The Latvian mezzo has pulled out of Les Troyens, three weeks ahead of premiere.

She is being replaced by a Russian, Ekaterina Semenchuk.


The composer, pianist and percussionist Alain Kremski has died in Paris of a stroke.

A student of Darius Milhaud, he won the 1962 Prix de Rome and went on to acquire expertise in East Asian instruments and philosophies.


On a video posted by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Lang Lang said the BRSO were his besties, together with chief conductor Mariss Jansons.

A couple of hours later, the video was taken down.

Lang Lang sees in the New Year in Munich tonight.


The French claveciniste Blandine Verlet died yesterday at 76.

A student of Huguette Dreyfus in Paris and Ralph Kirkpatrick at Yale, she recorded a vast discography of Frescobaldi, Froberger, Scarlatti, Rameau, Couperin, Bach, Mozart and more.

From a correspondent in South Korea:

One day after Christmas, on December 26th musicians of the Yangju Philharmonic Orchestra found a notice in their rehearsal room which says that the orchestra (35 members) and the choir (28 members) have been dissolved.

The city of Yangju is located north of Seoul and has a population of about 214,000 on an area of 119.7 square miles. It is probably the city located closest to North Korea (about 16 miles away).

Has the city to make cuts because of budget squeeze? No, on the contrary: the city’s budget for 2019 will be 10,49% bigger than in 2018 (around 690 million USD. The annual budget of the orchestra and choir combined has been about 635,000 USD (with a monthly average salary of about 500 USD).

So is it the lack of quality? Certainly not, they can play on an excellent level, as one can see and hear from this video recorded two weeks ago:


The French-Canadian music critic Claude Gingras died this morning in a Montreal hospital.

He was critic of La Presse for 63 years, retiring in December 2015.

Has anyone done the job longer?

One of the first to spot the talent of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, he was not always gentle. ‘People believe that Claude Gingras had nothing but praise for me,’ said Yannick. ‘This is not true. I went from hell to limbo, to heaven with him. He called me a big teddy bear with a stomach ache.’



Rehearsal photo from the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert, conducted for the first time by Christian Thielemann.

(c) Benedikt Dinkhauser — at Wiener Musikverein.

The pianist Ivan Ilic has sent us this obituary:

The English journalist and festival director Robert Turnbull passed away on Christmas Day at his home in Lagrasse (France).
Robert was a warm, charismatic man who made friends easily. His deep knowledge and love of piano music inspired many pianists to travel to Lagrasse, a small French village near Carcassonne, to play a mixture of warhorses and eclectic repertoire in outdoors concerts. He insisted that the concerts remain free, so that a maximum number of unsuspecting passersby could experience great music, performed live.
The son of British automotive executive Sir George Turnbull, Robert studied piano at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music before pursuing a career as an opera critic. He wrote for a variety of publications including Opera Magazine, Opera Now, Daily Telegraph, Spectator, BBC Music, The New York Times, International Piano and Classical Music.
As the years went on, Robert spent more time at the piano and writing about pianists. In July 2013 he founded a festival, “En Blanc et Noir”, and spent much of his time researching and attending performances throughout Europe to find talented young pianists who deserved more attention. As a result he forged friendships with dozens of young musicians from the former Soviet Union, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Hungary, and the UK, many of whom played in France for the first time at his festival.
The music world will be considerably poorer in his absence, but the festival will live on. He finished the 2019 programme before succumbing to lymphoma, and planned for the festival to continue in 2020 and beyond. Robert, if you can read this: you are missed by many.
Rupert Christiansen has posted a further tribute here.

Simon Wallfisch, baritone grandson of the formidable Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, has put in an application for German citizenship.

Anita, 93, has addressed the German Bundestag on the evils of the past.

Simon, a vociferous ant-Brexiteer, says his grandmother approves of his decision.

Watch here.

The legendary Aldo Parisot, who retired last summer after teaching for 60 years at Yale, has not spent long in retirement. Music was his life.

His students include Ralph Kirshbaum, Jian Wang, Roman Jablonsky, Shauna Rolston and Carter Brey.

Alexander Markovich, pianist of the Mariinsky Theater, has been found dead in a Moscow hotel.

There has been no  statement on the Mariinsky site.

Markovich, who was 54, migrated to Israel in 1990, where he performed with Ida Haendel, Repin, Vengerov, David Garrett and other leading soloists.

Neeme Jarvi booked him for concertos in Detroit and Gothenburg and Zubin Mehta invited him to Munich. He made recordings for DG, Teldec and Erato.

He fulfilled extensive international appearances before returning to Russia, where he developed a series of ‘opera improvisations’ at the Mariinsky. Cause of death has yet to be made known.

UPDATE: Friends inform us that he had a long history of heart disease.

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

As a matter of course, I do not listen to new Mozart piano releases. There is such an abundance of unsurpassed recordings on my shelves — Ashkenazy, Brendel, Gilels, Haskil, Kempff, Richter — who could ask for anything more? But I slipped on this latest offering as an early-morning tune-up and, before I knew it, I was in heaven….

Read on here.

And here.