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Jessica Duchen
Friday 18th February 2011
Anna Nicole...
You can read my review of the Royal Opera House's world premiere of Anna Nicole in today's Independent, here. It was quite a night, all things considered...
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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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Jessica Duchen
Friday 21st January 2011
Friday Historical: Menuhin and Kentner play Schubert

There is nobody like Schubert. There was nobody like Menuhin. There was no pianist like Kentner. So, just because we can, just for the sake of incredible music and musicianship, here they are. For some reason the usual 'embed' code isn't working here at present, but just link through to Youtube, and there you should find the other three parts of the Fantasy in C major pop up too.

 

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Piano-Yoga
September 29th, 2011
11:09 PM
Beautiful performance! Thank you for the link.

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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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Jessica Duchen
Wednesday 19th January 2011
Curiouser and Curiouser

I couldn't interview Tchaikovsky about Swan Lake, but had a great time talking to Joby Talbot, who's written the first full-length original score commissioned for a new ballet at Covent Garden in 20 years. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland opens on 2 March and sounds, well, curiouser and curiouser. Joby tells me about writing a waltz that is like "Johann Strauss gone bananas" and what the White Rabbit will have in common with the Great Gonzo. All here in today's Independent.

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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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Jessica Duchen
Friday 14th January 2011
Musical Phoenix...
My piece from today's Independent on how the piano recital is constantly rejuvenated by rugged individualists, from Glenn Gould to James Rhodes. Plus a selection of the best young pianists to watch out for.
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Michael G Moore
January 17th, 2011
12:01 PM
Hi Jessica, i really enjoyed your article in Friday's Independant on the the new wave of classical pianists. Your words made me want to talk to you about the work im doing. My name is Michael im 25 and I am a self taught piano player making a pretty successful living in London's piano bars. Although not playing classical music, the similarities between the "communication of my love for the music", the "passion" and a search for a "new genuine musical response", are such that i would love for you to come and see me play. I really felt like you could have writing about me. The audiences of these packed piano bars are not coming for a recital and rather, get a live gig experience, everything coming from me and piano, where the back and forth between them audience and myself is essential. This is pop and rock stuff, and i know this isn't really you're area of normal journalistic work...but this isn't piano playing in the way maybe Chris Martin does his work or Mika, but more your Jamie Cullum's or Ben Folds (who bares a striking resemblance to James Rhodes i think). I am fully involved with my piano and it's just me and it doing all the work, getting the most out of new and old songs, sometimes giving the old ones brand new life. The bar i play at on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights (9-12) is called Piano Kensington, on High Street Kensington. It would be the most amazing thing if you could pop in and see sometime what it is that im doing there...maybe there is just another little piano superstar tucked away in there too. Thankyou Michael Moore

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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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Jessica Duchen
Wednesday 12th January 2011
In Praise of Bartok

A good strong puff for beloved Bartok, in today's Independent. I did spend a bit of time in the first draft trying to explain how Bartok went into a revolving door behind Stravinsky and came out in front, but it was a little, well, a bit, um... The Philharmonia, Takacs and co have a veritable feast lined up, anyway, and it's going to be amazing. As for Hungary, once again, its music holds the alter-ego of the place: its spirit at its very, very best. More of that shortly.

 
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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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Jessica Duchen
Wednesday 22nd December 2010
Oversexed, overplayed and over here...
For the Jan/Feb bumper print edition of Standpoint I've written about the 2011 bicentenary boy, Franz Liszt -- an astonishing musical figure, the very embodiment of Romanticism, but one who is still hideously misrepresented by an ongoing focus on his sex life at the expense of all else. Time to reassess. Here's the article.
 
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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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Jessica Duchen
Tuesday 14th December 2010
Panacea of all evils?
In today's Independent I have a go at musical organisations who brand themselves "for peace". Peace matters more than that: it shouldn't be cheapened by turning into a sop to our consciences at a concert.
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Jessica Duchen
December 23rd, 2010
10:12 AM
It's been pointed out to me that the Quartet for Peace's four instruments were actually built by Cape Town luthier Brian Lisus. Apologies for misidentifying them in the article.

