Showing posts with label Nicola Benedetti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nicola Benedetti. Show all posts

Friday, November 16, 2012


Yes, it's the latest edition of HUNGARIAN DANCES, and it's in Romanian. Heartfelt thanks to Editura Rao in Bucharest for bringing it out with a priceless new title and this arresting cover pic that looks ever so slightly like Nicky Benedetti. More info, in Romanian, here. 

To celebrate, here's a special Friday Historical: the incomparable Jelly d'Aranyi, playing... something very Hungarian.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Olympians head for Last Night of the Proms

You'd think the presence of Nicola Benedetti and Joseph Calleja would be musical Olympics enough, but there's an extra dimension to tonight's Last Night of the Proms. Look who's coming to listen.

Last Night of the Proms welcomes Team GB and ParalympicsGB to celebrate the end
of an extraordinary summer
Saturday 8 September 2012
The BBC Proms is delighted to announce that athletes from Team GB and ParalympicsGB will be joining the Last Night festivities at the Royal Albert Hall and in Hyde Park tomorrow evening. Following an invitation from BBC Proms Director Roger Wright to all that took part in this summer’s Games, the Proms is delighted to welcome over 80 athletes to the Last Night celebrations.
In keeping with the return of Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea-Songs in the traditional second half of the Royal Albert Hall concert (live on BBC One), the BBC Proms is thrilled to be joined in the hall by rulers of the waves themselves: Team GB Gold medal winners in the Mens Coxless Fours Alex Gregor, Tom James MBE and Pete Reed; Silver medallist in the Lightweight Mens Double Sculls Zac Purchase MBE and the complete ParalympicGB Mixed Coxed Fours Gold medal winners David Smith, James Roe, Naomi Riches, Pam Relph and Lily van den Broecke (cox).

Last night at the Vienna Philharmonic, the front-section Promenaders did their best to get into the spirit of the LNOTP by doing a few knee-bends to the encore, J Strauss's waltz Voices of Spring. Only a few, though. For a nuanced write-up of the concert I'm going to refer you to the sterling Boulezian.

As for tonight, fabulous to know that 900-carat Calleja will be beamed out to the entire world. So everyone can hear that the golden age of the Tenor Voice has by no means been and gone. It's alive and well and flying out fresh from Malta. Here's an extract from his new album, Be My Love - a tribute to Mario Lanza. Actually he leaves Lanza standing. (Be my love? Any time, Joe. Any time.)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Korngold tops ALL MUSIC bestseller list on Amazon!

So now, thanks to that daft Sun interview and maybe a bit of BBC Breakfast too, Nicky Benedetti's CD The Silver Violin has zoomed up to be the top bestseller out of absolutely everything in Amazon's music section. And what's on it? KORNGOLD.

Other nice, mostly film-associated stuff too, of course, but she has included two transcriptions from Die tote Stadt - Marietta's Lute Song and the Pierrot Tanzlied - and the EWK Violin Concerto is the centre of it all and inspired the disc, and I should know because Nicky told me so when I was doing the booklet notes. Go get it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Phwoar! Meet the new tenor, Ivor Hardcastle!

There's been an almighty rumpus about an article in the Scottish Sun (which I'd thought a contradiction in terms after my last holiday up there) about Nicky Benedetti, who happens to be an attractive young woman as well as a brilliant violinist and a bright, idealistic mover and shaker in the field of music education. It was a heap of sexist claptrap and innuendo. Nicky later tweeted that it just made her laugh. Probably the worst thing that can happen is that a few more people might tune in to see her on Last Night of the Proms.

But it struck me that while men get away with writing that kind of junk about women, supposing the tables were turned? What would happen were the journalist to be female, the object of attraction male?


 Phwoar, what pecs. Get a dekko at the new singing sensation from willieful Wales, Ivor Hardcastle. 

Opera's hottest bit of beefcake, he stands six foot four in his stockinged feet (not that he wears stockings, natch) and - well, the tenor tones may sing, but those pecs speak volumes.

He grew up in the Valleys. His mother encouraged him to start developing his gifts incredibly early on. "She says I began to sing long before I could talk," says Hardcastle, 30. 

Virtuous Classics signed him to an exclusive recording deal as soon as they spotted him down the gym. "Sure, I like to work out, but singing's my vocation," he says. It was going to be a 5-CD deal, but was reduced to 3 after the sound engineer heard him sing.

So how many hours a day does he work out - I mean, vocalise? "Well, I've just enrolled in university to take a degree in astrophysics," the hunky hound declares, "so I kind of fit it in around that." Yes, I bet you do.

His favourite operatic roles are the ones where he doesn't have to get into a character or a costume. Things like Nes Sun Dormer from Puccini's Turandot by Puccini, or traditional sacred songs like Hallelujah, also to be heard on a Leonard Cohen album. 

"Nobody wants all the boring bits like recitatertives," he points out.

Bad news for drooling dames: he's just moved in with his childhood sweetheart. One, two, three: AHHHH. 

Can we hope he'll dump her? Doesn't look that way to me. "Ceri's the best thing that ever happened to me," he says. "She's an angel. And she goes off like a skyrocket." 

All right, don't rub it in.

*** Before you get all interested in the new singing sensation from Wales, btw, Ivor Hardcastle is 500 per cent fiction. I'm thinking of making him the hero of my next novel, Fifty-Seven Varieties of Tenor.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Nicky Benedetti takes Korngold viral

Nicola Benedetti's forthcoming disc The Silver Violin centres on the Korngold Violin Concerto. But just listen to the beginning of this video: that is, of course, the Lute Song from Die tote Stadt, followed by the Pierrot Tanzlied... How delicious it is to see our EWK enjoying this kind of exposure.

When I talked to Nicky for the disc's booklet notes, she told me that she thought Korngold had gone viral. Critics might not be supportive of the concerto, she remarked, but violinists are: they just adore playing it, and she's no exception. Having lain ignored for decades, the concerto is now easily accessible via the internet, and violinists can pick up on one another's repertoire choices at the click of a mouse. Bingo: suddenly enough recordings of the work exist for a 'Building a Library' about it on R3.

Meanwhile, I hope this blog has this week offered proof that it is perfectly possible, and perfectly OK, to like both Korngold and Boulez.