Archive | April, 2013

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James Rhodes talked about his love, and his life as a concert pianist

Posted on 30 April 2013 by admin

James Rhodes (born 6 March 1975 ) is a British classical pianist. In March 2010, Rhodes became the first core classical pianist to be signed to the world’s largest rock label Warner Bros. Records. James Rhodes: “My life as a concert pianist can be frustrating, lonely, demoralising and exhausting. But is it worth it? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. After the inevitable ‘How many hours a day do you practice?’ and ‘Show me your hands’, the most common thing people say to me when they hear I’m a pianist is ‘I used to play the piano as a kid. I really regret giving it up’. I imagine authors have lost count of the number of people who have told them they ‘always had a book inside them’. We seem to have evolved into a society of mourned and misplaced creativity. A world where people have simply surrendered to (or been beaten into submission by) the sleepwalk of work, domesticity, mortgage repayments, junk food, junk TV, junk everything, angry ex-wives, ADHD kids and the lure of eating chicken from a bucket while emailing clients at 8pm on a weekend. Do the maths. We can function – sometimes quite brilliantly – on six hours’ sleep a night. Eight hours of work was more than good enough for centuries (oh the desperate irony that we actually work longer hours since the invention of the internet and smartphones). Four hours will amply cover picking the kids up, cleaning the flat, eating, washing and the various etceteras. We are left with six hours. 360 minutes to do whatever we want. Is what we want simply to numb out and give Simon Cowell even more money? To scroll through Twitter and Facebook looking for romance, bromance, cats, weather reports, obituaries and gossip? To get nostalgically, painfully drunk in a pub where you can’t even smoke? What if you could know everything there is to know about playing the piano in under an hour (something the late, great Glenn Gould claimed, correctly I believe, was true)? The basics of how to practise and how to read music, the physical mechanics of finger movement and posture, all the tools necessary to actually play a piece – these can be written down and imparted like a flat-pack furniture how-to-build-it manual; it then is down to you to scream and howl and hammer nails through fingers in the hope of deciphering something unutterably alien until, if you’re very lucky, you end up with something halfway resembling the end product. What if for a couple of hundred quid you could get an old upright on eBay delivered? And then you were told that with the right teacher and 40 minutes proper practice a day you could learn a piece you’ve always wanted to play within a few short weeks. Is that not worth exploring? What if rather than a book club you joined a writer’s club? Where every week you had to (really had to) bring three pages of your novel, novella, screenplay and read them aloud? What if, rather than paying £70 a month for a gym membership that delights in making you feel fat, guilty and a world away from the man your wife married you bought a few blank canvases and some paints and spent time each day painting your version of “I love you” until you realised that any woman worth keeping would jump you then and there just for that, despite your lack of a six-pack? I didn’t play the piano for 10 years. A decade of slow death by greed working in the City, chasing something that never existed in the first place (security, self-worth, Don Draper albeit a few inches shorter and a few women fewer). And only when the pain of not doing it got greater than the imagined pain of doing it did I somehow find the balls to pursue what I really wanted and had been obsessed by since the age of seven – to be a concert pianist. Admittedly I went a little extreme – no income for five years, six hours a day of intense practice, monthly four-day long lessons with a brilliant and psychopathic teacher in Verona, a hunger for something that was so necessary it cost me my marriage, nine months in a mental hospital, most of my dignity and about 35lbs in weight. And the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is not perhaps the Disney ending I’d envisaged as I lay in bed aged 10 listening to Horowitz devouring Rachmaninov at Carnegie Hall. My life involves endless hours of repetitive and frustrating practising, lonely hotel rooms, dodgy pianos, aggressively bitchy reviews, isolation, confusing airline reward programmes, physiotherapy, stretches of nervous boredom (counting ceiling tiles backstage as the house slowly fills up) punctuated by short moments of extreme pressure (playing 120,000 notes from memory in the right order with the right fingers, the right sound, the right pedalling while chatting about the composers and pieces and knowing there are critics, recording devices, my mum, the ghosts of the past, all there watching), and perhaps most crushingly, the realisation that I will never, ever give the perfect recital. It can only ever, with luck, hard work and a hefty dose of self-forgiveness, be “good enough”.

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The schedule for artists who will participate in BBC Proms 2013

Posted on 30 April 2013 by admin

The BBC Proms  is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Founded in 1895, now the BBC Proms is becoming the biggest classical music festival in the world. Each season currently consists of more than 70 concerts in the Albert Hall, a series of chamber concerts at Cadogan Hall, additional Proms in the Park events across the United Kingdom on the last night, and associated educational and children’s events.

