Holding the baby at St Barnabas

Baby call at St Barnabas The Cashell,Sloane,Watterton Trio
Some really fine music making in Ealing today with the trio of Anna Cashell,violin,Hannah Sloane,cello,Simon Watterton,piano. One work on this lunchtime programme in St Barnabas in Ealing : the Brahms B major Trio op 8
I noticed a few months back how remarkable the Brahms F Minor Sonata was at the Wigmore Hall played by Louis Lortie on a wonderful Bosendorfer piano. How unusual it was not to find the usual Steinway or Fazioli but here the Bosendorfer with its generously rich sonorous bass and meltingly beautiful treble let us hear the Brahms Sonata in all its grandeur mixed with moonlight seduction as probably Brahms may have envisaged it.
And so it was a pleasant surprise to see the Bosendorfer Grand in place with its jaws wide open waiting to devour the Brahms Trio. Our master of ceremonies the indefatigable Hugh Mather was worried that Simon might devour his two beautiful partners which could have well led to strained relations afterwards at home for Anna Cashell is in life Mrs Simon Watterton and it was in fact Hugh who was also left holding their little baby .
Hugh need not have worried because Simon knows how to drive this dangerous instrument and I do not think it was out of fear as you could see him listening intently to the balance as were his partners.Listening to each other scrupulously but with passion . In fact the most noticeable thing was that you did not notice the piano at all, so integrated was it into the whole .
What fine musicians they are each one generously supporting,goading,encouraging and, yes, seducing the other.Aiding and abetting I believe a policeman would call it .
Also the other noticeable thing was how each member of the trio was living each note and looking intently at each other. It was most noticeable how Hannah Stone was really living each moment of the music and with a glance sharing her thoughts with the others. She need not have worried because Anna played at some moments with such passionate involvement that one would not have thought this little Irish lass capable of such evil thoughts! Simon produced some remarkable sonorities that literally melted into the magical air of perfumed sounds that were being born in that moment.( Isn’t there a Debussy Prelude with a similar title?)
Such was also the spontaneity that the audience of some very distinguished musicians were held spellbound . Nina Walker the nonagerian pianist,accompanist to the famous for years and founder member of Nimbus .Also present Audrey Ellison ex chairman of the Chopin and Liszt Societies in London
We all would have loved an encore but Hugh who was unaware that there might be a possibility cut short this memorable concert his only thought,quite rightly was to get back to his baby sitting duties as you can see.

Maxime Tortelier with the Southbank Sinfonia

Maxime Tortelier with the Southbank Sinfonia
On my way to the Globe saw ,by chance,that the South Bank Sinfonia were giving a concert at St John`s Waterloo. I last bumped into them in the castle in Anghiari where they go every summer in the castle of our dear friend the Contessa Lucrezia in the castle where Michelangeli used to give his summer masterclasses. The most amazing coincidence was that they were being conducted by Paul Tortelier`s grandson Maxime. How many times Paul,Maude and Pau played for us in Rome and became close friends.He insisted on writing to the French President about peace .He wanted to send it via the Vatican post .He had just come from the USA where he had set his poem for piece to La Marseillaise.
There is Paul`s foto in prize of place on the theatre wall in Rome and many people used to ask if I was his son,such was the likeness. Now of course they ask if it is me! And the first thing Maxime exclaimed was how much my hair was like his grandfathers!
Very fine performances of Boulez Memoriale and Shostakovich`s 14th Symphony .Wonderful bass soloist in particular Jihoon Kim. All to be broadcast on Radio 3 tomorrow at 19.30. Looking forward to a repeat performance.

Canan Maxton at Asia House

Canan Maxton at Asia House
Final concerts today in Asia House for the Music Futures Festival organised by the indomitable Canan Maxton of Talent Unlimited. How many young artists owe a great debt to this generous Turkish promoter of the arts,whose only aim is to support great young talent in those difficult first steps into the professional world.
Once a year she holds a three day festival to augment and publicise her enormous all year round activity. It was only a few days ago that I was invited to her beautiful home in Regents Park to hear the programme of one of her young artists before he flew off to compete in an International Piano Competition in Monza……he is already through to the second round and we have our fingers crossed that he will proceed to the final.Unfortunately this circus act is a very difficult hurdle for truly great talent.And it is thanks to Canan for her support and encouragement that give a base for these young artists in this ever changing world in which they have to compete.
Beautiful lunchtime concert today with two magnificent singers,complimenting each other in the diversity of repertoire,and finally a very fine clarinet duo. First a lieder singer Waimay Yau with Joyce Chiao Yu Wu her partner(for she was just that)at the piano. A great pleasure to hear these songs of Wolf and Liszt sung with such intelligence and perfect diction.I have not heard Liszt`s “Die Drei Zigeuner” since Schwarzkopf`s unforgettable performances with the urbane ,perfect partner in Geoffrey Parsons. This too,today was a splendid partnership with the pianist very much an equal partner especially in the intricate Wolf Lieder.
Canan almost ruined the next singers entry for Musetta`s Waltz from La Boheme. Like all true divas the announced Vocalise by Rachmaninoff/Volodos for piano solo was swiftly substituted by an aria from La Nozze di Figaro. But what a voice from this exceptional young soprano with the same quality of voice as Rita Streich and in the Lehar” Meine Lippen sie kussen so heiss” there was the same seductive charm of that much missed singer. The singers’ fine orchestra was Yoko Misumi and their perfect ensemble in “O mio babbino caro” brought the house down.
Hard to believe that the perfect duo of Ozlem Celik and Lysianne Chen was a last minute substitute such was their ensemble in Poulenc’s evergreen Sonata that they were beseeched to offer an encore to this large and discerning audience.

