Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunny days...

John Metcalf's Endless Song, played there by Ivan Ilic, who is taking the stage at the Wigmore Hall for the first time tomorrow evening. If that isn't relaxing music for a sunny Sunday, I don't know what is. On the other hand, Ivan has a double who tends to turn up winning Wimbledon, so perhaps this is how he winds down before the contest begins.

Tomorrow Roger, um, Ivan, who is American/Serbian living in France, turns his attention to some thornier material, among it Brahms's transcription for left hand alone of the Bach Chaconne, the Chopin Polonaise-Fantaisie, some Debussy Preludes and a bunch of Godowsky's transcriptions of Chopin Etudes (but hey, if you've got it, flaunt it...). You might have caught him on R3's In Tune the other day.

Oh, and he sent me some chocolate from Bordeaux. And not just any old chocolate. This is Lindt, entitled 'A la pointe du Fleur de Sel' - honest, guv, it's choc laced with teeny flecks of sea salt. It is unbelievable. So much so that I am thinking of starting a chocolate blog, in case anybody invents anything even more unbelievable.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cliburn blog - blimey...

The fur is flying in Fort Worth!

At least, a glance at the heated comments on the Van Cliburn Piano Competition blog shows that people still care about musical standards, musicality and unfair judgments... I haven't been following the contest this time, but am still surprised not only to hear that Lukas Vondracek was knocked out, but that he'd bothered to enter the thing at all. I love the bit in the comments where he suddenly pops up and tells one of the commentators that before she starts judging them all online he'd like to hear her play.

By the way, if any of you read one of my colleagues in the Indy blogs writing "in praise of piano competitions" in which he said that the stories you hear about the nasties are "mainly apocryphal" - no, they aren't. We just aren't allowed to print the bloody truth.

When Erich met Felix

It's Korngold's birthday, and here's an absolute gem of Korngoldiana. This one is Felixiana too - A Dream Comes True, the promotional trailer for Max Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream from 1936. Chronicling the making of what was then the most expensive film ever created in Hollywood - but careful not to include any of the actual Shakespeare in case it put off the audiences - it contains the only known film of Korngold playing the piano, lashings of Mendelssohn, rare footage of Max Reinhardt himself and the glittering of all the stars at the premiere...


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Felixcitations co-prod...

I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the documentary on Mendelssohn that is to be the culmination of the series The Birth of British Music on BBC2 on Saturday. I've written about it on my Mendelssohn blog, and you can read the post here. Whether or not Mendelssohn really has anything whatsoever to do with British music, it's a darned good film, great fun and beautifully made, and there are no sporrans in sight, not even in Scotland.

I have just been informed by BBC Blogomaster that one of my fellow composer anniversary bloggers is planning to set off round Scotland dressed as Mendelssohn sometime in June and wants to swop composer blogs for a couple of weeks. As I am bored witless by his usual chap and have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject, and besides am planning to be soaking up a little Provencal sun at the time, I've offered him instead a simple carte blanche to guest-post on Felixcitatons. Poor dear fellow. I reckon that writing about early music for that long is liable to drive anybody a little bit bananas.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

RIP Nicholas Maw

Speaking of British music, one of the best contemporary British composers has just died: Nicholas Maw, whose legacy includes the gargantuan Odyssey and the flawed yet written-from-the-heart opera Sophie's Choice. Here is a fine tribute from Tom Service in The Guardian.