Archive for the ‘Critical Acclaim’ Category

Bolzano Festival Bozen – Konzerthaus – 04 Agosto 2016- 04 Agosto 2016

Kermesse tra le più attese nel panorama culturale estivo mitteleuropeo, il Bolzano Festival Bozen 2016 si è aperto il 28 luglio con un concerto dell’Orchestra Haydn. Proseguirà fino al 3 settembre, con un calendario quotidiano di eventi dedicati: alle orchestre – Accademia Gustav Mahler, Gustav Mahler Jugend Orchester e European Union Youth Orchestra – all’”Antiqua” e al pianoforte. Bolzano si sa, è città storicamente legata al Busoni, concorso pianistico internazionale (a giorni inizieranno le preselezioni della sessantunesima edizione). Ed è pensando al pianismo contemporaneo – con uno sguardo al jazz! – che è nata la “rassegna nella rassegna”: il Festival Pianistico Ferruccio Busoni. Siamo stati a Bolzano giovedì 4 agosto per la prima serata: Just piano, improvvisazioni in piano solo di Gonzalo Rubalcaba.Pianista classico per formazione, jazzista per scelta, Rubalcaba è un virtuoso della tastiera. La sua padronanza tecnica è strabiliante, il tocco elegante. Mettendosi in gioco liberamente, senza l’interplay del trio (come in molti suoi progetti), le sue performance in solitario sono di altissimo livello e tensione sonora. Impegnative. Solo ascoltandole con molta attenzione si può realmente comprendere l’originalità dell’idea musicale. Idee che Rubalcaba prende dalla classica, dalle radici della sua America cubana e dal jazz per rielaborarle in un linguaggio personalissimo, nuovo (“Son XXI” è tutto questo e musica del nostro tempo), dove il virtuosismo classico o free è terreno sonoro su cui improvvisare – “Giant Steps” di Coltrane, “First Song” di Charlie Haden… – o giocare con ritmi e melodie cubane come in “El Cadete Constitucional”, “El Manisero”… Due ore di intensa emozione e la musica di Rubalcaba conquista il pubblico. Benvenuto jazz al Bolzano Festival Bozen! Herzlich willkommen!

Maddalena Schito

Volcano Review. Gracias!


Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Suite Caminos – Latin Jazz Network – By Raul da Gama – Feb 7, 2016

Suite Caminos (2015)

Suite Caminos (2015)

Latin Jazz Network

Gonzalo Rubalcaba has sojourned all over the topography of music ever since his performing days in Cuba and the rest of the world, and ever since he was discovered by Charlie Haden. He might be said to have blazed brave new trails between Afro-Cuban music and Afro-American. His extraordinary virtuosity as a pianist and his unbridled genius as a musician has been brought forth on a number of recordings from the earliest days to his magnificent album Fé/Faith (5Passion, 2011). Throughout the course of his career the Afro-Cuban idiom has defined his music in overt as well as more subtle ways when he was playing jazz. But on Suite Caminos he delves much deeper into his origins. As a result the music on this album addresses Santeria in a more direct manner.

At first blush it appears that Rubalcaba is less audible on the album. He seems to play less piano, a tad more keyboards than on other albums including on that seminal recording Mi Gran Pasion (Messidor, 2008). But this is more an album about Rubalcaba the composer and that too one exploring the depth of his African rhythmic side. Moreover returning to his African roots Rubalcaba has crafted a work of greater significance than anything he might have done in his entire career. Suite Caminos translates literally as “The Roads Suite” but a slightly metaphorical view of the music tells of the “routes” that Rubalcaba has travelled all his life including that part that involved not so much music as the worship of African deities. So the performance no longer becomes a mere display of gratuitous virtuosity but rather an exploration of the soul of Rubalcaba’s entire existence as an artist.

Chanting is heard throughout the album. Happily, those voices also include Pedrito Martinez on two sequences; more happily Martinez is not the only vocalist on the album. There are others – Philbert Armenteros, Mario Hidalgo, Sonia Feldman – all of whom chant to various deities as soloists and in a heavenly choir as well. Rubalcaba often resorts to the organ to channel his African harmonics through a European church setting rather than in a more secular fashion, on the piano. This is unusual but seems to work seamlessly with the African rhythms belted out by the conventional drum set, by Ernesto Simpson as well as by the battery of percussionists on the album.

But it is the gripping drama and involvement in large-scale works that recall the brilliant musicianship of Rubalcaba and the legacy of his pianism throughout his career. Rubalcaba’s captivating direction and intensity, complete with an almost hypnotic abandon, is a touch more measured in Rubalcaba’s (organist’s) hands but no less effectively communicated. The music is less florid and more ingeniously compressed into lines that poke and jab at the music in the keyboardist’s inimitable style.

