protagonists. Time and again just a handful of notes proved revealing…”
    David Allen, New York Times, January 2016 

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    21 Oct 15 BEETHOVEN Cycle of Symphonies Berliner Philharmoniker
    Berlin, Vienna and New York

    “Rattle’s Beethoven is no titan. We are left with a portrait of a composer who is erratic, frustrated, angry and yet capable of tenderness — human in the most personal way. Rattle and the Berliners have succeeded in scouring the cliché from these over-used symphonies, and turning them into utterances that we need to hear. That is what good musical relationships can do.”
    Shirley Apthorp, The Financial Times, October 2015

    “… the performances were committed and energetic; above all, they managed to convey the sense of an orchestra and conductor having a tremendous amount of fun doing what they do best…Throughout the evening, the tempi chosen by Sir Simon – who conducted both works without a score – tended to be on the quick side. In the fourth symphony especially, the allegro section, which followed a perfectly-paced adagio introduction, seemed almost perilously brisk on its first appearance; the fact that the orchestra was able to achieve such a clean, detailed performance at such speeds was, itself, a source of some astonishment.”
    Jesse Simon, Mundo Clasico, October 2015 

    “If you are going to hear any performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the next decade, it should be from Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker. Beethoven’s message of brotherhood and camaraderie could not be personified better than in the form of this oversized chamber orchestra whose members share meticulous eye contact, synchronize their movements, and even shake hands with one another before departing the stage, a formality unheard of in the United States.”
    Jacob Slattery, BachTrack, October 2015

    “Simon Rattle imbued the Ninth with vital energy, his brisk pace in the first two movements creating an impulse that affected the entire performance. In the opening movement, he tended to press ahead in strong passages and then ease up slightly as the dynamic level receded, but such flexibility was not subjected to affectation. Rattle made good use of the BP’s radiant sound and forceful playing, carefully shaping crescendos toward stirring climaxes.”
    Lewis M. Smoley,Classical Source, October 2015

    “The rich, silvery corporate sonority of the storied Berlin ensemble under Rattle remains distinctive—nimble yet deep-cushioned strings allied to robust brass with a hint of grain, and elegant and wonderfully characterful woodwinds. A worthy case was made for the overture, but all sections were at their considerable finest in the two symphonies that made up the bulk of the evening.”
    Lawrence A. Johnson, New York Classical Review, October 2015

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    12 Oct 15 SCHUMANN 'Das Paradies und die Peri' London Symphony Orchestra
    Recording on LSO Live

    “He (Sir Simon Rattle) lavishes love on this score. His approach is full of affection…creating a gorgeous warm Romantic glow. Mark Padmore’s tenor sounds vivid and warm… Florian Boesch sounds sensational… Andrew Staples is very moving in his solos. It’s worth saying, that LSO Live have really gone to town on their presentation for this release.”
    Simon Thompson, MusicWeb International, October 2015

    ‘Rattle handles (Schumann Das Paradies und die Peri) with a loving lightness of touch…Mark Padmore’s narration and baritone Florian Boesch make the best impression’
    Richard Fairman, The Financial Times, October 2015 

    “A tender and introspective performance of Schumann’s rarely-heard opera… Only the most callous listener could fail to be moved by Kate Royal, Bernada Fink, Andrew Staples and Florian Boesch’s spellbound quartet.”
    Gavin Plumley, Sinfini Music, October 2015 

    “LSO Live have done Sir Simon proud with this new set… Expectations will be high when Sir Simon Rattle rakes over the reins of the London Symphony Orchestra in 2017. This tremendous new release only heightens those expectations… LSO Live achieve a first rate recording.”
    The Classical Reviewer, October 2015

    “The concerts earlier this year by Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra had delighted the audience. The resulting recording discography confirms the outstanding quality of this beautiful interpretation”
    Pierre Degot, ResMusica, October 2015 

    “A new era in London is marked with this recording. Mr. Rattle has long been an advocate for the piece, and his forces here respond with an eagerness born of discovery.”
    David Allen, New York Times, October 2015

    “The LSO shows its delicate and soulful side… This is a very good recording which, by force, dynamism and sensibility, does entirely justice to this wonderful romantic work.”
    ★★★★★ Remy Franck, Pizzicato, October 2015

