Mr.Naxos – interview with Klaus Heymann

Klaus Heymann

On Monday, May 18th, 2015, at a ceremony at Yale School of Music, Naxos Chairman and owner Klaus Heymann was presented with the prestigious Samuel Simons Sanford Award. Previous winners include Yo-Yo Ma, Mstislav Rostropovich, Isaac Stern, Alfred Brendel, Emanuel Ax, Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, Aaron Copland, Pierre Boulez, Sir George Solti, Eugene Ormandy, and Juilliard President Joseph Polisi.
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I have known Klaus for many years – my first recording was with his wife, violinist Takako Nishizaki in 1985 – it is a collection of Chinese melodies for violin and guitar. This was first issued as an LP on HK Records and subsequently reissued on the Marco Polo label.
We recorded at the Gulbenkian Institute in Lisbon, and I have fond memories of Klaus helping to carry our bags so we wouldn’t damage our hands! I mention this because, since those days, Naxos was founded and one of the guiding lights in the selection process has been Takako.

Since then, I went on to record several CDs for Naxos and have recently produced a CD in China of the prodigy Kuang Junhong.
Naxos has gone from strength to strength and is a pioneer in the streaming of classical music via the Naxos Music Library. They now also have the ability to print CDs in smaller quantities and are establishing a classical music database.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Klaus Heymann has won an award, but he is particularly proud of this one.

Recently I was in Hong Kong, and had a chance to talk to Klaus about his latest award, his attitude to recording and digital distribution, and Naxos’ importance in the promotion of the classical guitar.

Written by Mrs Bach

Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello (BWV 1007-1012) are among the most famous pieces in the canon of Western music. Recent claims by the Australian researcher Martin Jarvis about their authorship have become a media sensation, causing heated scholarly debates in normally restrained musicological circles. Jarvis claims that the Cello Suites were composed not by Johann Sebastian but by his second wife Anna Magdalena.
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Here are some recent superb interpretations of the cello suites by David Watkin

Fernando Sor : Sinfonía No. 1

We know that Sor studied music seriously and wrote works for instruments other than guitar – so how many of have actually heard any of his other music?

Here is a recording by Sir Neville Marriner of his first symphony. More on iTunes

  • Sinfonía No. 1 in C Major: I. Largo – Allegro assai” by Orquestra de Cadaqués, Sir Neville Marriner, Orquestra de Cadaqués, Sir Neville Marriner

And here is some piano music played by Josep Maria Roger.

Catching Up with Julian Bream: The Legendary Master Looks Back

Some new insights from Julian Bream, courtesy of the refurbished Classical Guitar Magazine. A fine interview by Thérèse Wassily Saba adapted from the December 2014 issue of Classical Guitar. Julian Bream was in the first ever issue of Classical Guitar in 1982.

Sorry to see that it (Classical Guitar) has left the UK for greener pastures, but happy that it will be invigorated. It has been an old friend!

Clara Ross, Mabel Downing and ladies’ guitar and mandolin bands in late Victorian Britain


The first guitar and mandolin bands were founded in Italy in the early 1880s. The fashion soon spread to Britain, initially amongst the aristocracy. Victorian social morals did not permit ‘respectable’ British women to play conventional orchestral music in public, but approved of exclusively female guitar and mandolin bands performing for charitable purposes. In 1886, Lady Mary Hervey and Miss Augusta Hervey formed the first British ladies’ band, which for more than two decades gave regular performances of serious classical music in London’s major concert venues, and was conducted by Europe’s leading mandolin virtuosos: Ferdinando de Cristofaro, Leopoldo Francia, Enrico Marucelli and Edouardo Mezzacapo.

During the 1890s, hundreds of similar ladies’ bands were formed across Britain, mostly by middle-class women. The quality of musicianship varied widely, but some were undoubtedly of a high musical standard. The Clifton ladies’ band, led by Mabel Downing, maintained a considerable reputation in the Bristol area, while Clara Ross’s band was highly regarded by fashionable London society. Clara composed most of her band’s music, and became one of Britain’s most popular composers for mandolin. She subsequently emigrated to the USA where, as Clara Ross-Ricci, she became a noted singing teacher and composer for women’s voices. By the late 1890s, as British society was becoming more liberal, more mixed-gender ensembles appeared, although most bands were still overwhelmingly female. The largest was the Polytechnic Mandoline and Guitar Band, founded in London in 1891, which regularly gave concerts with as many as 200 performers and continued performing into the 1930s.

