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Hardenberger, Hough & MacGregor

The Masterclass Media Foundation
MMF 016, 025 & 026

http://www.masterclassfoundation.org/releases.php On-Line DVD Store

Following our reviews of earlier releases in this invaluable series (Haitink, Schiff and Vengerov) three more have been received and provided many hours of enjoyment and illumination.

All teachers and all pupil musicians are different, and the chemistry between them is endlessly fascinating. Some of the audiences at these sessions were surprisingly small; perhaps those who missed them will catch up with the DVDs?

JOANNA MACGREGOR teaches MESSIAEN at The Royal Academy of Music, London

Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant-Jesus (MMF 2-026)

MMF 2-026 2009
[2 hours 23 minutes - c.£18 + postage]

Joanna MacGregor, dreadlocked and looking more with-it than her more demure pupils, helped four students to feel how seven Messiaen movements should go, putting them better into context within the massive cycle.

See a typical sample of her teaching on a YouTube video with Jason Gillham (who is also to be seen in Lizst's Hungarian Rhapsody with Stephen Hough).

STEPHEN HOUGH teaches LISZT at The Royal Academy of Music, London

Rhapsodie espagnole, S254
Hungarian Rhapsody, S244 No. 12 in C sharp minor

Stephen Hough (piano)
Students: Jayson Gillham & Qian Wu

MMF2-025 [c.£18 + postage]

Stephen Hough, playing along at a second piano, explores with his very accomplished pupils, Jayson Gillham & Qian Wu, both of whom brought finished performances of virtuoso Liszt for scrutiny. Pieces not in Hough's own repertoire, he shared insights into the gestural language required for hightened effect in concert, working with them rather than pontificating from on high.

A good sample of his way with the Hungarian Rhapsody can be seen on a YouTube sample on the MMF page. Both his pupils are already well-equipped pianists we will seek out to hear in concert.

HÅKAN HARDENBERGER elucidates the mysteries of the trumpet at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester

Martinu - Sonatine for Trumpet and Piano
Enesco - Légende
Henze - Sonatina for Trumpet Solo

Students: Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, Matthew Palmer & Nicholas Wright
Accompanist: Jonathan Scott

MMF 016 [c.£24 + postage, 2 hours 14 minutes]

This, for us, was the jewel in the crown amongst the newer releases. Håkan Hardenberger works with students of very different levels of accomplishment in three key works from the 20th century trumpet repertoire, and surely will change your whole feeling about this instrument.

With Elizabeth Fitzpatrick he begins with basics, the "centring" of single notes and freeing her breathing. To correct unreliable intonation, he teaches her to "sing" every note and phrase within her head before emitting it.

He is firm but kindly and his own demonstrations alongside his pupils' attempts are illuminating by example and combine to give the listener a completely new feeling towards, and respect for, this difficult instrument. One feels that much of what he says must be equally applicable to singing, and that Hardenberger, with his meticulous attention to detail, could too be an outstanding conductor. This strenuous session is sampled on the YouTube sample on MMF's website. It will, given time and thoroughly digested, have transformed that young musician's playing.

For the Henze, Håkan Hardenberger gives particular advice about how to address an audience unused to being faced with an unaccompanied solo trumpet. But the central lesson, and one of the post enthralling of any I have seen for any instrument, is Matthew Palmer's on the most beautiful, lyrical and "un-trumpet like" masterpice of the repertoire, Enesco's Légende. I have watched it through twice, no less riveted the second time, and admired Palmer's efforts to reproduce the Master's immaculate demonstrations under the stress of being on camera and in front of an audience of peers; and even playing the "wrong" Bb trumpet upon which he'd happened to learn this piece...

Excellent filming, and Hardenberger pays due compliment to the excellent and patient accompanist.

What else might one hope for with these productions? A little more relevant background information to slip into the empty clips inside the DVD boxes, surely? And maybe some CD recommendations - Hardenberger's discography is vast, but I have not discovered whether he has recorded any of the pieces he was teaching at this session?

I look forward to more from the same source; I understand that Thomas Quasthoff (MMF 010) - very entertaining in MMF's sampler - has been filmed again at Verbier recently, hopefully for future release?

As well as fixing for posterity the teaching of established "great musicians", it must be hoped that the MMF net might catch some whose importance is in their contribution to music as a whole, not just the playing of it as celebrities. Obviously every ground-breaking master class can't be filmed; two auspicious ones that weren't recently were Menno van Delft's packed-out Clavichord master class, and Roy Howat's on French Piano Music associated with his new authoritative book on the subject, both at London's Royal Academy of Music which is closely involved in the MMF initiative. Whether for MMF or not, I would hope that the opportunity to film Howat's Fauré lecture-workshop to launch the new Peters Critical Edition of Fauré’s Barcarolles won't be missed on 30 October.

Peter Grahame Woolf