We hear (from a very happy boyfriend) that the Cologne-based Schumann Quartet – three German brothers and a gorgeous Estonian viola – have been awarded the  Jürgen Ponto-Stiftung music prize. It’s worth 60,000 Euros and plenty more in German media attention.

Well done, bros and beauty.



This is the time of year when labels start trotting out their big guns. Sony have a Jonas Kaufmann Winterreise coming up, DG have a Villazon.

And Warner, home to the former EMI? Nothing.

The first two releases of the year are are French pianist Bertrand Chamayou  and a French cellist Edgar Moreau, neither known at all outside France. Well bienvenu and all that, but where’s the boeuf?

Worse, now that Warner/EMI a&r is run out of Paris, what’s happening is that old EMI contracts are being honoured but not Warner artists who were signed to the former London office, which is being wound down.

We hear that the upcoming Franck sonata release by Rachel Kolly d’Alba, tied to an April Wigmore Hall recital, has been cancelled and that she and other Warner UK artists have been told to take their wares elsewhere. Surely, that can’t be so. It would be so uncivilised.

Even for Warner, which once shut down its entire classical operation on the strength of an overnight fax from Hollywood…


rachel kolly

Daniele Gatti has cancelled all professional engagements for the next two months on medical advice. He is suffering from a tendinopathy of both shoulders, an inflammation that will take time to abate.

Franz Welser-Möst, himself no stranger to back pain, will take over the Vienna Oper aqnd Philharmonic engagements at Carnegie Hall.

We wish Daniele a swift recovery.

daniele gatti

The US composer has won the prestigious BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Spain for his efforts to bridge cultures, ‘address current issues, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to 11 September, and advance the relationship between religion and art and science’.

The award is worth 400,000 Euros and a fine Spanish dinner. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving composer.



The Russian president has offed his top, again. Why does he do it? Auditioning for a part in Billy Budd?

We hear Anna Netrebko had to be gently persuaded not to join the Sochi ride, in role.

putin shirtless

Alice Babs was the first non-opera singer to be awarded the title Royal Court Singer (hovsångerska). She represented her country at Eurovision in 1958 with  “Lilla stjärna” (“Little Star”). As a sideline, she sang some early Swedish and Elizabethan folksongs. In her genre, she’s right up there with Birgit.


alice babs

Friedrich Dürrenmatts ‘Der Besuch der alten Dame’ (the old lady’s visit) has never caught on outside Austro-Germany, either as a play or in Gottfried von Einem’s 1971 operatic snooze, despite having the irresistible Christa Ludwig in the title role.

So they’re giving it another crack next week – as a musical. Read here.



 Photo: Barbara Zeininger

I have just read this little gem in a newspaper of record:

… I was struck especially by the way these musicians play with a unanimity that must be a result of hard work but comes across as intuitive.

Someone, please, tell me what that adds to the sum of human knowledge.

(Below: not the group reviewed)

Bristol Ensemble Quartet

The great composer still causes mixed feelings among Russia’s rulers. Dmitri Shostakovich has a monument in his home town, St Petersburg (pictured), but none in the national capital, where he also lived. Moves are afoot to remedy that imbalance. Khachaturian himself would have been ashamed.


A symphonic work in memory of Arthur Ashe, the only black male player to win Wimbledon and the first to play for the US Davis Cup team, will be given a first read-through next month by Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.The score is by New York composer Kevin Scott.


arthur ashe