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Best & Worst of Times / I simply had to go and make music: Raymond Leppard talks to Danny Danziger

My father was a scientist, and didn't like music, and didn't approve of musicians much. He was quite convinced musicians lead immoral lives, and he was rather puritanical.

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The 1994 Classical Music Awards, sponsored by Kenwood in association with BBC Music Magazine and the Independent, take place at London's Royal Albert Hall on Friday 21 Jan (7.30pm). The Gala ceremony and concert (with the English Chamber Orchestra) is presented by Melvyn Bragg and Evelyn Glennie (voted Personality of the Year at the 1993 awards), and winning personalities of 1994 will attend and also perform. Readers can get a 30 per cent discount on tickets: pounds 35 seats at pounds 24.50; pounds 25 at pounds 17.50 and pounds 15 at pounds 10.50. Call 071-403 3331 quoting this offer (subject to a small booking fee)

MUSIC / Arm's length principle: Review: David Fanning on the Halle Orchestra

A note here, a note there, the music of a madman.' Thus Webern describing his own music, in exasperation at an uncomprehending performance. He would surely not have said that of the Halle's meticulously crafted account of the Op 10 Orchestral Pieces, with which Kent Nagano opened their first concert of the new year. And yet . . . These are among Webern's wispiest, most fragile inventions. They are true chamber orchestra miniatures. And as all chamber music they are surely best heard close up with a small, passionately interested audience. In the wide vistas of the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, much of the musicians' sensitive input went for

DOUBLE PLAY / Sweet dreams for cold nights: Stephen Johnson and Edward Seckerson on new releases of opera and chamber music

Humperdinck: Hansel und Gretel - Staatskapelle Dresden / Davis (Philips 438 013-2; two CDs)

MUSIC / Unseen but greatly admired: Raymond Monelle on an offstage triumph in Verdi's I due Foscari and onstage performances of Falla and Schubert

One of the most satisfying voices heard in Edinburgh during the last few days was that of the baritone Phillip Joll. In a manner of speaking, we should never have heard him at all, for he stood in vocally for Frederick Burchinal in Scottish Opera's new production of Verdi's I due Foscari; Burchinal, who had bronchitis, acted while Joll sang.

CHAMBER MUSIC / Making more of less: Nicholas Williams looks back on the Cherubini Quartet's chronological survey of the complete Beethoven string quartets

In an example of inspired programming last September, Sir Colin Davis conducted an orchestral version of Beethoven's E flat string quartet, Op 127. Hearing the work in the amplified resonance of the ECO string section was inevitably a thrilling experience. Yet equally striking was the lesson that, whatever the form in which you present it, a string quartet always remains a string quartet.

MUSIC / Taste, not waste: Nicholas Williams on the 'Summer Solstice' at the Conway Hall

THERE was food and wine at the second of the Chamber Music Company's three 'Summer Solstice' evenings at the Conway Hall on Saturday - but no druids. For the conservatively minded who scanned their programmes to see everything from Gorecki to gypsies appearing over the three weekends, this doubtless came as a relief. For others, the good news was that eating, drinking and listening could be safely combined in a single event.

Leading Article: When indecent proposals become everyday business

READERS were no doubt shocked to read in this newspaper yesterday of Asil Nadir's attempts to buy a knighthood from the Conservative Party. This is not how the world is supposed to work any longer, although the tradition of selling honours for cash is a very old one. James I invented a new method (baronets) and Lloyd George was the last great practitioner. Where, then, is the line between a straight business transaction and an indecent proposal?

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC / Let us eat, drink and be merry: Nick Kimberley on three festivals attempting to make new music listener-friendly

Listening to music is supposed to be an enhancing, energising experience, but it doesn't always work out that way. It would be difficult to say which is the more debilitating: sitting in a packed concert hall as a huge orchestra sleepwalks its way through a piece that everyone - audience and musicians alike - knows by heart; or shivering in a nearly empty auditorium while a handful of musicians, eyes never daring to leave the score, struggle through a new work with which neither audience nor musicians can make any contact.

