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Michael White’s classical & jazz news: Trevor Pinnock; car park pianists; Erich Gruenberg

13 August, 2020 — By Michael White

Trevor Pinnock. Photo: Gerard Collett

IF Covid has done nothing else, it’s forced the music world to think outside a lot of boxes – with the surreal result that you can suddenly find big-name artists who would normally be gracing Carnegie Hall or the Barbican turning up at the drop of a hat in small, unlikely places.

The other week I wrote about the Fidelio Orchestra Café in Clerkenwell where major stars like Steven Isserlis have been performing to audiences of thirty in the manner of very superior lounge musicians.

This week I can reveal that no less a personage than the harpsichordist/conductor Trevor Pinnock will, on Saturday, direct a performance of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas in a churchyard off Hornsey High Street – as part of the Music at the Tower series set up by soprano Mary Bevan and previously lauded on this page.

Pinnock was, of course, one of the movers/shakers of the period performance world back in the 1970s/80s, with a career that took him round the world and produced endless award-winning discs. But next Saturday it’s Hornsey. In the open air.

And if that weren’t enough, he shares the platform with Mary Bevan herself (singing Belinda) and the distinguished mezzo Christine Rice (in the lead role of Dido).

For anyone who doesn’t know it, Dido is generally thought the first true English opera of significance, written in the 1680s and based on the classical myth that helped create the archetype of the Abandoned Woman – with a tragic ending as the Queen of Carthage kills herself after being dumped by her lover.

Her concluding lament, immortalised in modern times by singers like Janet Baker, is one of the great moments of lyric theatre.

And the chance to hear it in these extraordinary circumstances on Saturday is pretty well unmissable. Start time is 6pm.

There’s no booking (you just turn up), and no ticket price (but you’re expected to donate, generously, to music charities). Details: facebook.com/musicatthetower

MEANWHILE, if you can face a trip all the way to Peckham, there are concerts running in the former multi-storey car park there – a cutting-edge location for concerts for some time, but perfectly suited to the Covid era in that it’s technically open-air though still covered over.

This Saturday at 7pm and 9.15pm you get the on and offstage partnership of pianists Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy playing Messiaen and Bartok.

Very much worth the journey. Details: boldtendencies.com/events

FINALLY, a farewell to one of north London’s most admired musicians, the violinist Erich Gruenberg, who has died at the age of 95.

His life journey began with a dramatic childhood escape from Nazi Germany to Israel, after which he relocated to the UK and settled in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

He was a celebrated Leader of the London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, an eminent chamber musician, a sought-after teacher, and a source of good advice to generations of string players. All of whom will miss him.

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