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Recitals in London, Canada, and Cleveland (2014-11-17)

I've played some recitals in great places since I last wrote. The first was in the church of St. John's Downshire Hill as part of the Hampstead Arts Festival in London. It was totally inspiring to perform there, and the acoustics for the Art of Fugue were perfect. What a difference that makes to the overall feel of a performance! Then it was over to the Toronto area where I played a different programme (Bach, Beethoven, Scarlatti, Albeniz, Liszt) for the recital series in Aurora, Ontario. Some musician friends, Bonnie Silver and Norbert Kraft, run that series and welcomed me warmly. Two nights later I played the same thing in the Cleveland Museum of Art--a concert organised by the Cleveland International Piano Competition (see photo). I was a winner in that in 1979 when it was named the Casadesus Piano Competition (and have many fond memories of the event). Another capacity audience in their newly-restored Auditorium which is a great place. Next up is Connecticut--a recital for the Schubert Club on the 22nd. A million things to do in the meantime. The time to announce my Trasimeno Music Festival programme for 2015 is coming soon, and I'm working hard on that. Stay tuned!

My recording of Bach's Art of Fugue on the Hyperion label is at the top of the UK Specialist Classical Chart for the 6th week in a row! I'm happy for Hyperion--and wish I could tell Bach himself!

Mozart with the Kristiansand Symphony (2014-11-02)

Then it was on to Norway--not to Oslo but rather Kristiansand in the south of the country on the sea. They have a beautiful-looking and beautiful-sounding concert hall there, Kilden, designed by Finnish architects. A nice discovery! And the Kristiansand Symphony played Mozart K482 very well under their music director, Giordano Bellincampi. We also did a "run-out" to Arendal further up the coastline. The days weren't all that long there, but I enjoyed getting a bicycle from my hotel and driving around town on it. What freedom! As a child I bicycled everywhere, and so I absolutely love it. There wasn't much traffic, so I felt safe. And not too many hills at least in the town...

Recitals in October (2014-11-01)

The rest of October was extremely busy. Almost constant travel. Upon my return to Europe, I played that great Scarlatti/Spanish programme (Albeniz, Granados, de Falla) in Nottingham, in Devon at the Two Moors Festival, at London's Wigmore Hall, in Richmond, at Holkham Hall in Norfolk (a real highlight!), and in Copenhagen. At Holkham, a grand Palladian mansion and estate in Norfolk, designed for the 1st Earl of Leicester, I had a butler to look after me. Now that was the life! The Marble Room was a terrific place to play (see photo). It was something out of a movie, making my entrance in high heels down the grand staircase, entering from the "Saloon" whose walls are adorned with paintings by no less than Rubens and van Dyck. I was taken on a private tour of the immense art collection the next morning which I hugely appreciated. Now if only I could take that butler with me everywhere I go....

Bach's The Art of Fugue now out on Hyperion! (2014-10-17)

It’s out! One of the CD recordings which means the most to me in my life (so far!): Bach’s The Art of Fugue. It makes me very happy to share this great music with so many people around the world. It’s available on this website (and if you want it signed personally, I can do that before November 11th or after December 4th), by clicking on the link “shop” on the left of this page. Also on Hyperion’s website where you can download it and the 6000-word essay that accompanies the double-CD.

'... playing of unusual distinction...This Art of Fugue is marvellous. The variety and beauty of tone alone make compelling listening, bringing contrasts, clarity and warmth to Bach’s intellectual marvels… radiant majesty and humanity' (Geoff Brown, The Times)

Cover of Gramophone magazine (2014-10-17)

....and I'm also on the cover of Gramophone magazine this month. BBC Music Magazine also has an interview done by James Naughtie.

Concerts at the Kennedy Center, Washington (2014-10-12)

It was a very moving few days. Three concerts of the joyous Concerto No. 22 in E-flat major, K482 by Mozart with conductor David Zinman and the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center in Washington. A very nice reunion with a conductor I respect highly and was so happy to work with again. He is a very natural conductor--letting the music speak without forcing anything, but always to great effect. The concert piano left a bit to be desired (to say the least), but I will remember this for next time. I didn't do too much other than concentrate on those three performances, apart from a visit to the beautiful Phillips Collection. And I visited with many friends who come every year to my Trasimeno Music Festival in Italy. Now I must concentrate on putting together the programme for next year. That takes so much time and thought. Back to London now for a series of recitals there over the coming weeks.

Concerts in USA/Canada (2014-10-08)

The last few weeks I've been doing everything from playing 3 different recital programmes, giving 2 benefit concerts, cleaning out my apartment in Ottawa and putting archival stuff in storage, trying to think about the planning for next year's Trasimeno Music Festival in Umbria (July 4-10 by the way!), and a million other things. The concert at Shriver Hall in Baltimore (a complete Art of Fugue by Bach) was memorable, and I hope to perform it much more in the States in coming years. Then in Ottawa I was named Ambassador for Orkidstra, an El Sistema-based community programme for children from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, enabling them to learn a musical instrument (see photo). I was very moved hearing them play. I played alone, conducted their orchestra, played the violin in Beethoven's Ode to Joy (good thing I was at the back of the orchestra!), and accompanied a young clarinetist in a movement from the Saint-Saens Sonata. A private fundraiser for the Canadian Friends of the Trasimeno Music Festival was another busy but happy evening. Then concerts in Guelph, Ontario (another benefit for the Guelph Youth Music Centre, held in memory of a close family friend, Doris Bannon); and one at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. A masterclass there as well. So I haven't been idle. Today I arrived in Washington DC and tomorrow will rehearse Mozart K482 with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center. The conductor is David Zinman, so it should be a huge pleasure. We haven't worked together for 20 years, but I remember our performances of Beethoven in Baltimore as being highlights of my career.

