New Horizons

From 5 metres to 5,000 miles…
January 2023Reflections

One of the joys and challenges of life as a freelance musician is its frequent variety. I might be performing at the Royal Opera House in London one day and introducing children to the wonders of Baroque music the next, or rehearsing a Handel chorus with a Gospel Choir before discussing ornaments in François Couperin’s keyboard Ordres. 

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Handel's darkest opera?

April 2022Programme notes

Handel’s Tamerlano is a psychological drama exploring extremes of human nature in the clash of two Titans. Is Tamerlano, who has triumphed over Bajazet, a magnanimous victor or a tyrant? Is Bajazet a protective father whose love for his daughter Asteria shows him as a noble martyr, or is he an emperor whose intractable pride prevents him from acting rationally? 

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Un-crushing a butterfly

Preface to the first professional recording of John Eccles' Semele
February 2021Programme notes

Since Handel’s delightful setting of 1744, Semele has often been regarded as something of a voluptuous sex kitten. Who can forget her excessively florid vocal runs in ‘Myself I shall adore’ in Handel’s version? It’s nothing short of theatrical Viagra! But, as John Eccles shows, William Congreve’s libretto can be read on many levels... 

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An Eagle over Falcons

Some thoughts on recording Worgan's harpsichord music
January 2021Reflections

When Timothy Roberts invited me to record John Worgan’s harpsichord music, I reacted with some scepticism. Who was this unknown English composer whose music is littered with unusual figurations, breaches of eighteenth-century compositional orthodoxy and even moments of harmonic kinkiness?

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Gothic Fest

Some thoughts on recording Schubert's violin sonatas of 1816
February 2020Reflections

It is always a treat to indulge in Mozartkugeln when visiting Salzburg. Dark chocolate, marzipan and nougat are an irresistible trio for this chocaholic minstrel. But what does such a confectionary delight actually have to do with Mozart? Are we to believe that his music is merely a sweetmeat?

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Kindred Spirits

Some thoughts on recording Weber's keyboard duets
November 2019Reflections

Music can be an intimate business: everybody seems to know everybody! So I was amused to learn that Mozart and Weber were related to each other through marriage...

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Quills, Hammers and Blades

August 2018Reflections

Just how many instruments do us keyboard players need...

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Private Passions in Public Places

December 2017Reflections

Performing in unusual venues can yield unforgettable experiences...

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Cambridge Handel Opera

August 2016Programme notes

‘I simply didn’t understand why my first entrance had to be on a motorbike.’

Esteemed opera colleague

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Cooking a Musical Pie

April 2015Programme notesJulian Perkins

An introduction to the pasticcio...

'He takes other men's pebbles and polishes them into diamonds'. So said Boyce concerning Handel’s now notorious habit of incorporating music by other composers into his own works. But was such musical alchemy an unusual practice in the Baroque period?

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Old Wine in New Bottles … or New Wine in Old Bottles?

November 2014Programme notesJulian Perkins

There is a touching anecdote that illustrates Handel’s respect for Purcell. When told that a movement of Jephtha reminded the listener ‘‘of some of old Purcell’s music’’, Handel is said to have replied: ‘‘O got ter teffel. If Purcell had lived, he would have composed better music than this.’’

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Christopher Hogwood 1941–2014

October 2014TributesJulian Perkins

I first met Christopher whilst an undergraduate at Cambridge University, when he introduced me to his extensive keyboard collection at his home in Brookside on which he kindly allowed me to practise.

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Strange Bedfellows

May 2014Programme notes

A piece of Georgian vaudeville rubs shoulders with a Biblical drama…

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Stephen Dodgson 1924–2013

April 2013TributesJulian Perkins

Stephen Dodgson died at his home in Barnes on April 13th, 2013. He was 89.

Few composers have written idiomatically for such an array of musical instruments. In addition to his celebrated guitar pieces, Stephen’s many compositions include nine string quartets, seven piano sonatas, wind band music, a bass trombone concerto and a chamber opera.

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