Menahem Pressler got his break by winning a 1946 Debussy Competition in San Francisco.

For his 90th birthday, the Ebène Quartet sprang him a surprise performance of the Andantino movement. Just watch the expressions on Menahem’s face.

menahem ebene

The UK agency Hazard Chase has signed young conductor Maxime Tortelier to its roster.

Maxime is the son of the former BBC conductor Yan-Pascal, whose father was the splendid French cellist, Paul Tortelier.

A student of Colin Metters at the Royal Academy, Maxime is currently the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Leverhulme Young Conductor in Association. Here’s what got him the contract.

maxime tortelier

Dominic Argento has a major, ultimate premiere in his home town. Read here.


The French crooner Enrico Macias, 74, has been hit by judges in a Luxembourg court with a bill for 30 million Euros, payable to the executors of an Icelandic bank that went bust in 2008. Macias and his late wife had taken a 35-million Euro loan in 2007 to build a villa on St Tropez. The bank went belly-up. Macias countersued the dead bank for 43 million, but the judges threw out his case. Report here in French. It’s complicated, and it looks like Enrico will be going back on the road – like Leonard Cohen – to boot up his pension.

enrico macias

This is Serena Wang, whose debut disc will appear next month of Channel Classics. Read nothing more until you’ve watched this:

 serena wang

So we asked Jared Sacks of Channel Classics Records how he found her. Here’s the full story:

There is plenty of ‘young talent’ around. Especially out of Asia. Technically speaking incredible.  But when I had this experience of hearing Serena play it certainly goes beyond what we call normal.  How does one have this musical timing at that age.  How does the brain comprehend this kind of depth.  Like the spirit of someone speaking through her  (and, believe me, I am not a religious man!).
I have worked a good deal through the years in China, making recordings, lecturing, demonstrations of Hi res audio.  Working closely with a Chinese enthusiast who has also been doing marketing for me.  This person got to know Serena’s father.  Her parents know nothing about music but saw at an early age that they would have to get her special lessons.  Serena goes to normal school but practices every day a couple of hours. Her parents do not push her in the least and are trying to keep her life as normal as possible.
I met the father last year around this time.  He did not want the circus of the major labels so we talked about what we could do.  Last summer Serena came with her teacher, her mother and older brother and we recorded a project of composers who wrote piano works for children. Poulenc, Shostakovich, and some Chinese works.  We also did this Chopin to end the disc.  My son made the video.
This is a disc geared to children, played by a child.
serena wang
Serena has been playing the Beethoven 1st Concerto with Chinese orchestras and just played for the official Chinese New Years Concert in Bejing.  Her father and teacher only let her do a tour 3 times a year so that her studies are not being hampered.  She is however going to be playing with the Orchestra de Paris in October and has been asked to play with the New York Phil next season. On a whim she went to Tokyo a couple of months ago to take part in the Chopin competition there.  I am told she won.
I made the recording with wet eyes.  The honour of getting to know her and being a small part of her life. I just felt the need to let others know.
Chances are not good for child prodigies.   Can they overcome the bridge to maturity? The constant attention, the comparisons?  Can she become ‘worldly ‘  to continue to develop her musical sense?  Actually to me it really does not matter as for the here and now, she has already given so much.  I work with the best like Ivan Fischer and Rachel Podger.  But this purity in her playing does make music transcend over everything we love and care about. It is really that simple.

Peter’s got a new set of good-luck beads.


Peter Callender, author of a shoal of his songs over four decades, has died at the age of 74.

His biggest sellers (co-written with Mitch Murray) include The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde, Turn On The Sun (for Nana Mouskouri) and I Did What I Did for Maria for Tony Christie.


 peter callender


bonnie&clyde2-200                                             cliff-richard-200   

I’ve just been notified that my sold-out session at Jewish Book Week in London this Sunday has been moved too a much larger hall within King’s Place and tickets are once more available – either by the website (tickets a very reasonable £6.50) or at the door.

I shall be talking to Michael Haas, producer of Decca’s Entartete Musik series and author of Forbidden Music, and Raphael Yerushalmy, author of an exquisite novella on the 1939 Salzburg Festival, Saving Mozart. Lots to discuss.

Link here. Do come.


The board’s meeting today. It’s faced with a binary choice: rehire Osmo Vänskä as music director and fire the president, Michael Henson, or carry on with Lockout King Henson and go search for another conductor to join a strife-torn org.

We know which way our vote would go. That’s right: Henson should go.


More here.

We hear that Robert Quinney is to succeed Edward Higginbottom as Director of Music and Organist of New College, Oxford, one of the key music posts in the Anglican world. New College Choir is a prolific recording outlet with more than 100 albums. Quinney (pictured) is presently director of music at Peterborough Cathedral and at Oundle School.

robert quinney

We have sad news of the passing of Anna Reynolds, who sang Fricka at Bayreuth from 1970 to 1976 and recorded solo roles with Bernstein, Karl Richter and Maazel, among others. She was 83.





Born in Canterbury in 1931, Anna met the American tenor Jean Cox at Bayreuth and married him, living together in Germany until his death.

May she rest in peace.

The Finnish conductor submits to the ticklish Nick Cannelakis spoof interview site.


osmo vanska



Sample questions:

– Is Osmo short for anything?

– You don’t want a job?

– In America, the unemployment is very high right now.

Osmo: I resigned because…

Great fun.