The human faces are starting to emerge from the Iranian ‘error’ that down a civilian airliner with many Canadians on board.

Reera Esmaeilion, nine years oldm and her mother Parisa Eghbalian, a dentist, died when their plane was shot down last Wednesday.

The classical industry veteran Stephen Wright has handed over his agency Wright Music Management, together with all its artists, to his deputy Alexandra Knight. The agency will be known in future as Knight Classical Ltd. Stephen Wright will continue working on his own projects and as a consultant to Knight Classical.


A former head of Harold Holt Ltd who went on to found IMG Artists, Wright later brought the former Van Walsum agency and recast it as his own company, which he is now moving on.

Alexandra Knight, 30, an Oxford music graduate, has been working with him for six years. She has raised new capital from a US hedge fund to secure the future of the business. The artists involved are:

Alena Baeva violin
Joseph Bastian conductor
Marc Coppey cello
Laurence Equilbey conductor
Moné Hattori violin
Stephen Kovacevich piano
Florian Leonhard violin-maker
Cem Mansur conductor
John Nelson conductor
Anna Tsybuleva piano
Hugh Wolff conductor

The business will become fully operational tomorrow at

We’ve received a number of reports about a racial incident at Dresden’s State Opera against the backdrop of regional politics.

The Dresden opera house is due to stage its annual ball on February 7.

Two singers were invited – a certainn American tenor and the Armenian soprano Ruzan Mantashyan. They were scheduled to sing at least one duet. Mantashyan agreed, but the American was unavailable.

The opera house rang around and replaced him with Yusif Eyvazov, husband of the superstar soprano Anna Netrebko.

Eyvazov agreed to sing – until he learned that he was appearing with a soprano from Armenia.

Eyvazov is an Azeri. Armenia and Azarbaijan are bad neighbours, with frequent flare-ups between them.

Evvazov not only refused to sing with Mantashyan but, it is reported, he demanded that she be fired from the programme.

So the Dresden organisers got rid of the soprano in order to retain Eyvazov.

We have been unable to obtain confirmation so far from any of the principals, but the reports are widespread, coming from both partisan countries, from Germany and from France (where Mantashyan is based).

UPDATE: Dresden denies bits

Gabriel Feltz, the German music director of the Belgrade Philharmonic which has been under attack from the German guest conductor Jun Maerkl, has asked us to publish his comments on the furore.

Feltz, 48, writes to Slipped Disc (in English):

Mr. Märkl’s comment(s) suprised me a lot and makes me very sad. He doesn`t know the orchestra at all and I`m sure he will regret this. I don`t like to comment the specific facts which created this situation beetwen my collegues in Belgrade and Mr. Märkl because I wasn`t there at this time. But I absolutely can`t believe that they did anything of what Mr. Märkl described. This is not the way how we work in Belgrade.
My cooperation with Beogradska Filharmonija, the Belgrad Philharmonic Orchestra exist(s) now more than ten years. Since September 2017 I`m very glad to work in this beautiful city as chief conductor. Without any doubt I can defenitely say – this orchestra is a treasure!
Always passionate, curious for the opinion of the conductor, highly trained and on stage during the performance, like a real dream team – with an amazing will and spirit to give always the very very best. I never met a guest conductor wh(o) didn`t want to be re-invited again. Many soloists, singers, conductors, agents and other people made also a lot of very positive comments – also  about the administration and organisation – including the employees there.
Gabriel Feltz, Dortmund 13.01.2020
Generalmusikdirektor der Stadt Dortmund
Chefdirigent der Dortmunder Philharmoniker
шеф-диригент Београдске Филхармоније
Chief-Conductor Belgrade Philharmonic
UPDATE: We hear that Belgrade Philharmonic  is discussing legal action against Jun Maerkl for breach of contract. His concerts this week have been taken over by Uroš Lajovic, the Belgrade Phil’s former chief.

The irrepressible Michael Volpe has announced he will retire at the end of this summer from running Holland Park Opera, the self-fuelled Kensington company that has put hard-core Italian verismo back on the British menu and given many UK singers an early career boost.

Mike, 54, has worked for the enterprise for more than 30 years, starting when it was operated by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. He recast it as Opera Holland Park in 1996 and in 2015 helped enable the company to become an independent charity.

He will be succeeded by James Clutton, his sidekick fo the past 20 years.


Sources at the Belgrade Philharmonic, infuriated by Jun Maerkl’s public walkout and denunciation, have let it be known that the dispute was over an item of minimal significance. They say his management was also asking them to break Serbian law, and that his action amounts to breach of contract.

The Belgrade Phil have issued the following statement via Slipped Disc:

Maerkl Breaches Contract with Belgrade Philharmonic
The Belgrade Philharmonic had been looking forward to the debut of Mr. Jun Maerkl with our orchestra, scheduled for January 16 and 17, 2020 at the Kolarac Concert Hall in Belgrade. Unfortunately, we could not execute the agreement because the artist refused to respect certain terms of the contract, which he had already signed.

The Belgrade Philharmonic is a budget institution funded by the Republic of Serbia and therefore has several strict administrative rules that were presented to Mr. Maerkl’s management and also stipulated in the contract.  Not just because of this fact, it goes without saying that the minimum of professional standards of each institution should be to respect the law.

The Belgrade Philharmonic’s management always considers professional as well as personal issues of each and every guest in the concert season. Beside the quality of the orchestra, this is also the reason why world famous artists gladly come back to perform with the Belgrade Philharmonic.

