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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!


Second Angela Hewitt International Piano Masterclass, Spoleto (2014-07-22)

For the first time since 2010, I gave a week of masterclasses, organized by the Trasimeno Music Festival, in Umbria--this time in Spoleto. It's not something my schedule allows me to do every summer, and it was totally exhausting to do it immediately after the festival ended (also because I've had a throat infection for the past three weeks through all of this....), but the rewards turned out to be great. Nine students from around the world (Australia, France, Italy, Israel, USA, Ukraine, Taiwan) came for the week of intense work, bringing the large body of repertoire I had requested. We worked for a full six hours every day, and the students were expected to attend most of the lessons other than their own. We had one day only on Bach; one day on classical sonatas; and two days on Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, French music and own choice pieces (everything from de Falla to Smetena, but no Rachmaninoff--hurrah!); and one day on Bach/Mozart/Beethoven concertos. Then we put on an afternoon recital in a stunning church in Spoleto--San Salvatore (UNESCO world heritage site). The acoustics were terrific, Fazioli Pianos provided a beautiful F278 which the kids were thrilled to play; and the people of Spoleto filled the church! They did me proud. I'm not sure when the next one will be, but for sure sometime in the future.


Tonight's concert from Assisi live on RAI Radio 3 Suite! (2014-07-05)

The formal opening of the 2014 Trasimeno Music Festival is in a few hours. It will be great to perform in the Basilica Superiore of San Francesco in Assisi. The rehearsals took place in the past few days in Milan, and we are all anxiously awaiting the adventure! Please tune in on RAI Radio 3 Suite to listen live at 9 pm in Italy (3 pm EDT). Last night we had a lovely pre-festival concert with some terrific young musicians: Bryan and Silvie Cheng from Ottawa (cello and piano duo); Roope Gröndahl from Finland (piano), and Riccardo Cellacchi from Rome (flute). Now I must get ready for the concert!

http://www.radio3.rai.it/dl/radio3/concerti/ContentItem-14351dbe-6dfa-4293-bbdc-8c3bb1d936f3.html


The 10th Trasimeno Music Festival is starting soon! (2014-06-26)

Oh, I'm swamped. You have no idea. I have several full-time jobs. It's almost festival time and we're working flat out. I have a staff of 5 (counting myself). Most festivals like this would have a staff of at least 20. They are all great workers (most of us do it for free) and we have fun...good thing! Not only am I playing 7 huge programmes in 7 days (actually the repertoire for me is all now "under control" or "sotto controllo" as they say in Italy), but I'm working as much at the computer as at the piano. Our first pre-festival concert is this Saturday in Panicale where they have a jewel of a tiny theatre--the Caporali. The Quartetto di Cremona and myself will give a great programme of Mozart, Brahms, and Schumann. It's the first time we're doing a concert there. We added it because all the concerts at the Castle of the Knights of Malta in Magione were mostly sold out already in January (if you look on the festival website, there are still a few seats left, but hurry!). So Panicale, and also my solo recital in Solomeo at Brunello Cucinelli's own theatre (yes, the cashmere designer!) on July 12th (see photo) were added so that especially the local residents can attend. Still tickets left for those. The big churches where we have lots of space--Assisi, Perugia, Foligno--will all be very special. To book for all these concerts, please visit our website. It's our tenth festival, and the programme I've chosen is a special one indeed. Dame Felicity Lott, actor Roger Allam, conductor Jeffrey Tate...not to be missed!

http://www.trasimenomusicfestival.com/program


Live Stream coming up NOW from Toronto!! (2014-06-11)

In a few hours, the "show" I'm doing tonight for Toronto's Luminato Festival will be streamed live on the internet. It's a Luminato creation called Keys on the Street and features myself, playing my own Fazioli concert grand piano, and some great urban dancers, with choreography by Tre Armstrong. Watch and see something different! I play steadily for 70 minutes: Bach, Couperin, Messiaen, Debussy, Ravel, Schubert and then the entire Goldberg Variations. I was apprehensive about it at first, but hey....good to do something "out of the box" and the kids are very talented and I like dancers, having been one myself. It was the idea of Jorn Weisbrodt, Luminato's Artistic Director, and husband of Rufus Wainwright.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VZxM_oZQDU


New Messiaen recording released today! (2014-06-02)

I am very excited about the release of the Hybrid SACD recording of Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony which is out today! That's the one I recorded last January with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor Hannu Lintu and Valerie Hartmann-Claverie on the ondes martenot. Many of you watched the live performance over the internet. If you thought that was exciting, listen to this! Now available in my online shop. Just click on the word "shop" in the left hand side of this page.


