Ansel Elgort to play the title role in upcoming biopic Van Cliburn
14 July 2014
Ansel ElgortJaguar PS / Shutterstock.com
The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent actor Ansel Elgort has been signed to play the title role in Van Cliburn, a film based on the book of the same name by Howard Reich.
The biopic will focus on American pianist Van Cliburn’s formative years, when he won the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow in 1958, at the height of the Cold War. Van Cliburn went on to become an international star, until he abruptly stopped publicly performing in 1978. He died last year of bone cancer at 78.
Teen-hit Elgort, a graduate of LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, started as a dancer and is an amateur pianist. In addition to this project, Elgort has been busy shooting the upcoming Divergent sequel, Insurgent. His next film will be alongside Adam Sandler in Men, Women and Children, due for release later this year.
Rare opportunity to visit Schimmel workshop in Germany
14 July 2014
Peregrine’s Pianos is offering its customers the chance to sneak a peak under the soundboard with a trip to the Schimmel piano workshop in Germany this September.
Schimmel is the largest-volume German piano manufacturer, founded in Leipzig in 1885. Peregrine’s Pianos – who provide a Schimmel Konzert Grand piano for International Piano’s new recital series – specialise in high-quality European instruments, and also stock August Förster (see IP issue 26).
The visit is planned for 30 September and is open to any prospective customers. The day includes return travel from Heathrow to Braunschweig, introductions to the Schimmel management team, an extensive tour of the factory, a short recital, an opportunity to try the pianos, a visit to the old city and an evening meal. The excursion costs £250, which is redeemable against a subsequent purchase of a Schimmel Piano. This is an exclusive visit by generous agreement with the workshop in Braunschweig and numbers are limited to 20.
This is the third trip organised by Peregrine’s; the first, in 2012, was attended by IP editor Claire Jackson and reported on in issue 13.
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REVIEW: Benjamin Grosvenor, Cheltenham Festival recital
11 July 2014
Benjamin Grosvenor, Cheltenham Festival recital
Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham
In Cheltenham’s Pittville Pump Room Benjamin Grosvenor, sober of suit and diffident of aspect, gave a recital of polished perfection, displaying the kind of musical maturity one might expect from an artist twice his age.
Grosvenor's glowing, singing tone, clear, unfussy phrasing and an innate stylish empathy breathed new life into Mendelssohn’s Andante and Rondo Capriccioso. No less delectable was Schubert’s G flat Impromptu – a clear precursor of Chopin’s Andante spianato.
Schumann’s unwieldly Humoreske followed, a ragbag of unmemorable ideas that even Grosvenor was unable to prevent from outstaying its welcome. The second half of his programme ranged from Mompou (three Paisajes) and Medtner (two Skazki) to Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales and the Gounod-Liszt Faust Waltz, each composer stylishly characterised, the coda of the last dashed off with such glittering ease that it reminded one of famous recordings by Petri and Barere. Grosvenor left us with a single encore: Dohnányi’s dazzling F minor Capriccio. It was all over too quickly.
REVIEW: Mariko Brown and Julian Jacobson (piano duet), St John’s Smith Square, London
30 June 2014
Mariko Brown and Julian Jacobson (piano duet)
St John’s, Smith Square, London
The chief interest in Mariko Brown’s and Julian Jacobson’s lunchtime concert in St John’s in early June was the first performance of Jacobson’s transcription of Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody, also known as the Rhapsody in Rivets, initially for piano and orchestra. Gershwin wrote it in 1931 to accompany a sequence in the film Delicious, where it was severely truncated to fit the action.
It has hardly fared better since: given that Gershwin felt that ‘it is the best thing I have written’, it’s astonishing that the only published version is a re-orchestration by a staff arranger. Julian Jacobson therefore used Gershwin’s manuscript to prepare his four-hand version, which was revelatory. Shorn of its (inauthentic) orchestral colours, its true place in the modernist current can be heard: echoes of Prokofiev and Ravel are clear, for instance, as is a reference to The Rite of Spring. Most excitingly of all, it pointed the way to a subtle and original harmonic world – which Gershwin, of course, never lived to explore more fully. Brown and Jacobson brought a tingle of excitement to it, as if aware they were looking into the unknown; with further performances, it will pick up contrast and colours of its own. It is a major addition to the four-hand repertoire.
The other novelty, sandwiched between a thoughtful Schubert F minor Fantasie and two witty transcriptions by Lucien Garban from Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, was Mariko Brown’s own Travels through a Mist of Chinese Mountains, a 17-minute tone-poem as atmospheric as a shanshui watercolour, clear-textured, inventive in its use of the instrument, and retaining a sense of mystery despite its range of moods.
Bee composed: Piano turned into beehive for Aldeburgh installation
16 June 2014
A sound artist has created a working beehive inside an upright piano to raise awareness of the plight of the UK’s declining bee population.
Bee Composed, created by Lily Hunter Green, is an audio-visual installation that comprises two pianos. The first, located on the Henry Moore Lawn at Snape Maltings, Suffolk, no longer functions as a conventional instrument, but as the viewer approaches, a sensor activates sounds from within the piano body.
Pre-recorded film footage of bees is projected within two beehive-like structures situated at the top of the piano. The footage is taken from a second piano, located close by but that is not accessible to visitors. This piano has been set up as a working beehive. As the hive evolves throughout the installation period, new footage will be relayed to the Henry Moore Lawn piano.
Green will then create audio that combines the bee recordings with piano music. ‘The bees will have direct access into the body of the second piano and are likely to interact with the soundboard and strings,’ explained Green, ‘I’m intrigued at this stage about the sounds the bees will make as a collective in the acoustics of the piano.’
Green worked closely with apiarist Penny Robertson and sculptor Alexander Johnson to create the piece. She will also be running workshops with local schoolchildren to raise awareness of the importance of bees. Bee Composed is part of SNAP 2014, part of the Aldeburgh Festival.
The project was possible thanks to donations made online via Kickstarter. Green’s video campaign can be seen here.
Bee Composed will be located on the Henry Moore Lawn at Snape Maltings, Suffolk, until 29 June