Pianists Pollini & Pressler Proudly Present…

Tonight is Maurizio Pollini’s Chopin birthday recital at the RFH – his programme includes the 24 Preludes and about two-thirds of the Op.25 Etudes, among other things. Hooray for Chopin and his two birthdays.

Once again it’s ‘returns only’, but if you can’t get in don’t worry – next year Pollini has a series of no fewer than five recitals at the hall, including almost everything from Bach to Boulez. He is 68, but evidently is not about to hang up his keyboard and head for the golf course.

Admittedly, if I’d been him and I’d seen the feeding frenzy in the UK press that followed last week’s Chopin birthday concert I think I’d have quietly booked myself a holiday in the sun instead. On the other hand, perhaps it’s encouraging that we’re in a time and place where so many people can become so excited/angry/noisy about…a piano recital. So much for music being marginal.

UPDATE: In Poland, they’ve gone into absolute overdrive for this anniversary. Just try the official Chopin 2010 website – can you imagine any British equivalent doing the same for any of our, er, conquering musical heroes? http://chopin2010.pl/

Speaking of golf, here’s another pianist who couldn’t be further away from that if he tried: Menahem Pressler, the former driving force of the Beaux Arts Trio, is 86, alive and kicking and playing everything, everywhere – recitals, concertos, quintets, et al. “I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off,” he told me the other week. Here’s my piece about him from this week’s JC.

He will be at the Queen Elizabeth Hall tomorrow, playing the Dvorak Piano Quintet with the brilliant Emerson Quartet.

It’s quite something to hear these two within 24 hours of each other, but that’s why I live in London. 

Underrated: Abroad

The ravenous longing for the infinite possibilities of “otherwhere”

The king of cakes

"Yuletide revels were designed to see you through the dark days — and how dark they seem today"