Friday, February 27, 2015

Just in: BBC Young Musician piano winner leads the charge in Warsaw

We've just received the list of 160 pianists who have qualified for this year's "elimination rounds" at the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw. Among the initial 160 contestants are five from the UK. Most familiar to our audiences is Yuanfan Yang, winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year piano final in 2012. The others are Otis William Beasley, Ashley Fripp, Kausikan Rajeshkumar and Alexander Ullman.

Those interested in statistics might like to know that Warsaw will host a total of 26 candidates from China, 25 from Japan, 24 from South Korea and 21 from Poland. Russia and the US are each the home of 11 contestants, there are six from France, five from Italy, four each from Canada and Ukraine and two each from the Czech Republic and Taiwan. Further competitors are from Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Latvia, Mongolia, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and Uzbekistan.

Note, though, that this is just the "elimination round". From these, 80 will be chosen to go forward to the actual competition. Five candidates are being allowed to "bypass" the elimination round, having won other big competitions before.

Last time the Chopin Competition revealed an extraordinary number of fine young artists, with Yulianna Avdeeva, Ingolf Wunder and Daniil Trifonov placed respectively first, second and third.

Good luck, guys. Full list here.

Here is Yuanfan in a spot of Chopin.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"This is a period of mass intimidation"

I went to visit rehearsals for The Indian Queen at ENO's West Hampstead studios and found the one and only Peter Sellars, who's directing it, tackling the ongoing situation with hugs.

Substantial interview with him proved fascinating and provocative.

"This is a period of mass intimidation, one where it's no accident that governments are not only cutting the arts but destroying education...They want a frightened, docile population that's easily manipulated – and the arts are about thinking for yourself..." 

Read more of it today in the Independent.

Here's more about the music - "A sadness so deep it's life-giving," says Sellars.

Monday, February 23, 2015

When is a hall not a hall?

When it's a political football. In The Amati Magazine today, my thoughts on the mooted new venue for London and what it is perhaps really about...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Chopin around

It's the sort of documentary I didn't think they'd allow any more: a fabulously filmed celebration of a genuinely special artist, focusing on its subject, not some "celebrity" presenter, and with plenty of music. There's a certain poetic justice to the fact that Christopher Nupen, who captured the likes of Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim on film in the 1960s, is still around to document the talent of Daniil Trifonov. This mesmerising documentary captures the poetic fire of the young Russian pianist, who talks about "boiling" himself in the music. The film went out the other day on BBC4 and can be watched on the iPlayer for 28 days thereafter. Today is Chopin's birthday and one could do worse than celebrate by watching it. The whole thing is here.

Just one thing: the clips in the film of Trifonov's own Piano Concerto seem absolutely wonderful. I think we ought to have the whole thing as an adjunct - it is a substantial work that sounds well worth hearing.

Trifonov, though, has now gone off sick, having to drop out of a tour with the Kremerata Baltica. The search for a replacement artist for the remaining performances proved so dispiriting, according to Norman Lebrecht, that Kremer appears to have decided to cancel the rest of the tour and take a well-earned rest. In an open letter, Kremer blamed recalcitrant promoters who he says refused to accept any of his suggestions for a pianist who could take over the task of playing both the Chopin concerti on a substantial tour at short notice.

One artist they allegedly refused was Yulianna Avdeeva, the Russian pianist who took first prize at the Chopin Competition at which Trifonov himself pulled in third. Highly recommended by many musicians including Krystian Zimerman and Martha Argerich. A superb artist who by rights should be far too busy to be free to step in to such a thing. Here is what they're missing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

City sites mooted for That Hall

According to, the search for a site for the new London concert hall, or "cultural hub" as some are inevitably calling it, is homing in on "the triangle between Moorgate, St Paul's and Farringdon tube stations". The report says that "a road tunnel under the Barbican complex may make way for the venue". The City of London Corporation is said to be keen on "much more intensive use of the area", especially once the Farringdon Crossrail station is ready in 2018.

More info here.


Or so they say. According to the Evening Standard and some other papers, Chancellor George Osborne is giving his blessing to...a feasibility study to see if there really is a watertight case for a new world-class concert hall in the UK capital. That isn't quite the same thing as saying that London is definitely going to have said hall, but it's got to start somewhere, and apparently the City of London Corporation is now looking for a good site. Here's the latest:

Just in: a statement from the Barbican:

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican and Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director, London Symphony Orchestra said:

“This commitment from the Chancellor to put new money into a feasibility study for a world-class music centre that serves London, Londoners, and the nation as a whole is a hugely exciting prospect.

