tue 26/05/2020

Classical Interviews

theartsdesk Q&A: Soprano Elizabeth Watts

David Nice

Not many people write conspicuously brilliant tweets, but Elizabeth Watts is someone who does. Working on the most demanding aria on her stunning new CD of operatic numbers and cantatas by the lesser-known of the two Scarlattis, father Alessandro rather than son Domenico, she tweeted: “Good news – I can sing 88 notes without a breath. Bad news – Scarlatti wrote 89.”

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10 Questions for Nicola Benedetti and Wynton Marsalis

Jasper Rees

He’s an American jazz giant; she’s a Scottish doyenne of the classical violin. Anyone familiar with one more than the other – and that’s more or less everyone – would do a double take to see their names on the same bill. But this week at Barbican Hall, a new concerto by Wynton Marsalis will be premiered by Nicola Benedetti and the London Symphony Orchestra.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Edward Gardner

Jasper Rees

It’s odd seeing the whole of Edward Gardner, as upright as a guardsman until a passionate passage unleashes a repertoire of fierce jabs, deft feints and rapid thrusts. For nine years Gardner's main post was on the podium in the pit of the London Coliseum where all you could see were his disembodied hands and, slowly silvering over the course of his tenure, his schoolboy haircut.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Pianist Stephen Kovacevich

David Nice

“Whatever happened to Stephen Bishop?” is not a question likely to be asked by followers of legendary pianism. Born in San Pedro, Los Angeles on 17 October 1940, the young talent took his stepfather’s name as his career was launched at the age of 11. Later he honoured his own father’s Croatian "Kovacevich", by appending it to the “Bishop”.

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10 Questions for Conductor Peter Phillips

Sebastian Scotney

Peter Phillips founded the Tallis Scholars, a vocal group specializing in the sacred music of the Renaissance, in 1973 while still a student. He has been directing the ensemble ever since: it is about to perform its 2,000th concert.

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Q&A Special: Pianist Lucas Debargue

ismene Brown

Last week the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow was rung down with a sigh of relief for the home team, with once again a Russian pianist in possession of the gold medal, Dmitry Masleev following 2011’s Daniil Trifonov. It was all very satisfactory for President Putin as he delivered his speech at the winners’ gala, being Tchaikovsky’s 175th anniversary year, but it was not a result that many disputed.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Pianist Yevgeny Sudbin

David Nice

Whatever the recording industry may try to tell you, there is rarely any such thing as a single “best” among today’s pianists. We’ve had Benjamin Grosvenor and Leif Ove Andsnes, excellent artists both, touted as a cut above the rest. But hearing pianists in all corners of the world, you realize how much phenomenal and ungradable talent there is out there.

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10 Questions for Composer Unsuk Chin

Gavin Dixon

There is no mistaking the music of Unsuk Chin. Born in Korea and based in Berlin, Chin brings a range of cultural perspectives to her work. She often describes her music in terms of light and colour, and evokes dreamscapes when recalling her inspirations. Yet her music also has a strong gestural quality, her musical ideas are clear and definite, often subtle but never ambiguous.

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10 Questions for Composer Dobrinka Tabakova

Sebastian Scotney

There is everything of the quiet achiever about Dobrinka Tabakova. The softly-spoken Bulgarian-British composer was born in 1980 into a music-loving family of doctors, scientists and academics in the town of Plovdiv in Bulgaria and moved to England in 1991. She has garnered composition prizes from Amsterdam, London, New York, Neuchâtel, Vienna and Warsaw.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Sakari Oramo

David Nice

Rattle and the Berliners went home at the beginning of the week with vine-leaves in their hair. There's now something else to celebrate. Exactly one week on from the second concert in their Sibelius cycle, the Barbican hosted even more of an all-out stunner, starting with Sibelius no less compellingly conducted than the best of last week’s symphonic cycle and ending with a performance of the "Inextinguishable" Fourth Symphony by this year’s other 150th birthday composer,...

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