Here is the link to this fascinating article by Paul Sparks – a curious chapter in the history of plucked instrument ensemble, many of which are still around today.
I am particularly interested to know of the works of Madame Sydney Pratten, whose pieces I have recorded, and of course,the guitar ensemble aspect. (Please see diary for schedule of the National Youth Guitar Ensemble!).
Many thanks to Nigel Warburton for drawing my attention to this article.

Music for a movie

Some time ago, Les Frères Méduses, Randall Avers and Benoit Albert, came and played a stunning gig in the shed. Their reason for coming to the UK from Norway and France was to rehearse music for the film –
THE UNKNOWN
• live music performed to Tod Browning’s classic silent film “the Unknown (1927)”
• LFM score including music by Ravel, Granados and DeFalla
• violin and 2 guitars
The score was co-commissioned in 2012 by The Austin Classical Guitar Society and the Alamo Draft House and premiered at the Laguna Gloria in Austin.
It received a nomination for Best Chamber Music Performance by the Austin Critics Roundtable.
Here is a link to the performance

Personnel
Randall Avers/Benoit Albert, guitars
William Fedkenheuer, violin
Todd Waldron, audio
Arlen Nydam, camera, film editing.

Rudolphus Nasum Rubrum Habebat – worth repeating?

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Responsory for the first Nocturn at Matins on Christmas Eve, found in a manuscript from the Abbaye de Fleury, dated c. 1170.

Happy Christmas everyone! Best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Thanks to Kevin Holdsworth and Eyolfos for this!
Full text after the break
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Slow down! Rachmaninoff’s Way

I have recently rediscovered the importance of having the right hand returning to a relaxed neutral position after each effort and also picked up Pepe Romero’s tips on playing picado, tremolo and rasgueado.
Very important information presented in a concise manner. (He is also sporting rather fetching shorts)





The following article in Practising the Piano really brings these ideas home. Extremely important for recovering focal dystonics who are retraining their hands!

If you’re serious about playing the piano, there’s no getting away from slow practice. It is a cornerstone of our work from the beginner stages right through to the advanced level, and a practice tool also used by professional pianists and seasoned virtuosos all the time. In this post, I aim to help you not only realise the importance of careful, accurate slow work but also to enjoy it fully!

I have noticed some folk think they should be beyond slow practice – that’s only something beginners do. Far from it! In Abram Chasins’ wonderful book Speaking of Pianists, the author describes a time he showed up for a lesson with Rachmaninov and overhead him practising – but so slowly that he didn’t recognise the piece at first. I know I have used this quotation before, but I am going to use it again because it speaks volumes about how a great pianist used ultra-slow practice for a work he was maintaining (not learning) to keep it spick and span:

Rachmaninov was a dedicated and driven perfectionist. He worked incessantly, with infinite patience. Once I had an appointment to spend an afternoon with him in Hollywood. Arriving at the designated hour of twelve, I heard an occasional piano sound as I approached the cottage. I stood outside the door, unable to believe my ears. Rachmaninov was practising Chopin’s etude in thirds, but at such a snail’s pace that it took me a while to recognise it be- cause so much time elapsed between one finger stroke and the next. Fascinated, I clocked this re- markable exhibition: twenty seconds per bar was his pace for almost an hour while I waited riveted to the spot, quite unable to ring the bell. Perhaps this way of developing and maintaining an unerring mechanism accounted for his bitter sarcasm toward colleagues who practised their programmes ‘once over lightly’ between concerts. (Chasins, Abram. 1967. Speaking of Pianists. New York: Knopf, 44.)”

Continue reading here….

Nigel North plays Bach on BBC Radio 3

Nigel North - photograph by Hanya Chlala

selftaughtgirl’s recording of a radio broadcast from the 1980s of a series called “Bach on the Lute” featuring Nigel North, whom I met Oxford University Students’ Union on one of his many visits. A very nice person and a great artist.
Bach: Prelude in Cm (BWV 999)
Bach: Fugue in Gm (BWV 1000)
Bach: Suite in E (BWV 1006a)

Christopher Lee records heavy metal

Christopher Lee

Saruman rides again! This time, it’s a heavy metal version of “My Way” and selections from “Man of La Mancha” to celebrate his 92nd birthday last May. The new recording is called “Metal Knight”. Go, Sir Christopher!

Sir Christopher, who turned 92 on May 27, said: “The song My Way is a very remarkable song, it is also difficult to sing because you’ve got to convince people that what you’re singing about is the truth. It’s a man who is very proud of having achieved everything that he’s achieved his way.”
The actor, who said his version of the song was sung “more operatically” than Sinatra, also recorded two songs from the Man of La Mancha musical which is based on the character of Don Quixote.

Read more in Yahoo News