Showing posts with label BBC Radio 3. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BBC Radio 3. Show all posts

Friday, November 28, 2014

TOMORROW on Radio 3 'CD Review'

Off to BBC Broadcasting House bright and early tomorrow morning (Saturday 29th) to take part in Radio 3's 'CD Review'. I'll be in discussion with presenter Andrew McGregor and the distinguished pianist Roger Vignoles, featuring a round-up of five new piano discs. We'll be on about 10.15am - live in the studio!

The discs we are discussing are:

Piotr Anderszewski
Bach: English Suites Nos 1, 3 and 5
Piotr Anderszewski

Bach: French Overture, Italian Concerto, Aria Variata, Concerto in D minor after Marcello (it's the Oboe Concerto)
Vladimir Ashkenazy

Beethoven: Sonatas Op.106 (Hammerklavier) and Op. 27 No.2 (Moonlight), plus two pieces from The Ruins of Athens trsc A.Bax
Alessio Bax

Haydn: Piano Sonatas No 59 in E flat major, No.38 in F major, No.47 in B minor, No.39 in D major
Denis Kozhukhin

Beethoven: Piano Sonata in G major, Op.31 No.3; 'Eroica' Variations
Schubert: 16 German Dances from Op.33; 'Wanderer' Fantasy
Aaron Pilsan

Do tune in. There's some good 'uns.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Who'll replace Roger Wright?

Bombshell from the Beeb this week as we heard that Roger Wright is leaving the controllership of Radio 3 and the directorship of the Proms to be chief executive at Aldeburgh.

Filling both these rather distinct roles at once is a tall order - especially at the moment. One job looks like the biggest toy box in the western world (OK, in reality it probably isn't - but who wouldn't love to dream up their perfect Proms season?). The other...doesn't; on the one hand, whoever runs Radio 3 will probably have to wield a sharp-edged axe, but on the other, the recently appointed director general, Tony Hall, is the most sympathetic to the arts in many a long year. Who could be in the frame to take over?

In the spirit of fantasy football - for none of us have much idea which way things might go - here is my personal shortlist for the headhunters' reference.

The director of the Proms needs the experience, the knowledge, the contacts, the drive, the ambition, the personality and the thickness of skin to reach for the stars. It is high time, of course, that the Proms was run by a woman. It's been run by a man for over 100 years. Radio 3, of course, has never been run by a woman either. Chances are probably limited, given the male weighting within the station and its listeners, but you never know; stuff could yet be swayed. Here is a 50-50 selection in no particular order, plus a little thinking outside the box. Some of these names have been bandied about a lot; others haven't, but perhaps should be.

GILLIAN MOORE. The Southbank's head of music has a simply staggering breadth of knowledge about the classical repertoire, not least contemporary music - and commissioning the latter is a vital part of the Proms role. She's also stupendously creative in programme planning. Witness last year's The Rest is Noise.

ALAN RUSBRIDGER. The editor of The Guardian is a passionate music lover and clearly has the cool head, steady hand and strength of personality to carry off the joint post and all it entails. After dealing concurrently with Snowden and learning the Chopin G minor Ballade, he might find it a tempting piece of cake.

JOHN GILHOOLY. Running the Wigmore Hall is something that nobody would want to stop doing - unless they wished to be let off the leash with a bigger place and programmes to match. He has an impeccable track record as chief exec and artistic director of the Wiggy and head of the Royal Philharmonic Society. (PS - John, when you get this appointment, please can I have the Wigmore job? Thanxbijx.)

KATHRYN MCDOWELL. As CEO of the LSO she is accustomed to dealing with Gergiev, so probably most other jobs will seem a picnic. She's maintained the orchestra's position at the top of the UK's orchestral tree while keeping discretion, valour and a level head.

TOM SERVICE. The critic and broadcaster is virtually a walking musical encyclopaedia - and is a brilliant communicator, too. His soundness, enthusiasm and conviction would be invaluable assets in the role. Nicholas Kenyon went to this job from being a critic and broadcaster, so precedent exists.

FIONA MADDOCKS. The Observer's music critic, she is a former editor of BBC Music Magazine and along with the necessary breadth of knowledge she has managerial experience, a razor-sharp brain and a scrupulous attitude towards fairness and balance.

