sun 19/09/2021

Classical Features

theartsdesk in Baku: Festival puts 'Azerbai-where?' on the map

Tom Birchenough

It’s a rare national culture festival that presupposes its audience will have no knowledge whatsoever of the culture concerned - or even be able to locate the country itself on a map. But that, we must assume from the “Azerbai-where?” promotional bus ads, was the starting point last November for organisers of the BUTA Festival of Azerbaijan Art, a series of very well-connected art and music events in London going on this month.

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Ottorino Respighi, the forgotten composer

william Ward Ottorino Respighi: more than picturesque

The latest subject in the BBC Four series of composer portraits by Christopher Nupen is Ottorino Respighi. One of the most unfairly neglected major composers of the first half of the 20th century, his reputation has suffered less from not being considered at all, but for having been confined to his trilogy of tone poems that evoke respectively the...

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The Seckerson Tapes: Lenny Bernstein's right-hand man, Craig Urquhart

Edward Seckerson Conductor Leonard Bernstein at the Royal Festival Hall, London

Craig Urquhart was Leonard Bernstein's personal assistant for the last five years of his life. In this touchingly frank interview he talks about the man he knew, the man he revered, the man who wanted to be all things to all people and who consistently pushed himself to the limit in the service of the music that drove him.

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The Seckerson Tapes: Craig Urquhart, Lenny's right hand man

Edward Seckerson Lenny Bernstein (left) with Craig Urquhart at the Berlin Wall

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The Seckerson Tapes: Craig Urquhart, Lenny's right hand man

Edward Seckerson Lenny Bernstein (left) with Craig Urquhart at the Berlin Wall

Craig Urquhart was Leonard Bernstein's personal assistant for the last five years of his life. In this touchingly frank interview with Edward Seckerson he talks about the man he knew, the man he revered, the man who wanted to be all things to all people and who consistently pushed himself to the limit in the service of the music that drove him.

The Bernstein Project is a ten-month celebration of Leonard Bernstein - one of the most charismatic men of the 20th...

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Christopher Nupen on Filming Music and Musicians

Hilary Whitney Nupen at work: 'Filmmaking is storytelling'

"What is it about Schubert’s music that has such power 180 years on?  It has nothing to do with who he slept with or what he had for breakfast – it’s the work," insists filmmaker Christopher Nupen, whose series of films about composers is currently showing on BBC Four. "If you’re dragged towards the quotidian and the sensational, you’ll be pulled away from that elusive essence in the work that nobody has ever succeeded in explaining, but which remains one of the highest expressions of the human...

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Interview: Maria Luigia Borsi, singing in the Italian tradition

Adam Sweeting 'Yes, I'm Italian!': Maria Luigia Borsi

In this era of spectacular divas from Russia, Latvia and Romania, it is often remarked that the Italian lyric soprano is a commodity in distressingly short supply. Hoping to rectify that sorry situation is Tuscany’s Maria Luigia Borsi, who will be making her London debut at the Wigmore Hall on Sunday, singing a luxuriant programme of Puccini, Catalani and Mascagni.

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The Seckerson Tapes: Vasily Petrenko's Shostakovich

Edward Seckerson

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.

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The Seckerson Tapes: Mark Padmore

Edward Seckerson

English tenor Mark Padmore has enjoyed a career that has seen him grow from a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, through membership of The Sixteen and Hilliard ensembles, to becoming the international Evangelist of choice in performances of Bach’s Passions across the globe. He talks about the people who influenced him – William Christie and Philippe Herreweghe among them – and the prospect of Britten operas in waiting. Padmore is currently enjoying a year-long residency at the...

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Why Kipling Scuppered Elgar's Sea-Songs

Tom Higgins The Fringes of the Fleet: the cast of the 1917 premiere

Elgar’s flag-waving nautical song-cycle The Fringes of the Fleet was performed to packed houses up and down the country in 1917, then sank virtually without trace for the next 90 years. As the work receives its first professional orchestral recording since Elgar's own, Tom Higgins, the conductor of the recording, explains how the work came into being, and why Rudyard Kipling had it banned.

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