I recently visited Almaty in Kazakhstan to perform tracks from a new album of music by Yerkesh Shakeyev. The gift of melody is a wonderful and often underrated quality in so-called "serious" music circles. Yerkesh has that gift and, just as Saint-Saens described his abilities, they come to him easily "like an apple tree produces apples."
Shakeyev is a pop superstar across all former Soviet countries and recently begun writing in a more "classical" style. The album of piano music I recorded last year at Abbey Road (with some superb arrangements by Dimitriy Varelas), has just been released and here is a little taster of some of the tracks. The whole album can be listened to on spotify here
I have also arranged and recorded two tracks with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and an album of cello music with Alexander Baillie. Both will be released in the near future.
Here is the London Symphony Orchestra playing Shakeyev's "London" from a concert at Luke's in 2015.
and here he sings one of the ballads that made him such a popular artist in all Russian-speaking countries.
Miloš Karadaglić Guitar
Jess Gillam Saxophone
Alexander Sitkovetsky Violin
Ksenija Sidorova Accordion
Martin James Bartlett Piano
A star-studded line-up will perform this new quintet arrangement of Piazzolla's Libertango in March.
Also in March, a recording with Saxophonist Huw Wiggin will feature new arrangements of music by Piazzolla, Grieg, Schubert and others.
Maksim Mrvica's new album featuring Nutcracker Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra will be available soon.
John Lenehan will be performing some of his arrangements of the music of Yerkesh Shakeyev with the RPO at Cadogan Hall in May.
Here is my arrangement of "My Princess", recorded with the RPO earlier this year - with thanks to its composer Yerkesh Shakeyev and his Daughter Meru who created the video. Happy New Year!
My Nutcracker Fantasy -an unashamedly Lisztian virtuoso piece was recorded by "crossover" pianist Maksim Mrvica with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra earlier this month. I have worked on numerous projects with Maksim in the past but this is the first completely classical work since our very first collaboration - the "New World Concerto" - a reworking of Dvorak's 9th Symphony (last movement) for piano and orchestra. Since then Maksim has gone on to develop an incredible following in Asia and will be performing the new piece regularly next year.
Never has the title of this post been truer than during these last few months. Presenting silent films to primary school children in Wales, playing the magnificent Elgar quintet for the first time, adjudicating final degree recitals at the Royal Academy of Music, exploring the music of Benny Goodman with Emma Johnson, playing Brahms on TV with Tasmin Little, teaching at the Menuhin and Chethams Music Schools and appearing with jazz legend Jason Rebello in a new 2 piano programme which just happens to be called "No Boundaries". Just some of the things I have been involved in lately. You can't get much more varied than that and the most exciting thing for me is that I feel energised and stimulated by this crazy variety of work. Stretching one's boundaries is good for you!
Performing Brahms' Sonatensatz at the Savoy Hotel, London with Tasmin Little during the South Bank Show's Sky Arts Awards Ceremony.
Performing with Jason Rebello at Manchester's brand new Stoller Hall during the Chethams Piano Summer School. The programme included our own improvised arrangements of the music of Bill Evans and John Ireland.
This is the encore from this week's broadcast. The full programme of Brahms and Strauss Sonatas can be heard for the next month on the BBC player here.........
Also this week.....
John Lenehan's arrangements of Piazzolla tangos have been performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic with Ksenija Siderova the accordion soloist. John is in the recording studio again to record his arrangements of the music of Yerkesh Shakeyev with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
March 1 - Recital for the Guildford Festival with Tasmin Little
March 16-19 Scottish tour with Sound Collective
March 25 - Recital for Painswick Music Club with Tasmin Little
April 29 - Sherborne Abbey Festival with Emma Johnson and Paul Clarvis
May 5 - Recital for Ludlow Music with Leland Chen
May 6 - Hagley Festival with Emma Johnson and Paul Clarvis
May 7 - Wavendon Stables Theatre with Emma Johnson and Paul Clarvis
May 15 - Wigmore Hall with Tasmin Little (live broadcast on BBC Radio 3)
May 19 - recording with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios
5th February - Sound Collective play Mozart, Mendelssohn at Vinehall School, East Sussex
13/14 February - private concerts with pumeza matshikiza (soprano), Kirsten Jensen (cello) and Huw Wiggin (Saxophone)
25th February - Ludlow Music Club with Leland Chen (violin)
27th February - Hall for Cornwall with Emma Johnson (clarinet)
January 17th - Recital with Emma Johnson for Abbotsholme Arts Society - http://www.abbotsholmeartssociety.co.uk/programme.php#show5
January 22nd - Recital with Tasmin Little for Lincoln Performing Arts Centre -http://www.tasminlittle.org.uk/pages/02_pages/02_set_concerts.htm