Sendero de Espuma and Ronda de Suerte are arguably the most ambitious creations on the album. Truly symphonic in grandeur, the works are harnessed impressively by the exceptionally experienced Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Granite-like blocks of intensely chiseled harmonic progressions from start to finish are studiously laid down, as if for posterity, and yet there’s an underlying immediacy and restlessness in Rubalcaba’s rhetoric which leads to thrillingly choppy waters in the music. I can’t think of anything finer in terms of what Rubalcaba does on this or any of his previous recordings. There is a grandeur, flair and emotional risk here and happily it is on a record that has also been recognized as one of the best in 2015.

Suite Caminos is a 2016 Grammy Nominated Recording
Best Latin Jazz Album category

Track List: Sendero de Aliento; El Hijo Mensajero; Destino Sin Fin; Sendero de Espuma; Santa Meta; Alameda de Vientos; Via Prodigiosa; Ronda de Suerte.

Personnel: Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Piano on all selections except 1, synths on all selections, palmadas and tambor on selection 7; Matt Brewer: Upright bass on all selections except 1; Adam Rogers: Guitars on all selections except 1 and 6; Ernesto Simpson: Drums on all selections except 1; Gary Galimidi: Electric Guitar on selection 5; Will Vinson – Alto Sax on selections 2, 4 and 5 and Soprano Sax on selections 6, 7 and 8; Alex Sipiagin: Trumpet on selections 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8. Flugelhorn on selection 7; Seamus Blake: Tenor Sax on selection 2, 4, 5 and 6; Pedrito Martinez – Lead Vocals on selections 6 and 8, and chorus on all selections. Percussion on all selections and palmadas on 7; Philbert Armenteros: Lead Vocals on selections 2, 3, 7 and 8, and chorus on all selections. Percussion on all selections except 3; Mario Hidalgo: Lead Vocals on selection 1; Sonyalsi “Sonia” Feldman: Lead Vocals and Chorus on selections 4 and 5; Special Guest: John McLaughlin: Electric Guitar on selection 6.

Label: 5Passion
Release date: March 2015
Running time: 1:17:42
Buy music on: CDBaby


Musica Jazz – Intervista – Gonzalo Rubalcaba


Musica Jazz – Marzo 2016 – Intervista Gonzalo Rubalcaba PDF

Downbeat – March 2016 – PDF


DownBeat – Gonzalo Rubalcaba  – PDF
downbeat march 2016

Charlie Haden and Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Tokyo Adagio


11 August 2015





US: 7 AUG 2015


The world will never see another man like Charlie Haden. Musicians who claim with a sense of eclecticism and nuance might arrive by the score but no one could possibly play with his sense of restraint or march through time with his sense of social justice and dedication to right. Can you get a sense of one’s character by the notes he does or doesn’t play? Listening to this 2005 performance from Haden and pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, you would honestly think so. His presence is understated, he is almost a ghost, who enters in those shadowy spaces where Rubalcaba’s piano figures become a wisp of fog and Haden’s lines a bright beacon. 

Perhaps those words don’t do the experience of hearing these two justice and perhaps nothing could but somehow it seems appropriate that this record should come along a year after Haden’s death as it serves as a kind of unexpected requiem and, alternately, a celebration of the man’s spirit and generosity. The story goes, of course, that Haden, never one to obey laws he deemed unjust,  and that went for adhering to the strictures of genre or expected musical roles. His sense of justice is evident here as allows his duet partner to shine brightly via a gorgeous 12-minute take on “My Love and I”, or as Rubalcaba creates the meditative, autumnal framework of the breathtaking opener, “En La Orilla Del Mundo”. 

Knowing the history of first-rate recordings these two shared—including the classic 2001 release Nocturne—it’s not hard to imagine that this Tokyo date would also yield great results. Their conversation on “When Will the Blues Leave” is often funny and just as often groundbreaking as they weave around each other, bounding and leaping through phrases at times while taking long, leisurely strolls at others. 

As fun as those playful moments are they are not competition for the more somber elements of the record and those, thankfully, prevail. You can hear the tug of those two emotions, on “Sandino”, which arrives near the midway point of the record, and you can hear the return to home in the spirited reading of “Solamente Un Vez (You Belong to Me)”, which works perfectly alongside the album closer, “Transparence”, a fitting final moment for this pair as the notes of that long-ago evening come to a close. But if it’s the solemn and somber that takes over here it’s not what the listener has to take away.

In the end, we hear the true poetry of playing between these two—and Rubalcaba is never less than stunning here—and the connection between this and the spirit world made through these six compositions.