...Anyway, I know who I think should get the job, but we are not yet off to the bookies to place bets.






Saturday, November 30, 2013

My R3 Chopin Ballades podcast

If you missed my Building a Library today, comparing recordings of Chopin's 4 Ballades on BBC Radio 3's CD Review, you can download it as a podcast here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/bal

Enjoy!

Monday, June 03, 2013

JD & Friends on R3

Listen out for our broadcast today on BBC Radio 3's In Tune! David Le Page, Viv McLean and I will be performing some extracts from our 'Hungarian Dances' concert ahead of Ulverston on Saturday, the St James Theatre Studio next Tuesday and the Musical Museum, Kew Bridge, on 8 September (and more later). http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b020vjxx

PLEASE COME TO THE CONCERTS!
St James Theatre Studio, 11 June, 8pm
Ulverston, 8 June, 11am (yes, a sort of palindrome on 11 and 8...)

And if you missed the Composer of the Week on Faure last week, it's on iPlayer all of this week to podcast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sv826

You wouldn't believe how much organising is involved in even a single concert... Normal JDCMB service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Who needs the Ides of March when it's Red Nose Day?

For our friends overseas who might be puzzled as to why the British should suddenly start wearing red foam noses on the Ides of March and, worse still, trying to be funny, Red Nose Day is all about Comic Relief, a big charity effort that campaigns for "A just world free from poverty". As our government's policies are about to push a great many more children into poverty (it is estimated that by the time of the next general election in 2015, about half the UK's children will be living below the breadline), there's never been more need for this.

I'm all for Red Nose Day. I have a red nose. It lives on my desk lamp and twinks at me. It keeps my perspective level. And it's just a red foam ball, and if things are really rough it can sit on my nose for a minute, and it works every time. It was a present from one of my favourite interviewees ever: the adorable Rolando Villazon, who in his spare time is Dr Rolo, working with the Red Noses in Germany, clowning for children in hospices and hospitals. It's kept me sane. (Thus far, anyway.) That's one reason Comic Relief is such a great idea - because laughter is the best therapy on earth.

So now BBC Radio 3 has been putting its shoulders to the historically-informed, 18th-century wheel... The station is currently devoting a whole month to a Baroque Spring (much of which I've missed as I'm having a purple Wagner patch and it doesn't fit too well, and meanwhile it's been snowing) and five top presenters are competing to see whose choice is Top of the Baroque. Tom Service does a spot of rap to Couperin. Suzy Klein brought in the Swingle Singers to see if they could Handel a spot of Hallelujah... Click here to watch their efforts and pick your favourite.

Here's my pick of the bunch: Sara Mohr-Pietsch decided to take up the cello from, um, scratch, and learn the bassline of the Pachelbel Canon...and then she invited her friends into the studio to join in on whatever came to hand or lip...

[UPDATE, 22 March: have removed the video because it starts playing automatically whenever the blog page loads up...please follow the links above to find it instead.]


Friday, January 18, 2013

JD on R3 talking FAURÉ tomorrow

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On Saturday morning - ie, tomorrow - I'm on BBC Radio 3's CD Review, discussing various recordings of Fauré's miraculously beautiful Cello Sonata No.2. Start time is about 9.30am. A bit more info here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pyffm




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Piano questions, please!

Last night you may have heard Erica Worth, editor of Pianist Magazine, joining Sara Mohr-Pietsch and Richard Sisson live on BBC R3 for Piano Keys. It's a talk show in the interval of the Piano Season's Monday evening recital, answering listeners' phone-in questions about all matters pianistic. Last night's questions involved the relative merits of digital instruments versus acoustic ones, what goes on in pianists' minds while they play, some rarities of French repertoire and a wonderful story about Myra Hess in the Blitz.

Next Monday it is JD's turn to be the guest in the hotseat.

If there's a question with which you'd like to call in, please email the team at: pianoseason@bbc.co.uk and if you missed yesterday's, you can catch up on the iPlayer here.

