Classical Companion

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Christopher Breunig  |  May 08, 2019
There's more to this composer than 'Fingal's Cave' and the 'Italian' Symphony. Christopher Breunig offers some recommendations for your record collection

Ilooked over my Symphony and the Minuet – Lord! – bored me to tears, it was so monotonous.' That was the 20-year-old Felix Mendelssohn, about to come to London in 1829 to present his first (orchestral) symphony, and writing to his parents.

Christopher Breunig  |  Apr 23, 2019

Kirill Petrenko's two September Prom concerts and, a few months earlier at The Barbican, a Mahler Seventh, suggest a promising new chapter opening for the Berliner Philharmoniker – as we Brits must learn to call it, the German title now unerlässlich.

Christopher Breunig  |  Mar 12, 2019
Winning a conducting prize at Tanglewood kick-started his career, and at Boston he dived into recording at the deep end. Christopher Breunig gives a resume

In some recitals with other kids all playing nice-sounding pieces, I'd come crashing in with Bartók, or some American composers I was already playing – Henry Cowell, for instance.' That was Michael Tilson Thomas, looking back to his pre-teens in an interview given in the June '87 issue of HFN when he was working and recording with the London Symphony Orchestra as its principal conductor (he's now the LSO's Conductor Laureate).

Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 01, 2018
A child prodigy from Russia whose technical aplomb was miraculous, but whose persona many perceived as icy. Christopher Breunig names his favourite recordings

For the violinist Itzhak Perlman, and others of his generation, the subject of this month's Classical Companion was a deity – 'I can't believe it. I'm talking to God – to Heifetz' he said of first meeting him when he was 14. But as Jascha Heifetz died in 1987, perhaps he's just a name on a CD cover to today's aspiring young violinists.

Christopher Breunig  |  Nov 01, 2018
Perhaps the last great Russian Romantic symphony, it was premiered by the composer himself in 1908. Christopher Breunig has been listening to some modern recordings

'A six and a half foot scowl' was how Stravinsky defined his fellow compatriot composer (they both left Russia for the States). But there's plenty of historic film which shows this aperçu was wide of the mark. You can see him on the boat crossing the Atlantic, relaxing with family and friends in America, and standing with one of the big cars he enjoyed there [to the accompaniment of the slow movt of Symphony No 2 in the 1959 RCA/Sony Ormandy recording]. But we have no performance material, alas, either as pianist or conductor.

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