Liszt recording for Hyperion (2014-05-29)

Here I am again--finally. There is so much computer work to do at the moment with my Trasimeno Music Festival beginning in just over a month's time in Italy. Not to mention the work at the piano as well. Since I last wrote, I have given two more recitals in the UK in beautiful country churches (Wendover and Chipping Camden); went to Berlin and recorded a Liszt CD for Hyperion; gave recitals at the Konzerthaus there and also in the Black Forest area of Germany (where I had never been), and tonight played Mozart's G major Concerto K453 with the London Mozart Players and conductor Gerard Korsten at St. John's Smith Square. We repeat that lovely programme tomorrow in Croydon at the Fairfield Halls. But back to Liszt. Another dream has come true: i had always wanted to record the Sonata in B minor, the 3 Petrarch Sonnets and the "Dante" Sonata--my favourite Liszt (indeed some of my all-time favourite music, period!). And now it's done. I can't begin to explain what that means to me. I find those pieces really transcendental, and they have such memories for me from my younger years. Thank you Hyperion for giving me the chance to record it. I am forever grateful.


The Art of Fugue at Glyndebourne and in London (2014-05-07)

It was very moving to walk out on stage in the Glyndebourne Opera House last Sunday afternoon and see the place packed to the rafters (1200 seats). The recital was part of the Brighton Festival which holds one event there every year. A long time ago I had attended an opera there, but never thought it would be my turn on stage! I'm sure a lot of the audience didn't realize what they were letting themselves in for when they booked to hear Bach's Art of Fugue....but they certainly received it rapturously at the end of the 90 minutes (non-stop). And at least I got out in the fields for a few minutes afterwards to see the sheep. Last night I repeated it at London's Wigmore Hall--again to a capacity crowd. Today I am whacked and needed 90 minutes at the massage therapist just to get going again. Nothing demands more concentration, and that all goes into the muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders (and head).

The deadline for applications to my masterclass this summer in Spoleto is May 15th. If you want to apply as a full-time student (age 18-30) then do so now! Auditors are welcome without application, of course. For more details, please click on the link below. I'm not doing this again for four years, so here's your chance!

http://www.trasimenomusicfestival.com/spoleto


Taiwan and Cambridge (2014-04-28)

For the past few days I have been in Cambridge where I was made a Visiting Fellow of Peterhouse college last Wednesday. A great honour, done with suitable pomp and ceremony! I am the visiting professor this week for CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) at the University of Cambridge. I have already given a lecture on Bach Performance on the Piano; did a masteclass with students on Franck (cello sonata), Liszt (Dante Sonata), Ravel (Trio) and Beethoven ("Ghost" Trio); today I do a symposium with Bach scholar John Butt on The Art of Fugue; and tomorrow I give a full performance of it. They are keeping me busy. I also attended Evensong at the famous King's College (see photo) which was beautiful; went to the Fitzwilliam Museum yesterday; Chapel at Peterhouse; and various dinners and other events. Plus I'm trying to finish the notes for my Art of Fugue recording on Hyperion which will be released in October. At least I have a very quiet room here at college in order to work. It's a different life in academia, but very nice to experience it for a week!

Before that I was in Taiwan for one concert with the National Taiwanese Symphony Orchestra, playing Beethoven's "Emperor" under conductor Michal Nesterowicz. A long way to go for one concert, but they very much appreciated it. At least I had two days of peace in Umbria after that to recover. I also did a private concert at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex which is owned by Queen's University of Kingston, Ontario. Another beautiful place, and there were lots of friends there from home, including the intrepid Dr. Agnes Herzberg who organizes this conference every year. Plus I gave a recital, before leaving for Taiwan, in a beautiful country church in Painswick in the Cotswolds. I'll be back in that area soon to play the same programme at the Chipping Camden Festival. For now I must return to my writing and finish those notes!



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