After cancelling his second performance of Bluebeard’s Castle at Matsumoto, it is now reported that the pneumonia-stricken conductor has been forced to abandon his participation in the Saito Kinen Orchestra’s China tour.

He will be replaced by his excellent French understudy, Pierre Vallet.

The news was broken by the well-informed Musical America website, which has close links to Ozawa’s management at Cami.

photo: wolftrap festival

Today’s hospital bulletins report that Salvatore Licitra, critically injured when his Vespa hit a roadside wall, remains in a serious condition (extremanete grave) after emergency surgery at the Garibaldi hospital in Catania. There has been no worsening to his condition, said Sergio Pintaudi, head of the hospital’s resuscitation team, but he remains ‘in an evolutionary phase, open to any eventuality’.

Here’s the latest, from Repubblica Palermo and the AGI news agency.

My Salzburg Festival programme essay has now been posted online by my UK publishers to mark the appearance of the paperback edition of Why Mahler?. It amplifies the way that Mahler extrapolated his childhood forest experience to create new applications for symphonic music.

You can read it here.


Early analysis of last week’s 13 percent rise in US classical CD sales on the Nielsen indicates, regrettably, no huge resurgence for Mozart and Mahler. Instead, it’s crossover and trash TV that contribute principally to the increase.

The biggest selling ‘classical’ CD of the period was pre-teen Talent star Jackie Evancho with 427,992 albums sold in the year to date. Next was the Il Volo boy band with 120,899. Ah well, the illusion was nice while it lasted. And yes, there was a better performance from small indy labels.


US musicologists who persist in denying that Solomon Volkov’s book Testimony was based on extensive interviews with Dmitri Shostakovich mantain that the critic had hardly any contact with the great composer – at most, three meetings.

A forthcoming book, The Shostakovich Wars, by Allan B Ho and Dmitri Feofanov, soon to be posted online, brings fresh evidence of authenticity from an unexpected source – the pianist Vladimir Krainev, who shared first prize in the 1970 Tchaikovsky Competition with the Englishman John Lill and who became, soon after, Volkov’s roommate.  I have only just begun to read a pre-press version of Ho and Feofanov but what strikes me immediately is the disingenuous basis of some of the academic arguments, the desire to discredit Volkov overreaching the search for truth.

Here’s an exclusive extract from Ho and Feofanov:

Just as this book was about to go public, we learned of still another revelation
worth documenting.  This ‘bombshell’ came from Vladimir Krainev, who shared First
Prize with John Lill in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1970 and was one of
the most distinguished pianists in the world.  In his book Monolog Pianista (A Pianist's
Monologue), p. 106, published in 2011, Krainev confirms that ‘regular’ meetings took
place between Volkov and Shostakovich, after which Volkov told him about the content
of those conversations:
Then Zhenya [Yevgeny Nesterenko] moved to Moscow.  Both he and I
knew Solomon Volkov well.  The latter had been suggesting that we
perform duets.  I met Volkov during the Fourth Tchaikovsky Competition
— Solomon wrote a lot about it, did an extensive interview with me,
which he published in the Riga press.   We also met in Leningrad, where I
played often, and later Volkov moved to Moscow.  I lived in a three-room
apartment, with my mother, and she did not object for Solomon to stay
with us for about three months.  That was during the time when he had his
meetings with Shostakovich, which was the basis for the writing of
Testimony.   The authenticity of it, at a certain time, was contested, but the
fact that Volkov and Shostakovich met regularly is undeniable.  During the
nights, Solomon excitingly told me about their conversations, and also
advised me to join forces with Zhenya Nesterenko.