From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Two albums of Prokofiev concertos arrive in the same delivery, one piano, the other violin. Both are from pedigree artists, pedigree labels. Which one do I review?

Here’s where you run into the problem of having too much music in your head. I cannot listen to the 4th and 5th Prokofiev concertos, or the 7th and 8th sonatas, without hearing Sviatoslav Richter as a parallel soundtrack, allowing others little room for manoeuvre. Likewise, the 3rd concerto which I heard Martha Argerich play with Riccardo Muti one Sunday afternoon more than 40 years ago with such effervescence that all else pales beside it. So forget the piano concertos….

Read on here.

And here.


And here.

Warner Classics have snapped up an Anne-Sophie Mutter protégée, the Dutch violinist Noa Wildschut.

Noa, who is 15, has been giving concerts around Holland since she was seven.

Her mother is a violin teacher, her father plays viola in the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and her recital partner, Yoram Ish-Hurwitz, is also her uncle.

She will record Mozart for her debut album with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra.


The rising Finn Pietari Inkinen is  to be chief conductor of the merged Deutsche Radio Philharmonie of Saarbrücken and Kaiserslautern.

The orchestra, formerly led by Karel Mark Chichon, regularly performs in France, Luxembourg and Belgium as well as across a swathe of Germany.

Inkinen, 36, is also chief conductor of the Japan Philharmonic and Prague Symphony.


Like most Finn musicians, he started playing piano at age four.


The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has reached a swift, amicable three-year deal with its musicians, 14 months ahead of deadline.

The terms are:

– base musician pay will increase 9.3 percent over the course of the contract, from $70,000 in 2016-17 to $76,500 in 2019-20

– the orchestra will increase from 74 to 76 players.

How did they do that?

The Orchestra has reported three straight years of budget surpluses, with double digit growth in ticket sales and fundraising up over 50 percent from 2012-13. Last November, as part of a $100 million grant for the Indianapolis arts, Lilly Endowment made a $10 million gift to the ISO to help future financial stability.

urbanski indianapolis

Under music director Krzysztof Urbański, the Indy is really going places.


Musicians of the Filarmonica de Gran Canarias voted today to strike, starting immediately. The vote was overwhelming: 68-14.

The Consejero de Cultura has said the orchestra will be down if the musicians walk out.

The CCOO union is refusing to back the musicians.

Total chaos.

gran canaria orch

Our good friend Tim, America’s premier music critic, has described on Slipped Disc how he was struck down by a brain injury on a railway platform last summer, and his subsequent struggle to recover.

In an extended new interview on NPR he relates how the incident has changed his attitude to life – and to music.


[Music] requires intense concentration now, whereas for years it was something I could listen to but I could also do other things. Back in the day I never had any trouble multitasking. These days, I have a fair amount of trouble even uni-tasking. I’m finding myself often with my eyes shut listening to music that I know a little bit but not that well and becoming profoundly interested in where it will go. It’s kind of a way of putting the world together. It reminds me of when I was a boy and wandering in the woods and finding a road and then finding a path and then a road and finding, eventually, my way home.

Classic Tim. Read on here.

tim page

And here.

Rolando Villazón has withdrawn from Mozart’s Don Giovanni this month and next, citing illness.

His understudy Paul Appleby, a Met Young Artist, steps in as Don Ottavio.

Villazón was the prime draw in a cast that features Simon Keenlyside in the title role, Hibla Gerzmava as Donna Anna, Malin Byström as Donna Elvira, Adam Plachetka as Leporello and Kwangchul Youn as the Commendatore.

It would have been Villazón’s first appearance in a Met Live in HD screening.




A few years ago, they were playing in the horn section of the orchestra at Rutgers, studying music and making it as they went along.

Then Deryck Clarke fell sick with a degenerative liver condition that required a transplant.

His section buddy Mike Sayre turned out to be a perfect match.