Other BBC Piano Season treats are plentiful - the most interesting stuff didn't make the headline material! Composer of the Week is Chopin. Sunday Morning with Rob Cowan featured some of Ignace Friedman's greatest recordings. And the Radio 3 Piano Masterclass with David Owen Norris is available to watch online here. Onwards...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

JD on R3 today

I'm on BBC Radio 3's CD Review this morning at approx 11.05, chatting with Andrew McGregor about six Bach and Bach-ish discs. Not least, the Goldberg Variations on the accordion. Tune in here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mns4j

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Pianomania on the BBC


Yes, that is a picture of Lang Lang playing a piano on a flooded heath. As I always say, chacun à son gout. He made quite a pig's ear of the Beethoven 'Emperor' Concerto at the Lucerne Festival the other week, providing surface beauty aplenty, but turning it into nothing more than a series of pretty episodes and pulling it around so much that several times it nearly fell apart at the seams. I pitied the poor wind players when he was supposed to be accompanying them. My full review will be in International Piano in due course.

Lang Lang, though, is a phenomenon that's more than the sum of its parts: he has become emblematic of our day and age (as I've explained in a lengthy essay introducing DG's new boxed set of his complete recordings 2000-2009). He could have been the world's greatest pianist and ten years ago seemed set to become just that; perhaps he still can be, once the commercial phase wears thin and deeper waters begin to beckon.

And he is at the centre of a tremendous pianofest that's fast approaching on the BBC and up in Leeds. The Leeds International Piano Competition is kicking off shortly and Lang Lang is to be its "global ambassador" (though exactly why isn't clear, as it's not as if he were a past winner, or even, as far as I'm aware, a past entrant...).

The piano is rolling off to flood the BBC airwaves much more thoroughly than the pond above. The three-legged monster is set to eat up the schedules on Radio 3 and BBC4, with extensive coverage of the Leeds contest on both, a series of Monday evening piano recitals on Radio 3, a major focus towards those actually learning the instrument, and much more. The full wonder of the piano is something exceptional, something magnificent, something magical, and if this unique season of pianomania can help to bring the essence of it to a wider audience, that is terrific. Let's see what happens.

For TV, Alan Yentob has made a movie about...oh yes, Lang Lang. I wish he would make one about someone else as well. Lang Lang has been featured on plenty of films before now, yet the truly towering musicianship of such artists as Grigory Sokolov, Mitsuko Uchida, Krystian Zimerman, Andras Schiff, Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu and plenty more remains scandalously under-documented.

Besides, if you want an interesting story out of China, then talk to Fou Ts'ong. We hear a lot about how 60 million children in China have taken up the piano under the influence of "the Lang Lang effect". We hear a lot about "tiger mums". We hear virtually nothing any more about the fate of an entire generation of Chinese artists and intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution. And we should. (I think it's high time I unearthed my interview with Ts'ong for the old Classical Piano magazine in the mid-90s and re-ran it...watch this space...)

Wishing all the very best of luck to all the entrants at Leeds - and may the finest musician win.

Finally, at the risk of being accused of just posting the BBC's press release, I'm just going to post the BBC's press release (or part of it) and then you'll know what they're doing.




