fri 13/12/2019

Classical Features

theartsdesk in Llantwit Major: Arvo Pärt in the Vale of Glamorgan

stephen Walsh

Amazingly, the Vale of Glamorgan Festival has been on the go for more than 40 years, and has got better and better as it has gone along. Until recently, any kind of mould-breaking musical enterprise was likely to collide with the entrenched interests of the Taffia, the Cardiff and County Club, the Welsh Arts Council and the Land of Song.

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The Seckerson Tapes: René Jacobs Interview

Edward Seckerson The multi-talented René Jacobs tackles Mozart's beloved Singspiel 'Die Zauberflöte'

René Jacobs: singer, conductor, scholar, archivist, alchemist, teacher. In recent years he's been "rehabilitating" the Mozart operas for the Harmonia Mundi label, eradicating 19th-century retouchings and stylistic anomalies in order to restore these great works to their vibrant original colours. He and his handpicked performers have now arrived at Mozart's beloved Singspiel Die Zauberflöte and the results are quite revelatory.

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Sarah Willis, First Lady of the French Horn

Jasper Rees

No woman has ever achieved a higher profile on the French horn than Sarah Willis. Why? It's not as if she is a renowned soloist. But she is the first and only woman to join the brass section of the world's most celebrated and widely followed orchestra. It will be no surprise if this Saturday the BBC cameras as usual pick her out from row upon row of Teutonic males in the second of the Berlin Philharmonic’s two Prom 2010 appearances.

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theartsdesk from Colombo: A Pianist of the World

ASH Smyth Tanya Ekanayaka: One of Sri Lanka’s pre-eminent concert pianists

Since winning the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka Concerto Competition at the tender (and record-setting) age of 16, Tanya Ekanayaka has become one of Sri Lanka’s pre-eminent concert pianists. Last month she was the first from her country ever to appear in the long-running Pianists of the World series at St Martin-in-the-Fields, with a programme featuring Bach, Beethoven, Ravel and her own improvised composition, Adahas: of Wings of Roots.

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theartsdesk in Bregenz: The Genius of Mieczyslaw Weinberg

stephen Walsh

Ever since I can remember, the composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg has played a walk-on part in histories of Soviet music. If you find him in an index at all (probably under Vainberg or Vajnberg, and usually with the first name given him by a box-ticking Soviet border guard in 1939: Moisey, or even Moshe), you’ll usually end up reading one of those melancholy and unhelpful lists: “Shostakovich’s followers include...”

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theartsdesk in Verbier: Musicians Peak in the Alps

David Nice

You want to see Yuri Bashmet, arguably the greatest living viola player, but you can't because you've chosen to go to a recital by Yevgeny Kissin, one of the world's top pianists, on the same evening in another hall. Even the option of dashing from one half to another is complicated by timing and distance. No, this isn't Berlin, London or Vienna.

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The Man Who Could Upstage Dame Judi At The Prom

Jasper Rees 'You start and you finish and that's it': the profoundly deaf Paul Whittaker signs 'Jerusalem' with The Sixteen

It has just been announced that Dame Judi Dench will be making her Proms debut this Saturday. Sondheim at 80 is the occasion, and she will reprise her rendition of “Send in the Clowns” from the National’s 1985 production of A Little Night Music. “It’s yours now,” Sondheim told her when he heard her performance. She will line up alongside Bryn Terfel,...

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The BBC's new TV dawn for the Proms

Adam Sweeting Paul Lewis, Beethoven specialist and pioneering subject of the Q-Ball camera

For the couch-bound classical music lover, keeping up with the Proms is pretty straightforward. Step one: open bottle of agreeable claret. Step two: turn on Radio 3 and listen, or watch selected Proms on BBC Two or BBC Four. Or, indeed, catch up on the iPlayer. But needless to say, there's a colossal amount of work going on behind the scenes to make it all happen.

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Performing Die Schöne Müllerin

Mark Padmore

Few great works of art are as disarming as Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin. With its folksong-like melodies and deceptively simple harmonic palate, it is quite hard to account for the cycle’s profound emotional effect. How is it that over the course of 20 songs we fall under the spell of a naïve and sentimental lover, a slightly effeminate, self-obsessed boy who, no sooner than he sees a rival, despairs and drowns himself?

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Remembering Charles Mackerras

David Nice

Perhaps we can drop the "sir" here, as he preferred, though most of the contributors below only knew him in his knighted later years. No death of a musical great, at least since the departure of Mstislav Rostropovich, has caused such a flurry of tributes and reminiscences, even if many of us were long prepared for the end and marvelled at the way he soldiered on to give more great performances in his final year. Tributes from Kit Armstrong, Isobel Buchanan, Colin Currie, ...

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