The classical discovery site, which ceased activity at the start of the year, has shifted its archive to the Deutsche Grammophon website prior to final shutdown. The farewell message went out today.


At Sinfini Music, it has been our ongoing mission to ‘cut through classical’ and help you discover the very best of classical music over the last three years.

We’re lucky to have had so much encouragement from all of you, and help and input from the world’s most creative musicians and organisations along the way. From 14 March we’d like to recommend that you continue your musical discovery with Deutsche Grammophon, the world’s premier classical record label – already an online beacon for classical music fans and a rich source of information via their YouTube page, Facebook and Twitter channels, website, newsletter, exclusive fan area and much more.

We’ve been working closely with Deutsche Grammophon, featuring video performances from Anoushka Shankar, Daniil Trifonov, Avi Avital and interviews with Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Mahan Esfahani and the Oscar-nominated soundtrack composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who is new to the DG label.

DG have an enthusiastic team who regularly update their channels with information about new releases and the rich discoveries to be found in their vast recorded catalogue. They also offer a dedicated artists’ section and a fan area where you can get a monthly newsletter service, take part in their exclusive weekly Listen & Discover sessions and even grab the odd prize in the process.

You’ll still be able to access all of Sinfini Music’s expertly curated classical playlists on PITCHED – so make sure you save to your favourites. The journey is only just beginning, so head over to Deutsche Grammophon and continue your musical quest!

Alexander Scherf, a cellist in Concerto Köln, has posted his account of yesterday’s disruption of Mahan Esfahani’s performance of Steve Reich’s Piano Phase for a conservative, bourgeois Sunday audience.

Scherf was shocked when concertgoers heckled the soloist’s opening remarks with a demand that he speak German. They went on to give a slow handclap during the performance. Others hissed and catcalled.

Mahan reminded the protesters that he came from Iran where people lack the freedom to enjoy a wide choice of music and arts. Some audience members wept. One man came on stage to apologise for the appalling behaviour.

Concerto Köln hat heute zusammen mit einem großartig spielenden Mahan Esfahani als Solisten ein spannendes Konzert in der Kölner Philharmonie gegeben – leider kann ich mich nicht so recht darüber freuen! Nach einem bejubelten J. S. Bach Cembalokonzert versuchte Esfahani in der zweiten Konzerthälfte Steve Reichs “Piano Phase” aus dem Jahr 1967 zu Gehör zu bringen (wie im Programm vorgesehen). Schon seine sympathische Moderation wurde mit “Sprich Deutsch”- Rufen quittiert, bevor dann ein Teil des Publikums sein Spiel immer heftiger störte und schließlich den Solisten “niederklatschte”! In einer ergreifenden Rede fragte Esfahani aufgebracht nach den Gründen der Ablehnung bzw. der Angst vor dem Neuen und weist daraufhin, dass er aus einem Land stammt (nämlich dem Iran), in dem es nicht selbstverständlich ist, dass Menschen und Kunst alle Freiheit genießen und in dem es nicht möglich ist, Musik frei aufzuführen. Was für eine unglaubliche Ignoranz und Intoleranz heute öffentlich zur Schau getragen wurde – von Rücksichtslosigkeit und mangelndem Respekt gar nicht zu reden! Man muss gar nicht nach Sachsen schauen, um diese gefährliche Mischung zu bestaunen – ein Besuch in der Kölner Philharmonie genügt!
Zum Glück schritt ein Herr aus dem Publikum am Ende des Konzerts zur Bühne, um seiner Scham über diesen Vorfall Worte zu verleihen und Esfahani zu versichern, dass der Großteil des Publikums gerne seinen Vortrag gehört hätte. Diejenigen, die geblieben waren, konnten Zeugen eines wahrhaft aufgewühlten C. P. E. Bach Konzerts und einer äußerst sensiblen Zugabe werden. Ich bin erschrocken und traurig!


mahan album


Mahan, when I asked if he was traumatised by the eruption, said that – on the contrary – he was exhilarated that a harpsichord could cause so much upset. ‘It shows how relevant we are.’


The Olivier Awards shortlist was announced this morning.

In the category Outstanding Achievement in Opera, the nominees are

– English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra for The Force Of Destiny, Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk and The Queen Of Spades at London Coliseum
– Felicity Palmer for The Queen Of Spades at London Coliseum
– Sir Antonio Pappano for his conducting of Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci, Guillaume Tell and Król Roger at Royal Opera House
– Tamara Wilson for The Force Of Destiny at London Coliseum.

That’s 3 out of 4 for English National Opera, which the Arts Council of Lilliput wants to demolish.

coliseum eno

Our pals at River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston are educating their audience by means of a Smartphone app called Octava.

