wed 15/08/2018

Classical Interviews

theartsdesk Q&A: Composer Rodion Shchedrin

ismene Brown

The Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin has long been damned faintly by two facts - that he is the husband of the Bolshoi prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya and that he was for a long time the president of the Russian Composers' Union in the USSR. These two things were plenty enough to remove discussion of him from the musical arena to the seething forum of politics where every Soviet composer's actions were given intense non-musical scrutiny both inside and outside the USSR.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Impresarios Victor and Lilian Hochhauser, Part 2

ismene Brown

In the second part of this historic career overview interview with the unique British impresarios, Victor and Lilian Hochhauser talk about their razor-edged relations with Soviet apparatchiks and the pressures they came under to prevent artist defections. Victor (who is a very engaging raconteur) reveals the lengths the Russians tried to go to stop Pierre Boulez conducting Berg in the USSR - liver-busting ceremonial vodka sessions, and a solution of Lewis Carrollian ludicrousness. "I hated...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Impresarios Victor and Lilian Hochhauser, Part 1

ismene Brown

When the words "commercial" and "art" come together - as they do with the Bolshoi season currently at the Royal Opera House - odds are the glue between them is a three-word phrase "Victor Hochhauser presents". Victor and Lilian Hochhauser are the impresarios behind most Russian ballet seasons UK-wide, and they have a reputation for solid box-office commercial taste, which is easily dismissed as the safe option. But they are in their eighties now, and conservatism is forgivable. In younger,...

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The Seckerson Tapes: Pianist Janina Fialkowska

Edward Seckerson What a trooper: Janina Fialkowska's musical sensibility has only been intensified by her extraordinary experiences

Canadian-born pianist Janina Fialkowska has an extraordinary story to tell: she's battled cancer in the muscle of her left shoulder, endured ground-breaking muscle-replacement surgery, and even, in another bizarre twist of fate, had her work "stolen" in the notorious Joyce Hatto recording scandal.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Donald Runnicles

Igor Toronyi-Lalic Conductor Donald Runnicles: 'I approach each and every concert with intensity, curiosity, also with a joy of knowing that it is unique'

Who's the greatest living British exponent of the late Romantic repertoire? Many would say Edinburgh-born conductor Donald Runnicles (b. 1954). Runnicles has spent the last 30 years quietly forging a formidable name for himself abroad, first, as a repetiteur in Mannheim, then as an assistant to Sir Georg Solti at Bayreuth, as guest conductor at the Vienna State Opera and, for the past two decades, musical director of San Francisco Opera. In 2007 the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Simon Russell Beale

Jasper Rees

The career of Simon Russell Beale (b. 1961) needs little introduction.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Composer George Crumb

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

George Crumb (b.1929) is one of the great American experimental composers of the 20th century. His delicate scores are characterised by a child-like sense of wonder and an array of instrumentation that appears to have hitched a ride from outer space. Crumb first came to the fore in the 1960s with Songs, Drones and Refrains of Death (1968), Night of the Four Moons (1969), inspired by and...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Sir Charles Mackerras

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

At 84 years of age, Sir Charles Mackerras is one of the best-respected and best-loved operatic conductors working in the world today. He conducts Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw for the English National Opera tonight and, despite bouts of ill health, found time to talk about his friendship - and falling out - with Britten, his time conducting the opera under Britten's watchful eye, his experiences in Prague...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

There is no more extraordinary musical journey than that of Britain's leading living composer, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (b.1934). In the 1960s, he was Britain's Stravinsky, at the heart and head of the modernist musical rebellion, provoking audience walkouts, outraging the musical powers that be and occasionally even hitting the news headlines. Today, as a Knight of the realm and a Master of the Queen’s Music, he finds himself in the very bosom of the British establishment.

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Meeting Katherine Jenkins

Robert Sandall

It’s pretty well understood that talent, good looks and hard work are not enough to guarantee you safe passage through the celebrity jungle nowadays. But for five years it looked as though they might be enough for Katherine Jenkins. Until recently the general view of Jenkins held that she was a nice, polite, touchingly naive, and unaffected young woman from Neath in South Wales, who just happened to be the most popular classically trained singer to emerge here in this century.

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