On Saturday, September 7th, Opera star & Grammy winner Joyce DiDonato will join violinist Nigel Kennedy and American conductor Maris Alsop leading the BBC Orchestra and Chorus for the Last Night of the Proms, a true highlight of the International Music Calendar, and one of the grandest celebrations of classical music in the world.  Other artists who will participate in this year’s Proms include:

Vilde Frang (Monday, 15th July and Tuesday, 6th August)

Antonio Pappano & the Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Friday, 19th July andSaturday, 20th July)

Tine Thing Helseth with her brass ensemble tenThing (Monday, August 5th and Sunday, 18th August)

Alison Balsom (Saturday, 10th August)

Vasily Petrenko (Sunday, 11th August, Monday, 2nd September and Tuesday, 3rd September)

Ian Bostridge (Tuesday, 20th August and Monday, 2nd September)

The John Wilson Orchestra (Monday, 26th August)

Joyce DiDonato, Nigel Kennedy and Marin Alsop (Last Night of The Proms, Saturday, 7th September).

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Piotr Beczala’s new release Verdi on Orfeo Label

Posted on 29 April 2013 by admin

Piotr Beczala (born December 28, 1966 ) is a Polish operatic tenor. In 2007 he was awarded the Munich Opera Festival Prize. In the Farao Classics recording of La traviata, he was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award as Alfredo Germont. The CD is a live recording from the Bavarian State Opera’s March 2006 production with Anja Harteros as Violetta, Paolo Gavanelli as Giorgio Germont, and Zubin Mehtaconducting. For celebration of the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, this album is a collection of highlights that include the roles in which he has for years been acclaimed on the world’s great operatic stages, and this new CD with Beczala and the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under £ukas Borowicz goes one step further. For besides roles for which he is famous, such as the Duke in Rigoletto or Alfredo inLa traviata (in which Beczala has enjoyed equal success at the Met, in Covent Garden and at the Bavarian State Opera), Beczala here offers rarities and arias that were ground-breaking at the time.  Thus he sings Radamès’s opening aria fromAïda, striking the exact balance necessary between the drama and the interiority of expression that makes this romance (and indeed the whole role) as charming as it is difficult. The same is true of the role of Manrico in Il trovatore. Beczala does not just sing his aria “Ah sì, ben mio” on this CD, but also his big scene with Azucena from the second part of the opera. His partner here is Ewa Podles, whose dark yet brilliant contralto voice offers a fascinating contrast to Beczala’s ever-radiant, well-focussed tenor. The recording closes with the friendship duet from Don Carlo, which Beczala crowns with a superb top C. Here, he is partnered by the baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as Posa, who thereby adds another beautiful vocal timbre to the recording. In arias from Macbeth and Un ballo in maschera from the more melancholy side of the repertoire, Beczala utilizes to the full the possibilities they offer for subtle shadings. Since his spectacular debut at the Lindenoper in Berlin and a première at the Zurich Opera that was his home for many years, this Polish tenor has been virtually synonymous with the protagonist of Un ballo in maschera. Beczala changes genre for the “Ingemisco” from Verdi’s Requiem (unless one shares the opinion that this requiem mass is in fact Verdi’s best “opera”), in which he brings to expression the trajectory from humility to hope that is intrinsic to it. Variety is also guaranteed by the selection of tenor arias from rarely performed Verdi operas such as Les vêpres siciliennes and I Lombardi alla prima crociata, in which Piotr Beczala once again demonstrates the lissom elegance of his phrasing.

Verdi / Piotr Beczala

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The cellist Janos Starker’s sad news, has died

Posted on 29 April 2013 by admin

The legendary cellist has died at 5am, April 28, 2013. He was 88 years old and had been in terminal care for the last few weeks. János Starker ( July 5, 1924 – April 28, 2013) was a Hungarian-American cellist. From 1958 until his death, he taught at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he held the title of Distinguished Professor. He is one of the most recorded cellists in the world, Starker made over 160 recordings of virtually the entire cello literature. He recorded the Bach solo cello suites five times, most recently for RCA in 1992 for which he won a Grammy award. He was also nominated for a Grammy award for his 1990 recording of the extremely demanding works of David Popper. He had concerti written for him by David Baker, Antal Doráti, Bernhard Heiden, Jean Martinon, Miklos Rozsa, and Robert Starer. Starker’s playing style was characterised by a superb technique, a tighly focused tone and an intensity of sound. His discography – for Delos, DG, EMI, London, Mercury, Philips and Seraphim among others – was extensive and embraced five different recordings of the Bach solo cello suites, chamber music and the major cello concertos.

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