mon 14/10/2019

Classical Features

Remembering Tavener

David Nice

You may have noticed an unholy silence from theartsdesk in the immediate aftermath of Sir John Tavener’s death a week ago today, just under three months short of his 70th birthday. Three of us in the classical team felt we just didn’t know his music well enough in the round, or care enough, to give an authoritative judgement.

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Gergiev: a response and an open letter

theartsdesk

Following theartsdesk's Monday opinion piece on reasons for moving towards a boycott on Valery Gergiev's concerts, and in the general climate created by other reports and protests, the conductor has issued the following statement, to which David Nice responds with an open letter.

Valery Gergiev's statement

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Opinion: Why I won't attend Gergiev's concerts

David Nice

Last Thursday I was giving a talk before a concert in Birmingham, decently but not inspiringly conducted by the much-liked Vasily Sinaisky. Had I been in London I could have taken my pick between two greater interpreters, Valery Gergiev launching his Berlioz series with the London Symphony Orchestra and veteran Yury Temirkanov returning to one of his standard programmes with the Philharmonia.

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theartsdesk in Banff: Where quartets compete

Harriet Smith

There are few more beautiful places in the world to make music than Banff, the arts community founded in 1933, originally to teach drama. From small beginnings it became a name uttered with a certain reverence among the music world. And that is still true today, despite the fact that the centre is now as populated by conference attendees and "leaders of the future" as musicians, dancers, writers and artists.

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theartsdesk in Stavanger: A touch of Fröst

David Nice

Three great pianists, one of the world’s top clarinettists and two fine string players in a single concert: it’s what you might expect from a chamber music festival at the highest level. What I wasn’t anticipating on the first evening in Stavanger was to move from the wonderful cathedral to an old labour club up the hill, now a student venue with two halls, for a late-night cabaret and hear five more remarkable performers.

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theartsdesk in Grafenegg: Fairytale festival

alexandra Coghlan

It may not be the land of milk and honey, but as the home of wine and apricots Lower Austria’s Wachau might just be even better. Bookended by the towns of Melk and Krems, this stretch of the Danube valley is absurdly picturesque, strewing the banks of the river with enough wooded hillsides and ruined castles to fill a Gothic novel (or several).

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Opinion: When artists could speak out

David Nice

Take note of the title, with its “could”, not “must”. “The word ‘must’ is not to be used to Princes,” quoth Good Queen Bess as echoed in Britten’s Gloriana. Yet that was the verb used by New York writer Scott Rose, guest-posting on Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc blog.

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Opinion: Cuts to music education are a positive step

Christopher Monks

“Without music, life would be a mistake”: Nietzsche. Sadly for many – indeed tragically, Nietzsche would say – music education in the UK has become so inconsistent that now, music barely features in some children’s lives at all. For years, county music services have been tied in to long contracts with services and teachers, some of whom have consistently delivered outstanding musical education, while others are tired and disconnected from the needs of the pupils they are teaching.

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theartsdesk in Oslo: Trumpets sound for Munch

alexandra Coghlan

Back in the 19th century it was violinist Ole Bull who put Norway on the musical map, likened by Schumann to Paganini and celebrated across Europe for his supreme virtuosity. More recently pianist Leif Ove Andsnes has emerged as the nation’s classical champion, a rare performer whose taste is equal to his technique.

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Extract: The Show Must Go On (2012)

Gareth Davies

As we approach the end of what feels like a long season of concerts, I cannot think of a more satisfying way to finish than with Bernard Haitink on the podium. All conductors have different styles, whether dancelike, quivering, rude, tormented genius, or extended baton (others are available). Bernard is one of a precious few who don’t really seem to do anything much when they stand in front of an orchestra.

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