mon 05/12/2022

Classical Interviews

theartsdesk Q&A: Pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja

David Nice

Born in 1945 to Russian parents in Tbilisi, Georgia, Elisabeth Leonskaja gave her first major recital at the age of 11 and went on to study at the Moscow Conservatory, emigrating from the Soviet Union to Vienna in 1978 and making a sensational Salzburg Festival debut a year later.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Riccardo Chailly

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

When Riccardo Chailly (b 1953) left the Royal Concertgebouw for the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Richard Morrison said it was as if Bill Gates had ditched Microsoft for Aeroflot. The Gewandhaus has since become one of the lustiest of orchestral beasts in the world. Chailly and his orchestra make a rare appearance at the Barbican next Thursday and like all his previous visits it's likely to be a pretty unmissable event.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Composer James Dillon

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Glaswegian James Dillon (b 1950) is one Britain's most critically acclaimed living composers. Early detours as a drunken and drug-taking wastrel gave way to what he calls "musical terrorism". By which he means his blistering career as one of the most intoxicating and uncompromising of the New Complexity school of composers.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Composer Rodion Shchedrin

Ismene Brown

The Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin has long been damned faintly by two facts - that he is the husband of the Bolshoi prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya and that he was for a long time the president of the Russian Composers' Union in the USSR. These two things were plenty enough to remove discussion of him from the musical arena to the seething forum of politics where every Soviet composer's actions were given intense non-musical scrutiny both inside and outside the USSR.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Impresarios Victor and Lilian Hochhauser, Part 2

Ismene Brown

In the second part of this historic career overview interview with the unique British impresarios, Victor and Lilian Hochhauser talk about their razor-edged relations with Soviet apparatchiks and the pressures they came under to prevent artist defections. Victor (who is a very engaging raconteur) reveals the lengths the Russians tried to go to stop Pierre Boulez conducting Berg in the USSR - liver-busting ceremonial vodka sessions, and a solution of Lewis Carrollian ludicrousness.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Impresarios Victor and Lilian Hochhauser, Part 1

Ismene Brown

When the words "commercial" and "art" come together - as they do with the Bolshoi season currently at the Royal Opera House - odds are the glue between them is a three-word phrase "Victor Hochhauser presents". Victor and Lilian Hochhauser are the impresarios behind most Russian ballet seasons UK-wide, and they have a reputation for solid box-office commercial taste, which is easily dismissed as the safe option. But they are in their eighties now, and conservatism is forgivable.

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The Seckerson Tapes: Pianist Janina Fialkowska

Edward Seckerson What a trooper: Janina Fialkowska's musical sensibility has only been intensified by her extraordinary experiences

Canadian-born pianist Janina Fialkowska has an extraordinary story to tell: she's battled cancer in the muscle of her left shoulder, endured ground-breaking muscle-replacement surgery, and even, in another bizarre twist of fate, had her work "stolen" in the notorious Joyce Hatto recording scandal.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Donald Runnicles

Igor Toronyi-Lalic Conductor Donald Runnicles: 'I approach each and every concert with intensity, curiosity, also with a joy of knowing that it is unique'

Who's the greatest living British exponent of the late Romantic repertoire? Many would say Edinburgh-born conductor Donald Runnicles (b. 1954). Runnicles has spent the last 30 years quietly forging a formidable name for himself abroad, first, as a repetiteur in Mannheim, then as an assistant to Sir Georg Solti at Bayreuth, as guest conductor at the Vienna State Opera and, for the past two decades, musical director of San Francisco Opera. In 2007 the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Simon Russell Beale

Jasper Rees

The career of Simon Russell Beale (b. 1961) needs little introduction.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Composer George Crumb

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

George Crumb (b.1929) is one of the great American experimental composers of the 20th century. His delicate scores are characterised by a child-like sense of wonder and an array of instrumentation that appears to have hitched a ride from outer space. Crumb first came to the fore in the 1960s with Songs, Drones and Refrains of Death (1968), Night of the Four Moons (1969), inspired by and...

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