Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Meet the Three new Tenors

Here they are, fresh from today's Independent. They may not be The Three together as yet - but they are the best.

We had a little flurry about this here on JDCMB not long ago, and it was all good clean fun. Trouble is, when their individual discs hit my desk recently - each in a snazzily designed shiny folder with video material, huge pics (very nice too) and all the rest - it seemed just a little too much of a coincidence. What exactly was Universal thinking of? It's not hard to guess.

This started off as speculation, plus a little wistful thinking - I'd love to hear my three top chaps sing side by side. What opera fan wouldn't? They're some of the loveliest voices on earth, and Florez and Kaufmann especially have provided some of my best-ever musical memories.

But what worries me now, after speaking to some guys from Universal yesterday, is that it may even be true.

When Domingo, Pavarotti and Carreras hit the trail, each of them was big enough and fulfilled enough artistically to withstand it. One critic I spoke to, who eventually didn't make it into the article, pointed out that certain singers (notably a soprano or two) don't care how long their voices last, but just want to do stadiums and make as much money as they can as quickly as possible. He felt that at least two of my three are much more serious artists than that and will want to be in the profession for the long haul.

But the long haul isn't the fashion. Squeeze 'em now and hang the consequences, that's the industry today. Instant gratification. And all that crap. We know this already, of course, and I think Florez and Kaufmann are strong enough, fine enough and sensible enough to plan otherwise; and hopefully it's not too late for Villazon.

I don't know about you, but I want to be at Covent Garden hearing Kaufmann sing Otello in 15 or 20 years' time. I want to watch Florez, as he gets middle-aged, grow into Rodolfo. I still want to be writing then, too, assuming I'm still alive. Long-term thinking should be what it's all about. Like a good marriage. Or sensible finance management that doesn't land the world in a credit crunch.

Today's hype-em-up, squeeze-em-dry, pay-em-trillions then chuck-em-out-into-landfill mentality totally misses the point of being on the planet. If it means we get rid faster of certain phony artists who shouldn't be there at all, then OK - but real beauty, real artistry, deep creativity, is a living entity that grows like a rose garden if you take care of it, and makes life worth living for everyone who comes into contact with it.

Blimey, guv. Time for a cold shower and a headache pill.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Muzsikas in the park

Here is Muzsikas, unplugged, at that party the other weekend! I tried to upload my own video but couldn't get it to work... fortunately another guest had the same idea.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A few Proms

George asks for my personal pick of the Proms.

As it happens, I can't go to most of the ones I'd like to hear because of other commitments, and will probably not attend most of the others because I've put my back out and sitting/standing through long hot concerts does it no good. What follows is a Top Ten of the few must-hears that I would hear if I could.

1. Messiaen: St Francis of Assisi - 7 September, 4pm (until 10pm!). A rare chance to hear Messiaen's only opera in a complete concert performance.

2. Daniel Barenboim & the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra - 14 August, 7pm & 10.15pm

3. Our Tasmin plays Ethyl Smyth, with the BBC Scottish SO conducted by Stefan Solyom, and the programme ends with the Rachmaninov Symphony No.2 - 4 August, 7.30pm.

4. Pierre Boulez conducts an all-Janacek programme including the Glagolitic Mass - 15 August, 7.30pm

5. Bach: St John Passion starring Mark Padmore as the Evangelist, John Eliot Gardiner conducts - 24 August, 7pm. And don't miss Jian Wang playing 3 Bach cello suites in the late Prom the same day - he is a glorious musician and the cello world's best-kept secret.

6. Gergiev conducts the LSO in the complete Sleeping Beauty ballet music - 20 August, 7pm.

7. Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique (Gothenburg SO) - 13 August, 7.30pm.

8. Nikolaj Znaider plays the Beethoven Violin Concerto, Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra conducted by Colin Davis - 1 September, 7pm.

9. Simon Rattle conducts the Berliner Phil in Messiaen Turangalila with Pierre-Laurent Aimard & Tristan Murail on piano & ondes respectively - 2 September, 7.30pm.

10. Murray Perahia appears in a Prom for the first time in 20 years - Mozart C minor concerto K491, with Chicago SO & Haitink, 9 September.

Plus, of course, the LPO & Vlad in Rimsky-Korsakov & Stravinsky's fairy tales of the wizard Kashchey on 5 September. And Nigel Kennedy's Elgar, which has been & gone (missed it, had gig in Cheltenham that night).

There are plenty more, but you can visit the website for those.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happy birthday!

It is Tom's birthday today, so here is a special gift from Richard Tauber. xxx

Friday, July 25, 2008

The ultimate in Hungarian dances

It was paperback publication day yesterday (follow that link for a 25% discount at Amazon...) and to celebrate here are some photos of the fabulous Hungarian folk ensemble Muzsikas at my friend Simon Broughton's big birthday party in Regent's Park last weekend. Muzsikas, who have been working together since 1973, arrived fresh from performing at the Folk Prom...

Huge thanks meanwhile to the Sussex Hungarian Society for a wonderful evening yesterday in Lewes, complete with Eva's Vineyard wine and terrific goulash, and to the Cheltenham Festival for a roof-busting Saturday night, more of which soon.