    “Sir Simon Rattle leads the soloists, choruses and orchestra with absolute assurance and style here, showing Das Paradies und die Peri to be a work of grace and beauty, an unusual piece in Schumann’s oeuvre and one whose acquaintance it is well worth making.”, October 2015 

    “The London Symphony Orchestra fulfils its role with precision and professionalism, led by the talent and energy of its future Director…”, October 2015 

    “He (Sir Simon Rattle) is the star of the performance. The richness and breadth of his reading are magnificent and the London Symphony Orchestra plays with warmth and perfection under his leadership. And the London Symphony Chorus…are excellent in their different roles…”
    Opera Nederland, October 2015

    “The LSO is on equally fine form. The high quality of their playing is evident right from the start… Rattle and his players really do show how fine and imaginative is Schumann’s orchestration in this score… A recording such as this enables us to savour Schumann’s mastery to the full. This is an auspicious launch on disc of the LSO/Simon Rattle partnership.”
    John Quinn, Musicweb International, October 2015 

    “Simon Rattle deftly maintains an account of clarity and translucence, bringing out the delicate beauty of the score…(The soloists) rise to the occasion with sympathy and subtle allure”
    Curtis Rogers, Classical Source, October 2015

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    11 Sep 15 ELGAR 'The Dream of Gerontius' Wiener Philharmoniker
    Royal Albert Hall (BBC Proms)

    “Saving the best till last, the Proms gave us the Vienna Philharmonic under Simon Rattle’s direction with Elgar’s Gerontius…Everything in Rattle’s sculpting of this intricate work came triumphantly together in its ecstatic close.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, September 2015 

    “Anyone wondering what Sir Simon Rattle might have brought to the piece after thirty-two years would have given a simple answer: ‘intensity’. The changes in dynamic were even more marked, from the tiniest hushed passages in the introduction and at The Angel’s last exquisite farewell, to the massive crash of ‘the glance of God’; Elgar’s sudden crescendo/decrescendo moments were even more sharply observed, as were his many sudden brief shifts in tempo and massive allargandos. The lengthy setting of the hymn ‘Praise to the holiest’ was a masterpiece of light and shade – every phrase nuanced in speed, volume and timbre.”
    ★★★★ Barry Creasy, Music OMH, September 2015 

    “It was a triumphantly European account of this determinedly English oratorio. Rattle’s tempi always felt right, the shaping of each phrase natural and unforced.”
    ★★★★ Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, September 2015

    “Golden-sweet, the Vienna strings traced halos round Elgar’s lines, softly insistent but never striving to fill the hall, finding an exquisite simplicity for the opening of Part II. Where they were bright the brass glowed darker, urged by Rattle into barking frenzy for the demonic sections…A glowing ending to the Proms season with a celebration of British musical richness”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, September 2015

    “The Vienna Philharmonic strings, especially, brought out all the Wagnerian power and sensibility of Elgar’s score, notably in the Prelude. And Rattle paced and marshaled his forces with expert sensitivity, shaping the emotional surges and pulling-backs as Gerontius’s soul makes his heavenly journey.”
    Rebecca Franks,, September 2015 

    “Rattle’s account of The Dream of Gerontius was audaciously spare and refined, with pianissimo entries as soft as breath.”
    ★★★★★ Anna Picard, The Times, September 2015

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    29 Jul 15 DEBUSSY and BRUCKNER Australian World Orchestra
    Sydney Opera House

    “Rattle’s approach somehow encourages players to relax into the sound, playing through the phrase without over-emphasis or tension, and allowing the natural shape and tone to blossom…His reading (of Bruckner’s eighth symphony) was spacious and majestic, and the slightly lumpy quality that this work’s fragmented sequence can sometimes engender was absent. Instead there was a deep coherence, binding together its rich Wagnerian sonorities and ideas compellingly over a huge timeframe.  The first movement was craggy and explosive, the scherzo deft, the slow movement timelessly expansive, while the finale unfolded with the mysterious logic of the waves of an unknown ocean.”
    Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, July 2015 