“Culture is ever more important in defining our great cities, and this is a once-in-a-generation chance to explore how we could work with the City of London to create a state-of-the-art performance and education facility for the digital age that offers outstanding learning opportunities for all.”

We've been wanting this for years and years and years and decades and decades. It's a real breakthrough. First of all: thanks, guys. the reality. What happens now?

One wonders about the timing. If they find a site soon, then by the time all the processes are in place it will probably be time for Rattle to start at the LSO, assuming he is going to start at all, which remains in question. How long does it take to build a world-class concert hall these days, especially in London? Rattle is turning 60 this year. Perhaps this hall, if it materialises, will be ready to open for his 70th birthday.

OK, call me cynical. But there is a pernicious history in this country - and other places, not least France and Spain - of spending a lot of dosh on putting strange buildings in strange places for non-artistic purposes at the expense of the content. You need to invest not only in arts venues, but in art itself.

That means you need to treat performers better. Which means, in turn, that you need not only to provide better pay and conditions for your artistic companies, which you do, but also you need to ensure that all schoolchildren have the chance to learn about the arts and try their hands at them, you need to stop charging the earth for advanced high-level training - for example, you cannot with one hand introduce astronomical tuition fees at specialist colleges and with the other grumble that only rich kids go into acting - and you need to create a culture in which the value of music and arts for all is not constantly sniped at, but instead is accepted as a natural part of a civilised society. Arts, politics and education need to indulge in some joined-up thinking. (Over at The Amati Magazine, our Young Artist of the Week, BBC's Young Musician of the Year 2012 cellist Laura van der Heijden, has some strong words on music education.)

Some commentators have suggested that we don't need a hall and we should simply prioritise our performers instead. I think we need both. In an ideal world, it shouldn't be either or.

Look, it'll be great if it happens. It really will. But please, get it right this time?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

OMG. Dancing Moomins?

What could be cuter than turning a Moomin book into a ballet? At Finnish National Opera they are rehearsing a new ballet of Moomin and the Comet, based on the classic children's book by Tove Jansson. Ananadah Kononen is choreographing, music is by Panu Aaltio. The Moomin blog says: "Although the body of the Moomins is not the most flexible for the ballet, the other characters of the Valley will take care of the classical ballet part."

Here are some photos by Sophia Jansson.

The ballet opens on 6 March at the Almi Hall. Those in Helsinki with strong winter constitutions can also see the Moomins dance at the free outdoors Winter Ball, on the National Opera piazza, on 28 February. More info and booking here.

KEVIN O'HARE, please can you bring them over to the Linbury? We love Moomins!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

An Anglophile violinist celebrates

Philippe Graffin. Photo: Marco Borrgreve

Hooray for Philippe Graffin, the Anglophile French violinist of London. He has been living here for 20 years and is marking this 0anniversary with three concerts on two days. Tonight at Cadogan Hall he gives the world premiere of Peter Fribbins's new Violin Concerto, written especially for him, with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jean-Jacques Kantorow, and throws in Ravel's Tzigane for good measure.

On Friday he joins forces with musical friends at St John's Smith Square for an evening of two performances: first, at 6.30pm (NB time) - chamber music by Debussy, Elgar and David Matthews with a line-up including Raphael Wallfisch, Roger Chase, David Waterman, Alastair Beatson, Marisa Gupta, Emeline Dessi, Chen Halevi and David Matthews himself (more info here). Then at 9.15pm there's the fabulous Enescu Violin Sonata No.3, two premieres of works written for Philippe, and a collaboration with Tango Factory from Buenos Aires to conclude with some headily gorgeous Piazzolla.

We hope he will stay longer. Here's to the next 20 years.

Here is Philippe with pianist Claire Désert in the Valse Triste by Franz von Vecsey - a 'Hungarian Dances' Concert favourite, from the album he made to go with the novel in 2008...

[UPDATE: post amended 18/2/15 to reflect fact that he's been here 20 years, not 25. Moral: never blog after a good lunch.]

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Rattle's Sibelius...

I went along to the Barbican on Tuesday for the opening night of the Rattle/Berlin Sibelius cycle. My review is for The Independent and should be online there soon. I wanted to post it here before The London Residency comes to its close tomorrow...


Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle
Barbican, London, 10 January 2015

Jessica Duchen

The Barbican was heaving at the concrete seams as the Berliner Philharmoniker began its London residency, the promise of which has been engendering unprecedented heat. Divided between this hall and the Southbank Centre, it features Sir Simon Rattle at the helm of his German orchestra, widely termed the best in the world. The expectations of this orchestra are such that tickets for its Mahler Second Symphony at the weekend are rumoured to be changing hands for £200 a piece. Meanwhile Rattle’s mooted appointment as music director of the London Symphony Orchestra is still up in the air.

Opening their complete cycle of symphonies by Sibelius with the first two, Rattle and the Berliners proved at the peak of their powers: an orchestra of individual virtuosi playing as one, as if in supersized chamber music, with Rattle, conducting from memory, leading the way with an assurance that proved at every turn that the music is part of him and he of it.

Rattle has a long history with the Sibelius symphonies – he recorded them back in his years last century with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – and his interpretations have grown into something at once individual and universal. Here the progress of the composer's imaginative sophistication from the first to the second symphonies shone out: No.1, dating from 1900, aching in the shadow of Tchaikovsky; No.2 moving into new dramatic territories in which no step is safe, no illusion unquestioned, yet no lament unanswered by hope.

For some, Rattle’s interpretations might at first seem too rich, too warm; we imagine Sibelius as rugged and lonely, shivering through the Finnish winter. But his ability to pace the drama paid ample dividends: working in long lines and giant paragraphs, generating energy from small details that gradually rise to take over, striking just the right balance to cast new light over the precipices, the power of thought is made palpable with overwhelming intensity.

Above all, though, listening to this orchestra is an experience of astonishing sensuality, the aural equivalent of, for example, bathing in asses’ milk laced with rose petals while sipping the finest vintage Bordeaux and watching the Northern Lights at their most spectacular, topped by a meteor shower. If you thought an orchestra could not do that, be advised: it can.

This opulence of tone is the Berliner Philharmoniker’s own, honed long ago under the baton of Herbert von Karajan; Rattle is in some ways åits custodian. But it is clear how much he will be leaving behind in Berlin when he departs, and equally clear what we would be missing if he does not ultimately accept that post with the LSO. Frankly we need Rattle here more than he needs us. If a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this is missed, if the UK’s only home-grown great maestro is allowed to slip through our fingers thanks to finance and mealy-mouthed politicians, it would be an act of criminal irresponsibility against the cultural life of the UK.

Friday, February 13, 2015

ENO: souls, soles and shoestrings

Yesterday's bombshell about ENO arrived wrapped in rose-scented words just in time for Valentine's Day. Some people even fell for the good news story: £30m over two years from ACE, woo-hoo!

Oh dear. It turns out that this money is "special measures" (it's the original core funding that was in place anyway. plus £7m in transition funds, as we understand it). If the company doesn't shape up in a way that the Arts Council England approves, it could then lose all its government funding. And that, you could say, would probably mean tickets. The wrong sort of tickets.

The prospect of ENO vanishing from the planet is devastating for music lovers in London. Thinking of the finest operatic performances I've seen in the last few years, I'd have to point to many things that simply would not have taken place at Covent Garden. John Adams, Vaughan Williams, Terry Gilliam's Berliozes, Rosenkavalier staged by McVicar with Amanda Roocroft, Sarah Connolly, Sophie Bevan and Sir John Tomlinson, and that extraordinary, desperately underrated and undersold Martinu opera Julietta. Calixto Bieito. Peter Sellars. The list could go on. Not so much English National Opera, perhaps, as British International Opera. There have also been a few very big, very expensive mistakes - yet without a willingness to take risks, opera as an art form really would die. And London without all that adventure would be like...well, New York, without New York City Opera.

Which, of course, has gone. Operatic Manhattan now has only the Met. Comparisons are being drawn, even ones predicated as if this is not a bad thing. But it is a very bad thing. NYCO's closure appears to have been the result, as far as one can tell from here, of a gigantic f***-up and could conceivably have been avoided had things been handled differently earlier in the process.

Earlier in the process, as it happens, the ACE's chairman, Peter Bazalgette, was formerly the chairman of ENO. Since his move to the ACE, ENO has been targeted for bigger funding cuts than any other organisation still in the organisation's national 'portfolio'. According to the Guardian Bazalgette has reportedly not been participating in the ACE's discussions this week.

