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Florence and Torino (2005-12-22)

My concerts for 2005 are now over with. The last two recitals in Italy were just as special as the others and in two wonderful cities. I am ashamed to say that that was my first visit to Florence, so the day before my recital I walked for hours to take in the sights at least from the outside (although I did manage to see Michelangelo’s “David” in all his restored glory!). It was a great time to see the city as well, with the Christmas lights and not too many tourists (and neither too cold or too hot). The concert was in the beautiful Teatro della Pergola—a sort of mini La Scala—and I performed on a Fazioli piano brought in from PIanoetForte of Perugia, as I did for several of the concerts on this tour. Last night in Torino the audience would hardly let me go, they were so enthusiastic. I played in the Sala Cinquecento of the Lingotto—the former Fiat factory that has been transformed into a complex of hotels, art galleries, shops, and two concert halls. Now I can take a week’s rest over Christmas which is very welcome (looking at the winter sunsets over Lake Trasimeno). May I take this occasion to thank all of you who have written to me since I launched this website last February, and to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Launch of the Trasimeno Music Festival website (2005-12-20)

I am thrilled to announce that today we are launching the official website for the Trasimeno Music Festival. Please go to to visit us! On the website, you will find the programme for the next festival which will be held from July 1-7, 2006 as well as booking information, photos, comments from some of the audience members at the inaugural festival, and much more. You can also subscribe to our newsletter by clicking on "newsletter" on the Home page and inserting your e-mail address. Visit us soon!

Italian Tour continues (2005-12-15)

My recital tour of Italy has continued since my last journal entry, and has brought many wonderful moments as well as much hard work. In Rovereto I saw the house and room where Mozart gave his first concert in Italy when he was 13 years old (a charming town in the Trentino area of Italy). In Imola (more well-known for its Formula One racing track!) I visited the excellent Accademia Pianistica where many young virtuosos go to study (in a fortified castle). At the concert that evening in the local theatre when I played my Well-Tempered Clavier marathon, I had three pianists in the audience: Louis Lortie, Michel Dalberto and Zoltan Kocsis. The photo shows me in a pizzeria with Zoltan and Franco Scala, the director of the academy. The next day I played a completely different recital programme in Milan in front of a big audience in the Conservatorio. Today I gave a four-hour masterclass to some of the students there. Even by my standards, it has been a busy week, and it's not yet finished: tomorrow I'm in Monfalcone, near Trieste, and on Saturday I make my debut in Florence.

Recital in Genoa (2005-12-06)

My December tour of recitals in Italy began last night in Genoa in the Teatro Carlo Felice which serves as both concert hall and opera house. A large crowd of about 1000 listened to my Well-Tempered Clavier marathon. As concerts in Italy start at 9 p.m., that meant that I was still playing fugues well past 11 p.m.! Today I had time to walk around the old city which is incredibly beautiful, especially the Palazzi of the Via Garibaldi (photo). In City Hall, I saw Paganini’s famous “Cannone” violin which he bequeathed to his native city and which is on display. It was a gorgeous, sunny day as well!

Lucerne Piano Festival (2005-11-29)

My two concerts last week were both wonderful occasions, and very important to me. It was great to play for the Swedish public again after so many years, and they were so warm and welcoming—even, and especially—the orchestra players who in so many countries can be very blasé about soloists. My matinée in the Lucerne Piano Festival was also a momentous occasion. Playing the Goldberg at 11 o’clock in the morning is a challenge, but it came off! A very big audience gave a standing ovation in this terrific hall. When I expressed my surprise at no flowers being presented (after all those notes!), I was told that the architect, Jean Nouvel, has it written in the contract that no flowers must be presented on stage. How dare he! Instead I got some Swiss chocolates upon arrival, which of course are delicious! Now I have a month in Italy which is a dream. We will soon be announcing the programme of the next Trasimeno Music Festival, to be held July 1-7/2006. A new website will also be launched dedicated just to this.

From Seattle to Sweden (2005-11-23)

In the space of a week, I've been in Seattle, Ottawa, London, and now Malmö, Sweden. Tomorrow night I make my first appearance with a Swedish orchestra, although it won't be my first time playing in this country. That came in 1986 (or was it 1987?) when I performed with the Toronto Symphony in Stockholm's Konserthuset. A big audience greeted me in Seattle where I performed on a brand new Fazioli brought up from Baldassin Pianos in Salt Lake City for the occasion (the photo was taken after the concert). Back home in London, I was looking forward to being in my own bed again, but it was not to be. I discovered that mice had made themselves comfortable in my bedroom during my absence! So I had to decamp to my sofa-bed next to the piano. I have left a neighbour in charge of getting rid of them before I return at the end of the year!

Publishers of Bach Arrangements (2005-11-13)

I get so many messages asking for the publishers of the transcriptions on my Bach Arrangements CD (see discography) that I thought I would give the answer here: All of the arrangements by Wilhelm Kempff, as well as the one by Harold Bauer can be found in this volume published by Schirmer: . The d'Albert arrangement of the C minor Passacaglia can be ordered from Chappell's of Bond Street in London ( ). My own three transcriptions have not been published, although I hope to do this someday. Myra Hess’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (ISBN 0-19-372200-3) is published by Oxford University Press. They were also the publishers of Harriet Cohen’s Sanctify Us by thy Goodness, and Mary Howe’s Sheep May Safely Graze, although they now seem to be out of print. The same applies to the transcriptions from A Bach Book for Harriet Cohen (Walton, Ireland, Berners, Howells) that were published by OUP in 1932. You can try to order these through their archival services by contacting Allegro Music in Birmingham, England ( ).

Book review in the Times Literary Supplement (2005-11-12)

I love purple, but have rarely seen a concert hall that is purple inside and out. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, Florida (see photo) is where I've been performing this week with the Florida West Coast Symphony. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, the Times Literary Supplement in England has published a book review I wrote on "Company of Pianos" which can be read on their website:

The Well-Tempered Clavier in New York (2005-11-09)

My performances of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Book I continued last week in the United States: first at the University of Illinois’ Krannert Center, and then at Columbia University in New York where I am always grateful to have a sold-out audience. The temperature in Miller Theater was more reminiscent of a summer’s day rather than an evening in November. The heating in the University had been turned on for the season despite the record high temperature outside (73° F). The very strong stage lights and the low ceiling meant that we all baked. It was still, however, an evening to remember. The next day was one of those nightmarish trips for me with cancelled flights, and an unexpected night in an airport hotel, waiting to get back to Canada. I finally did—eighteen hours late. Now I am already in Florida for the first time in my life, where I will play Schumann with the Florida West Coast Symphony for the rest of the week.

Distinguished Canadian Leadership Awards (2005-11-02)

Last night at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, I was presented with the Meritas Tabaret Award by the University of Ottawa. The award is given annually to one of their alumni who has shown exceptional leadership within Canadian society. It was an honour to receive this award, given as part of the Distinguished Canadian Leadership Awards, in the company of the other recipients: Louise Fréchette (Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations), Rick Hansen (world-class athlete and President of the Rick Hansen Man in Motion Foundation that supports research for spinal cord injury), and Bob Rae (former Premier of Ontario and international statesman). As part of the celebrations, I performed the French Suite No. 5 in G major by Bach.

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