Showing posts with label Barnabas Kelemen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barnabas Kelemen. Show all posts

Monday, March 23, 2015

Softer, sweeter, finer...

...and no, it's not just the cats. I've had a busy weekend's work and here is the latest, therefore, from our Amati Magazine:

a) My interview with the brilliant Hungarian violinist Barnabás Kelemen about Gypsy style, classical stye and what it's like to have a bit of both;

b) The Monday Newsround, with the latest from London, New York, Norfolk and more.

Today I'm doing the Editor's Lunch interview for May. This is nice. I get to take a star to lunch at a wonderful restaurant. This particular star suggested going Italian, so we are - but I'm hoping that the place I've selected will give him a lot more than he bargained for.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Meet the Kelemen Quartet - tomorrow!

This is the multiple-award-winning Kelemen Quartet - led by the Hungarian violinist Barnabas Kelemen, with Katalin Kokas (aka Mrs Kelemen) second violin - who are in London this weekend and will be doing a Wigmore Hall coffee concert tomorrow morning at 11.30am. In the afternoon, at 4pm, I'll be at the Amati Exhibition at the Lansdowne Club to interview them all for the audience about life - and love - in a string quartet. Above, they play Tchaikovsky at the Kelemen's festival in Hungary, Kaposfest in Kaposvár.

Do come and join us chez Amati for a stimulating afternoon surrounded by wonderful instruments and lively discussion! More info here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A good night at the Gramophones...

A wee bit disorientating to find the Gramophone Awards shifted a) to mid September, b) to LSO St Luke's. But a fine venue it proved, hipper and airier than the good old Dorchester, snazzy in the pink spotlights which illuminated the heat-haze of some 115 candles.

Gone were the sexist comments of yesteryear, ditched in favour of fine words about the power of music to enhance lives and bring people together, and dedications of awards to a variety of parents, teachers and young music-lovers around the world. Gone, too, the all-male line-up of last time: Artist of the Year went to Alison Balsom, Record of the Year to Patricia Kopatchinskaja's disc of Hungarian violin concertos. Guitarist Xuefei Yang was there to perform some Britten songs with Ian Bostridge and Hungarian violinist Katalin Kokas played Bartok duos with her husband, Barnabas Kelemen. Not all good on the sexism front, though, as Decca's little film (they were record of the year) had to be started off by a simpering dollybird of a soprano who is perfectly good, but. No sign of Kaufmann or Calleja having to be anything but their good selves in the later images.

Many much-loved figures among the great and good were present, notably Julian Bream who received the Lifetime Achievement Award and thanked the industry, with sparkles intact, for recognising that he was not a bad guitarist.

It was a particular good night for Bartok, whose Violin Concerto No.2 played by Patricia K was Record of the Year and whose music for violin and piano played by Barnabas Kelemen and Zoltan Kocsis won the Chamber award. Wonderful to see Barnabas pulling in at the top - regular JDCMB readers will know that I've been shouting out about him for quite a while. He is not only a magnificent player technically, but the most thorough and exacting of all-round musicians in that fabulous tradition that Hungary's Franz Liszt Academy has long championed: pure, penetrating, powerful. The Gramophone Awards are a fine way indeed to be put firmly on the map, and with luck megastardom should await. Hear Barnabas, Katalin and their string quartet at the Wigmore on Sunday morning and get his recording here. I am hoping to go and see them in Budapest later in the year.

A fine night, too, for pianists. We had a performance from Benjamin Grosvenor, whose next album is due out in February - exact content still under wraps, but to judge from his glinting, whimsical Albeniz and Shostakovich transcriptions, there'll be some intriguing Golden-Age-style stuff on it. He handed over the Young Artist of the Year title to 18-year-old Jan Lisiecki, who played Bach's Partita No.1 exquisitely. Steven Osborne was Instrumentalist of the Year and treated us to a short extract from his winning disc, Musorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

No pics by me this time because my phone was out of juice (as was I) after a lengthy day going to Bristol and back for, er, the BBC Music Magazine Awards jury panel meeting. I've been ploughing through a very, very, very large pile of discs for that. A topic for another time.

