Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Natural Instincts

Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Dausgaard: “Mendelssohn Symphonies 1 & 3” (BIS) The Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin: “Florence Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3” (Deutsche Grammophon) Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, Yannick Nézet-Séguin: “Sibelius 3” (ATMA Classique) Yu Kosuge: “Four Elements: Water, Fire, Wind, and Earth” (Orchid Classics) Sarah Kirkland Snider, Gallicantus: “Mass for the Endangered” (New […]

Posted inInterview

Infinite Crescendo

I met Viennese pianist Rudolf Buchbinder one recent evening in his dressing room at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, where he was performing his “Diabelli Project” program: variations on the short and somewhat banal waltz by contemporary composers (Jörg Widmann, Lera Auerbach, Max Richter, Toshio Hosokawa) and historical musicians (Liszt, Czerny, Schubert) in the first […]

Posted inInterview

Endorphin Rush

Looking back at Tamara Stefanovich’s September schedule, you see a multifaceted artist at work: She played Stravinsky twice with an all-star lineup at Musikfest Berlin, gave a duo recital with Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Amsterdam, and a solo recital in Regensburg, Germany, with a program of seldom-heard works by Scriabin, Roslavets, and Szymanowski. She also played […]

Posted inInterview

Walking the Path

In 2016, pianist Martin Helmchen took a step which many threaten but few follow through on: He left Berlin for the surrounding countryside of Brandenburg, his four daughters in tow. His new home is close to the town of Luckau, between the German capital and Dresden, where his wife, cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, is a professor […]

Posted inInterview

The Time Remaining

On March 25, pianist Lars Vogt wrote on Twitter: “Today: fight against cancer, round 2 (chemo). Keep your fingers crossed for me…” A month and a half later, he’s made it to the cusp of round five. “Another six months like this, until October, 12 rounds in total, as long as my body holds up. […]

Posted inInterview

The Eternal Factor

New Year’s and third lockdown resolution: trying to listen to and rank every Schubert song. (I’m not done yet, but I attempted something similar for the Scarlatti sonatas.) Because my impressions are very subjective—not to say flat-out wrong—I also decided to get a more holistic view of this oeuvre, which numbers somewhere around 700 lieder, […]

Posted inHistory

The Pianist who Killed Stalin

In his 2017 film “The Death of Stalin,” Armando Iannucci links the titular event to a letter penned by pianist Maria Yudina: “Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, you have betrayed our nation and destroyed its people. I pray for your end and ask the Lord to forgive you. Tyrant.” In Iannucci’s history-as-farce, the dictator reads this note […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Goldberg Variations Playlist

Writing about my musical path for the New York Times last month, I noted that the one strand of continuity for me, between instruments and repertoires, was Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Part of that continuity was my dissatisfaction with the work. Don’t get me wrong, the Goldbergs are incredible. But, from piano to harpsichord to organ, […]