tue 11/05/2021

Classical Features

theartsdesk in Istanbul: Salzburg, Here We Come

Kate Connolly A traditional melting-pot: 'Istanbul would lose its identity if it became too local.'

At a sprawling car plant in the suburbs of north-eastern Istanbul mechanics are busy repairing camshafts and dynamos, applying blow torches to the undercarriages of a range of luxury cars and retouching paintwork. Visitors to the building are met by signs reading: “Sheer Driving Pleasure” and “Check Your Engine”. Upstairs, away from the mechanical buzz, fine-tuning of a completely different kind is going on as the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra is taken through its paces by its...

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The Seckerson Tapes: Petrenko's Shostakovich Eight

Edward Seckerson Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's latest CD release

The charismatic St Petersburg-born Vasily Petrenko has really been turning things around at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra since he took over as principal conductor in 2005. With both standards and audiences on the up he has embarked upon his first major recording project – to record all 15 Shostakovich symphonies for the Naxos label. The two previous releases have received tremendous notices and in this exclusive podcast he talks about the project in general and the latest...

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theartsdesk in the Vatican: In an Audience with the Pope

Andrew Hammond

At the Vatican, recently, the Pope attended a concert in his honour in the Sala Clementina. This is the great double-height room which stands at the entrance to the private papal apartments; it is where Pope John Paul II’s body lay in state almost exactly five years ago. I was one of about 150 guests, at least a third of whom were cardinals, bishops and other senior clerical figures. As we arrived there was the most ornate and intricate gavotte of seat-taking, lasting a good 40 minutes.

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theartsdesk in Helsinki: Sunflowers By the Frozen Baltic

David Nice

Venezuela's joyful musical education programme known as El Sistema is the phenomenon of the age, the success story that many western countries now seek to replicate. And that's great. But Britain, for a start, might re-engage its own back-to-basics in music quicker by looking closer to home and seeing how Finland does it. In a small population, every child has free access to an instrument until secondary school.

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theartsdesk in Lucerne: Simón Bolívar Meets William Tell

David Nice

Glaciers melted early this year when a Venezuelan army of well over 100 generals arrived in central Switzerland. The Swiss spring coincided with their visit, a gentle thaw with bees buzzing confusedly around the primroses, snowdrops and winter jasmine; but the first appearance of the now stellar Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela at the Lucerne Easter Festival was more like the violent icebreak Stravinsky said he had in mind for The Rite of Spring.

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theartsdesk at Savannah Music Festival

Kate Connolly

Over four days I've gorged on some world-class music. If you take a pretty city in the full swing of spring, add a dose of Southern US hospitality, some exquisite venues, and a music promoter able to garner the cream of musical talent from across the genres, you have arguably found the perfect ingredients for a top-class musical extravaganza - and a wonderfully restorative experience for a music-lover ready for anything.

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Arvo Pärt Special 1: How Sacred Music Scooped an Interview

Simon Broughton

When I was asked 12 months ago by the BBC if I’d be interested in making a film on Henryk Górecki  (in Poland) and Arvo Pärt (in Estonia) for their Sacred Music series, I said yes, almost immediately. I’d been very impressed by the first series and liked the idea pairing of two composers writing religious music in the communist Eastern Bloc who have become almost cult figures in our secular age.

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Arvo Pärt Special 2: 'If you want to understand my music read this'

peter Quinn

My first encounter with Arvo Pärt’s music is indelibly etched on my consciousness. My piano teacher – the late Susan Bradshaw – placed a piece in front of me which, from a visual point of view alone, was immediately intriguing. Consisting of just two pages, what was most striking about the music was its utter simplicity: there was no time signature; no changes of tempo, key or dynamics; no textural variation.

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Philip Langridge, 1939-2010

David Nice

Britain's most communicative singing actor, lyric-dramatic tenor Philip Langridge has died at the age of 70. I offer a personal reminiscence, looking back on some of the greatest theatrical experiences of my life, and ask conductors Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner and Vladimir Jurowski as well as director Richard Jones what Langridge's example has meant to them.

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The Seckerson Tapes: Opera North's Howard Assembly Room

Edward Seckerson

Opera North's Howard Assembly Room (above) is no longer a well-kept secret. Lovingly restored to its former Victorian glory, this one-time annexe to the Grand Theatre, Leeds, has had a chequered history - even briefly servicing the furtive mackintosh brigade as a picture palace of the bluest persuasion. Now, though, it's been born again as a vibrant performance space. A new season of events under the umbrella title of VOICES is about to launch featuring acts as diverse as The Tallis Scholars,...

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