UPDATE, 4.15pm: One spotted James Rhodes leaving early. Perhaps this was why:
It didn't help, I might add, that they took 2 hrs to present 6 awards, and no food materialised til 10pm.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A lost concerto from Hungary, 1942: world premiere ahead

Barnabas Kelemen, the brilliant young violinist from Budapest, wrote to me recently with an astonishing story. On 2 May at Carnegie Hall, New York, he is giving the world premiere of a violin concerto by the Hungarian composer Mihaly Nádor, who died in the Holocaust in 1944. It is part of a powerful programme from the American Symphony Orchestra under the conductor Leon Botstein: entitled 'Hungary Torn', it features world and US premieres of several works by Hungarian composers, including the US premiere of Dohnányi's Szeged Mass.

The Nádor Concerto dates from two years before its composer's tragic death. I asked Barnabas to tell us more about it...

JD: Barnabas, how did the Violin Concerto by Mihaly Nádor come to light? And how did you come to be giving its world premiere?

BK: I got a phone call from my dear friend, the viola player Peter Barsony, who said that after years of research he had found several interesting pieces from Hungarian composers who suffered under the regimes of the first part of the 20th century. One of the most interesting was the Violin Concerto by Mihály Nádor, who died in the Holocaust in 1944 and finished his concerto in 1942. The manuscript was found in the Hungarian National Széchenyi Music Library. Leon Botstein, the concert's conductor, is always interested in this kind of repertoire, finding interesting music that hasn't been played, but is really worth learning. And they asked me would I be interested...? And I very much was and I'm just more and more enthusiastic about the piece!

JD: What is the music like? What do you enjoy most about it? Do you think it is a work that might enter the general concert repertoire now?

BK: The greatest thing about this concerto, first, is that it's a real masterpiece. It's about 30 minutes long and there wouldn't be any part that I'd like to cut out or change! Nádor himself was a violinist, but mainly he was an operetta and film-music composer. He also composed several concert works. The piece is full of post-romantic colours, with Nádor's own voice: very virtuoso, with some interesting new ideas for violinists, many inspired by the Mid-European/Hungarian styles. They say that as he finished the first movement in Munich he wanted to premiere it, but at the end he had to confess that it was too difficult for him and he wasn't able to play it! Truly the Violin Concerto is equally as difficult as any of the greatest romantic violin concertos, if not more virtuoso than some. I think if we compare the piece to violin concertos by Goldmark, Walton, Elgar and Korngold, then Nádor has the chance to be part of this - though no one has heard it, so let's wait until the world premiere and the reactions...

JD: Do you think there are many more pieces by him waiting to be rediscovered and performed?

BK: Nádor was one of the best operetta and variete compsers of the early 20th century after Lehár and Imre Kálmán, with some great compositions for some of the famous movies of the '30s in Hungary. He was a student of the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy, where I happen to teach chamber music after being a violin professor for seven years. After learning and world-premiering his great Violin Concerto I will surely look into his repertoire what else I could play (indeed, premiere) as his concerto was a wonderful, great adventure in this style for me. Not many violinsts can get to know a masterpiece in this style first in the world and bring it to a premiere in Carnegie! It's a real honour that Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra asked me to play this concert in the Carnegie Hall, where I had the chance to play a recital 60 years after another Hungarian masterpiece had been premiered there by Yehudi Menuhin, the Solo Sonata by Béla Bartók. This piece was also on my recital's program in 2004.

JD: Do you have any plans for further performances or a recording? 

BK: I'm seriously thinking about both the further performances of the Nádor Violin Concerto and a recording, but first I'd like to perform the piece. I can't wait to hear the orchestration, not only from looking at the score. Hungary must take the Hungarian premiere very seriously!