We are absolutely delighted to announce that our new website SinfiniMusic.com is now up and running. It’s packed with fantastic new content – music, features, guides, podcasts and playlists and much more. We hope you like it as much as we do!
We’ll be retiring this blog very soon but in the meantime please go to SinfiniMusic.com.
As it’s Halloween, we thought we’d share the 13 strangest and most unlucky composer deaths.
1. Charles-Valentin Alkan(1813-88) It’s widely believed that the French composer and virtuoso pianist was crushed to death by a falling bookcase which he accidentally overturned when reaching up to the top shelf for a copy of the Talmud (he was deeply religious). However more recent sources report that his concierge found him in the kitchen, breathing his last, pinned beneath an umbrella rack.Read more
Following the release of Max Richter’s ‘Recomposed’ version of Vivaldi’s Baroque classic, The Four Seasons, Liam Cagney explores the seemingly unlikely marriage between classical and techno.
As musical genres go, techno and classical seem like polar opposites. Techno springs from electronic circuits; classical, from wood, brass and catgut. Techno is defined by nightclubs and repetitive beats; classical by concert halls and resounding orchestras. And yet when the two meet, as occasionally they do, they can complement each other well.
This month, British composer Max Richter, who in a previous life was a floating member of legendary electronica group Future Sound of London, launches his ‘Recomposed’ version of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Stores in London such as Selfridges and the Apple Store on Regent Street will have their sound systems taken over by Richter’s remixes of these Baroque violin concerto classics. Here’s his delicate, hypnotic treatment of the first, ‘Spring’.
Josh Radnor’s new comedy-drama traces a blossoming campus romance, and proves that listening to Mozart, Massenet and Vivaldi really does make the world seem a better place. Nick Shave finds plenty to enjoy in this gentle, coming-of-age tale.
One of the most memorable episodes in director Josh Radnor’s feature Liberal Arts takes place when Jesse (played by Radnor), a thirtysomething university admissions director, listens to the classical compilation his romantic admirer, Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), has sent him. Walking the streets of New York, listening on earphones, he smiles as the people around him seem transformed by the music he hears: Mozart’s ‘Soave sia il vento’ makes every passer-by seem like a ‘viable romantic partner’, Vivaldi turns one into ‘a double agent, knee-deep in some kind of sexy espionage’.Read more
With the release of Bob Dylan’s new album Tempest writer Philip Clark explores folk, Americana and the relationship between Copland and Dylan. Read the Tempest review and explore the music.
In the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks Bob Dylan, that most American of American icons, began prefacing his gigs with recordings of music by Aaron Copland, that most American of American composers.Read more
The best seats in the house at a fraction of the price. Opera at the cinema saw 300,000 people worldwide flock to the flicks to watch what was on at the Royal Opera House last season. Tony Hall, chief executive of the ROH, talks to Hannah Nepil about the successes and challenges of bringing opera to the big screen.
We also highlight our top picks from the 2012-2013 operatic cinema season, all in HD with some performances streamed live.
“It’s wonderful to be so close up and see things that you otherwise wouldn’t see. It’s not even the best seat in the house. You’re somewhere over the orchestra pit.” To an outsider, it might sound as if Tony Hall is describing some kind of out-of-body experience. In fact, the chief executive of the Royal Opera House is effusing about the benefits of seeing opera on the big screen.Read more
We invited the music writer Paul Morley to report on two of classical music’s biggest awards ceremonies, the Classic BRIT Awards and the Gramophone Awards, held a few days apart in London recently. To our mind, each represented very different attitudes to classical music and we were interested to see what an experienced cultural and musical critic and commentator from outside classical music would make of them. We couldn’t have predicted the overwhelming – and largely supportive - response to Morley’s first review of the Classic Brits. And now here’s his second, from the Gramophone Awards.
Despite being held at The Dorchester the more professionally sedate and carefully modulated Gramophone Awards seemed set on a barely decorated desert island. The gaudy Classic Brits vessel might steam past without having any idea that anything was happening there, give or take a couple of earnest oddballs trying to make fire by rubbing sticks together. This was the quiet, dignified approach to classical music; a modest, almost mute celebration of the music as something ghostly, intense and moving. It was for those in the know with their own refined tastes and knowledge, with standards miraculously unspoiled by commercial pressure, fickle popular culture or temporary music fads and fashions.Read more
Handing out or receiving awards, or just hanging out, at the 2012 Classic Brit Awards at the The Royal Albert Hall, was ITV’s idea of a dream team – Aled Jones, Andrea Bocelli, Victoria Pendleton, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Russell Watson, Gareth Malone, Gary Barlow, Joe McEllderry, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and John Suchet. I thought I’d died and lost the remote control. Read more
The London Games Festival is now on across the capital bringing hordes of teenagers (they’re mostly teenagers) out of their bedrooms to gawp at the latest shoot ‘em ups and fantasy sagas. But don’t dismiss video games as just another way for kids to waste their precious youth – the medium is actually inspiring the creation of a new symphonic sound for the digital age, bringing classical music into the scope of pop-culture consciousness. Video game soundtracks, performed by classically trained musicians, are breaking into the Billboard Top Ten. Meanwhile, children around the world are performing renditions of their favourite video game music by learning piano, guitar and violin. Rob Crossley reports from Video Games Live in Los Angeles.
The floor of the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles trembled as a 110-person orchestra burst into life with that unmistakable balance of power and finesse that classical music is renowned for.
Professionally trained percussionists and a sweeping string section fed off the energy of composer Russell Brower as intense beams of light fell across the ensemble. Yet, had you momentarily broken your gaze from the spectacle, there was one thing that seemed out of place.
It’s awards season on the classical music calendar with the first to dust off the gongs being the Gramophone Awards. Gramophone magazine, in case you didn’t know, was founded way back in 1923 by Whisky Galore author and music lover Sir Compton Mackenzie, so it certainly knows its recorded music. This week’s awards honoured over 20 of the 750-plus classical recordings released in the past 12 months.
You can read about them all at gramophone.co.uk but the award you really should know about is Recording of the Year that went to French conductor Lionel Meunier and his Baroque vocal group Vox Luminis for their disc of Schutz’s Musicalishce Exequien, a piece that inspired Brahms to write his German Requiem. ‘This was my first day in London,’ said an emotional Meunier on receiving his award, ‘and it has turned out to be one of the most memorable of my life.’
Meanwhile, in typically calmer fashion, the young, self-assured British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor followed him on stage to collect a brace of awards - Young Artist of the Year and Instrumental, for his Ravel, Chopin and Liszt CD on Decca - before calmly setting about a brace of virtuoso pieces on a Steinway piano handily placed nearby. Enjoy our exclusive video of Benjamin talking and performing earlier this year (click on the image below to play the video).
Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja scooped the public vote to win Artist of the Year. And what a year it has been for him with performances at the Last Night of the Proms, appearances in many of the world’s major opera houses and his new CD Be My Love, a tribute to the popular tenor Mario Lanza. Read more