wed 20/06/2018

Classical Features

theartsdesk at Leipzig's Blüthner Piano Factory - a perfect family business

David Nice

Have you ever wondered why the Steinway grand piano is invariably the instrument of choice in every hall you visit, great or small? How is it that the hand-crafted pianos pioneered by Julius Blüthner in Leipzig from 1853 onwards, and still being made to the highest specifications on a different site just outside the city, don't usually get a look-in?

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theartsdesk at the Setúbal Music Festival 2018: youth leads the way

David Nice

"Get those creatures off the stage, or I won't answer for what I'll do". The exclamation of the Prima Donna in the backstage prologue of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, about to share her grand opera with lower forms of theatrical life, seems to have been shared by a head teacher at the first Setúbal Music Festival in Portugal eight years ago, faced with the arrival of special-needs children to join his pupils.

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Franco Fagioli on performing the Baroque: 'a challenge is to interpret beyond the musical notation'

Franco Fagioli

I started singing when I was nine years old in my primary school choir. I sang plenty of solos there before moving on to another children’s choir; that was a formative experience for me. At this point, I was singing the soprano part and from here I was invited to sing in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. This was my first experience of opera, and one that gave me great joy and satisfaction.

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Ryuichi Sakamoto: 'Ideally I'm recording all the time, 24 hours a day' - interview

joe Muggs

Ryuichi Sakamoto has conquered underground and mainstream with seeming ease over four decades, never dropping off in the quality of his releases.

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theartsdesk in Bremen: 150 years of A German Requiem

David Nice

They did things differently in 1858. Between the movements of Brahms's surprising new Requiem in the Biblical German of Martin Luther, resounding in Bremen's Romanesque Cathedral on Good Friday, came "Erbarme dich" from Bach's St Matthew Passion, Schumann's "Abendlied" and "I know that my redeemer liveth" from Handel's Messiah.

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theartsdesk in Kraków - Easter music with a British focus

Miranda Heggie

Held annually every Holy Week, Kraków’s Misteria Paschalia is one of the continent’s most vibrant early music festivals.

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theartsdesk at the Lucerne Easter Festival: Haitink, Schiff and an alternative Passion

David Nice

Anyone passionate about great conducting would jump at the chance to hear 89-year-old Bernard Haitink giving three days of masterclasses with eight young practitioners of the art, his eighth and possibly last series in Lucerne (though he's not ruling anything out). That was the hook to visit this year's Easter Festival.

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theartsdesk in Korea: national pride and candour

Peter Quantrill

Fear not. The Arts Desk has not suddenly sprouted a Sports Desk. Heaven forfend. Korea in late February had more to offer than luge, bobsleigh, skeleton and all the other bemedalled and potentially life-threatening variants of hurling bodies down icy slopes. The host region of every Olympic Games throws open a window to the world on its culture, and PyeongChang 2018 was no different.

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theartsdesk in Germany - Baltic mastery in Berlin and Leipzig

David Nice

Punching well above their weights, population-wise, on the international music scene, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are celebrating, and being celebrated, in style over the year of their 100th birthdays.

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Best of 2017: Classical concerts

David Nice

Did Simon Rattle's return to the UK as Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra live up to the hype? Mostly, and when it did, the music-making was superbly alive.

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