Pastoral, personal, political: Sieben before, during and beyond lockdown

Matt Howden is a Sheffield-based singer, songwriter, composer, violinist, looping/sequencing technology expert, and teacher/practitioner of sound design and production. An independent, unstoppable musical force who somehow finds enough room under the radar to soar, he is always unpredictable, always reliable. One might have thought the restrictions imposed by the pandemic would slow him down a…

Piemontesi on record with Bach and Busoni

I first came across Francesco Piemontesi at the Wigmore Hall in 2016. The Swiss pianist, who was  thirty-three years old at the time, played Mozart with such precision and sensitivity that I was first in the queue to purchase his CD post-concert. The simply named, Mozart, probably gets the most play in my car. That Brendel had…

Yu Kosuge in her element with ‘Wind’ album

Yu Kosuge’s new album ‘Wind’, is the pianist’s third album devoted to the four elements of nature. Water (Volume 1) and Fire (Volume 2) preceded on the Orchid Classics label. This feels like a very personal project for 37-year-old Kosuge, who has a long, successful piano performing career behind her. It all started when she was…

Pianist Clare Hammond offers a new angle on a well-known genre

It’s a simple concept – a theme, or melody, initially stated in its original form, is put through a series of transformations, often quite complex and including textural, dynamic and key changes, to take player and listener on a fascinating musical journey. The Theme and Variations remains a popular genre amongst composers and the myriad…

Soprano Katharina Konradi sings Schubert, Strauss and Mozart

You may be forgiven for not having heard of soprano, Katharina Konradi. Brought up in the mountainous republic of Kyrgyzstan, Konradi left her homeland in Central Asia in her teens, to go and live in Germany. Since then her star has been steadily rising, in Europe mostly. Her successes in singing competitions has earned her…

Second time, round: Kate Arnold, ‘Rota Fortunae II’ EP

For the second year running, Kate Arnold has released a set of songs that possess so much beauty, intricacy and eloquence, they are like precision hits of perfection. This is a genuinely long-awaited release: I’ve looked forward to a sequel ever since Arnold issued ‘Rota Fortunae I’ in February 2020. Understandably, the follow-up has taken…

A Clarinet in America and the American sound

What is it that makes American classical music of the 1940s and 1950s so distinctive and so different from ours from that period? For one thing, it is so very upbeat. I asked myself this question this week, as I listened to Clarinet in America, which showcases music by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Miklós Rózsa. I…

Soprano Lara Martins Sings Guarnieri the Brazilian Mozart

Lara Martins sings Guarnieri, the Brazilian Mozart. During this pandemic, I have listened to many new CD releases and have marvelled at what singers have been able to produce during such difficult times. Several lockdowns have brought about much soul-searching and thinking outside the box. Some artists have been inspired to explore, indeed embrace new…

April Frederick and ESO Latest Recording Impresses

After performing Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs with English Symphony Orchestra in March of last year, soprano, April Frederick, went down with Covid. For a month she was unable to sing due to numbing fatigue.  On the 26th July she returned to singing, recording Strauss’s magnificent songs on a new album called Visions of Childhood with ESO. This is an astonishingly…