Discover a Suite of Piano Programmes on the BBC this Autumn
Saturday 15 September until Tuesday 6 November
This autumn, the BBC will be dedicating a suite of programmes to the music, people, history and beauty of one of the world’s most iconic instruments, the piano.
Piano Season on the BBC is a major six-week season celebrating a single instrument.  The season will explore the piano’s wide-ranging influence from the 1700s to the present day, as well as delve into the lives of the people behind the piano and the music created for it.
Highlights of the season include an in-depth insight into The Leeds International Piano Competition, a Jazz Battle live from Trinity Laban College Greenwich, a downloadable A-Z of the piano, Peter Donohoe’s 50 Greats, an online masterclass for budding pianists and well-loved personalities from around the UK, such as Woman’s Hour’s Jane Garvey, Radio 1’s Dev and Olympic medal winner Samantha Murray, taking up the challenge of learning the piano for the first time, with eight of them taking part in the season finale, Gala Concert in Cardiff on the 29 October 2012.
The season begins with extensive coverage of the Leeds International Piano Competition with live broadcasts of the Final on BBC Radio 3 and a six-part series about the finalists on BBC FOUR.  The season will culminate on November 6th with a special episode of Imagine on BBC One focusing on Lang Lang as he turns 30.
The Leeds International Piano Competition on BBC FOUR will be presented by Suzy Klein, herself a pianist, and will showcase the six finalists and their concerto performances in full.  The series will also take viewers behind the scenes to discover why ‘The Leeds’ is admired worldwide, take a closer look at the mechanical marvel that is the piano, speak directly to the woman behind the competition, Dame Fanny Waterman, who has inspired a generation of young musicians and delve into what makes a world-leading concert pianist. With arguably one of the piano world’s biggest stars taking an ambassadorial role with the competition, we’ll also hear from Lang Lang on why ‘The Leeds’ still matters as it approaches its 50th birthday.
BBC Radio 3 listeners can follow the competition live with both Concerto Finals nights and the Sunday Afternoon Gala Concert broadcast live from Leeds. Piano Season on BBC Radio 3 continues with artists such as Lang Lang, the Labeque Sisters and Malcom Martineau sharing their musical inspirations, as well as hearing from experts such as David Owen Norris and Peter Donohoe. Programmes will feature some of the greatest piano music ever written by composers who themselves loved and played the piano; including Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt, Beethoven, Debussy and Chopin alongside late night jazz programming exploring some of the greatest names in jazz pianism.
Monday nights will be 'Piano Night' when BBC Radio 3’s Live in Concert will offer listeners a series of unique piano recitals, from different corners of the nation, given by an array of international artists. Past Leeds finalist Sunwook Kim will play Beethoven and Schubert and  Russian Evgenia Rubinova presents a programme of music from her native country; Ukrainian Alexei Grynyuk plays Chopin and Liszt; Pascal and Ami Rogé play French music for two pianos; while Radio 3 New Generation Artist Igor Levit performs Rzewksi’s  celebrated and fiendishly difficult Variations on “The People United Will Never Be Defeated”; Ashley Wass and Huw Watkins team up to perform Robin Holloway’s  pianistic tour-de-force “The Gilded Goldbergs”.
In BBC Radio 3 ‘s morning programmes, listeners will have the chance to hear the ‘50 Great Pianists’ – a short daily focus on one of the fifty greatest names from the world of pianism as selected by Peter Donohoe, while regular programmes such as ‘'Composer of the Week' will explore the lives of composers who wrote for the instrument, from Clementi to Rachmaninov.  Special guests and piano lovers including as Kathryn Stott, Valentina Lisitsa, James May, Alan Rusbridger and Benjamin Frith will be joining the regular BBC Radio 3 presenters through the season to talk about their passion and experiences with the iconic instrument.   There will also be online master classes, exploration of the historical and social history of the piano and an entertaining A-Z of the piano in BBC Radio 3’s late afternoon programme ‘In Tune’. 
Trinity College London and the ABRSM [Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music] will be helping budding pianists hone their skills in ‘110%’ on Friday nights.  We’ll be treated to great performances of Piano Syllabus pieces and hear from the experts on what make them so special and how to get 110% in their exams.
Later on in the autumn, BBC One’s Imagine will return with a special documentary presented by Alan Yentob on Lang Lang, arguably one of the greatest pianists of his generation, as he turns 30.  Lang Lang’s dazzling technique and musicality have inspired a generation of young pianists and delighted audiences throughout the world. Imagine follows him on an impressive schedule of concerts in Shanghai, New York, London and Berlin and reveals a personal story that began with great hardship and a family dream that nearly ended in tragedy.  In this auspicious 'Year of the Dragon' Lang Lang celebrates his 30th birthday at a concert in Berlin with Herbie Hancock, opens his own piano school in China, plays for the Queen at the Diamond Jubilee, performs sell-out concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, and becomes the first classical musician to headline at a British pop music festival.
BBC FOUR will also celebrate Lang Lang being appointed as the Global Ambassador of the Leeds International Piano Competition with two one-off documentaries on Friday 2 November. Lang Lang at the Roundhouse will give viewers an opportunity to see this stunning performance at London’s legendary Roundhouse, recorded at the iTunes festival in July 2011.  Lang Lang performs a remarkable Liszt recital as the only classical music artist in a true rock-star surrounding, next to international pop stars like Coldplay, Adele and Linkin Park.  And Lang Lang: The Art of being a Virtuoso follows Lang Lang through China, the US and Europe and offers a glimpse into life on tour with the superstar.

Photo credit: BBC/Steve Brown

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Vengerov rides again



(Above: Maxim Vengerov plays and talks on BBC Radio 3's In Tune the day before his Wigmore comeback concert...don't miss it, even if you missed the concert.)

