JDCMB
Jessica
JDCMB is Jessica Duchen's Classical Music Blog. Music & writing, with CHOCOLATE AND SILVER, in London, UK. Author & journalist JD writes for The Independent.
1469 Entries
If anyone thinks women cannot be the greatest instrumentalists in the world, they need to experience this, right now. Martha Argerich, filmed in 1966, plays Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No.6.

(Please note, incidentally, that Argerich will be performing at the Wigmore Hall on 2 November in duo with Stephen Kovacevich, in a special concert to celebrate his 70th birthday. You want to be there.)

2 months ago | |
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Great to see International Women's Day really flying this year. There's such a lot going on that I feel quite boggled. Of course, one looks forward to the day when women's equal representation, recognition, pay and respect are taken for granted as human rights and none of this special stuff will be necessary any more. Sad to reflect that instead we're thanking our lucky stars that we live in a part of the world where we have the freedom to have this festival.

If you're in London, get yourself to the Southbank for the WOW Festival - Women of the World - culminating in the annual Mirth Control concert on Sunday night. It features Alice Farnham and Sian Edwards conducting an all-female orchestra in rare works by female composers including Florence Price, plus appearances by amazing singer Angel Blue, the brilliant West End star Sharon D Clarke, the marvellous young musician Ayanna Witter-Johnson, ace comedian Sarah Millican and more. Sandi Toksvig is compère.

Explore the full WOW programme here.



Over on BBC Radio 3 the celebratory programming started earlier this week and extends into next as well. UPDATE: fabulous article here by the R3 presenter Sara Mohr-Pietsch covering this ground and more.

Here is their line-up for the weekend and next week. On Sunday it's the entire day.

Saturday 7 MarchCD Review (0900-1215)Andrew McGregor will be Building a Library on the Clara Schumann Piano Trio with pianist and broadcaster David Owen NorrisMusic Matters (1215-1300)Sara Mohr Pietsch presents a package examining how the world has changed for women writing music across the centuriesSunday 8 March – International Women’s DayGeoffrey Smith's Jazz (0000-0100)Geoffrey Smith presents a portrait of American jazz singer, composer, pianist and actress Carmen McRaeThrough the Night (0100-0700)Through the Night broadcasts music exclusively written by female composersBreakfast (0700-0900)A special edition presented by Clemency Burton-HillSunday Morning (0900-1100)A special edition presented by Rob Cowan and Sarah WalkerLive Concert from the BBC Radio Theatre (1100-1300)Suzy Klein presents a concert of music by Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann and English composer and violist Rebecca Clarke live from the BBC Radio Theatre (1100-1300) with performances from Radio 3 New Generation Artists Lise Berthaud (viola) and Kitty Whatley (mezzo soprano)Private Passions (1300-1400)Michael Berkeley talks to composer Anna MeredithThe Early Music Show (1400-1500)Lucie Skeaping explores the life and work of Italian Baroque singer and composer Barbara StrozziChoral Evensong (1500-1600)A service from King’s College Cambridge with music composed by female composersThe Choir (1600-1700)A live edition of with a performance of a new commission by young composer Rhiannon Randle by St Catherine’s ChoirSunday Feature: From Convent to Concert Hall (1845-1930)Dr Kate Kennedy tells the story of four string players who were pioneers in different eras, from the 18th to the 20th century with contributions from violinist Margaret Faultless and cellist Julian Lloyd WebberRadio 3 Live in Concert (1930-2200)Augusta Holmes: AndromedeBoulanger: D’un matin de PrintempsTailleferre: Concerto for Two Pianos, Mixed Chorus, Saxophones and OrchestraChaminade: KonzertstuckeMélanie Bonis: Trois Femmes de LegendeKatie Derham presenterNoriko Ogawa pianoPascal & Ami Roge piano duetBBC National Chorus of WalesBBC National Orchestra of WalesJessica Cottis conductorDrama on 3 (2200)Broadcast premiere of Sophocles’ Electra starring Dame Kristin Scott ThomasMonday 9 March – Friday 13 MarchComposer of the Week (Monday-Friday, 1200-1300)Donald Macleod interviews five female composers under the age of 35 - Charlotte Bray, Anna Clyne, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Hannah Kendall and Dobrinka Tabakova.


2 months ago | |
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From an online post relating the contents of Kanye West's talk to Oxford University:

“OK, everyone please be completely quiet, because I can literally hear a whisper, and it’ll throw off my stream of consciousness, and when I get my stream of consciousness going that’s when I give the best, illest quotes. Literally, a whisper can throw it off."

Um, right, so if Kanye West needs quiet in order to deliver this talk (you can read "more or less exactly" what he said at Oxford in that post), why should a pianist trying to perform the last three Beethoven sonatas need anything different? Hopefully this should put the kibosh well and truly on trendy ideas that we should allow talking, eating and texting in the concert hall.
2 months ago | |
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Today a dream has come true for the LSO.  They just confirmed that Sir Simon Rattle is to take over as music director in 2017. Congratulations, guys. Brava, managing director Kathryn McDowell, with her well-placed butterfly net. And good luck with everything this may bring to London at long last.

Wondering what this means for the rest of the orchestral scene in London, meanwhile.

Rattle said of his appointment:

“During my work with the LSO over the last years, I noticed that despite the Orchestra’s long and illustrious history, they almost never refer to it. Instead, refreshingly, they talk about the future, what can they make anew, what can they improve, how can they reach further into the community. In terms of musical excellence, it is clear that the sky's the limit, but equally important, in terms of philosophy, they constantly strive to be a twenty-first century orchestra. We share a dream in which performing, teaching and learning are indivisible, with wider dissemination of our art at its centre. I cannot imagine a better or more inspiring way to spend my next years, and feel immensely fortunate to have the LSO as my musical family and co-conspirators.”
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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.

2 months ago | |
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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.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/classical/features/as-the-indian-queen-opens-can-peter-sellars-save-the-eno-10068028.html

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

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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... http://magazine.amati.com/149-comment/comment-hall-mirrors.html
2 months ago | |
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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.

3 months ago | |
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According to Building.co.uk, 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.
3 months ago | |
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