Artur Pizarro in conversation with Melanie Spanswick

My twenty-ninth Classical Conversation features Portuguese concert pianist Artur Pizarro. We met recently at Blüthner Pianos in London to chat about his life and career. Born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1968, Artur Pizarro gave his first public performance at the age of three and made his television début on Portuguese television at the age of four….

The Art of Piano Fingering by Rami Bar-Niv

I have written many times on this blog about the importance of fingering in relation to piano playing. It’s an issue which needs constant addressing and re-addressing, and it plays a crucial role in all genres of piano music. So when I was sent a book focusing solely on this topic, I couldn’t resist taking a look….

Philip Fowke in conversation with Melanie Spanswick

My twenty-seventh interview features British concert pianist and teacher Philip Fowke. We met up a few weeks ago at Steinway Hall in London for a fascinating chat about many aspects of Philip’s career. Philip’s first piano teacher was Marjorie Withers. At seventeen he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London where he…

Andrei Gavrilov in conversation with Melanie Spanswick

My twenty-sixth interview is with the Russian concert pianist Andrei Gavrilov, who I met at Monkton Combe School near Bath (in the UK) a couple of weeks ago, before he gave a series of master classes in the West Country. Andrei Gavrilov was born in Moscow in 1955 into an artistic family.  His father Vladimir Gavrilov…

A Master Class with Andrei Gavrilov

Master class opportunities are usually plentiful and they can be useful on many levels, but coaching sessions with outstanding artists are indeed rare, especially those encouraging the inclusion of pianists who essentially play for their own pleasure. Andrei Gavrilov is a pianist of the highest calibre, with a once stratospheric career. This week he has…

Comfortable Piano Playing

Piano technique is by no means an easy element to teach and it’s even more tricky to learn and assimilate properly. Few tutors teach it successfully, whether this is because they know little about it or possibly because they find it difficult to relay to pupils (it is!).  A good tutor must be able to break…

The Magic Link: a book review

It’s always a pleasure reading or playing through new piano music publications, whether they be sheet music or text books, but The Magic Link is a piano book that encompasses both genres. Russian pianist and educator, Rada Bukhman has designed a piano tutor with a twist, thus creating a completely different way to set about learning or assimilating classical…

Vanessa Latarche in conversation with Melanie Spanswick

My Classical Conversations Series is celebrating its first birthday today! I started this series with Ukrainian concert pianist Valentina Lisitsa, whom I met in Cardiff on a very cold and wet day, before she performed Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto for Radio 3’s Children in Need concert; you can enjoy our interview here. My twenty-fifth interview…

Rhythmic Precision in the First Movement of Beethoven’s Sonata in C Minor Op. 10 No. 1

Beethoven’s thirty-two piano sonatas are a musical autobiography, charting the Master’s  development from a young man up to his death in 1827. The early sonatas are more typical of the traditional Classical style, akin to those written by Mozart and Haydn, whereas the last six, which are possibly the greatest in this genre ever written for the instrument, show Beethoven…

‘Divine Fire’ at the Radcliffe Centre in Buckingham

The quaint, attractive market town of Buckingham, situated in North Buckinghamshire, played host to a rather special performance held at the Radcliffe Centre earlier this week. The centre, formerly a splendid church, is attached to the University of Buckingham and has been tastefully refurbished and renovated, catering perfectly for recitals and lectures. The venue presents a popular concert series and is…