Unfortunately, although Mr. Maerkl’s representatives had been properly informed of our professional practice, they continuously refused to respect it. Regardless of that, we went out of our way to try to find a solution to meet his needs. However, there is no compromise with anyone who attempts to operate within the grey area of business.

We were very surprised to learn that Mr. Maerkl decided to cancel his concerts 60 hours prior to the first rehearsal. We find this act extremely unprofessional and feel that no artists should allow themselves to act on a whim. Also, this is highly disrespectful toward the orchestra and its management, not to mention the audience, and the community as a whole.

Although a small country, Serbia has its laws and regulations and no artist so far has had any problems with that. The Belgrade Philharmonic has its audience, both locally and internationally, so invoking a boycott, as Mr. Maerkl has done, is nothing short of bad manners.

UPDATE: Maerkl’s next dates are with the Vancouver Symphony and San Diego. His website does not list an agent or a contact address.

Press release:

Amsterdam, January 13, 2020 – The Concertgebouw Young Talent Award 2020 is awarded to Palestinian singer, composer and flutist Nai Barghouti. On the eve of the Mahler Festival on Thursday, May 7, 2020, she will receive the award from Simon Reinink, general director of The Concertgebouw. The Young Talent Award is made possible in part by main sponsor Van Lanschot Kempen.

With the award of the Concertgebouw Young Talent Award, Het Concertgebouw wants to support Nai Barghouti in its further development. The prize consists of an award and a scholarship of € 5,000. Earlier winners of the prize were pianists Lucas and Arthur Jussen (2011), violinist Noa Wildschut (2013), soprano Laetitia Gerards (2014), recorder player Lucie Horsch (2015), pianist Aidan Mikdad (2017) and pianist Nikola Meeuwsen (2019) .

Simon Reinink: “Nai Barghouti is a great talent with an enormous charisma and technical control. Musically she is limitless. Whether she sings a jazz standard, a classical Arabic song or a Bach improvisation, she does not turn her hand around it. She is a model for a new generation of musicians who carry and carry different styles and cultures. It was crystal clear to us that she had to receive the Concertgebouw Young Talent Award this year. ”

Nai Barghouti
Palestinian singer, composer and flutist Nai Barghouti (23) started her musical career when she was 14 years old. Since then she has performed in many countries including Egypt, Palestine, Kuwait, Belgium, Austria, France, England, Denmark and at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Barghouti, who now lives in Amsterdam, studied at the Jacobs School of Music in Indiana (USA). She graduated from the Conservatory of Amsterdam in March 2019 and is currently working on a masters in jazz. Her debut in The Concertgebouw was last summer during the BankGiro Lottery Summer Concerts with the Palestinian Youth Orchestra. In November she paid tribute to the Lebanese diva Fairouz during a sold-out Tracks concert in the Kleine Zaal.

Karl Guha, Chairman of the Board of Van Lanschot Kempen: “By supporting art and culture, we want to contribute to the preservation and enrichment of our cultural heritage. Nai is a very special talent and we are proud to give a stage to young talent with this award. ”

The Italian tenor Giorgio Merighi who went from La Scala to most of the world’s great houses in the 1970s, has died in the central town of Jesi, where he once served as director of the Pergolesi theatre.

He sang ten different roles at the Vienna State Opera and made his Met farewell in 1998 as Radames in Aida, with Domingo conducting.


Paavo Järvi has been *not* speaking to the SZ magazine.

Photos: Alfred Steffen


Q. In the event that you are mistaken for Putin – how do you react?

Welcome to the tenth work in the Slipped Disc/Idagio Beethoven Edition

10 Archduke trio, opus 97

The second performance of the Archduke Trio in May 1814 was the last time Beethoven ever played the piano in public. Deafness had cost him aural balance. His forte jangled unbearably and his piano was inaudible. The most sought-after pianist in Vienna had lost his volume control.

Tragic infirmities aside, the work – dedicated to the Emperor’s youngest son Archduke Rudolf, a useful patron – was another leap forward for a composer who had advanced the art of music further than any musician before or since. The Archduke Trio, has a pair of jaunty opening movements that darken into a conversation on something deeper, possibly the meaning of life. The third movement, marked ‘antante cantabile’ is a foretaste of the muted opening of the 4th piano concerto; the finale, supposedly carefree, is freighted with foreboding. At 35 minutes it is longer than Beethoven would have expected a wealthy audience to tolerate. Maybe he was past caring. Or just in the grip of genius.

The earliest recording, from 1928, by the French pianist Alfred Cortot and violinist Jacques Thibaud, with the Spaniard Pablo Casals on cello, is unsurpassed in my view for concentration, vivacity and integration.

I asked my friend Luis Sunen, former editor of Spain’s Scherzo magazine, for additional recommendations. He came back, within minutes, with these: Beaux Arts Trio (first period), Végh-Casals-Horszowski, Szering-Fournier-Kempf, Kogan-Rostropovich-Gilels, Zukerman-DuPré-Barenboim, Chung Trio and, more modern, Trio Wanderer, Mullova-Schiff-Previn, Florestan Trio and, above all, Faus, Queyras, Melnikov . Wow.

To these I would add the 2019 account by Hagai Shaham, Raphael Wallfisch and Arnon Erez, sweetly unassuming and overwhelmingly musical.

So, top picks: Thibaud , Beaux Arts, Kogan  Szering, Mullova, Shaham.