sat 19/09/2020

Classical Buzz

On the fifth day of Mozart...

David Nice Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gets the full-works treatment

...your true love might do worse than bung over a brace of concertos. Which is what BBC Radio 3 is doing on "piano day" as it nears the halfway mark of its 12-day Mozart marathon. Is it a good idea? Does any composer, even Bach, stand up to the complete treatment, hour after hour?

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Boxing Day Bloat: theartsdesk recommends

theartsdesk

Yesterday was yesterday. Today there's the rest of the week. What are the options? You could go to the shops and exchange all your presents, or you could pursue something more in the cultural line. To which end, theartsdesk is delighted to propose some suggestions. Our writers strongly recommend that you do one or more of the following while opportunity knocks.

 

ENGLAND

 

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Napoleon's revenge: a Russian orchestra in Paris

David Nice Waiting for the audience in the Salle Pleyel's Art Deco foyer

Ninety-five per cent of Napoleon's army was wiped out on the freezing retreat from Moscow in 1812. The statistics weren't nearly as impressive nor, thankfully, so mortal for the Russian National Orchestra's concert in Paris's Salle Pleyel last Saturday. It happened under reduced circumstances that hardly affected the quality of the playing - though sadly nothing could be done about the wayward conducting of the controversial (though not, it seems, in France)...

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Captain SKA's anti-cuts song or John Cage - Xmas Number One?

Peter Culshaw

Of the runners and riders for an alternative Christmas hit, Captain SKA's jolly tune with samples of Osborne, Cameron, Thatcher and Clegg is the latest one to be gathering momentum. The other campaign, already rolling on nicely and more likely to succeed, is the one to get Cage's silent "4'33" to Number One for Christmas - a rather brilliant protest and a perfect present for the conceptualists and anti-consumerists in your life.

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Competition: Sarah Willis horn CDs to give away

theartsdesk Sarah Willis goes solo with her CD 'Trio!': You can win a copy

We’ve got some CDs to give away, a recording of French horn music by Sarah Willis, the First Lady of the French Horn, who is also second horn in the Berlin Philharmonic. Our interview with Sarah in early September has proved to be one of the most popular pieces on theartsdesk.

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A Choral Christmas on Radio 3

Jonathan Wikeley John Tavener: 'His choice of chords has got distinctly more interesting over the past few years'

Christmas is coming, and prepare ye the way for a sledge-load of new music. It’s probably not just Stephen Cleobury’s annual commissioning of new carols for the King’s College Service of Nine Lessons and Carols that does it (though he must be partly responsible), but come Christmas every year there is a positive avalanche of new carols rumbling into the choral world. Whether broadcast to millions or sung to an audience of 37 in a tiny church carol service, Christmastide certainly gets the...

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At home with Jean Sibelius

David Nice

It will remain one of the most unforgettable times of my life - the privilege of spending four hours alone with the curator in the house of Jean Sibelius outside Helsinki, deep in a snowbound March scene. In fact, I just couldn't stop...

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Remembering a great Prokofievian

David Nice

She did more to make Prokofiev remembered and reassessed than most of the great performers.

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Farewell, Rudolf Barshai (1924-2010)

David Nice Rudolf Barshai: Shostakovich interpreter supreme and a musicians' musician

"Who?" many readers may be asking. You'll have to take it on trust - and a handful of outstanding recordings - that the Russian conductor, viola player and arranger, who died on 2 November aged 86, really was up there among the musical greats of his generation. He played with Rostropovich, Richter and David Oistrakh; he had as close a line to Shostakovich as any recreative artist. But he was no globetrotter following his emigration from the Soviet Union to Israel in 1976, and, as yet another...

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What price musical learning?

Jasper Rees The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the Proms: In future will they all be privately educated?

Last year I took my musical instrument to Tower Hamlets. The heartland of the capital’s huge Bangladeshi community is not a part of London where you expect to hear much orchestral playing. Nor are boroughs like Hackney and Newham ordinarily seen as wellsprings of classical musicians. But they all have a dedicated music services department among whose tasks it is to stimulate instrumental learning.

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