As Nigel Kennedy goes on Radio 4's Mastertapes programme to be rude about Baroque performance practice, here's a blog I wrote in 2011 on the subject I love Nigel Kennedy, really, I do. I’ve been mesmerised by his Elgar, thrilled by his Vivaldi, convinced by his Bach and amused by his jazz. But he doesn’t half talk a load of rubbish sometimes. In his programme notes for his solo Bach BBC Prom concert in August, Kennedy offered his view on the performance of Bach. He took a pop
Yo-Yo Ma turns 60 on 7 October, 2015, and to celebrate one of the world's best-loved classical music heroes, here is an interview I did with him for the November 2011 issue of The Strad. At that point his Goat Rodeo CD with mandolin player Chris Thile and bass player Edgar Meyer had just come out, but typically for his lateral-thinking mindset, the conversation ranged far and wide over many of his other passions Yo-Yo Ma tells me he’s no good at improvising: ‘It’s not my stre
For violinists, playing the mandolin offers instant rewards and benefits, but some challenges, too. I asked for advice from the best in the world – Chris Thile I love playing the violin. Of course I do. But there’s always been a tiny part of me that wanted to play something more (how shall I put it?) hip. At the height of a Beatles obsession, I even bought a guitar and a ‘Teach Yourself the Beatles’ video, and stopped its frames it until I had learnt Blackbird. Then the guita
An 1802 biography of Bach offers timeless insights into the art of teaching, as well as revealing the composer's own pedagogical techniques I’ve just been dipping into the biography of J.S. Bach written by Johann Nikolaus Forkel, by way of research for the booklet notes of Gil Shaham’s new Sonatas and Partitas CD. Written in 1802, with direct input from Johann Sebastian's sons Carl Philip Emmanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann, the text is short on the sort of detail we relish these
A new documentary suggests that Mrs Bach was behind the greatest works by her husband Johann Sebastian. But does it ring true? You know that if classical music makes the pages of the infamously scurrilous Daily Mail there’s got to be a good story, so it’s not surprising an iconoclastic new film, Written by Mrs Bach, made it in. Undoubtedly the idea that Bach’s second wife Anna Magdelena wrote much of the great master’s music is a good story. Add to that possible marital infid
Bach’s slurs are are a means of expression and not mere technical tricks and we have lost the art of Rhetoric, says Anner Bylsma Yesterday at the Amsterdam Cello Biënnale this mysterious manifesto appeared all over the bar, only for the pieces of paper to be cleared up by the bar staff (and then to reappear). It is addressed to ‘The self-thinking plumber’ and bears the name of Anner Bylsma, so we can assume it is he subverting the norm, as he has done throughout his 80 years.
I came across this footage of Menuhin playing Bach's 'Air on the G String'. Just look at his left hand – is that not the most perfectly shaped hand, the most fluid, beautiful vibrato you have ever seen? To quote Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot: 'It's like Jell-O on springs!' No comment on his right arm and bow changes, though – maybe that's why he's not looking very happy! #menuhin #bach #vibrato #violin #playing #view
I just came across this lovely interview with mandolin super-hero Chris Thile. Thile came to fame as a Bluegrass player but in recent years has played jazz and classical – his recording of Bach’s violin sonatas and partitas is one of my favourites, and when I interviewed him once he told me how he practises the Barber and Beethoven violin concertos for fun. So it’s unsurprising to hear him talk about how he doesn’t see any essential difference between genres – it’s all the sa