wed 20/03/2019

Classical Features

Interview: Sir Neville Marriner and the I, Culture Orchestra

Peter Culshaw

We’re in Gdańsk for the launch of the I, Culture Orchestra (sounds like an Apple product, someone points out). The new outfit has Sir Neville Marriner as guest conductor, at 87, still on sparkling form. The orchestra has brought together young musicians from across Eastern Europe “to encourage better cultural understanding” between Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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First Person: Steven Isserlis on Schumann's advice to the young

Steven Isserlis

All musicians have particular musical passions, composers, styles or genres to which they are irresistibly drawn. I have many – almost too many at times; but among the most enduring is my love for the music, writing and personality of Robert Schumann. Another important aspect of my musical life – another passion, in fact - is the work I get to do with young musicians.

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Lammermuir Festival 2016, East Lothian

David Kettle

It’s just a short trip down the A1 from Edinburgh. But East Lothian – with its big skies, wide-open spaces, empty beaches and seemingly inexhaustable supply of quaint, historic villages – feels like a long, long way from the Scottish capital.

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theartsdesk at the D-Marin Festival: Turkish poetry in music, Bach at sunrise

David Nice

Istanbul six weeks before the failed coup, the south-west coast of Turkey six weeks after: what's the difference? None that I could see; once past the Turkish Airlines flights, with literature and screen full of the "People's Victory", there was no sign of it at the D-Marin Classical Music Festival on the Bodrum peninsula, centred around the marina in Turgutreis, a 45-minute drive along a very built-up coastline from once-quiet Bodrum.

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theartsdesk at the Rosendal Festival: Schubert above a fjord

David Nice

More than just a great and serious pianist, Leif Ove Andsnes is a Mensch. His special gift in recent years has been to bring young musicians just establishing their careers together with star players like himself in beautiful and/or interesting places.

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Edinburgh Festival: Boulez celebration, Andreas Ottensamer, Stephen Hough

David Kettle

Remarkably, Pierre Boulez made his first appearance at the Edinburgh International Festival way back in 1948, at only the Festival’s second ever outing, in charge of music for director Jean-Louis Barrault’s production of Hamlet. He remained a regular visitor across the decades, and following his death in January, the EIF’s Pierre Boulez: A Festival Celebration was a late but clearly necessary addition to the Festival’s already bulging classical programme.

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theartsdesk at the Pärnu Music Festival 2016

David Nice

Where would you go to hear the most electrifying and collegial orchestral playing in the world? It used to be Lucerne while Claudio Abbado was alive. Now that the Lucerne Festival Orchestra has become like any classy superband, the answer is Pärnu in the south of Estonia.

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Pick of the BBC Proms 2016

theartsdesk

"Refreshingly traditional" is how one of our writers describes this year's BBC Proms programme. Alarmingly unadventurous might be another way of putting it, though only in comparison with many of the golden years under Roger Wright.

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First Person: the Herbert Howells Cello Concerto completed

Guy Johnston

In June 2014, I was invited to the late Sir John Tavener’s Memorial Service in Westminster Abbey. It was a poignant occasion, marked by a number of special tributes and performances. My childhood idol Steven Isserlis performed Threnos during the service and as I made my way up to thank him for his moving performance, I was aware he was clutching a big blue score, and talking with Meurig Bowen, the Artistic Director of the Cheltenham Festival.

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theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Nocturnes for Midsummer

David Nice

After a grey start, there was a spectacular sunset around midnight on the second of my two days in Reykjavik. It's what brings one of Iceland's most brilliant younger-generation talents, pianist Víkingur Ólafsson (and yes, he's worked with Björk), back to his homeland every June. He launched Reykjavík Midsummer Music in 2012, the first full year of programming at Olafur Eliasson's ever amazing Harpa concert halls and conference centre on the harbour.

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