As it all winds to a close you can’t help but turn the record over one more time in your mind, retrace your steps back to the beginning where the notes and the journey all started. It all makes you thankful that this record happened and that there were once men like Charlie Haden to walk the earth. We will all pale in comparison from here on out but at least we have memories like this from a time when this musical and spiritual giant roamed the earth.



Un prodigio al alcance de la mano – Por Gabriel Plaza | LA NACION

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, piano solo en Festival internacional Piano Piano / Sala: La Ballena Azul del Centro Cultural Kirchner / Función: jueves 23 de julio / Nuestra opinión: muy bueno














Alos 17 años, Gonzalo Rubalcaba se transformó en un pianista prodigio conocido en todo el mundo a partir del padrinazgo del trompetista Dizzy Gillespie. Con 52 años, el músico cubano sigue asombrando y es una referencia en la escena actual del latin jazz. Rubalcaba, uno de los lujos que se dio el Festival Internacional Piano Piano curado por Benjamin Taubkin, se presentó en un formato de solo piano, en una impasse de sus presentaciones en el mundo junto a su trío y como integrante del grupo de Charlie Haden. “Esto de tocar solo es una tragedia [dice con la propia exageración cubana] y es un lindo reto”, acomoda Rubalcaba, al promediar el concierto. Sin embargo, el músico está preparado para un desafío semejante y apabulla con su variedad de recursos no sólo técnicos, sino sensitivos, y ofrece felicidad a sus seguidores y a quienes no lo son. En el piano se demuestra desafiante, intimista, cálido y como un improvisador nato. Es un hombre que a través del instrumento habla y conversa de su legado cubano, aquel que aparece en el tumbao de la mano izquierda, pero que también dialoga con ese inmenso mundo que recorrió a través del jazz y de esa escuela clásica rusa que expresa en los solos de prestidigitador de la mano derecha. Rubalcaba pulsa las teclas con una pulcritud técnica y una sensibilidad que abruma. A veces utilizando los silencios para respirar después de una compleja trama rítmica y una gran variedad de solos. Otras, pintando una atmósfera musical abstracta como un cuadro de Pollock, que puede dejar fuera a algunos impacientes que salen en medio de la función. No es fácil la propuesta. Apenas una luz cenital, un hombre, un piano y ese inmenso auditorio de La Ballena Azul invitan a estar hiperconcentrados.

El público parece abstraído por la música de Rubalcaba y en cierto estado de ingravidez que provoca lo que se escucha, esa atmósfera intimista que se crea con el formato de piano solo: cada sonido, hasta el más ínfimo, se escucha al detalle y el pianista lo sabe. El propio Rubalcaba siente pavor ante tanta gente (un auditorio lleno), como confesará después. Casi no puede hablar. Por eso, cuando empieza la música entra en comunión con el instrumento y parece olvidarse del mundo. Como si fueran habitaciones continuas de una misma casa entra y sale del jazz, la sonata, el danzón y la habanera en los momentos de improvisación que aborda con el piano de cola. Ésa es la casa musical que habita Rubalcaba y que decora con un montón de elementos. Muchos de ellos vienen de la composición del jazz contemporáneo a través de hermosas piezas de Charlie Haden, de sus últimas obras incluidas en el disco Fe, o de sus propias relecturas de clásicos de la música popular cubana como “El manisero” (un “hit” de su repertorio) y la deconstrucción armónica que hace de un bolero tan conocido como “Bésame mucho”. Rubalcaba es una mezcla de esos perfumes sonoros: la escuela clásica, el jazz y la música cubana. Cuando encuentra la combinación de las fragancias musicales justas, su arte brilla como un sol. Cuando se reencuentra con su identidad, ya no parece que está solo con su piano, sino que toda una tradición lo escolta.


Lo que acompaña a Gonzalito Rubalcaba – Por: Kaloian Santos Cabrera -24 julio 2015

Por Leandro Estupiñán

Fotos: Kaloian Santos Cabrera

Comienza con la mano derecha. Un dedo, y solo la mano derecha rozando las teclas de un imponente Steinway & Son. Después mirará al frente, al pentagrama más tarde, alguna vez. Luego la otra mano se suma al juego de martillear el mecanismo para sacar resonancias caprichosas que hemos identificado como música, recuerdos y palabras, objetos, olores, colores, sabores como dijera el poeta.

Tarda un poco en dialogar con el público, y cuando lo hace es para decir que le produce pánico hablar ante tanta gente. El teatro está lleno, y queda en Buenos Aires, cerca de una costa donde no nadan ballenas. Pero la sala se llama así: la ballena azul. Y es inmensa. Y está llena de personas de cualquier edad. Han llegado para verle.

