Mikhail Bouzine won the Orléans piano competition under nerve-wracking Covid conditions this week.

His performance of the Weinberg second sonata is absolutely stunning – record speeds in the first movement and real feeling in the second.


Enzo Porta, one of Italy’s foremost soloists and chambers musicians, has died aged 89. He taught at Trenot, Parma and Bologna.

Kirill Petrenko tonight ended the last Berlin Philharmonic with 4’33” by John Cage – four and a half minutes of silence. The video is presently being edited.

The following statement was made before the performance:

Nach Beschlüssen von Bund und Ländern zur Eindämmung der Corona-Pandemie wird die Philharmonie Berlin vom 2. bis 30. November 2020 geschlossen. Vor diesem Hintergrund haben die Berliner Philharmoniker und Chefdirigent Kirill Petrenko das heutige Konzertprogramm um ein weiteres Werk ergänzt.

Following measures taken by the Federal and regional authorities in Germany to contain the corona pandemic, the Philharmonie Berlin will be closed from 2 to 30 November 2020. In view of this, the Berliner Philharmoniker and their chief conductor Kirill Petrenko have added another work to today’s concert programme.

Watch here (when available).


The rest of the programme consisted of Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen, Shostakovich Ninth Symphony and Andrew Norman’s Sabina.

UPDATE: The sound of silence

The eminent pianist and teacher Bela Siki died on Thursday in Seattle.

A student of Dohnanyi and Weiner at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, he became a pupil of Dinu Lipatti in Switzerland, where he won an international competition in 1948.

In 1965, he joined the piano faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle, moving fifteen years later to Cincinnati, but returning in 1985 for the rest of his teaching career.

Craig Sheppard writes:

Wonderful friend, pegagogue and pianist. I first met Béla at the Leeds Competition in 1972, where he was on the jury. Although Béla retired just as I took up my post here at the University of Washington in 1993, we saw him and his wonderful wife, Yolande, socially from time to time. Several years later, when another colleague suddenly decided to retire, Béla was asked to come back and ‘fill in’ by his former student, Dr. Robin McCabe, who was Director of our School of Music for fifteen years. It was during those years that I came to know him as a wise and caring colleague, someone with a vast life’s experience to whom I could turn for advice. Béla spoke several languages – indeed, I came down the hall one day, he said something to me in German, and the next five minutes were conducted in that language! He and Yolande spoke her native French at home. Béla was always the gentleman and always the perceptive listener, with a wealth of wisdom and humanity.

We will miss him dearly.

We have been notified of the death of the clarinettist Ezra Schabas, former principal of Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and founding manager of Canada’s National Youth Orchestra.

He died on October 12.

Kevin Conners, an artist of Bavarian State Opera since 1988, gathers his thoughts on lockdown day:

From the Staatsoper blogsite:


October 27, 2020
When I woke up this morning and realized that I had forgotten our wedding day again (it was yesterday), I knew it was not going to be a good day. As it turned out, I’d be right.

Everyone at the Bavarian State Opera takes Covid-19 very seriously. The opera has around 950 employees, some of whom are tested for the corona virus at regular intervals. There is a sophisticated hygiene concept, and the University Clinic Rechts der Isar continuously advises the State Opera. My test appointment was at 9:40 a.m. When I entered the test hall, a friend of mine, also a singer, was acting very strangely. After a few minutes it was clear that he had a stroke and needed immediate medical attention. Those of us who were around banded together to take care of him, and it was lucky that the doctor at the clinic who was doing the tests was there and was able to help immediately. He is now stable and is resting in a city hospital.

As a result of this incident, I was late for my first rehearsal of the day. It was a musical rehearsal for our new Falstaff production . Michele Mariotti, our conductor, showed understanding for my delay and then led a productive rehearsal where he took the time to explain the beauty of the Italian language in the context of music. The Falstaff cast switched to rehearsal costumes and began the scenic rehearsal with the director Mateja Koležnik. The energy she shows is amazing. Her vision of Falstaff is extremely interesting and colorful, as is her language. In general, we had a very productive day on the Falstaff set. We have made musical and scenic progress, and the second act is taking shape.

Between rehearsals I was busy with e-mails and the suggestion from the actors at the Residenztheater for a letter to the heads of government about our future. The letter expresses the call for dialogue well. All soloists of the Bavarian State Opera have agreed to the content of the letter, which will be published tomorrow.

