Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati







Recently In The Blogs

Being an occasional survey of some of the interesting articles in the classical music blogosphere ...

For a comprehensive link list of classical music blogs, see Chris Foley's page.

Newest articles

June 11
Before moving to the new blog for this month, some business arising from last month's. I remarked that the origin of the blog name Ionarts wasn't made clear. Jens Laurson, one of the contributors and a reviewer for Musicweb, sent me a message (via Len Mullenger) explaining it, and it becomies very apparent if you say the name, rather than just read it: "Eye on (the) Arts"! And I should correct my statement that the contributors are based in Washington DC - they aren't. One is in Baltimore, another in Hollywood and Jens mostly in Munich!

Susan Tomes
One of my favourite musicians and writers on music is the pianist Susan Tomes, who is a member of the Florestan Trio and the regrettably disbanded quintet Domus. She is one of the bloggers for The Guardian newspaper in the UK. Her posts are not all that frequent - which makes me feel better that I don't do more on my own blog - but are insightful and intelligent. The most recent - The BBC ruined the Young Musician of the Year - laments the dumbing down of that competition, turning it into no more than entertainment. While her posts might be sparse, the comments on them aren't. This one has prompted 27 so far, mostly in agreement.

I mentioned in last month's post that I was presenting a talk to my music society on British music. If you are interested in seeing what I chose, try the excitingly titled Music Talk. Jason at TooManyTristans seems to have disappeared: the blog is there, it hasn't been updated for two months, which is disappointing.

You might be interested in reading Alex Ross's account at The Rest Is Noise of a new music 12-hour marathon concert by Bang on a Can in New York - Bang, whimper - including Stockhausen at dawn. Jessica Duchen is in the middle of organising "the concert of the book" for her most recent novel Hungarian Dances and contributes an amusing fictonalised tale of the problems involved: The apprentice concert manager.

Finally, while Hilary Hahn's blog has fallen silent since March (precisely when I mentioned it!!), Angela Hewitt has been busy around the world (South Africa, Canada, Britain) and has launched a scholarship in memory of her recently deceased mother, associated with the Ottawa Music Festival.

May 14
We are journeying to the US capitol for this month's "new" blog (yes, I have bowed to the inevitable and now consider this to be a monthly article).

This five contributors to this blog, the origin of whose name is not made clear, are based in Washington DC, and write reviews and commentary on a range of arts topics, but a random survey suggests that music, both recorded and performance, is the most common.

Two recent entries to illustrate the content: Hilary Hahn performs Paganini concerto gives "arguably the most outstanding American violinist of her young generation" a rave review, and Magdalena Kožená's latest disc of Handel arias is also well received.

Robert Hugill at Planet Hugill has written an extended piece, the title of which is fairly self-explanatory: Gleanings from this month's Opera magazine, so if you don't subscribe but are interested, Robert has saved you the expense of buying it! He has also reviewed the new Birtwistle opera The Minotaur at Covent Garden.

John France continues his excellent work commenting on the obscure byways of 20th century British music, which is of particular relevance to me, since I will be presenting a talk to my Recorded Music Society on just that topic next month. Almost certainly I will be using some of his recent selections, such as William Alwyn's piano miniature Cricketty Mill.

April 15
We are travelling to a little-considered part of the classical world for this posting's new blog: Thailand.

Classical music is not what you think of when Bangkok comes to mind. For me, Bangkok, which I have never visited beyond the international airport(s), is being stuck in a aeroplane for seven hours at the old international airport, which was deserted for the very good reason it is now the domestic airport and we we were diverted there at 1 am. So instead of .... no, I better not go any further on this.

Anyway, onto Brian Hinrich's blog about musical life in and around the Thai capital (did you know that it is only called Bangkok by ignorant outsiders - the local's name for the city is the longest place name in the world and shortened to Krungthep). Brian is an expatriate New Yorker, which explains all his links to blogs on musical life in the Big Apple, and on a Fulbright scholarship studying ethnomusicology, and also the growing influence of western classical music in Thailand.

One specific post that I want to mention tells of a recent concert with a rather curious juxtaposition: John Cage in Bangkok. He described it as an interesting experience, but concluded with "sales for the recital unfortunately appeared similar to those in the States for all-contemporary concerts".

Jessica Duchen in Sokolov makes a stand records the ridiculous situation that has arisen with the new work visa laws in the UK, and their impact on visiting musicians. The Russian pianist, Gregory Sokolov, has visited the UK regularly for the last eighteen years, but his next visit, which may not happen, will require him to supply biometric data.

Alex Ross (The Rest Is Noise) has returned from travels to China and Alaska (he includes some photos) with the Sad news from LA which relates the news that a prominent arts critic, Alan Rich, has been let go from the LA Weekly.

Bob Shingleton at On an Overgrown Path has a wonderfully diverse range of topics, including Handel's suites are miracles - some comments on the 1982 recording of the Handel suites by Richter and Gavrilov - and Glenn Gould engineered, about a novel by the Austrian writer, Thomas Bernhard. He has even "pinched" my musical quotation challenge idea in Xenakis - the eyes have it!

March 17
It does rather look like a monthly update is all I'm going to be able to manage, but I promise not to let it slip further than that!

For this posting's new blog, I thought I would find a well-known recording artist who wrote a regular blog. In fact, I found two, though to be absolutely pedantic, they aren't really blogs in that they have no provision for reader feedback.

Hilary Hahn
The brilliant young American violinist has been writing an online journal since 2002, and also includes photos from her travels (not professional ones of her playing, but her own personal record of the places she has visited). As far as I can tell, the journal entries are restricted to her touring dates, but nevertheless, the journal does get a regular update (four so far this year, all in February).

Her most recent post from Copenhagen (February 25) recounts the experience of having been the sole guest on a late-night Danish chat show:

"I actually got to play music at the length at which it was intended. No one-minute cutoff, no requests for fast and happy showpieces, just artistic freedom and a nice conversation and some goofing off with a thoughtful host".

Her writing is informal, but intelligent, and allows the reader to get some sense of the loneliness of being a concert soloist travelling the world. Homesickness and isolation make it less glamorous than it might seem.

Angela Hewitt
I am pleased to be able to include one of my favourite pianists. Like Hilary Hahn, it concentrates on her touring and concerts, and the individual entries are relatively short, unlike Hahn's which can occupy a number of screens.

Sadly, one of her recent posts (January 20) was to record the death of her mother in Canada, whilst Angela was performing in London.

Returning to some of my favourite blogs, Jessica Duchen is busy promoting her new novel Hungarian Dances, and her husband, a member of LPO, is off on tour also. Robert Hugill has written about the stereotyping of woman in 19th century opera, under the title Virgins and Whores. John France has added several more thoughts about works by British composers, such as Elizabeth Maconchy, John Foulds and Alan Rawsthorne.


Earlier articles

Good reading.

David J Barker


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