Young pianist, new music. What’s not to like?

Young pianist, new music. What’s not to like?


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2020

Instead of sinking into me-me-me misery these past two months, the young Warner pianist Martin James Bartlett has been engaging with new-gen composers.

Like Mahlon Berv, who composed this during lockdown.


  • yujafan says:

    good to see this enquiring pianist doing something of genuine interest and value at this time, but he always was a self-promoting operator

  • Fiddlist says:

    That music is not to like. It makes Yanni and Clayderman sound like Schubert and Schumann. Thousands of remarkably talented young composers today – that ain’t one of them.

    • John Borstlap says:

      These youngsters look for a way to write music that conveys something, but they lack understanding and sophistication, their ears filthed with feeble entertainment music. How come? The curriculae at conservatories and music faculties offer postwar modern music as a basis. ‘Oldfashioned music’ is there only as a museum piece, to skip as soon as possible.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Until someone plays it, we won’t know whether it is any good.

  • christopher storey says:

    Seeing this film , I am reminded of MJB’s appearance with Andras Schiff at a Masterclass, when the first thing AS said to him after watching his body movements was ” Stop, you are making me feel seasick “

  • Paul says:

    What rays of sunshine you all are.

  • erich says:

    God help us. Please spare us another charlatan like Nyman or Einaudi!

    • Hilary says:

      I’d place Nyman way ahead of Einaudi. A category error if I may say so.
      Not really my thing , but those film scores with Greenway had real punch and vitality.

      Einaudi is another matter altogether.

  • Chris Ponto says:

    Thank you for continuing to hold. Your call is important to us. Thank you for continuing to hold.

    I’ll take Schubert any day.

  • Rob says:

    Nothing like preachy and depressing to cheer us all up.

  • nomen nescio says:

    There is another Warner pianist, too, Mariam Batiashvili, giving quite a concert at home. Brava, I say.

  • nomen nescio says:

    Oops, I meant Batsashvili (Not Batiashvili, or Buniatishvili, greetings to Georgia).

    And the link was supposed to start the concert from the beginning, but my favourite is the most consoling part, Liszt`s Consolation No.3:

  • wasteland says:

    Valid questions about the aesthetic nature of the work.
    But the most interesting part of this are the comments here. We see that many classical music fans use the art form as an occasion to express their presumed superiority, socially, economically, morally–and in more veiled tones, occasionally even genetically. This stems back to the uses of art ranging from feudalistic Europe to the Third Reich to modern day capitalism.

    • John Borstlap says:

      I completely agree! All bogus. The idea that ‘classical music’, stuff by old white males like Beethoven etc. is somehow superior – to what? To Einaudi? Boulez (God forbid)? To Andre Rieu? Philip Glass? To rap? They all give pleasure don’t they? And women? Still struggling to give pleasure!


      • wasteland says:

        The issue is the motives and eagerness to express that superiority.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Couldn’t it be rather an urge to defend? Pop, watered-down musikitsch, and all sorts of populist pastimes are encroaching on any serieus cultural field, a development to try to get rid of any remnant of culture which might invoke inferiority feelings in the masses. Culture is not for everybody, but it benefits a society as a whole. Simple truth as confirmed by the long history of civilisations.

          Before the coronie, people came in droves to visit the museums with the old collections, the old monuments, churches, concert halls, opera buildings, music festivals, theatres, to experience something that transcends the trivialities of daily life. So much that is produced today under the heading of ‘culture’ merely confirms that triviality.

          • wasteland says:

            Sometimes its an effort to defend, but very often the expression of superiority is an end in itself. This attitude often harms classical music.

          • John Borstlap says:

            I entirely agree with that. The snobbery in the field is unbearable and damaging for the art form.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            I laughed out loud. That last message shows Bore-slap’s stunning lack of self-awareness.

          • John Borstlap says:

            That’s what y PA always tells me. I am a terrible snob, damaging classical music. But that cannot be true because I am the MOST modest person in the world, unequalled by anybody.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Sorry about this. She had a bad day and a persistent cough.

    • Nijinsky says:

      I actually agree wasteland, but…

      What if the “uses” of art in Feudalistic Europe, Third Reich, Capitalism, and then you forgot to mention Religion, that “somehow” art kept it, and people’s need for an authority with means to invoke trauma as population control, at bay enough that the world hasn’t been destroyed.

      What if that was the only home any emotions could find, enough to prevent the complete destruction of “society” or anything defending the human condition enough to not self destruct.

      And I don’t think that classical music fans are the only ones expressing the disdain for other genre’s of music, with the amount of ridiculing of the classical music that it might take a bit more thought, a bit more sensitivity, and involvement than the careless impulsiveness of those that then ridicule it thinking they are representing another genre. Same as classical music fans might not be able to get away from being so mental they don’t hear a simple emotion, or tune even, anymore. What we see here again, it’s like if Classical Music is on its death bed, lets make sure it dies by defending it (are there four zeroes missing from 2020 as if something 2000 years ago is supposed to repeat itself!?)

      • John Borstlap says:

        I think classical music will shrink rather than die, which would mean returning to the ‘size’ it had relative to the general population in former, premodern times – say, before 1914.

  • James Cook says:

    The composer of this piece of piano music is very fortunate to have such an accomplished advocate of his work

  • Nitza Sarner says:

    Dear Norman,

    Mahlon Berv’s father is a Psychiatrist -Horn player, Ken Berv. Ken’s father and 2 uncles formed the renowned horn Section of the NBC orchestra under Toscaninni.
    Mahlon spend 2 years studying composition at the RCM in London. We have known Ken since our time in Boston when he was a student at Harvard Medical school.