Basically, it offers screen guidance to musical works as they are being played in concert.

Any objections?

concert phones

More here.

My album of the week pairs two composers who fell on opposite sides in the first year of the Great War.

Neither achieved fame beyond – or even within – their own country.

But the music survives. And demands to be heard.

Stephan, a Munich avant-gardist, was the only soldier in his German unit to die in a September 1915 battle with Russian troops for the Galician town of Stryi. Magnard, a French traditionalist, was either shot or burned to death defending his home from German troops in September 1914.

Click here or here for the full review.

world war trenches

Dominique Meyer, director of the Vienna State Opera, has been reflecting on his record 99.02 percent box-office and contrasting it to the declining returns at the Met.

Gelb, whom he met recently, is, he says, ‘pretty desperate’ about the situation:

Ich war vor ein paar Tagen in New York. Peter Gelb, der Generaldirektor, ist ziemlich verzweifelt. Auch deshalb, weil er nicht wirklich nachvollziehen kann, warum die Besucherzahlen derart zurückgegangen sind.

He goes to quote Gelb saying he is actually getting more people to go to the Met, but they are coming less often than before. In Vienna, he notes, people go to the opera two or three times a week if they like what they see:

Ich möchte die Beziehung zum Wiener Publikum keinesfalls gefährden. Es gibt viele Besucher aus Wien, die zwei- oder dreimal pro Woche kommen. Peter Gelb hat festgestellt, dass er zwar mehr Besucher hat, aber sie kommen seltener. Das möchte ich nicht. Daher muss man bei der Preisgestaltung wirklich aufpassen. 


Full interview here.

by Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press:

Completely out of tune: Just when you think the Oscar orchestra has done the worst play-off ever (for the winning director of a short doc on honor killings), it decides to play Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries” through most of  the acceptance speech of best director winner Alejandro Inarritu’s back-to-back win for “The Revenant.” It was really hard to concentrate on Inarritu’s moving remarks on prejudice with the Wagnerian brushoff in the background.


The Baltimore-based pianist Reynaldo G. Reyes has died at the age of 82.

Raised in Manila, he won a scholarship to Paris and went on to study at Peabody with Leon Fleisher.

He toured extensively and taught at Towson University for 50 years. He was a member of the Baltimore Trio.

reynaldo reyes

From the international soloist, Viviane Hagner:

Never again Air Berlin!!! They just made me pay an extra 396 Euros to be able to take my violin on board for a flight Munich- Berlin. And I thought this was over..


viviane hagner

Martin Hoffmann, Intendant of the Berliner Philharmoniker, has told Der Tagespiegel today that he is leaving next year, in August 2017, around the time that Simon Rattle steps down as music director.

Hoffmann gives no reason, except to say the the coming of a new music director warrants a management change. The orchestra divided deeply last year over electing a successor to Rattle and the two or three seasons before Kirill Petrenko is prepared to take over the baton will not be easy to manage.


Hoffmann, 56, took the job in 2010 with no experience of orchestral management. His previous career had been in satellite television and film production. He is reckoned to have held a steady tiller in a turbulent sea.

The orchestra has expressed regret at his early exit.

The international virtuoso Mahan Esfahani faced what may be the first recorded riot at a harpsichord recital yesterday when a conservative Cologne audience objected to him playing Steve Reich on a baroque intrument.

Mahan tells Slipped Disc:


mahan concert riot


As we know, the life of a soloist is mostly a string of “concerts played and meals eaten” with the odd inside joke and run-in with the law (well, at least in my case). Yesterday’s experience started with the comic, transmuted into the tragic, and concluded on a sort of lovely note.

The concert was with Concerto Köln; we’ve recorded together in the past and decided to perform a couple of the things that we’ve done on disc as well as a concerto by Emanuel Bach and other stray bits and pieces. I was particularly excited to play on the hall’s own harpsichord built by the German maker Burkhard Zander – a really magnificent copy of the 1745 Dulcken that surely is one of the best on the Continent. In the second half, I played – or, rather, intended to play – Steve Reich’s ‘Piano Phase,’ which I perform in a version approved by the composer wherein I play ‘against’ myself, the latter being a pre-recorded track of the first keyboard part. I’ve performed this to acclaim to a variety of audiences and have found that for even the most hard-hearted opponents of modern music, it comes across as an accessible and even ‘fun’ piece. It’s not even all that modern – it’ll turn 50 years old next year!

