Russell Thomas, tenor – In Conversation

African-American tenor Russell Thomas is the owner of an extraordinary voice and an interesting, intelligent, articulate and friendly personality. Interviewing him was a pleasure that I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope you will too.

Read here or click on the photo.

Photo of Mr Thomas by Fay Fox, courtesy of Karen Kriendler Nelson (KKN Enterprises) – Mr Thomas’s Personal Press Representative

Short Stories Of A Different Kind

Short Stories is an album with music from various composers performed beautifully by two young German musicians: Mark Schumann (cello) and Martin Klett (piano).

The short stories in this CD are encore pieces by a variety of performers and composers. Like an author’s collection of short stories, these pieces delight or thrill for a brief moment and do not require the commitment and engagement of a novel or, in this case, of a full concerto or a set of complete sonatas.

Short Stories is suitable to anyone who loves the sound of the cello or to someone who would like a gentle, elegant introduction to classical music. Read my full review.

Perahia’s Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto – a Treasure!

Murray Perahia turns 70 years old this April but his electrifying, extraordinary performances are not getting old. They are as fresh today as they were when he won the International Leeds Piano Competition in 1972. I was privileged to be at the Barbican Hall on Fri 07 April to see and hear his performance of Beethoven’s masterful Piano Concerto No. 5, known as “Emperor” in English-speaking countries. Perahia’s rendition, supported by the excellent Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, was simply magnificent and received a well-deserved standing ovation at the end. Read my review HERE or click on one of the pictures.

 

Neumeier & Pushkin – A Fab Combination

John Neumeier (b. 1942) is an award winning choreographer born in the United States but who has worked for most of his life in Germany and is the artistic director of the Hamburg Ballet.

Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) should need no introduction. As one of the greatest figures of Russian Literature many people will know his work by name even if they’ve never read it – just a few examples are Eugene Onegin, Ruslan and Ludmila and Mozart and Salieri, to name just a few.

So it was a great pleasure for me to review the blu-ray of the new ballet by Neumeier (one of my favourite choreographers), based on Eugene Onegin, a  novel in verse by Pushkin (one of my favourite authors and poets).

The ballet is called Tatiana (the heroine in the novel) and is a cracker – beautiful, elegant with unusual gorgeous choreography and extraordinary performances. One to watch and enjoy time and time again – read my review here.

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Poetry in Motion

Opera inspires and so do beautiful buildings. Both come together in harmony and exquisite proportions at the Opera House in Dresden, Germany.

I was inspired to write the poem below after a performance of Rossini’s opera William Tell and the beauty of the Dresdner opera is a gorgeous tribute to the power of music.

 

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Grand Opera

I saw the fairies and felt the caves,
touched the woods
and crossed the waves,
swam through the rain,
glided the storm and surfed the pain
engraved in the music form.

I felt the call of the night
in clear arpeggios of fountains dried
and in the heat of the fight
I stumbled, I cried
I broke the crystalline light.
In peril, I hovered over luminous voices
but fearless I rode the ocean
and stared at my choices.

And then, just closing my eyes,
I saw the music
in flowers of motion,
rainbows and skies.
And the heavens opened
crushing my heart,
leaving the silence to tear me apart.

Poem by myself (Margarida Mota-Bull, nom de plume M G da Mota) / Photograph of the Dresdner Opera courtesy of Malcolm Bull

Too Many Notes, my dear Mozart…!

After the premiere of Mozart’s opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio or Harem), it is said that Emperor Joseph II told the composer something around these lines: “Too beautiful for our ears, my dear Mozart, and an awful lot of notes.” To which Mozart replied: “Exactly as many as are necessary, Your Majesty.” It isn’t certain if this episode ever took place but if the Emperor really said that, Mozart’s reply was in line with his personality and with the fact he knew the quality of his music. As a composer Mozart was far ahead of his time and aware of it.

Prom 39_CR_BBC_Chris Christodoulou_1Robin Ticciati and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the BBC Proms on Fri 14 Aug 2015

“Too many notes” doesn’t refer only to the exotic Turkish elements Mozart introduced in the opera which are in line with the location where the plot takes place, Mozart’s music also describes the characters as well as words or, to my mind, even better, displaying his great sense of the dramatic. This wasn’t happening in opera until Mozart came along.

A semi-staging of Glyndebourne Festival’s production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail was presented at the BBC Proms last Friday, 14th Aug at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a lovely evening of music with the cast in costume and the fabulous Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, led by Robin Ticciati, giving an authentic, energetic and beautiful performance of Mozart’s great opera. I had the pleasure of reviewing it.

Prom 39_CR_BBC_Chris Christodoulou_2Prom 39_CR_BBC_Chris Christodoulou_3Tenor Edgaras Montvidas as Belmonte (left) and Soprano Sally Matthews as Konstanze (right) at the Proms performance of Glyndebourne’s production of Die Entführung on Fri 14 Aug 2015

All photos by Chris Christodoulou, courtesy of the BBC Proms Press Office –

Except feature photo above “Seascape of Normandy” courtesy of Malcolm Bull

Leonard Elschenbroich: Cellist – The Natural

I had the great pleasure of interviewing German cellist Leonard Elschenbroich on Sat 21st Feb 2015. Intelligent, kind, articulate, he was one of the most interesting people I have ever interviewed.

Elschenbroich plays on loan a Gofriller cello from 1693 and is passionate about the instrument and about music. He lives in London with his girlfriend, violinist Nicola Benedetti.

The full interview is long but well worth the effort of reading it. You will seldom find a person as fascinating and Elschenbroich. Enjoy.

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Photo of Leonard Elschenbroich by Felix Broede, courtesy of Mr Elschenbroich’s management

Beethoven by the Berliner Philharmoniker

The Berliner Philharmoniker has what they call the Digital Concert Hall, meaning they stream live concerts or recordings via the internet. All you have to do is buy a ticket of a subscription. It is brilliant.

Some concerts are also broadcast live to cinemas all over Europe, including the UK. I was lucky to be able to review an all Beethoven programme by the extraordinary orchestra that is the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Bernard Haitink and featuring outstanding violinist Isabelle Leonard. It was a real treat. You can read the review here.

The Albanian Tenor

TRAVIATA_MET_3199a from Ken

On Saturday 4th October I went to the Royal Opera House where I interviewed young Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu.

Intelligent, committed to his art, professional and with a good sense of humour, he was a very interesting subject to interview. You can read it here.

Photo of Saimir Pirgu as Alfredo in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata, New York, by Ken Howard – courtesy of Mr Pirgu’s PR Karen Kriendler Nelson of KKN Enterprises