The dangers of redundant beauty…

I often wonder, when I buy a sandwich or a cake, why the first is so abundantly slathered with butter, mayonnaise and so on, and why the latter is so unnecessarily sweet. It usually seems to me to be an attempt to disguise the paucity of the basic ingredients. Similarly with people who try very […] Read more…

The point of practising??

Are you sitting comfortably, O Cellists and Others? Good – then we’ll begin… A question that my girlfriend Joanna asked me the other day got me thinking. I was preparing the cycle of Beethoven’s sonatas and variations for piano and cello, which I was playing for perhaps the tenth time with Robert Levin on fortepiano; […] Read more…

Four Great Teachers

I had to give a farewell speech at the end of IMS Prussia Cove’s Open Chamber Music in Cornwall last week, and, while pontificating a little tipsily about the ideals of the seminar, mentioned the differences between the three great Hungarian teachers with whom I’d worked there, Sandor Vegh, Gyorgy Kurtag and Ferenc Rados. Read more…

Advice from a grey-haired cellist…

A couple of days ago in Tokyo, I played in my last concert with the Asian Youth Orchestra, after a long tour. I played Haydn’s D major concerto in the first half, and the programme ended with a performance of Beethoven’s 9th symphony (for which my son Gabriel and I rather cheekily snuck into the […] Read more…

Authentic instruments?

Hyperion Records recently released the disc I made with the harpsichordist Richard Egarr of Bach’s sonatas for viola da gamba and keyboard, coupled with arrangements for cello of sonatas for violin and continuo by Handel and Scarlatti (with Robin Michael kindly supplying the cello continuo). To my surprise, some people have questioned, not why I […] Read more…

Tribute to Jane Cowan

Jane Cowan (1915-1996). This is a LONG tribute to my former teacher – but I feel that I owe her that at least, since she was my formative influence, and an irreplaceable personality. Here goes: Read more…

A few little thoughts on playing Bach…

  Since I have been persuaded – after much resistance – to work up the Bach suites again, not having performed them (apart from no 3 very occasionally) since I recorded them over 7 years ago, I thought that I might jot down a few thoughts about playing them. Of course, everybody seems to want […] Read more…

In the Shadow of War

In the Shadow of War (BIS-1992 SACD) – liner notes Read more…

Vegh for Salzburg 2012

  I was sixteen when I first attended the International Musicians’ Seminar at Prussia Cove, Cornwall, on the south-west tip of England. I had heard many stories about the seminar’s founder, the great Hungarian violinist and teacher (and later conductor) Sandor Vegh – about his amazing musicianship, his fearsome temper and his extraordinary looks. But […] Read more…

The charm of Czech music

  Why is it that so much Czech music is loveable in such a unique way?  What quality is it that causes the listener immediately to trust composers such as Dvorak and Martinu, to feel such a deep empathy with them? Perhaps it is a silly question; in a way, one always feels empathy with […] Read more…

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