I should perhaps emphasise here that I was participating in what is a sort of cultural institution in many German cities: the Sunday afternoon concert. This is the concert where typically older members of the educated middle class have their subscription tickets for years and go to hear the requisite amount of pleasant music in ‘their’ Philharmonie. I figured that we were more or less giving them that. And yet…

Within about three or four minutes of the piece, I started hearing clapping. Since I have to wear monitoring headphones during the piece, I couldn’t hear the public very well, but this became quite obvious to me as it was fairly loud enough. I figured that maybe they liked the piece, and I felt encouraged and continued. Another minute went by, and there were rather audible catcalls and hisses and even a bit of yelling here and there. I continued for about another three minutes until it became unbearable, with obvious different factions yelling each other down.

I stopped in the middle of the piece and took my headphones off; the hall at this point was more or less in pandemonium on a scale that I’ve never seen in a concert hall for classical music. I fortunately had a microphone on stage and decided that, well, it was time to use it.

“What are you afraid of?” – this was my first question. I’m not quite sure what took over me, but I was relatively calm as I reflected on the fact that in the country of my origin, concerts are cancelled or banned for minuscule reasons by adherents of a regime that holds deep-set suspicions about music or indeed any art that reflects anything other than mourning. In so many words, I told this to the audience.

The atmosphere was tense but totally fascinating to witness. Most of the people who walked out or catcalled tended to be older men who clearly felt some sort of anger about having to listen to this piece. They were being shouted down by younger people – mostly women, in fact. A few people were crying. Anyhow, there was a bit of back and forth, and I finally said: “we’re going to proceed with the concerto by C.P.E. Bach.”

At the end of the concert, the applause was pretty intense as it was gripping. Then – most unexpected of unexpected scenarios! – a man decided to run down the aisle and ask for the microphone (as it turns out, he wasn’t management, but rather a member of the audience). He gave a really wonderful response to the ‘protestors’ (if we can call them that). I can’t quite remember what he said, but he said how sorry he was for what happened – again, to endless rounds of applause. There was a funny few minutes of a sort of ‘open mic’ situation, with people calling out their sentiments about that afternoon’s events. The level of support, the number of people standing up – well, it was all terribly exhilarating. And pretty much for the rest of the evening I ran into people at bars and pubs who came up and told me how they felt about what happened. There was the invariable apology – but this is not necessary! They should be glad to live in a city wherein people participate so actively in culture.

I really hate to engage in a reductio ad ISISam, to coin a phrase, but I should like to reflect on something which bears consideration. There are people in the world who want to completely destroy culture. Culture! Can you believe this? Culture doesn’t hurt anyone. It doesn’t stab or kill or behead anyone. And yet, it disturbs them so much to the depths of their souls that they want to stamp it out. Now, I’m not saying that yesterday’s very naughty individuals have some sort of equivalency to that level of evil, but it would do them good to consider that music will die if we are not active participants in seeing music change and challenge us. In that sense, I’m not a performer and you are not listeners. We are all responsible for making sure that music is never in a state of inertia. There is no such thing as a static definition of ‘good’ or ‘authentic’ or ‘correct.’ The sort of people who talk about this as though it were heaven tend to be those who make hell on Earth.

Look, I’m used to opprobrium on a variety of levels, and over time I’ve had to develop a pretty thick exoskeleton. There’s of course the whole being-a-harpsichordist thing and the sort of idiocy that passes for discourse from that, especially from people who don’t realise that you can’t be against something if you don’t understand it. Fine. Then there are the various (involuntary) clashes with the harpsichord establishment and their ever-dwindling number of record buyers who resent anyone who tries to even speak to the mainstream. There’s been the odd critic with a vendetta. This is all fine, and as Hyman Roth quipped, “this is the life we’ve chosen.” But I most certainly haven’t had that sort of hostility from members of the audience in a concert setting.

I learnt a few things from this and reflected on them during a night of complete sleeplessness:

Some people are jerks;
Some people have fear and express it through hostility;
Some people are annoyed when they don’t understand something immediately off the bat, and therefore develop fear. See no. 2 in order to find out how that develops.
For all the talk about fusty ‘old people’ keeping classical music back, the overwhelming support against yesterday’s detractors came from people from a variety of ages and backgrounds. So, I realised the truth of that funny rude proverb they say about what happens when you make assumptions.

I’m also fairly sure that the harpsichord has never been in a situation which has inspired total order breaking down in a concert hall. For me, that’s indescribably awesome. If this instrument can inspire opinions, then we are on to something. Of course, I wish people would express themselves in more respectful ways, but who am I to judge? My brain hurts to think what would have transpired had I played something really new.


(c) Mahan Esfahani
(Cologne/Bonn airport, 9am Monday morning)

TAKE TWO: A cellist describes the riot here.

TAKE 3: Cologne offers an apology.

The great man is asked about his most embarrassing moments… a video that popped up in our feed.