MUSIC / St Paul's hot gospel: The best little orchestra in Minnesota is here this week. Michael White talks to its charismatic music director

Minnesota is a land of lakes, loggers, loons (the State bird) and Garrison Keillor: the heartland of America and home to the disarming small-town affability known as Minnesota Nice. But it is also, less obviously, home to an emergent cultural citadel. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul are two squeaky- clean, compact metropolises joined by a few minutes of umbilical freeway, to form what is being called the 'hottest' urban district in the Union. Given that St Paul and Minneapolis have six-month winters, the accolade is a touch ironic, but it shows that they have become a Place To Be - alive, liberal, socially progressive, and blessed with resources such as the St Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO), whose music director, Hugh Wolff, is on the way to being one of the most talked-about figures on the American conducting circuit.

CLASSICAL MUSIC / Scarpia: Not so tender is the North: The orchestral see-saw and chamber music in Liverpool and Manchester

Orchestral concert-going in the North-west has its share of ups and downs. Five years ago, who would have thought that the Halle would soon boast a rising international star like Kent Nagano as its music director, plus a management (spearheaded by the incoming chief executive, David Richardson) with as much vision for the orchestra's future as respect for its past and concern for its present? And who would have thought that the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, having just made the inspired appointment of Libor Pesek, would find its resurgence threatened by the defection of the entire management team (widely put down to the arrival of Robert Creech as chief executive)?

Upbeat: Dust to dust

SHOPPING being what usually holds communities together, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra has only been logical in opening the disused Briggait development on Wednesday night for a Glasgow multi-media event. Rites, a series of birth-to-death pieces, has teamed up the composer William Sweeney and jazz musician Chick Lyall with visual artists Johnnie McGuinness and Stuart Mackenzie for the first and last phases. What goes on between is represented by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies's boozy party piece, An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise. Tickets are pounds 5, but at least you won't have to run the gauntlet of retailers.

Classical Music Update: High tide

A new high-water mark in British music education? On Friday, delegates attending the Association of British Orchestras' annual conference in Newcastle will sample the first fruits of a mammoth pounds 300,000 schools project, 'The Turn of the Tide', initiated by the ABO and involving 16 British orchestras in 38 concerts across the country over the next few months. To affirm the new opportunities presented by the National Curriculum's performance and composition objectives, the ABO commissioned Sir Peter Maxwell Davies to write a new work on an environmental theme to provide the entree for orchestral players to work in local schools alongside often non- specialist staff. What emerged was The Turn of the Tide, a five- movement piece highlighting the threat to plant life from pollution. Orchestras have leapt to encourage their players to help children compose and perform music for the interludes between the movements. 'The imagination they've shown has been tremendous,' says project co-ordinator Kathryn McDowell. 'The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, for example, has homed in on the ecological theme by breaking up an old Volkswagen beetle to recycle it into a gamelan-like instrument for use in performance.'

MUSIC / Fighting the battle of Britten: Despite appearances, the Britten Quartet don't string along with fads.

They would be the last to admit it, but the Britten Quartet have a bit of an image problem. They don't wear tails, but they do play Beethoven. They don't mind having their cover photos taken in male-model poses, but they won't doll up their musical vision. On the one hand, they're the quartet equivalent of Nigel Kennedy, offering conventional repertoire dressed up in unconventional packaging (courtesy of their record company, EMI). On the other, they're Britain's answer to that ultimate designer quartet, the Kronos from California, trying to stretch the range of the medium into hitherto unexplored regions.

MUSIC / The generation game: Robert Maycock on the London Sinfonietta and Capricorn playing old new music and new new music

The trouble with 25th anniversaries is that the next generation has usually taken over. For the London Sinfonietta there's an unfortunate extra twist: it reaches its quarter-century just when, in the eyes of the world, the music it grew up with - never widely appreciated at the best of times - is passing into the realm of the deeply unloved. Can we still believe that in another few decades, listeners will 'catch up'? Hardly: the world of steady progress and advance that this assumes has been gone for years.
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