Being Maxim Vengerov at the Wigmore Hall the other night must have been rather like being Barack Obama winning the US election. The weight of expectation had to be all but inhuman. Vengerov's comeback concert - to which his appearance as stand-in for Martha Argerich  two weeks ago was an unexpected warm-up - couldn't have announced more clearly that the violinist means business. It is some six years since an injury grounded him. Since then, he's discovered life beyond four strings and a bow, from conducting to dancing the tango. He's taken up a new post as Menuhin Professor at the Royal Academy of Music and he has recently married Olga, sister of the violinist Ilya Gringolts. The couple now have a baby daughter.

It's a long way from prime prodigy to professor and proud papa; and even if Vengerov didn't exactly need to grow up - we'll never forget his magnificent performances in his teens and twenties - then he has certainly matured. The showmanship has by no means vanished, as his encores, Brahms's Hungarian Dance No.1 and the Wieniawski Scherzo Tarantelle, proved (so why did the dear old Wigmore audience get up and start going? I reckon he'd have been ready to keep playing for a good while longer...). But the bulk of the recital was weighty fiddle fare: the Bach D minor Partita, the Handel D major Sonata and Beethoven's 'Kreutzer' Sonata, which Vengerov is privileged to play on the 'Kreutzer' Stradivarius. Kreutzer himself never played that sonata; that was his loss.

Vengerov switched bows for the second half. Not that it was possible to see, from the murky depths of the Wigmore Critics' Cattery, the precise nature of the bow he used for the Bach and Handel - it seemed pointier, and the sound it produced was more forced and less lovely. With the D minor Partita, though, Vengerov reclaimed the stage on which he first stormed London. From long, stark note number one, delivered with head raised and turned away from the instrument, the space was his, the sound all his own; the music unfolded like a water garden uncurling its wonders from within. The Chaconne was as muscular and idealised as a Michelangelo sculpture.

Joined by his regular duo partner, Itamar Golan, Vengerov created a different soundworld for the Handel: this was genial music-making for friends, in contrast to the inward soliloquies on which we seem to eavesdrop in solo Bach. Delicious with piano accompaniment, drawn with soft and deft strokes, tastefully decorated, it conjured a sepia-toned environment that didn't project outwards so much as invite us all in.

But it was the Beethoven that stole the show. Vengerov and Golan never played safe, working at tempi on the edge of the possible in that crazy first movement development, with dynamics that blazed, and electricity that flared, flickered and illuminated by turns. Uniting a composer's inner ethos with the nature of the physical sound has become something of an under-rated art, but that's what they did: the eloquent richness of Vengerov's tone and its soaring conviction was Beethoven, with all his idealism and defiance alive and well. That's the mysticism of which music and its finest exponents are capable. And as an address from a newly returned president in a musical White House, it couldn't have been more inspiring.

The concert was recorded for BBC Radio 3 and I think it is going out on 29 April. Also projected for the Wigmore Live record label.

Bravo, Maxim! It's good to have you back.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Schubert forever! Or at least, a whole week on Radio 3

Just a few weeks back on JDCMB we asked "WHY SCHUBERT?" It turns out that BBC Radio 3 had decided to ask that too. They're doing wall-to-wall Schubert from 23 to 31 March - nothing but Schubert and Schubertian stuff, day and night, for eight and a half days. I'm not sure how the Schubert addicts amongst us will manage to do anything except glue ourselves to the airwaves while this is going on.

Radio 3 has more details here and yesterday I had a feature about it in The Independent, in which I talked to Professor Brian Newbould - the man who finishes unfinished Schubert and has finished some more for this occasion - and also to Roger Wright, controller of R3. Read it here. (I didn't post this yesterday because I went somewhere nice to interview someone very special - more of that in April.)

Saturday, November 05, 2011

I'm on the radio today

This morning on CD Review, BBC Radio 3, I'm having a chat with Andrew McGregor about some new recordings of piano concertos, both rare and less rare. We're covering Howard Shelley's set of Beethoven, Stephen Hough's Liszt and Grieg, some concertos by Herold (composer of La fille mal gardee and Zampa) and, um, the Busoni. UK listeners can, if you so choose, tune in via the link here, or catch it later on Listen Again.