Friday, November 30, 2007

In London on 9 December? Get down the Wigmore Hall, fast

Calling all music-lovers in London, but especially violin-lovers: at very short notice, Ida Haendel is to appear with the Razumovsky Academy at the Wigmore Hall on Sunday 9 December. The inimitable Oleg Kogan has pulled her into the Razumovsky fold; she's reportedly very enthusiastic about everything this remarkable organisation is trying to achieve with regard to providing top-level teaching for exceptionally gifted youngsters. She agreed to give masterclasses for them at another venue, but it turned out that a piano recital cancellation had left the Wigmore free that day, so the event has been moved straight into it. Masterclass is at 3pm and the student concert, in which Haendel will perform as well, is at 7pm. And thanks to the Razumovsky Trust, which is sponsoring the whole thing, admission is free. Tickets required, though - box office 020 7935 2141.

Ida Haendel is perhaps the last Golden Age violinist left on stage today.

Please spread the word! Notice has been so short that publicity in official media is going to be very difficult.

Here is Haendel playing Vivaldi's Concerto for 4 Violins with Isaac Stern, Ivry Gitlis and Shlomo Mintz, conducted by Zubin Mehta. I've heard of line-ups, but this takes some cakes.

Coincidentally, Haendel was my first-ever interviewee, back in 1986. (Talk about jumping in the deep end.) She was very keen to find out how old I was, but wouldn't reciprocate with equivalent info about herself! I last heard her in Verbier about three years ago, when she played the socks off everyone else in town with an unaccompanied violin solo drawn from Swan Lake. I utterly revere her. What more need one say? Here is my article from The Strad, December 1986.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

29 November: the anniversary...

In New York tomorrow, Thursday 29 November, cellist Sam Magill and his colleagues from the Met Orchestra will be playing Korngold at the Lincoln Center Library - the programme includes the Suite for piano left-hand and strings, and the Cello Concerto. The manuscript of the Suite lives in the NYPL as part of the Paul Wittgenstein Collection and the concert is part of the Treasures of the Music Division series.

In Vienna, also tomorrow, John Mauceri wields the baton over a film music anniversary gala at the Konzerthaus (link rather complicated and indirect). Hope they will wheel on a decent chocolate cake too.

And in London on Sunday week, 9 December, at the estimable London Chamber Music Society at the Conway Hall (of which more in the near future), the excellent Chamber Domaine plays the Piano Quintet. Sunday evening, 6.30pm (link superb, designed by Wonderful Webmaster himself).

Grieg plays Grieg

This exhilarating recording is of Edvard Grieg playing his own 'Wedding Day at Troldhaugen' - brisk tempo, fresh tone, a distant memory. It dates from 1903. This year, of course, marks the centenary of his death.

It took me a long time to recover from my first trip to Bergen about seven years ago. It was late May, but we got caught in a blizzard up a mountain, had to buy thick woolly jerseys in the harbour market and discovered that the town's slot machines, instead of chocolate, held umbrellas. And you cannot get away from Grieg. Every shop, every bus, every everything, pipes out Grieg until you start pitying the poor people who have to live with it.

And yet...his house at Troldhaugen is probably the most beautiful composer museum I've seen. It's preserved exquisitely - you imagine that he or his wife Nina might stroll in any moment, brush a soft note from the piano (on which Andsnes has recorded the appropriate music) and guide you down to the bottom of the garden, where the glorified shed in which Grieg liked to compose overlooks first the trees, then the fjord, at last eternity. His grave is embedded in the rocks, deep inside the earth that he loved.

You can assuredly have too much of the war-horses in the form we usually hear them. The piano concerto, the Peer Gynt suite, etc. But the reality goes further than this. A revelatory CD unfurls the full extent of the Peer Gynt incidental music, together with some of the Ibsen, astonishing and inventive when presented in its original form; the Lyric Pieces are intimate, gorgeous, incredibly imaginative slivers of perfection; and the violin sonatas and songs often drag an involuntary tear from the hardest of hearts (at least, I hope they do; the hearts of British critics are far harder than even I had imagined, but enough of that...).

The Wigmore Hall has a Grieg anniversary concert tomorrow featuring chamber music and songs: artists include the matchless Solveig Kringelborn, and our pals Philippe Graffin and Raphael Wallfisch will be strutting their stuff too.

The weather forecast, appropriately enough, is for rain.

And by the way, if anyone wants to glean schadenfreude from the way they imagine I may be licking my wounds over the Heliane reviews, they can't. My beloved colleagues are wrong. And I am proud to the last tooth of what the LPO and Jurowski achieved last week, and privileged to have been part of it. Nor was I the only person in the hall standing up to applaud at the end.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Can you imagine...

...any "normal" radio station taking a risk on broadcasting a four-and-a-half hour piano work by a contemporary American composer? Our friend Pliable has an outlet for just such a work, however, at Overgrown Path's slot on the internet-based Future Radio. The piece is Alvin Curran's Inner Cities, the date is 5 December.

Is the internet the future of music radio? If you are tiring of nose flutes on Radio 3 and sofa ads on Classic FM, if you would like to see broadcasting champion experimental, creative, thought-provoking work, even if it's niche, you may well agree that it is. I reckon this is just the beginning. Read all about it here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wilhelm Kempff, 112

Wonderful Webmaster, a fount of anniversary knowledge, writes to remind me that today is the birthday of Wilhelm Kempff, who was born in Juterborg on 25 November 1895. Here is the great pianist doing what he did best: profound Beethoven. The slow movement of the D minor Sonata Op.31 No.2, the 'Tempest', recorded in Paris in 1968.