My last rehearsal of the day ended at 7:40 p.m. In the National Theater Macbeth ran on stage with 50 spectators in the hall. I have been a member of the Bavarian State Opera since May 1st, 1988. I’ve never seen anything like it during my time here at the theater. It was a sad moment indeed for me. When I think about the events of the day, I have one particular dialogue in mind:
Mateja Koležnik: “Can we rehearse?” Michele Mariotti replied “Can we perform?

Is that what we are faced with as artists? The question of our very existence?

As I tried to demonstrate at the beginning, we care for one another at the Bavarian State Opera. We take care of each other. We don’t want anyone to get sick. We adhere to all the requirements of the health law. I sang with a mask on for five hours!

As I watched the colleagues perform tonight, I witnessed firsthand the dismantling of our beloved art form. If this continues, it will be the demise of the theater and lead to a void in society. The arts feed humanity. Will I no longer be allowed to do what I was born to sing, perform and give hope by sharing my talent with others?

Today was not a good day.

As foretold two days ago on Slipped Disc, the national lockdown will start at midnight on Monday and will last a month. An hour after the Chncellor’s announcement, the Vienna Opera posted notice of closure from November 3.

Here’s a report from Der Standard:

A night-time curfew from 20:00 to 06:00 is planned. Access to public places will then only be allowed in certain exceptional cases, for example for auxiliary activities, professional purposes or for ‘physical and mental recovery’. The use of public transport will also only be permitted during this period for the reasons mentioned above.
“Entering leisure facilities is to be prohibited. These include swimming pools, dance schools, cinemas, theatres and betting shops. Parks, libraries, museums and zoos are to remain open. Events are to be cancelled. Only professional sport would be allowed to continue in November, but only as a purely TV event, they say. Wedding ceremonies, congresses and cultural events will be banned. Exceptions will continue to be made for the private sector, and demonstrations will continue to be permitted. For funerals 50 persons are allowed. Artistic performances without an audience shall remain permitted.
“For business premises, such as shops and shopping centres, but also for beauty parlours or hairdressers, there should be a maximum number of persons; ten square metres of space must be available per customer. This also applies to markets, but not to churches — where the distance rule applies.
“As far as the catering sector is concerned, the following is planned: After the initial idea that restaurants could stay open during the day, they will now be completely closed to guests. Take-away and deliveries should continue to be possible. This does not apply to catering establishments in nursing homes or schools. Food and drink can still be sold in accommodation establishments, but consumption must take place in the accommodation unit.
“The few remaining hotel guests must also return home: Tourist accommodation should also be banned. In hotels, for example, those travelling on business, those who have no accommodation or those who have to provide assistance there are still allowed to stay.
“Restrictions are to be imposed on sport: Physical contact sports should be prohibited. Entering sports facilities is also prohibited. Exceptions are to be made for outdoor sports. Events at which only top athletes take part in sports are permitted in closed rooms with up to 100 athletes and in open air areas with up to 200 athletes.
“In old people’s homes and nursing homes, testing is to be encouraged: Staff should be tested twice a week, and an antigen test should also be required for visits. Only one person per resident may visit each day.
“The entire regulation is to expire on 30 November.” 

The impresario Raymond Gubbay used to present concerts and opera at the Royal Albert Hall.

Next May, the Hall will present an evening dedicated to Raymond Gubbay, featuring soprano Susan Bullock the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Bramwell Tovey and the English National Ballet.

Raymond has a memoir coming out. Take cover.


The Irish-Canadian soprano Wallis Giunta has some news to share (via her NY publicist):


Well, hello…🤰 Alex (Banfield) and I are delighted to share that we’ll be bringing a wee soul into the world in 2021! It’s our blessing during an otherwise very challenging year – one of the main challenges being that we’re currently performing in different countries, and can’t visit each other due to quarantine rules. Otherwise he’d be reclining in this photo with me, of course! We’ll keep you posted on how things are coming along, but meanwhile I’ll be singing for a good while yet. 😉

Photo: Tim Dunk Photography
Jewellery: elassaad
Wardrobe: the pile of sheets in the corner of Tim’s studio 



The video is now online of Joyce’s attempt to play Florence Foster Jenkins.

See what you think.


Alexander Verdernikov died in Moscow last night of Covid.


The Royal Philharmonic Society have shortlisted her for soloist of the year, together with Lawrence Power (viola) and Sean Shibe (guitar).

Tough choice.