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And now for something completely different – free download #6

For Christmas Day, a special treat - a new recording that has not yet been released.Coming up from Orchid in February is a pair of Russian seasonal landscapes, played on a virtuosic squeeze box.Hmmmmm .... goes well with the mulled wine.Click here: Preview: ORC100016 - WINTER SKETCHES Prokofiev: Scherzo Mussorgsky/Mogensen: In the Village Bjarke Mogensen (accordion) … [Read more...]

Greetings from Mahler’s town of Jihlava (Iglau)

Showing the new Mahler statue and Mahler park, on the site of the desecrated synagogue. More details here and here (or here). … [Read more...]

Then the conductor pulled a revolver and pointed it at the audience…

Yeah, I know, these things happen. In his last blog of the year, the London Symphony Orchestra's principal flute, Gareth Davies, notes his surprise on tour this year at seeing a well-known conductor come on stage with a gun in his hand, aiming it at the heart of the audience.The conductor in question has had anger management issues in the past (don't they all?) and the concert was taking place in Palermo, Sicily, where men with guns may be a more common sight than in Chelmsford, England, … [Read more...]

End of Chopin year – free classical download #5

The bicentenary of Chopin's birth changed none of my perspectives. There have been some interesting recordings, not least by the miraculously restored Janina Fialkowska, and some teeth-gritting horrors from various former winners of the Chopin competition, not to mention some ear-tweaking interpretations on creaky pianos of the composer's time. None prompted me to regard Chopin from a fresh aspect.There were, however, hidden gems and whispered secrets, one of which was Leon McCawley's account of … [Read more...]

Dude to go on Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Yes, you read it right. A real-life classical conductor is going on prime US network television at the start of the New Year. He might even get to talk about music (perhaps not at symphonic length). When, since Leonard Bernstein in 1943, has any young conductor received such national exposure?It's a huge step-up for Gustavo Dudamel to the next celebrity rung. I reckon he can handle it.Here's the press release, hot off the email: LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC MUSIC DIRECTORGUSTAVO DUDAMEL TO … [Read more...]

So how many is too many? Some additional evidence

An orchestral manager has directed me to an article on alcohol in the performing arts, published a year ago by the UK Medical Council on Alcohol. It contains some shocking statistics, among them an international survey showing that 70 percent of orchestral musicians suffer from levels of anxiety that lead to medication, alcohol and drug use.I don't remember the report being discussed much among musicians when it was published. As usual in the classical music world, it was swept under the … [Read more...]

Whatever became of Respighi?

Free classical downoad #4 is the Dream of Solomon from the Onyx recording of Respighi's Queen of Sheba. It is played by the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra and, unless you were specifically looking for the piece, you would never know it existed.To say it has an eastern flavour is like questioning the Pope's Catholicism. Seldom has an orchestra sounded more attuned to the work in hand.Here's the link: Respighi: Belkis, Queen of … [Read more...]

Breaking news: Czech Phil takes new chief from its dark past

The next music director of the Czech Philharmonic will be a conductor first appointed under communism, thrown out by the players in an act of free market madness and standing ever since as a living reproach to the orchestra's collective misbehaviour.It has been announced in Prague that Jiri Belohlavek will resume his duties in September 2012 at the helm of the only Czech cultural institution of international standing. He will succeed the Israeli, Eliahu Inbal, the last of a long run of fix-it … [Read more...]

Why is it always music teachers?

This one forced little girls to strip and held their heads under water while acting out some bizarre fetish. He's a London choirmaster, 73 years old, and he was jailed yesterday for seven years at Snaresbrook Crown Court, the full details appearing in The Daily Telegraph (and why is it always the Telegraph that is first to the sleaze?).Read it here: then ask why … [Read more...]

Breaking news: Abbey Road saved forever

The BBC has just reported that the zebra crossing outside Abbey Road studios have been listed by English Heritage as a site of supreme cultural importance. They cannot now be altered in any way without massive bureaucratic procedure.Here's the link: studios themselves will probably be up for sale next month when EMI is broken up by Citibank in pursuit of its heavy loans.Watch it all on live … [Read more...]

More labels join free classical downloads on Slipped Disc

Another two indy labels, impressed by the download rush here over the past two days, have asked me to put up free tracks for your leisure and pleasure over the holiday period.Before they roll out, here's free classical download #3 featuring British violinist Matthew Trusler in the concerto that matters more to him at the moment than any other - Erich Wolfgang Korngold's intricate and subtly anguished interweaving of movie themes into a Heifetz showpiece.This is the glorious finale, played by … [Read more...]

So how many is too many?

In the January 2011 issue of The Strad I discuss drink and drug use among string players, especially in symphony orchestras. It's a problem that no-one wants to address in public and the more it is swept under the carpet the worse it gets. Here's a taster:Between us, we know what's what. We have colleagues who hit the bar before, during and after a concert, others whose nerves are so shot their bathroom cabinet looks like a medieval apothecary's and their nostrils are in need of relining. The … [Read more...]

Breaking news: Anti-Tory opera to open in Cheltenham

I've just had a press release announcing that Mark-Anthony Turnage's anti-Thatcher opera, Greek, is to have its first revival for ten years in the English heartland festival at Cheltenham.I wonder what they'll make of it in the shires.Also on the cards is the concerto debut of wild-lad pianist, James Rhodes, and a kooky little sub-theme on the connections between maths and music from Pythagoras to Steve Reich.Press release follows:Cheltenham Music Festival, one of the UK's most established and … [Read more...]

Dutch play 4’33″ on prime time TV

Sending up the BBC's reluctance to perform this year's Christmas hit on its pop station, the Dutch asked composer Reinbert de Leeuw to perform it on prime time TV.Here's the masterpiece, in full and unedited: … [Read more...]

You gotta hear this – free classical download #2

The bicentenary of Robert Schumann's birth had a pretty low-key reception in 2010, competing as it was against Chopin's and against the recent 150th of Schumann's death. Amid the recordings that came my way, one that pinned my ears back was the violinist Ilya Gringolts taking on the much-underplayed second sonata - and doing so with captivating zest.His is the second of the Slipped Disc exclusive free downloads. Click on the link … [Read more...]

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