There was even a swallow at the window looking in to see who was producing the enchanting sounds that were keeping us all so enthralled.

The opening concert was a completely different thing.
In a much larger space to accommodate the numerous fans who flocked to the concert .
A real “star”performer in AyseDenizGokcin a pianist in the style of Giovanni Aleevi who with their Lisztian funambalistics can fill even the largest of halls.
Anyone who has been trained as I with some of the finest musicians of our time find it is very hard to understand and enjoy this seemingly very simplistic way of making music, but it is much appreciated by the masses that have not had this sort of  musical education.
They flock to the concerts and find real enjoyment and enthusiasm in these concerts as was shown on the faces of the audience of the sold out performance the other night .
I am ,in fact ,very envious but ” you cannot teach an old dog new tricks” as they say ,and so I will just have to leave this sort of entertainment to others.
Hats off to Canan Maxton,though, for allowing her public into this new territory.
A real cross-over but it is just not for me .It is too late!

Canan Maxton at Asia House

nCanan Maxton at Asia House
Final concerts today in Asia House for the Music Futures Festival organised by the indomitable Canan Maxton of Talent Unlimited. How many young artists owe a great debt to this generous Turkish promoter of the arts,whose only aim is to support great young talent in those difficult first steps into the professional world.
Once a year she holds a three day festival to augment and publicise her enormous all year round activity. It was only a few days ago that I was invited to her beautiful home in Regents Park to hear the programme of one of her young artists before he flew off to compete in an International Piano Competition in Monza……he is already through to the second round and we have our fingers crossed that he will proceed to the final.Unfortunately this circus act is a very difficult hurdle for truly great talent.And it is thanks to Canan for her support and encouragement that give a base for these young artists in this ever changing world in which they have to compete.
Beautiful lunchtime concert today with two magnificent singers,complimenting each other in the diversity of repertoire,and finally a very fine clarinet duo. First a lieder singer Waimay Yau with Joyce Chiao Yu Wu her partner(for she was just that)at the piano. A great pleasure to hear these songs of Wolf and Liszt sung with such intelligence and perfect diction.I have not heard Liszt`s “Die Drei Zigeuner” since Schwarzkopf`s unforgettable performances with the urbane ,perfect partner in Geoffrey Parsons. This too,today was a splendid partnership with the pianist very much an equal partner especially in the intricate Wolf Lieder. Canon almost ruined the next singers entry for Musetta`s Waltz from La Boheme. Like all true divas the announced Vocalise by Rachmaninoff/Volodos was swiftly substituted by an aria from La Nozze di Figaro. But what a voice form this exceptional young soprano the same quality as Rita Streich and in the Lehar” Meine Lippen sie kussen so heiss” there was the same seductive charm of that much missed singer. The singers’ fine orchestra was YokoMisumi and their perfect ensemble in “O mio babbino caro brought the house down Hard to believe that the perfect duo of Ozlem Celik and Lysianne Chen was a last minute substitute such was their ensemble in Poulenc’s evergreen Sonata that they were beseached to offer an encore to this large and discerning audience.
There was even a swift at the window looking in to see who was producing the enchanting sounds that were keeping us all so enthralled.

Ke Ma at St Johns

Ke Ma with the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Blair at St John`s Smith Square.
Wonderful to see an orchestra made of such youthful young musicians. All playing their hearts out which I am sure the fine conductor has spent many hours working them into a united ensemble. Now they need to listen to each other and find their way and a true sense of balance that would allow the line to sing out without such a battle as there was in the Wagner Meistersinger Overture that opened the programme.
It was even more evident the real lack of line and direction. Dohnanyi too asks for a very large orchestra for his Variations on a Nursery Song in which Ke Ma was the splendid soloist. Rather overblown in this day and age and all compliments to the YMSO for proposing it tonight. Unfortunately it appears ,in this day and age ,as rather like a poor man’s Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini.
Here the lack of balance and proportion was even more evident and it was often a struggle to be able savour the really extraordinary pianistic and musical qualities of the solist. Not sure what Dohnanyi himself would have made of the battle waged tonight.
However the soloist was persuaded to play an encore after a successful if rather overblown account of the Dohnyani. And what a spectacular performance she gave.The flight of the bumble bee that puts Rachmaninov’s famous arrangement to shame. Christopher Elton,that very distinguished professor from the Royal Academy ,where Ke Ma received her final training,suggested it might be by Volodos.Indeed he would be one of the very few who could tackle the treacherous demands of this bumble bee . I thought it could be Kapustin . But no ,Ke Ma told us that it was given to her by her professor in China and it is by Alinsky.(?) I wonder if he could play it as superlatively as Ke Ma did tonight. At last we were allowed to savour the real qualities of this exceptional young pianist. She even learnt the Dohnyani especially for tonight’s performance and doubt very much if she will have occasion to play it again ,at least I sincerely hope not. There is always the superlative recording of Cyril Smith or Julius Katchen if one really needed to listen to this rather outdated piece.

