Why Simon Rattle is fed up with Britain

So you think the mood in Britain is gloomy? The view from Berlin looks even more apocalyptic, it seems. “If I were not British,” says Britain’s most celebrated conductor, “I would say that this old country of ours is going through a kind of endgame.”

The remark is so startling that I stare open-mouthed at Sir Simon Rattle. Does he mean that Britain is finished? “Well, that cannot be true, can it?” he goes on. “And yet what I read about the country at the moment is totally depressing.”

Will he vote in the election? “Let’s put it this way: every time I read about what Wagner was like, I wonder why I am performing his music. And every time I read about what British politics is like, I wonder why I should vote. But I suppose I’d better get my act together and support someone on the day.”

The Tories? A vote for change? Rattle laughs, as if I’ve suggested that he conduct a Lloyd Webber medley at his next Berlin Philharmonic concert. “Look, how long have you known me? You can’t really imagine me voting Conservative, can you? If I knew myself who I was voting for I would tell you.

Read the full interview in The Times here.

Read another interview in Telegraph here.

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Clarinet Gets Acrobatic Workout

In his brilliant Clarinet Concerto, Magnus Lindberg exploits myriad facets of what the instrument can do, from playing soaring melodic lines to making almost rude-sounding noises. He composed the work in 2002 for the remarkable clarinetist Kari Kriikku, who performed its United States premiere with the New York Philharmonic, led by Alan Gilbert, on Saturday evening at Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Kriikku, a physically flamboyant player of Olympian virtuosity, tackled with aplomb the athletic demands of this rewarding and rigorously constructed single-movement work, whose five sections have allusions to Brahms, Debussy and jazz. Making his debut with the Philharmonic on Saturday, Mr. Kriikku played with a glowing tone and sensual spontaneity in the rhapsodic interludes. He offered a breathtaking cadenza, performing acrobatic feats in the instrument’s highest range.

While some contemporary composers view the symphony orchestra as archaic, Mr. Lindberg (the Philharmonic’s current composer in residence) has called it “his favorite instrument” and “the perfect typewriter where you have all the keys.” In this concerto he gives the orchestra a workout that results in dense, shimmering soundscapes, whose kaleidoscopic colors were aptly illuminated by Mr. Gilbert.

Read the full review in The New York Times here.

Corruption, intrigue… and that's before the Wagner's even begun

A scandal of Wagnerian proportions has engulfed Salzburg’s music festival, just weeks before Sir Simon Rattle conducts the German composer’s opera Götterdämmerung, a tale of corruption and downfall that now seems particularly apt.

The week-long Easter festival has been shaken to the core after an apparent suicide attempt by its technical chief and the disappearance of the director amid allegations of a massive fraud totalling over €2m (£1.7m).

Austrian state prosecutors announced at the weekend that they were investigating eight people connected with the event on suspicion of deception and embezzlement. “We expect our inquiries to take months,” a spokesman said. “It involves non-existent companies and offshore bank accounts.”

Read the full article in The Independent here.