Showing posts with label Steven Isserlis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Steven Isserlis. Show all posts

Thursday, June 08, 2017

An election on Schumann's birthday

It's Schumann's birthday. Here is Steven Isserlis, one of today's greatest Schumannians, in his Cello Concerto. The composer finished its proofreading six days before he threw himself into the Rhine.

There's a bitter irony that this Brexit-focused general election is on Schumann's birthday. It's hard to know what to do when it is so clear that our country, like Schumann, is on the point of cracking up, in many, many ways. Unless some kind of miracle takes place, it may not recover in our lifetimes.

Please go and vote today. Think of Mrs Pankhurst etc. Voting with brains intact is all we can actually do to try to better our own future.

Incidentally, I stumbled over a fascinating documentary that Steven made about Schumann back in the 1990s. Here's part 1. There's more.

The clinching image of Ghost Variations is the tipping from glory days to terminal struggle (Jelly d'Arányi), sanity to madness (Schumann), freedom to fascism and war (the world) - converging into the same cliff-edge moment. Yet the tipping point is not so easy to find: things happen so slowly, and we are so eager to think the best - the "don't worry, it'll be fine" mindset - that we don't realise what's really going on until it's too late... Schumann's Violin Concerto was the last orchestral work he completed before his suicide attempt and confinement in a mental hospital. It's a story for today and has become so tenfold since I began working on it six years ago.

Friday, September 16, 2016

When Steven met Schumann...

Steven Isserlis is one of those infuriating musicians who writes as well as he plays. His latest book is just out and it is a revisiting of Schumann's Advice to Young Musicians, as tweaked for the 21st century (published by Faber & Faber). I went to talk to him about it - and also about his new recording of the Brahms Double and original version of the Op.8 Trio plus the slow movement of the Schumann Violin Concerto arranged by Benjamin Britten (yes, really), with Joshua Bell. Feature is out now in this week's JC and here's a taster.

....The question remains whether today's younger generation can share the attitude that music is something sacred, as he and Schumann both advocate. "It's not a sport," Isserlis declares. "I say it in the book and I've said it many times: music is not a sport and it should be taught as a mixture of religion and science. You find out as much as you possibly can about it and approach it with respect. You don't make it a vehicle for impressing people and showing off. 

"Actually I think the new generation has this outlook still more, at least among violinists and cellists," he adds. "They really respect the music. I think we went through a bad phase about 20-30 years ago. But those in their late teens and early twenties today seem to have a much better attitude and are emerging much more rounded as musicians."

Monday, February 02, 2015

Amati: In which I treat a great cellist to lunch

The Amati Magazine, redesigned and under new editorship, kicks off in earnest today with my first Editor's Lunch: a series in which I treat hand-picked luminaries to lunch. Britain's greatest living cellist seemed like a good person for the first one... and I'm pleased to say that the man with the curls and the gut strings accepted my invitation to dine at Baltic. Here is the feature. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

If instruments could speak...

I've been having a little fun for Sinfini, "interviewing" two Stradivarius violins, the 'Gibson' (Josh Bell's) and the 'Messiah'; a Strad cello (Steven Isserlis's Marquis de Corberon); and Fritz Kreisler/Nikolaj Znaider's Guarneri del Gesu. If they could speak, is this what they'd tell us? Enjoy...

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Hungarian musical tradition alive and well and living in Cornwall

Speaking of piece in this month's issue of Standpoint Magazine is all about the International Musicians' Seminar, Prussia Cove, Cornwall, which was founded by the great Hungarian violinist Sandor Vegh (right) and is now under the artistic directorship of Steven Isserlis. It remains probably the best course of its type in the country and possibly for further afield too. Steven endeavours to keep the values of Vegh and his circle going strong, and the fact that a large number of the most serious and accomplished young musicians in the world have been through these doors at one time or another is testimony to this great tradition's ongoing vigour and value. Frequent maestri include Andras Schiff, Ferenc Rados, Gabor Takacs-Nagy and more - Hungarian and otherwise. Here's the link to Standpoint, where you can read all about how Mr Vegh once tipped a glass of beer over Steven's head (and you know what his hair is like, so, um...). And more edifying stuff too, natch.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

When Steven met Slava

Ace cellist Steven Isserlis has a personal tribute to Rostropovich in today's Grauniad. Steven's one of those rare musicians who writes so well that he could put the rest of us out of a job. Here's a tempting extract:

Not surprisingly, considering the energy and passion with which Slava approaches every aspect of his life, he has a fearsome temperament. Once, his younger daughter Olga, who was studying the cello, thought her father had gone out, and settled down to read when she should have been practising. Unfortunately for her, Slava returned unexpectedly. Furious, he picked up her cello, brandished it and started chasing her with it, telling her to stop so that he could kill her (a request that she not unreasonably chose to ignore). Eventually, she ran out of the house, but he kept after her - and goodness knows what would have happened had they not passed Shostakovich, who happened to be walking nearby. He pleaded with Slava to calm down, and order was eventually restored; but I'm sure Olga learned to practise more diligently after that - or at least to lock her door.

Read the rest here.

NOTE: This is Post No. 501 on JDCMB.
EXTRA NOTE TO LONDON READERS/SELF: Don't forget to show up at Sheen Library for talk tonight.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

When Steven met Clara...

Here is Steven Isserlis's take on the Schumann, Clara & Brahms story, from yesterday's Guardian. Today, in Aldeburgh, he and Simon Callow will be giving their music-and-words account of it. I can't make it to Aldeburgh myself (I'm currently closeted in my study, in the last throes of finalising the manuscript of ALICIA'S GIFT), but would be very interested to hear from anyone who does. Please write in with your comments! I will post any newspaper reviews I find.