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Bach SOS

It is revealed that a crisis faces those caring for Bach's original manscripts at the German State Library in Berlin. The ink Bach used contains elements that are eating away the paper, so about 25% of the 300 or so MSS in Berlin are decaying. The library does not have a level of funding necessary for preventing further damage. It is possible to deal with this urgent matter, but only if a sum approaching DM 30 million is found very soon. It appears necessary for this sum to be found in the private sector, or for a worldwide appeal to be launched.


Changes in Stockholm

As Åse Hedström settles into her six-year appointment as General Manager of Sweden's Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the orchestra also greets a new Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor - 32 year-old American conductor Alan Gilbert.

The orchestra, led by Magnus Ericsson of Oslo Philharmonic fame, continues its celebrations with a festival honouring Bach, with links to modern composers such as Schönberg, Kurtág and Gubajdulina.


Leuven appointment

The British composer Michael Finnissy has been appointed the Senior Fellow of the KBC-Chair in New Music at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. This Chair in the Department of Musicology was created in 1992 and has previously been held by Karel Goeyvaerts and Henri Pousseur. Finnissy's appointment lasts to 2002, and will also include a commission for a new work for the Beethoven Academie Chamber Orchestra.

This month sees the release of Ian Pace's complete recording of Finnissy's Gershwin Arrangements for piano on the Metier label as the fourth CD in a cycle of Finnissy's music.

Bach to Zappa

A new CD from Port Royal offers a selection of recordings by pianists Louis Lortie (Liszt), Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Beethoven), Marc-André Hamelin (Mozart and Schulz-Evler) and Ricardo Peres (Bach and Gismonti). Also featured are the Lapsus and Claudel String Quartets. Styles are many and varied, encompassing Dvorák, Frank Zappa, The Dangerous Kitchen, Mimi Blais and Djelem.

Distributed by JEM Music in the USA (catalogue no. PR-2212-2), there's more information at the Orange Music / Port Royal website. 


Fretwork signs with harmonia mundi

The British viol group Fretwork has signed an exclusive contract to record for harmonia mundi usa. Two initial projects to be recorded this spring:

Harmonice Musices Odhecaton volume 1 begins a three part series forming the first complete recording of one of the early 16th century's most important collections of music, published in Venice in 1501 by Ottaviano Petrucci. Nearly 100 pieces of polyphony include works by Busnois, Compere, Josquin and Ockeghem. Fretwork will be playing a specially commissioned set of Italian Renaissance viols for this project.

Two world première recordings of music by John Tavener will also be produced. Nipson (written for Fretwork with countertenor Michael Chance) and The Hidden Face for countertenor and viols.

Fretwork (Richard Campbell, Julia Hodgson, Wendy Gillespie, William Hunt, Susanna Pell and Richard Boothby) made its London début in 1986, and has since set new standards in the performance of music for viol consorts.



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