The new season starts... (2014-09-18)

A few weeks "holiday" was hardly enough. No time to really wind down, and I spent it doing things I can't do while I'm touring around, madly running around London on a million errands (and writing CD notes for my Liszt album). But I did have a wonderful week in Umbria going around as a tourist, but also looking at other possible venues for concerts and events in my Trasimeno Music Festival. Umbria is so beautiful, and I was glad to discover more of it. To take a real break from my life, I would need three months without concerts, not just three weeks. Another time....! I am happy, though, to be back on the circuit now. It started in style with a concert in the Bachfest in Thun, Switzerland--another beautiful spot. Then, after another few days in Umbria during which I got food poisoning (not recommended), I gave a rare but very welcome recital in Austria in the city of Wels where their recital series, mostly of solo pianists, has been going for almost 40 years. They had been trying to get me since 2008, it seems. Great, too, to play Scarlatti and Albeniz again in concert after a gap of many years. I'll be recording Scarlatti next watch out for that. Last night I performed the Art of Fugue in the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam (see photo)--a new venue for me which I thought was excellent for a recital. Nice to see the new CD of that flying off the table afterwards at the signing! Today I'm flying from Amsterdam to London, then only 2 hours at home to switch clothes, then back out to the airport to fly to Washington DC. On Sunday afternoon I will replace Helene Grimaud for the opening concert of the series at Shriver Hall in Baltimore, with my only performance of The Art of Fugue in the USA this season. Except that my flight to London seems to be delayed...I hope not too delayed...not today of all days...

Festivals in Finland (2014-08-14)

Just three more days and then I finally get a few weeks holiday. I haven’t had one for several years. In fact I can’t remember the last time. I do know that in 2013 I didn’t have any time off at all. It was constant work—if not performing, then preparing repertoire. And it’s been like that so far in 2014 as well. Not that this “holiday” is going to see me lying on a beach. I have to write CD notes for my Liszt album (out early next year), do taxes, and a million other things that have had to wait. But I do want to see some long-neglected friends and do some touristy things in both Italy and London. Plus some more stretching exercises!

The last two weeks were spent in Finland—a very hot Finland! Every day had incredible sunshine and high temperatures. And lots of great music-making with my Finnish colleagues. The first festival I went to is the baby of violinist Pekka Kuusisto (who has performed at my festival in Italy), and was just outside of Helsinki near the beautiful forests where Sibelius lived at Ainola. I played the Art of Fugue, a Mozart Quintet, and did sonatas by Bach and Beethoven with Pekka. A great delight. Plus a lot of practising for the following week when I played in the Rauma Festival on the west coast of Finland.

That festival was organized this year by violinist and conductor Jan Söderblom, a very fine musician. We only played some tangos together in an all-tango evening on the last night (see photo), but otherwise I played some solo Bach, three pieces from my Bach Book (published by Boosey & Hawkes) and most importantly played the Mozart Concerto K271 with the Pori Sinfonietta conducted by Hannu Lintu. Hannu was born in Rauma, and it was great to perform with him there in a sold-out hall.

Now I'm in Switzerland in Teufen, near St. Gallen. On Saturday I will perform the Goldberg Variations in the Appenzeller Bachtage. Tomorrow a Hauskonzert. Now sleep.

Trasimeno Music Festival 2014 (2014-07-22)

The tenth Trasimeno Music Festival is now over. So is the week of masterclasses I gave after that in Spoleto. I am a bit of a wreck, but a happy one. I’m afraid I neglected this website during that time. It’s simply impossible to do everything, and in any case Facebook gives you a better platform for sharing photos from those events with people around the world. Even if you don’t “do” Facebook, I think you can see them by following the Facebook logo from this page. Have a try!

I know it sounds presumptuous to say the festival gets better every year, but I think that was really the case with this special tenth edition. The new venues we added (the Basilica Superiore of San Francesco in Assisi, the Auditorium San Domenico in Foligno, and the Church of San Salvatore in Spoleto for the masterclass) were all superb. We had a record attendance of music lovers from around the globe. We even had the highest number of Italian listeners so far! We had our first broadcast on Italian national radio (thank you, Radio 3 Suite!). We had three orchestras in attendance for the first time (LaVerdi from Milan; the Camerata Salzburg; and soloists from the Aurora Orchestra in London). Not sure we can do that every year, but they were all terrific. As were all the soloists and chamber players, including Maestro Jeffrey Tate, Dame Felicity Lott, the actor Roger Allam (both in Walton’s Façade), the Quartetto di Cremona (with friends Sara Dambruoso and Riccardo Agosti), and the quartet of soloists for the Mozart Coronation Mass (Lydia Teuscher, Caitlin Hulcup, Thomas Walker, and Wolf Matthias Friedrich). Eric Friesen brought his gracious presence to the scene for the pre-concert talks and interviews. We also had a pre-festival concert with young artists from Canada, Italy, and Finland. Two extra concerts were added to accommodate the overflow—in Panicale and the Teatro Cucinelli in Solomeo. A huge thank you goes to my staff (small but amazingly efficient!), the volunteers, and especially the donors, both private and otherwise, who make the festival possible. Now I have to start thinking about 2015!

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