Othello’s Guilt at the Rose Playhouse

Othellos’s Guilt at the Rose Playhouse
Che nostalgia sentire Marco Gambino al storico Rose Playhouse a Londra nel monologo “OTHELLO`S GUILT” da Shakespeare nel adattamento di Roberto Cavosi …..e ora da tornare a casa! Wonderful to be able to appreciate Marco Gambino`s performance of Roberto Cavosi`s “Othello`s Guilt” on the very foundations of the historic theatre where many of Shakespeare’s plays first saw the light of day.
It was here a few years ago that I was introduced to this very suggestive space by the stage director Terry d’Alfonso directing her adaptation of The Tempest. In fact so many friends and ghosts from my theatre in Rome.Roberto Cavosi introduced to me by Richard Berkeley almost thirty years ago when we were all passionately committed to the arts and all uniting around my theatre in Rome that was a hive of activity not only for the famous but also for those that had something to say and just needed a space where to express themselves.We were young and passionately commited …nothing has changed! Roberto Cavosi even then a writer of great promise now fully realised over the years has become a highly esteemed playwright and radio broadcaster.
Our dear friend Terry d`Alfonso passed awayso unexpectedly, only a few months ago and this very season the preview in London of her film about Picasso was much appreciated.
Richard Berkeley now lives in Warsaw where he directs a Orchestra along the lines of the South Bank Sinfonia giving young musicians a chance to play in a fine ensemble together .
So back to Marco Gambino who has also played in my theatre in Rome but here in London on Shakespeare`s original site there was magic in the air for this justly sold out performance.
A tour de force with just him on stage for an hour with this project that was worked out with Roberto over a five year period. Very interesting talk ,in english ,at the end between actor and his pubic loath to leave this magical space . Must finish on Saturday so not much time to beg a precious seat for one of these last performances.

John Granger Fisher at Perivale

John Granger Fisher in Perivale
Anyone who presents a lunchtime recital programme that includes Brahms Paganini,Islamey,Liszt Tarantella and two of Rachmaninovs most difficult Etudes Tableaux interspersed for good measure with Liebestod and Widmung is either very foolhardy or a complete master.
John Granger Fisher falls into the latter category and regaled all those fortunate to be present in Perivale for Hugh Mathers remarkable series,with an hour of pure music.Such was the mastery of this remarkable young australian, graduate of the Royal College of Music we were not aware of the superhuman feats being performed before our very eyes.
Studying in Australia with Natasha Vlassenko and Oleg Stepanov he continued his studies with Boris Berman and Oxana Yablonskaya in the great russian tradition at Hartford in the USA. Completing his Artists Diploma with Vanessa Latarche and winner of the prestigious Chappell Gold Medal he is now ready to take the world by storm.
A not easy piano was given a unique voice and convinced us otherwise right from the magical opening notes of Wagner/Liszt Liebestod.Sumptuous rich sound at the climax interspersed with a quite magical cantabile where all the various strands were given an individual voice. The Liszt Tarantella from Venezia e Napoli was given a most surprisingly poetic reading but never missing the fifth gear when called on. Liszt`s beautiful arrangement of Schumann`s Widmung confirmed this young mans extraordinary credentials as a poet of the keyboard in the tradition of the “Golden Age” of piano playing…..something I have not heard for many a year since the deeply missed Cherkassky and Magaloff were seducing their adoring public.
The old warhorse of Balakirev :Islamey was even more astonishing for the almost magic carpet performance that unfolded in John Fishers amazingly flexible hands. The ever nostalgic Etude Tableaux in E flat minor op 39n.5 was coupled with a most subtle performance of op.39 n.1. All this was just a prelude to the sheer tour de force of the Complete Brahms Paganini Variations. Not a foot wrong in any sense here in this work that not many pianists would attempt in public let alone in a lunchtime recital. All the subtle nuances and colours could allow us to marvel at this masterpiece of Brahms.Thirds,sixths octave glissandi it was all here but there was very much more besides.The wonderful sonorous sounds mixed with the most melting pianissimi imaginable.This was Brahms at it s grandest and made us realise that it could only ever be like this.Everything was so logical and inevitable.
An amazing discovery and it is just a question of time before we will be hearing much more from John Granger Fisher .
A battle with visas awaits unfortunately .
A battle that must be won .
Quite prepared to share him with Australia but loose him for good would be unpardonable.