One hopes profoundly that in the two years' grace it's been so, er, kindly granted, the company can pull together and find means to survive. That what might look like cynical attempts to kill it off are not in fact that. That whatever's going on at the micro-level behind the scenes can be put to one side in favour of the macro-level bigger picture. That artistic vision can be respected on the one hand and financial prudence accepted on the other.

Since the resignation of the executive director, Henriette Götz, two weeks ago Anthony Whitworth-Jones, formerly of Glyndebourne and then Garsington, has been brought in to help. It is interesting to reflect that Glyndebourne and Garsington are both privately funded. JDCMB is a passionate believer in the principle of public funding for the arts, but if ENO has to be privatised, it would still be better than losing it altogether. Reduce it to middle-of-the-road potboiler productions - as some would like to - and there's really not much point having it at all; the good news is that neither Glyndebourne nor Garsington has ever resorted to that.

This looks to me like something one step from Shock Doctrine-style brinksmanship - it is certainly quacking like that particular duck - but let's keep fundamental ideas strong. This is a company with a big vision, a big theatre, an expensive art form and not a big budget under those circumstances. The ACE has got them over a barrel and something may have to give. Sacrifice real estate if necessary; find other pricing models and fundraising opportunities, by all means; but whatever happens, whoever leaves, don't jettison the principle of artistic vision that has kept ENO a truly international force. Let's keep ENO BIO.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rattle: "European orchestral conditions are like the wildest edges of science fiction in our country"

Sir Simon Rattle: only on his terms
Photo: c Sheila Rock/EMI Classics

Following a spectacular opening for his London Residency with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon has been speaking to BBC TV News. Yesterday, in an interview with the BBC's Will Gompertz, he declared: 

"I think it's clear that London and Munich are the two great cities in the world that don't have proper concert halls. The music lovers of London and of the country would deserve to have something where also the orchestras can flourish. 

"You have no idea how wonderful an orchestra like the London Symphony Orchestra can sound in a great concert hall. The Barbican is serviceable. But it's like when I've seen so many young violinists finally be handed a great violin - it's a whole other world."

He also drew a pertinent comparison between the general conditions and the generous rehearsal time he has with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the LSO's relentless schedule of performing and touring. 

"The kind of conditions a European orchestra has, which any orchestra would take for granted in Europe, are on the wildest edges of science fiction in our country, particularly in London. It's hard to explain to people just how hard and brutally these London orchestras work."

Will Gompertz asked him whether he was saying that if he can alter the conditions towards something a little closer to that of Berlin, then he would accept the LSO music director post, and if not, he wouldn't? 

"I think the conditions for the players are incredibly important," said Sir Simon, "because it's a matter of what actually people can achieve." 

Gompertz concluded that Rattle would come back to Britain - but only on his own terms. Which is pretty much what we thought. 

The sound of the Berlin orchestra in Sibelius's first two symphonies was so overwhelming, by the way, that I scarcely slept a wink that night. My review should be up at the Independent website soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Quite a thrill from Amati today: the phenomenal Roby Lakatos, no less, is to give an exclusive performance in an intimate cabaret setting during the next Amati Exhibition, to be held at the Langham Hotel, on 29 March. Tickets are £24 and include a glass of bubbly. Please book SOON because numbers are strictly limited.

Please come over to The Amati Magazine for full details of how to book. See you there!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Taking Polunin to church

Sergei Polunin, "Take Me to Church" by Hozier, Directed by David LaChapelle from David LaChapelle Studio on Vimeo.

It seems not so long since I went into a Royal Opera House interview room to meet a 21-year-old Russian soloist who'd been described to me, memorably, as a "sweet boy". Er, thing I knew he was talking about hankering to be part of a gang, and showing me his tiger-scratch tattoos. His name was Sergei Polunin.

He had itchy feet, and not only to dance. Sure enough, a few months later he walked out on the company and went back to Russia. Since then he's rarely in the news without controversy attached. He's ambitious, hungry, eats up experience, eats up life and its dark side - and here, in this astonishing solo, he feeds on our souls as he shows us, perhaps, his own. His classical technique is impeccable, but it's the raw emotional power with which he invests this piece that makes this perhaps the essence of 21st-century ballet and marks him out as a dance artist whose journey has perhaps only just begun.