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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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Jessica Duchen
Thursday 2nd December 2010
The Great Gate of Kiev, by Kandinsky
Tableaux d'une exposition Grande porte de Kiev

I made it to Paris and back, despite snow, to see a mesmerising world premiere. JDCMB favourite Russian pianist Mikhail Rudy, one of the more inquisitive and creative types on the piano circuit, discovered that in 1928 the ever-musical artist Wassily Kandinsky had been commissioned to design a theatrical version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Some watercolours, drawings and detailed instructions survived (above, The Great Gate of Kiev, complete with Kandinsky's annotations) and Micha decided to rework them with the help of an expert animation company into a new vision for a new century.

 
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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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Jessica Duchen
Saturday 27th November 2010
Scandals, Sense and Statistics...

...in other words, a round-up of the latest caboodles in the music world, to brighten your weekend. Here are my top five.

 
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Jessica Duchen
December 1st, 2010
3:12 PM
The RPO does not receive funding from the COL. The LSO does; it is based at the Barbican so falls within the COL's remit, whereas the RPO, at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea doesn't. The LSO also receives the largest London orchestra grant from ACE. So the LSO has a lot more money than the others. And the RPO has a lot less than the LSO.

Anon
November 30th, 2010
11:11 AM
Jessica, sorry if I misinterpreted your closing sentence "please get the figures right before basing an entire policy revision on them.". It rather read to me as though you felt that getting one figure wrong was reason to call in to question Mr. Lebrecht's whole policy thoughts. In fact, Mr. Lebrecht suggests that funding - for large organisations such as orchestras - should be capped around £1m apiece. That largely renders moot the current quality of funding, or lack thereof, argument for the main London orchestras, since his suggestion is that the maximum amount they could receive would be more-or-less what the RPO (at the lower end) currently receive. He also suggests that the funding handed out *should* differ from group to group. I don't see that in either of these cases the actual £ handed out currently really makes any difference to his suggestions. He may reference them, and may do so partially inaccurately - but that seems more of an aside within his article, and had he got this correct I don't see that it would have altered his conclusions. In those senses, I don't see that he has "based a policy revision on them". (At the worst, you are saying that the current figures only suggest his "policy revision" (3) has already been enacted; but is that a good or a bad thing?). Furthermore, to what level are the RPO also funded by the City of London? If you add the COL grant to the ACE grant, might the public purse be funding the RPO to a similar level as the other major London orchestras in the end anyway?

Jessica Duchen
November 29th, 2010
1:11 PM
Anon, I pointed out one (quite serious) error with one issue - No.3, entitled "No more equality funding", of the list of policy revisions Norman suggests. That doesn't in any way amount to the sweeping "dismissal of his suggestions" that you are inferring. As for orchestral programming, could it be that various current and recent series in London that have featured the works of such figures as Shchedrin, Dutilleux, Ligeti, Schnittke, Lindberg and Martynov have passed you by? Glad you enjoyed Nick D's blog.

Anon
November 28th, 2010
12:11 AM
"I'm not saying the RPO should have the same subsidy as the LSO; I'm just saying please get the figures right before basing an entire policy revision on them." Jessica - I appreciate the accuracy of pointing out that Norman's suggestion of funding amount may not add up to the figures in that document, but I can't see that his "entire policy revision" is in any way reliant upon the orchestral subsidies he references being "right". That dismissal of his suggestions is frankly somewhat worse than his misinformation. . . Of course, arguably the very fact that there is public funding for orchestras leads there to be an over-supply (compared to demand) of such, which in turn will lead to orchestras which programme unadventurous repertoire and who frequently put out multiple bands on the same night under the same branding, some of whom will inevitably be sub-standard; thus damaging the entire sector. It's not only the RPO who are guilty of this (though they are often put in that pigeon-hole), but in my experience, every orchestra across the board, from the LSO through the Philharmonia onwards! Meanwhile, thank you for the link to Nicholas Daniels' blog; fascinating reading.

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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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Jessica Duchen
Wednesday 24th November 2010
The Violin Viking
My interview with that great Dane Nikolaj Znaider is in the JC and can be accessed at the website here. He conquered London with his Elgarian invasion the other week; here he tells me about his philosophy of music and life, his family history and what it's like to play Fritz Kreisler's violin. Oh, and why he is becoming a conductor... Enjoy.
 
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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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