In Conversation with Peter Klatzow: Come and Study with me in Paris

Marie Vassiliou, my soprano counterpart of the Melicus Duo, and I were invited by Florian Uhlig, the Artistic Director of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, to perform a song recital in February at this year’s festival.  The composer-in-residence for this year’s festival was the eminent South African composer Peter Klatzow. When we were discussing programming to fit in with the …

In Conversation with Leon Bosch

Over the past few months I have from time to time worked with double bassists Leon Bosch as he was preparing for recordings. From my student days I knew of Leon Bosch and it was with real excitement that I met up with him for these sessions. Very soon, however, it was clear to me that he was on top …

Is it thy will, thy image should keep open

 In this fourth sonnet from Tchaikowsky’s Seven Shakespeare Sonnets the piano opens with notes quietly dripping like a tap that keeps you awake at night. The voice soon intimates that the speaker is suffering from insomnia due to questions that keep “my heavy eyelids” from sleeping. At first it seems that the sleep-deprived speaker is unable to get any rest due …

In Conversation with Clarinettist Janet Hilton

Recently British clarinettist Janet Hilton visited Leeds College of Music to give masterclasses to clarinet students. What struck me most during each session she taught was her utter commitment to every student and her ability to choose her words so carefully that every bit of feedback was encouraging as well as hitting the nail perfectly on the head. She has …

Against that time, if ever that time come

This sonnet looks to the future to a time when the love affair will be properly in the past. The speaker takes full responsibility for the disintegration of the relationship even though it is the beloved that leaves, avoiding the speaker’s eye. Despite the speaker’s seeming innocence, it is the beloved that is stripped of all guilt and forgiven in …

So are you to my thoughts as food to life

 In complete contrast to the languid atmosphere of the opening Sonnet, the second song in Tchaikowsky’s septych opens with a gust of notes in the piano, which sweeps the voice into motion. Tchaikowsky’s setting reflects the manic emotions depicted in Shakespeare’s text and the voice and piano interweave the one moment and unravel the next. The inner torment of the …

To me fair friend, you never can be old

André Tchaikowsky composed the Seven Shakespeare Sonnets in 1967 for mezzo-soprano Margaret Cable (pictured here with André Tchaikowsky). Their paths crossed at the Dartington Festival and Tchaikowsky was so taken by Cable’s talent that he immediately set to work to compose these songs for her. The sonnets that Tchaikowsky chose for this set of seven songs are not the most …

An Interview with Clare McCaldin

Preparations for the André Tchaikowsky   Symposium at Leeds College is well underway. The day’s programme has been typed and proofread. I have met with Sebastian Müller and Alfia Nakipbekova for a rehearsal of the Trio Notturno. The Piano Sonata (1958) is kept on the go.  Great excitement and inspiration ensued when mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin and I met for the first time yesterday for …