'Take me to Church' is a song by Hozier and the fabulous filming is by David La Chapelle. Many thanks to Graham Spicer, 'Gramilano', for posting a link to it on Twitter.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Making a splash with Der fliegende Holländer

Royal Opera House, 5 February 2015. ****
(This is my review for The Independent, now online here.)

Adrianne Pieczonka as Senta, with the chorus of ghost sailors
Photo: Clive Barda

Before the opening night of Der fliegende Holländer some of the Royal Opera House Orchestra had already taken a soaking; apparently the patch of on-stage sea for act III found its way into the pit at the dress rehearsal. But Tim Albery’s Olivier Award-nominated staging, first seen in 2009, is an immersive and immersing experience, pulling you into its depths even if you don’t get splashed en route.

Like many of the most interesting Wagner productions, it is not overloaded with activity, but homes in on human interaction, within elemental shapes; the basic concave shell could be a sail, a wave, a ship’s belly, or the slope of the shore’s hillside. Dark, stark and strong, it is impressively lit by David Finn, with intriguing angles, sometimes harsh, sometimes beautiful, usually symbolic. There seems no need to interpret to excess. Senta’s obsession with the Dutchman comes across not as psychosis, but a genuine love; at the end, instead of throwing herself into the sea, the poor girl seems to die of grief. The mini model ship, though, sometimes feels like a prop too far.

There are two ways, very broadly speaking, to treat this opera. It can emphasise the influence of its musical roots, including Italian bel canto, Weber and Marschner (his Der Vampyr); or it can look forward to the composer’s mature masterpieces. It can be gothic horror with high emotion and great tunes; or a dusky foreshadowing of the philosophical drives that Wagner brought to bear on the Ring cycle and its companions. This account is the latter in no uncertain terms: Albery’s atmospheric staging and Andris Nelsons’s spacious conducting combine into a seriously grown-up angle.

Bryn Terfel’s Dutchman is so strongly characterised that the doomed seaman’s entire history seems visible at his first entrance, weary and burdened, dragging the ship’s rope around his shoulders; vocally he paces himself finely, saving the strongest for last as the dramatic tension peaks. As Senta, Adrianne Pieczonka is simply magnificent, with a warm and radiant voice that melts in its lower register and cuts higher up, and the ability to inhabit the role to heartbreaking effect. The central pair are more than superbly supported by Peter Rose as Senta’s father, Daland; tenor Michael König is a lyrical Erik; and in smaller roles the contributions of Ed Lyon as the Steersman and Catherine Wyn-Rogers as Mary were outstanding. One of the night’s biggest plaudits, though, goes to the chorus: the terrifying clash of the locals and the ghost ship’s crew in act III packs a massive punch.

Some elements perhaps still need to settle a little; on this opening night it was hard not to wonder whether Nelsons’ drawn-out tempi challenged sustaining power too much. The overture dragged surprisingly – not aided by the hypnotic waves of grey curtain rolling from left to right – but Nelsons’ skill as an accompanist with forensic control of line and texture allows the singers to shine without shouting, to be supported without ever being drowned.

Friday, February 06, 2015

On beauty...

'Stars' by VOCES8 from VOCES8 on Vimeo.

There's such a thing as beauty in music. Actually there are many different things such as beauty in music. You can find it in the darkest, most terrifying concepts from Wagner and Mahler, in the electronic eleventh dimensions of Boulez, in the ambivalent, sexy purity of Fauré - and in the music of the young Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds, an increasingly sought-after voice in the spheres of contemporary choral music. He is writing a big choral piece to feature in his fellow countryman Andris Nelsons's farewell concerts with the CBSO in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, in June, and we want to be there.

In the meantime, a gorgeous piece of his called 'Stars' features in a new album from the ace vocal ensemble Voces8, entitled Lux. They have made a rather exquisite snowy dancer video to go with it. The closing word of the piece is 'Majesty' and the film apparently aims to evoke the sense of this word through the celebration of the human form. It's above. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Bryn Plus

I had a wonderful interview with Bryn Terfel last week and it is in today's Independent, here. Bryn sings the lead in Der fliegende Holländer at Covent Garden, opening tonight.

Here are a few bonus bits of the interview.