Yesterday, they both underwent surgery for Mike to give part of his liver to Deryck.

Some help is still needed in fundraising. Click here.



Osmo Vänskä and 70 of his musicians will play eight minutes on Sunday as the halftime entertainment in the Vikings-Packers game.

It will give the orchestra its biggest-ever audience, in the stadium and on live TV, and no-one’s saying yet what they are going to play.

But is this the message they really want to send? Are we mixing too many media?

Your thoughts, please.





The public audit of the Opéra de Paris has revealsed that the upper echelon of opera stars are paid €15,000 a night, which is pretty much the norm at major international houses.

But a coveted few, such as Anna Netrebko and the German tenor Kaufmann are paid an extra fee – not disclosed – to ensure that they attend rehearsals.

Can this really be so?


kaufmann probe

A 10-year public audit of the Paris Opéra has exposed wild spending on taxis, luxuries and executive salaries.

Ten executives (average salary: €160,000) managed to spend €93,349.38 in 2014 on taxis – and this, despite having a chauffeur driven car at their disposal (maybe that was for bringing croissants in the morning).

The bosses also blew €52,413 on restaurants.

Deputy director Jean-Philippe Thiellay spent €59,900 redecorating his office.

Stéphane Lissner, the Opéra director, said most of the excesses exposed in the audit were before his time and he has acted swiftly to put a stop to them.

Executive taxis, for instance, were down 30% this year, saving €59,900.

(Almost enough to tart up someone else’s office.)

Here’s the official statement:

*La Cour des comptes a diffusé le 14 septembre un rapport sur la gestion de l’Opéra de Paris de 2005 à 2014.
Ce rapport est positif sur de nombreux points, en particulier sur le développement des ressources propres et l’équilibre économique de l’établissement.
Il relève avec pertinence plusieurs points délicats, notamment sur l’évolution de la masse salariale. La cour invite également l’établissement à la vigilance sur certains types de dépenses.
La direction de l’Opéra de Paris, en poste depuis septembre 2014 souhaite insister sur les points suivants :
  • Depuis le début de l’année 2016, il n’y a plus aucun véhicule de fonctions ;
  • Le budget taxis a été réduit de -30% en 2015 par rapport à 2014. Il s’élève à environ 60 000 €, pour 17 dirigeants et un certain nombre d’artistes invités (accueil aux aéroports etc…) ; tous les déplacements sont retracés mensuellement, individuellement, avec le lieu de prise en charge, la destination et les horaires (ce qui est important notamment pour ceux qui travaillent la nuit dans nos deux théâtres) ; la Direction administrative et financière (DAF) et l’agence comptable veillent au respect des règles fixées dès mars 2015, puis par une délibération du Conseil d’administration du 18 décembre 2015 ;
  • Les frais de représentation (déjeuners professionnels) ont baissé en 2015 par rapport à 2014 d’environ 10% : 47 000 € au total pour une vingtaine de personnes avec un budget individuel, pour la plupart, de quelques centaines d’euros de remboursements maximums par an ; aucune dépense ne sort de l’ordinaire (catégorie des restaurants, montant des factures…) ; la DAF et l’agence comptable vérifient l’identité des invités ainsi que le motif, non stéréotypé, du déjeuner ;
  • Le 18 décembre 2015, le conseil d’administration a adopté à l’unanimité une délibération cadre fixant les règles pour toutes les dépenses des dirigeants ; l’Opéra a été volontaire pour participer au travail de réflexion et de proposition avec la Haute autorité pour la transparence de la vie publique (HATVP) sur la déontologie dans les établissements publics culturels (rapport de juillet 2016).


UPDATE: Does Jonas Kaufmann get paid extra for rehearsal?

Anne Germain, one of the group’s founders, has died aged 81.

Married to another Swingle, Claude Germain, she was busily employed as a cover singer for French actors, notably for Catherine Deneuve in Les Demoiselles de Rochefort.