    “Everything about this magnificent, perfectly proportioned account of Bruckner’s Symphony No 8 was natural and spontaneous…Conducting without a score, Rattle showed a deep understanding of the work’s architecture. The many transitions and changes of direction were seamlessly negotiated and Rattle allowed each passage its moment in the sun while always keeping the longer structural arc in focus…He created spaciousness and momentum. Ferocious climaxes were generated with thrilling cumulative power, incisive rhythms and forceful unison attack enlivened the energetic scherzo, and his slow-burning realisation of the slow movement was profoundly moving. Textures remained clearly defined, Rattle highlighting the themes without neglecting the surrounding details.
    Murray Black, The Australian, July 2015 

    “The 80-minute second half was Bruckner hewed from granite by a master sculptor in Rattle, with a finger pointing here and a nod of his famously curly head there, chiselling out the details and above all listening to his players’s every note as he conducted from memory…At times he would peg back his massive forces to a murmur, especially in the eerie passage in the first movement when a lone flute goes on skittish looping run above the ominous double basses. And then he would shape the work’s relentless climaxes — a series of false dawns, each more glorious than the one before — with commanding attention to detail before the symphony’s magnificent resolution.”
    Steve Moffatt, The Daily Telegraph Australia, July 2015 

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    12 Jul 15 DOVE 'The Monster in the Maze' London Symphony Orchestra
    The Barbican Centre, London

    “Walton’s snarling First Symphony, a young man’s beast of a symphonic debut. With the LSO supplemented by Guildhall players, Rattle went for a high-voltage, glossy approach: the piece burst out of the blocks and stayed at a supernova level throughout.”
    The Times, Neil Fisher, July 2015 

    “With Simon Rattle at the helm, Jonathan Dove’s new community opera The Monster in the Maze has German, British, and French co-commissioners, and is getting its premiere in three countries, and in three languages. With two additional conductors positioned in the stalls, the whole thing was meticulously controlled… Dove’s great blocks of sound created some majestic effects.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, July 2015

    “Simon Rattle conducted a passionate performance of Jonathan Dove’s exhilarating new children’s opera…provoking passionate performances from his orchestra and excellent soloists. Future projects include performances by Guildhall students playing side-by-side with the LSO — an example of which we heard after the interval, in Walton’s rarely performed Symphony No. 1. At its most boisterous, this testosterone-crazed piece can sound like a pack of fireworks set off in a broom cupboard, and Rattle’s reading wasn’t far off. But in moments of repose there were glimpses of the rich orchestral colours, not least in the Andante con Malincolia, that have marked Rattle’s reign with the Berlin Philharmonic.”
    Hannah Nepil, The Financial Times, July 2015

    “If Rattle’s concert last week reinforced expectations of high artistic standards when he joins the LSO, this one will have encouraged those who hope that broadening participation will be similarly high on his agenda. The adult LSO Discovery and Community Choirs gave their all for Rattle and choirmaster Simon Halsey, singing the Athenians’ heartfelt laments and then, as bloodthirsty Cretans, trading shouts in intricate cross-rhythms…Walton’s Symphony No 1 followed. With the LSO augmented by Guildhall undergraduates… it had a pulsing energy and a sense of elements being slotted together, that brought lean, mean Sibelius to mind even amid Walton’s excess.”
    Erica Jeal, The Guardian, July 2015

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    02 Jul 15 BRAHMS Piano Concerto no. 1 London Symphony Orchestra
    The Barbican Centre, London

    “Conducting without a score, Rattle chose to fill the second half of the concert with Dvorák. The Slavonic Dance No 4 was short, sharp and energetic…Rattle is never afraid to go for the grand gesture and the LSO players responded with playing that was exquisitely weighted…Given the LSO’s characteristic blend of fragility and richness, of rasping fruitiness and haunting tenderness, the rapturous applause was inevitable: for Zimerman, of course, but at least as much for Rattle.”
    Nick Kimberley, Evening Standard, July 2015 

    “The London Symphony Orchestra could not have come up with a much better indication of what the future might hold in the Simon Rattle era than securing Krystian Zimerman as the soloist for the music director’s first concert since his appointment. But as this unforgettable account of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor showed, he and Rattle have forged a very special musical partnership…Following such a titanic concerto performance with lighter weight, pictorial Dvořák was a smart idea as well…Rattle and the orchestra brought them off with tremendous panache, and at the end of such an exceptional concert.”
    ★★★★★ Andrew Clements, The Guardian, July 2015