Bryn on...Andris Nelsons (who conducts the Wagner tonight):

"The first time I met him was in Birmingham - and then I heard the Boston Symphony Orchestra had snapped him up. He’s married to Kristine Opolais,of course, which will only make him an even better conductor of singers – but he can sing! Goodness gracious, you should hear his voice. He's a stunning bass-baritone and he loves to sing from the pit- and he laughs and winks at you. From what I hear, the orchestra loves him as well. Isn’t that a great formula already? Who knows where he’ll go?"

Bryn on...his foundation to help student musicians:

"Whatever I do concertwise now, the money I get for that goes to the foundation. I need to work a little bit harder, maybe, on getting people to invest some of their money into the youth of my chosen career, so I’ve given some nmoney to young Welsh singers, I’ve given some mopney to a young accordionist who's doing really well at the moment, Ksenija Sidorova, I gave her a little foundation money – I’m sure that any student coming out of college would like some help. So that’s something for the future. In the next 10 years I’m going to home in on my foundation. I started it because I heard from students that they were coming out of university with debts and that made me think that maybe they need the money now, while they’re still in college. So the money I’ve given to students, they’re in college now, spending it. And there’s no stipulation about what they can spend it on – they can buy shoes, a car, a dress – and these are things you need as a performer. I’ll never forget Sir Geraint Evans telling me: 'Buy a new suit.' And he was right. Because that generation, thety’d come to rehearsal in a three-piece suit! I’ll never forget who I got money from. Capital Radio gave me £500 once. The Kathleen Ferrier Scholarship I won was £5000 and that was really important for extra coaching and extra language coaching."

Bryn on...the great pianists:

"I’ll never forget going to hear Martha Argerich play with the young Verbier Symphony, full of kids under 25 years old. I sat there with Peter Gelb and he said 'It’ll be brilliant tonight.' I can guess a pianist will be brilliant by the names, but to hear piano music being played I need to study a little more, I think, on the difference between brilliant and mediocre, because I think they’re all fantastic. And Peter said that at the end of Horowitz’s career he was his agent and filmed him playing in Moscow for the last time. He said they didn’t want to film him from the front of the audience, so he had the camera on Horowitz from behind - and looking through into the audience, all these Russian people were sobbing. But he said Horowitz had said to him: 'Only one pianist will take over what I’ve started, and it’s Argerich'. So I was about to listen to this woman – I listen to a lot of Horowitz anyway on Youtube - his White House soirées with presidents are recorded on video. So that was one of the most exciting evenings I’d ever had, having heard that story."

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Gardiner auctions Hogwood's legacy

The late Christopher Hogwood's collection included 26 beautiful historic keyboard instruments, all of which are to go under the auctioneer's hammer in Bath at the Gardiner Houlgate Auction Rooms on 12 March. We can't help loving the verbal idea of Gardiner auctioning off Hogwood's stuff, but are not sure whether they are indeed related to that Gardiner.

Brodmann grand piano, 1815
The collection features early instruments from harpsichords to fortepianos to dummy keyboards and an organ or two, and stretches all the way from 1650 to 1952. One of the star items is this Joseph Johann Brodmann fortepiano from Vienna of 1815 - prime Beethoven territory - thought to have belonged to Weber and once in the collection of the soprano Emmy Destinn. It is estimated at £22-28,000.

Hass clavichord, 1761
One of the priciest instruments is a clavichord by Johann Adolph Hass from Hamburg, 1761. On this instrument Hogwood recorded five albums including works by the Bach family, Handel and Mozart. Likely price is thought to be around £30-40000. There are also several clavichords made in the early 20th century by Arnold Dolmetsch.

You can explore the catalogue online here. Viewings by appointment.

Aw shuks...

A friendly email arrived yesterday from the community manager of Forte Music Notation Software telling me that JDCMB is among 14 sites nominated for their Best Classical Music Website vote. The winner will be able to give away three licenses for Forte software use to his/her readers. The company describes its product as "music notation software for reading, creating and composing sheet music - created by musicians for musicians".

I'm rather touched and appear to be in excellent company. I don't like asking people to vote for me, really, because it seems deeply immodest...but if you do happen to fancy having a look and placing your vote, you can do so here:

Monday, February 02, 2015

Amati: In which I treat a great cellist to lunch

The Amati Magazine, redesigned and under new editorship, kicks off in earnest today with my first Editor's Lunch: a series in which I treat hand-picked luminaries to lunch. Britain's greatest living cellist seemed like a good person for the first one... and I'm pleased to say that the man with the curls and the gut strings accepted my invitation to dine at Baltic. Here is the feature. Enjoy!