The Pope said today, in effect, that anti-zionism equals anti-semitism. His words:

‘To attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism,’ the Pope told a World Jewish Congress delegation. ‘There may be political disagreements between governments and on political issues, but the State of Israel has every right to exist in safety and prosperity.’

So where does that leave the cultural boycott movement?

merkel pope

Last week, we reported that Adriana Ferreira, of the Orchestra National de France, was the new principal flute in the Rotterdam Philharmonic.

Now the Rotters have snatched the excellent Bruno Bonansea from the same orchestra to be their new clarinet.

This is getting to be a bit like football transfers.

bruno bonansea

The Parisian pianist Ivan Ilic has sent us his translation of an historic 1967 interview by Jean-Yves Bosseur, which has only been available until now in French.

At the time, Feldman was fairly unknown, but he was not afraid of taking a slaughtering knife to a herd of sacred cows. Sample:

Last year, Cage was invited to the University of Honolulu. When he got back, I asked him, “What’s going on over there?” and he replied, “They’re one hour behind us!” The musical life of big cities like Paris, London, New York, Moscow (Moscow is a big city, you know!) is wrapped up in the artistic politics of the country. I would say, wisely, that an artist can never rise above the politics of his country. Whatever the politics, such will be the art. Let’s take a city like Paris, which has its own politics. All the young composers can get caught up in its politics.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the closer you get to big cities, the more you realize that the intelligentsia there is rigid, jaded. Living in Paris or in New York is like having a passport for stupidity.

Read the full interview here.

Morton Feldman

The Portuguese pianist Artur Pizarro tells Slipped Disc why (as we reported earlier) he walked off the jury at the Louisian International Piano Competition:


Basically it was a competition with no leadership, not one pianist in the administration, one neglected concert grand, one artistic director and one president with little to no social skills, a jury that really could not discern what was going on… and therefore voted in a rather bizarre fashion.

This competition was founded by a Russian pianist who used to live and teach in Louisiana. When he moved to Washington DC, the competition stayed behind but there was no one left to steer the boat. After the vote from second round to finals I saw that the jury was going in a totally different direction to me… Two of my proposed finalists received just one vote, mine… As there were only three prizes and five juror members, I realised that my vote would no longer make an impact in the overall results. As I could not in clear conscience stand on stage as results were read, I resigned from the jury and returned my juror fee to the competition.

The average age of the competitors was well above 25, many in their 30’s and some as old as 35. Repertoire was unstructured so there was a wild disparity in complexity of repertoire presented. Piano was a rather good Yamaha CF3S but completely unvoiced and painfully metallic. Orchestra for the finals was the Rapide Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the artistic director of the piano competition who is also their music director.

Unfortunately the orchestra hindered more than supported. For the first two rounds the hall was practically empty and for finals maybe around 200 people. As a regional piano competition it might be acceptable… Might be… But as an International Piano Competition it left many odd points lacking in quality. The first prize winner was a Georgian pianist in her thirties. Two slightly younger Korean pianists tied for second prize. How? No idea as they were as different as oil and water. Favourite sound byte of the competition? When the artistic director of the competition was on stage about to present the finalists andsaid to the audience that the following year maybe an audience prize should be awarded, ‘so that you think you have something to say in this’.

artur pizarro 

Can it get any worse?

The charismatic French pianist Lucas Debargue, placed fourth in the Tchaikovsky Competition, has placed his unfolding career in the Ndew York hands of CAMI’s Douglas Sheldon. The territories covered are north and south America, UK and East Asia.

We hear also that a Sony record deal is in the offing.

lucas debargue st pete

We are sorry to learn from the Met’s Rob Knopper of the death of  Jacques Delécluse, legendary percussionist of the Orchestre de Paris and one of the instrument’s great pedagogues. More about him here.


Stanislaw Skrowacewski returns to London this weekend to conduct Bruckner 5th with the LPO. Stan is 92 and going strong.

Anyone beat that?


He’s a former music director in Manchester and Minnesota who never got the attention he deserved in London and New York. It’s not too late.

UPDATE: We’ve received archival confirmation that Stan is the oldest oerson ever to conduct at the Royal Festival Hall.

Pre-sales of Cho Seong-jin’s debut album are reportedly outperforming recordings of all genres in Seoul. The Chopin winner’s  Warsaw final will be released by DG on November 7.

Cho is the first Korean to win the Chopin. No Korean pianist ever came higher than third.

He’s a national hero in a country with the highest per capita classical record sales on earth. Looks like DG have signed a real winner.

cho chopin



From the French pianist’s first interview in English. Watch here.


The most-watched finalist of the Tchaikovsky Competition has given his first interview in English, to the BBC. Watch here.

lucas debargue paris

photo © Bertrand Boissard

The respected Portuguese pianist Artur Pizarro was by far the best-known name on the jury of the Louisiana International Piano Competition, which ended yesterday.

But take a look.

Artur’s name has been mysteriously removed from the jury. Only four judges sat for the final round.

We hear Artur walked out when the last three contestants were announced, unhappy at the quality.

We’ll let you know when we hear more, but it seems a bit Soviet to erase his name from the website.

artur pizarro


UPDATE: Why I quit incompetent contest. Click here.

Sting and his wife Trudie are having a  house clearance in London. Lots of fine art. And the family grand. Story here by Mark Beech.

sting steinway