Injecting fire into Joseph Haydn’s concertos

What a beautiful instrument! © Charles Thibo

There are keyboards and keyboards. Baroque composer would think of the harpsichord and mention in the piece’s name that the piece is meant for violin for instance and basso continuo. The basso part would be played on the harpsichord. Joseph Haydn would write a keyboard concerto and think of still using the harpsichord or the newly invented fortepiano, a harpsichord that can play loud (forte) and soft (piano) sounds. Today one would play it on the modern piano unless… unless Viviane Chassot were around. She is a Swiss musician with a penchant for experiments and she plays Haydn’s keyboard parts on the accordion while the Kammerorchester Basel plays the tutti parts.

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A pocket-size opera inspired by Robinson Crusoe

Can you spot those cruel pirates? © Charles Thibo

Haydn didn’t write operas, did he? He was the champion of chamber music and a prolific writer of symphonies, but operas? No, no, no. That’s what I thought and I was wrong. Half a year ago I enjoyed the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Hélène Grimaud performing Bartok’s Piano Concert No. 3, but the warm-up of the orchestra alone had already justified buying that no-so-cheap ticket. The Dutch ensemble, shrunk to the size of a chamber orchestra, performed the overture in G minor of Haydn’s opera “L’Isola Disabitata” (The Lonely Island) – a lovely piece of music that made me curious. What would an opera written by Haydn sound like?

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You can always check out…

London-Haydn Kopie

The bad news is: The United Kingdom will officially declare on March 29 that it intends to leave the EU. The good news is: It won’t leave the EU. Not by 2019. I looked into my crystal ball and saw endless negotiations in Brussels. Dead-lines will  be extended and the stock markets will be in turmoil. Political infighting will follow. The present government will not last. The crystal ball goes blank again.

The EU is like Hotel California: You can always check out, but you can never leave. And to encourage all those who do not want to leave the EU, here’s some up-lifting music. Let’s take a break from politics. A symphony written by a continental composer bearing the name to the City of London.

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Memories of candy jars and little lilac flowers  

Delicate. © Charles Thibo

I like bone china cups with little flowers. Seriously. When I was four or five years old, my grandma took me downtown to a pastry shop. A magic place. Large mirrors with golden frames on the walls. Dark brown furniture. A large showcase with all sorts of cakes to choose from and massive glass jars full of candy. That view, that smell… Like the French writer Marcel Proust, I had my “madeleine” moment!

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