Thursday, June 04, 2015

Glyndebourne baby arrives!


Many congratulations to soprano Danielle de Niese and her husband Gus Christie, chairman of Glyndebourne, on the birth of their baby son, who arrived today. Glyndebourne tells us that mother and child are doing well.

Here's some musical champagne to celebrate...

Looking ahead...

Taking a Barenbreather after the excitement of the Schubert series to reflect on the different things coming up this month. Do join me for some of them if they're in your neck of the woods...


TOMORROW: 5 June 2015, 8pm Riverhouse Barn, Walton-on-Thames A rehearsed reading of my play A Walk through the End of Time with actors Caroline Dooley and David Webb. The Cremona Trio will feature in a performance of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time the next day. We'll be there for Q&A afterwards. Book here.

10 June 2015, Opera Holland Park. Pre-performance talk for Flight, in which I interview its composer, the fabulous Jonathan Dove. Talk begins at 6.30pm. Details here.

12 June 2015, 6.15pm Ulverston International Music Festival. Pre-concert talk with violinist Tasmin Little and pianist Martin Roscoe before their recital on the opening night of one of the Lake District’s most beautiful festivals. More here.

22-26 June 2015 Istanbul Music Festival A series of four pre-concert talks for the Istanbul International Festival, to be held in the garden of the Hagia Eirene Museum in the historic centre of this great and vibrant city… 22 June The Young Chopin. This evening Daniil Trifonov performs the composer's Piano Concerto No.1. 23 June The Fantastical World of the French Baroque. Preceding a concert featuring Magdalena Kožena (mezzo) and Emmanuelle Haïm (conductor). 24 June Brahms, Schumann, Clara Schumann and Joseph Joachim: The Indivisibles. Christian Tetzlaff performs the Brahms Violin Concerto. 26 June Mozart and the Violin. Arabella Steinbacher and Maxim Rysanov feature with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in two of Mozart’s violin concertos and the Sinfonia Concertante. Festival website here.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Barenboim talks to Channel 4 News

Let's continue the Barenboimfest. In case you missed this the other night - well, it's strong stuff and he says it better than anybody else could.

Heart of darkness

Barenboim in concert at the RFH. Photo: Chris Christodoulou
Yes, it's him again. Them. Barenboim and that piano. I reviewed the final recital of the Schubert series last night for The Arts Desk - and a very extraordinary evening it was.

I'm normally loathe to use imagery quite as colourful as suggesting that a pianist becomes Orpheus and leads us across the Styx, but how else to convey in words with reasonable accuracy the effect of what he did with the slow movement of the B flat Sonata? He went right into the work's darkest recesses and drew from it something resembling catharsis in the ultimate sense. I don't think I'll be able to listen to the piece again for quite a while, so strong was this. Read the whole thing here.

Incidentally, I had a fascinating little chat with the piano technician Peter Salisbury, who has been helping with maintaining the newbie instrument through the series. I've rarely seen any piano expert quite so fired up about anything. Apparently the action on the Barenboim-Maene piano is not lighter than a "normal" concert grand - it is as heavy, or heavier, he says - and it is not easier to play, but more difficult, and takes a lot of getting used to; yet the rewards are still emerging in terms of colour and seem to hold endless potential.

Last week Barenboim gave the Edward W. Said London Lecture at the Mosaic Rooms. You can find a video of it and the Q&A that followed online at the London Review of Books, here. The lecture focused on...

Music education. Its crucial, essential nature. The necessity for music to be taught in schools 'on a par with mathematics or biology'. So there. Listen up, politicos.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Glazunov for 1 June

One of my favourite moments in all of Russian music: Glazunov's Spring turns into Summer. Bugbear: why doesn't anyone play The Seasons these days? (Classic FM does. Concerts don't. Would rather listen to this any day than...oh, never mind.)

Happy 1 June, dear readers.