Friday, November 28, 2014

TOMORROW on Radio 3 'CD Review'

Off to BBC Broadcasting House bright and early tomorrow morning (Saturday 29th) to take part in Radio 3's 'CD Review'. I'll be in discussion with presenter Andrew McGregor and the distinguished pianist Roger Vignoles, featuring a round-up of five new piano discs. We'll be on about 10.15am - live in the studio!

The discs we are discussing are:

Piotr Anderszewski
Bach: English Suites Nos 1, 3 and 5
Piotr Anderszewski

Bach: French Overture, Italian Concerto, Aria Variata, Concerto in D minor after Marcello (it's the Oboe Concerto)
Vladimir Ashkenazy

Beethoven: Sonatas Op.106 (Hammerklavier) and Op. 27 No.2 (Moonlight), plus two pieces from The Ruins of Athens trsc A.Bax
Alessio Bax

Haydn: Piano Sonatas No 59 in E flat major, No.38 in F major, No.47 in B minor, No.39 in D major
Denis Kozhukhin

Beethoven: Piano Sonata in G major, Op.31 No.3; 'Eroica' Variations
Schubert: 16 German Dances from Op.33; 'Wanderer' Fantasy
Aaron Pilsan

Do tune in. There's some good 'uns.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Speaking of women in music...

...here is the video of the conference about inequalities in classical music, held at King's College, London, a few weeks ago. The panel includes academics Christina Scharf and Anna Bull, conductor Alice Farnham, Beverley Mason and myself, and the music is provided by an extraordinary young musician whom you should hear if you haven't already, Ayanna Witter-Johnson - cellist, singer, composer and more. Her song about her mother was so touching that it had us all in pieces. Under the title "What lies beneath?" we each spoke on the topic of inequality as we have perceived, researched or experienced it and offer some thoughts about what to do about it.

Meanwhile, there is some sign that the groundswell of consciousness-raising on this topic is having an effect on programming, and sometimes in the most positive and interesting ways. Next year's Brighton Early Music Festival is presenting the first opera ever written by a woman - La liberazione di Ruggiero, by Francesca Caccini. They're getting it crowd-funded and you can support their efforts here. Meanwhile the London Festival of Baroque Music (formerly the Lufthansa Festival) is also doing Caccini and Barbara Strozzi, alongside lads like Monteverdi and Rameau.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mindblown.

John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary opened in its first-ever full staging at ENO last night. I was mesmerised and mind-blown. Here's  my review... 

There is something extraordinary about seeing a composer taking a bow for a really fantastic new(ish) piece in front of a standing ovation. It doesn't happen very often, and when it does, it's a privilege to be there.

Dear ENO, why, oh WHY were the dancers not honoured with biographies in the programmes? A lot of us are really cross about this. They were marvellous. They deserve equal billing.

Anyhow, go and see it. There are only 5 more performances. Book here.

And here's an introduction on film.



Friday, November 21, 2014

Robeson rides again

The glad news that Steve McQueen is making a film about Paul Robeson is inspiring a good look at who this legendary singer, actor and activist really was, and what he did, and what America did to him. I've written this, for the Independent - out today.

This is a recording of him performing and talking to the Welsh miners - many thanks to Peter Tregear for sending it my way.



And here he is singing Sarastro's aria - transposed down!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Exploring John Ogdon, tonight

This evening at the Richmond-upon-Thames Literature Festival I'm interviewing John Ogdon's biographer, Charles Beauclerk, about his tour-de-force book Piano Man. You may remember we did a similar event a couple of months ago at the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival - it went so well that we're reuniting. The event is TONIGHT at York House, Twickenham. Starts 7pm, lasts about an hour, and Charles will be doing a book signing afterwards.

Here is a taster of Ogdon's utter genius. This is rare film of him playing part of Liszt's Dante Sonata. (The opening announcements, by the way, are the kind of thing that one senses many critics of BBC Radio 3 would like to hear restored to today's airwaves.)