Archive | December, 2013


The New Year Honours List led by Rattle and Maxwell Davies on Classic FM

Posted on 31 December 2013 by admin

A host of classical music talent is recognised in the list, led by the conductor Sir Simon Rattle and the Master of the Queen’s Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Sir Simon joins the Order of Merit, an Order of 24 members chosen by H.M. the Queen herself. There are presently no other musicians in the Order. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is made a Companion of Honour, an order for outstanding achievers in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry, or religion. Other present Companions of Honour include the mezzo-soprano Dame Janet Baker  and the composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle. Sir Peter was named Master of the Queen’s Music in March 2004, a 10-year appointment which is due to end in two months time.

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Chat to Bamberg Symphony’s French horn player Christoph Ess

Posted on 30 December 2013 by admin

Why did you decide to become a musician? I decided to make music my career relatively late – at the age of 17 I would say. I had always wanted to study chemistry before that, but I have no regrets about choosing music as my profession. Back then I didn’t know the wonderful benefits of this line of work. What’s the one performance from your career that sticks in your mind? There are certainly some. But I will never forget the fully sold out awards concert of ‘Jugend musiziert’ in the main hall of the Gewandhaus Leipzig in 1997 when I was 13 years old. However, I will also always remember my first Ring Cycle, which I performed recently, or the 5th Symphony of Gustav Mahler with Jonathan Nott at the Proms. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you on stage? Fortunately, I have only experienced small mishaps. For instance, in the past I have forgotten the score for a moment when playing something from memory during a solo performance, which is a little embarrassing. But I have never drawn a complete blank. If you could work with one musician, living or dead, who would it be and why? I would like to have met Richard Wagner very much. I have devoted myself to him this year and I have a few questions to ask… In concert, have you ever thought, “I can’t actually play this bit very well, I’m going to mime and hope no-one notices”? No. That hasn’t happened yet. I will hopefully remain professional enough to always be well prepared for a concert. This is the principal duty of a musician and his greatest responsibility. Could you give us an example of the downside of the profession, something that the average concert-goer might not know about? The readers don’t want to know that… But joking aside, it is an incredibly wonderful job with far more advantages than disadvantages. Does the touring lifestyle bring out rock star behaviour in the orchestra? No, you never feel like a rock star. Anyway, the orchestra is a community and always appears as a team. The atmosphere in a concert hall is indeed very different and should also be very different to the atmosphere at a rock concert. With regards to all that is involved in a concert performance, the performers are, of course, happy when the concert and rehearsal conditions are as they desire them to be. When this happens everyone wants to come back to the same organiser, at a specific venue or city. Have you witnessed any serious diva strops in your time as a musician? No comment and no names. But there are many more than you might think… What’s the biggest challenge facing musicians like you these days? Today it is certainly very, very difficult to become prevalent and to stand out against the good and very good musicians, to establish one’s reputation and to present oneself within the variety of all new media. What’s the best thing about being a musician? The fact that we have a job with which we can bring joy to other people!

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Sojourn -The Very Best of classical guitarist Xuefei Yang

Posted on 29 December 2013 by admin

Sojourn, The Very Best of Xuefei Yang

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While it’s a ‘Best Of’ compilation – and as albums these can lack structure and direction by their very nature – the content is quite wisely chosen, including some lesser-known Chinese classical works and two charming miniatures by Classic FM presenter John Brunning (formerly a guitarist with 70s rockers Mungo Jerry) among the well-known musical lollipops. Yang displays her technical brilliance in ebullient showpieces such as Tárrega’s  ‘Carnival of Venice’ Variations and some very adept transcriptions of Bach, including Air on a G String and Prelude in C played on a deep-voiced seven-string guitar. What singles out Yang’s playing, however, is her natural, fluent musicality that makes narrative sense of every phrase she interprets – even a creaky old warhorse like the Adagio from the Concierto de Aranjuez sounds freshly coloured and exciting in her hands, and she plays the ubiquitous theme fromThe Deerhunter with breathtaking simplicity. While it is a bit of a hotchpotch, musically this album makes an excellent introduction to the classical guitar in the 21st century, its repertoire, and one of its foremost players.

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The interview of Britten to America, James Jolly & Sir Mark Elder talked about Britten’s music

Posted on 28 December 2013 by admin

Britten to America

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As his centenary year draws to a close, we can look back at some wonderful new recordings of Britten’s music: Philip Higham’s disc of the Cello Suites (Delphian), Oliver Knussen conducting The Rape of Lucretia at Aldeburgh (Virgin Classics), Ian Bostridge recording Britten’s songs with Antonio Pappano and Xuefei Yang (EMI Classics), the Takács Quartet giving masterly accounts of all three string quartets (Hyperion), to name just a few. But there is one more surprise left in Britten Year. The ever-enterprising NMC Records with Sir Mark Elder and his Hallé orchestra have just released an album of Britten’s incidental music for radio and theatre called ‘Britten To America’. Featuring soloists Mary Carewe, Jean Rigby and Andrew Kennedy, alongside narration from Samuel West, this album features music that will surprise even the most ardent Britten devotee, as Sir Mark explains to James Jolly in the following exclusive video interview >>>

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