El jazzista se llama Gonzalo, pero todos le dicen Gonzalito. Gonzalito Rubalcaba era casi un niño cuando su manera de interpretar la música sacaba halagos de afamados intérpretes, compatriotas suyos o visitantes colosales como Dizzy Gillespie. Tocaba en casa, en teatros y restaurantes de una ciudad así en la paz como en la guerra.

Al rato dice el pianista que ha tratado de no aburrir al público, a quien sigue ofreciendo temas de su disco Fe (2010). Los alternará con piezas conocidas del repertorio internacional no específicamente jazzístico. Bésame mucho. El mil veces versionado Manisero. También dice que tocar solo es una tragedia, un reto que requiere mucho apresto. Debe el instrumentista dar la impresión de estar acompañado cuando no lo está. O, como dijo Gonzalito, se trata de constatarlo: nadie se encuentra solo, siempre hay algo que lo acompaña a uno.

Anoche le acompañaba la música que produce el martilleo dentro de su piano que a la vez es el martilleo dentro de su cabeza donde confluyen ritmos de infancia y adultez, tropeles cubanos y norteamericanos que a la vez han sido africanos y europeos, humanos.

Hace mucho el pianista se estableció en Estados Unidos. Desde entonces un pie pisa La Habana. El otro, Florida. El pie del pasado y el presente fundidos en un cuerpo musical. Y ahora bastan dos manos. Una. El dedo índice al teclear la música.

(Tomado de cubavistaalasseis)

Die Magie der Langsamkeit: Haden und Rubalcaba

Die Magie der Langsamkeit: Haden und Rubalcaba



Die beiden Musiker traten dort im März 2005 an mehreren Abenden auf. Erst jetzt, zehn Jahre nach den Konzerten und knapp ein Jahr nach dem Tod von Haden, wurden die Mitschnitte veröffentlicht.

Mit Hingabe flechten Haden und Rubalcaba unzertrennbare, aber klare Linien ineinander. Emotionen werden geweckt. Zeit spielt keine Rolle. Würde man nicht hier und da Geschirr klappern hören, könnte man meinen, man säße allein mit beiden im Wohnzimmer. So innig und wohlig klingt ihr Musizieren.


«Charlie kämpfte 2005 mit einer Lungenentzündung, bestand aber trotzdem darauf, nach Japan zu reisen, um dort Konzerte mit Gonzalo zu geben», sagte Hadens Frau Ruth dem Plattenlabel. «Gonzalo ist Teil unserer Familie und Charlie wollte unbedingt die Gelegenheit wahrnehmen, noch einmal mit ihm im Duo aufzutreten und Musik in diesem intimen Rahmen zu spielen, den er immer so geliebt hat.»

Kennengelernt hatten sich Charlie Haden und Gonzalo Rubalcaba vor fast 30 Jahren auf Kuba. «Charlie kam auf mich zu und sprach mich an», erinnert sich Rubalcaba. «Wir müssen miteinander spielen. Wie können wir das machen?» Der Pianist buchte für den nächsten Tag ein Aufnahmestudio. Es war eine fruchtbare Session, aus der eine jahrelange Zusammenarbeit wurde. Auf insgesamt sieben Alben spielten die beiden in den Folgejahren zusammen. «Discovery – Live At Montreux» (1990), «The Blessing» (1991), «Suite 4 Y 20» (1992), «Imagine» (1994), «The Montréal Tapes» (1997), «Nocturne» (2001) und «Land Of The Sun» (2004).

Damals in Tokio wussten die beiden Musiker Haden und Rubalcaba ganz genau, wie man Melodien innovativ platzieren muss, ohne dabei ins Exzentrische abzuschweifen. Alle Songs auf der Scheibe hatte Haden zwar schon einmal auf anderen Alben eingespielt, zusammen mit dem Kubaner konnte er sie 2005 aber noch einmal neu erfinden.

«My Love And I», «You Belong To My Heart» oder «En La Orilla Del Mundo» – sie klingen allesamt erfrischend neu. Und diese Ruhe. Letztendlich wirkt die Musik auf «Tokyo Adagio» wie eine ungewöhnlich Andacht. Eine, bei der man sich im Alltag für eine knappe Stunde einfach mal fabelhaft ausbremsen lässt.

Rattle has called the Cuban jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba “the most gifted pianist on the planet” and is a big fan of Sarah Vaughan.


Simon Rattle: will the maestro return home?


He’s here wowing British audiences, but if we want to tempt the giant of classical music back for good from Germany, we might need to give him a world-class concert hall

It is no overstatement to say that Simon Rattle has had a greater direct impact on the arts worldwide than any other living Brit. No other citizen of this country has climbed the peak of the world’s greatest orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, while bringing young musicians from the destitute barrios of Latin America to play for it. No British city has undergone quite such a resurgence of music as did Birmingham during Rattle’s time there.

For the music writer Norman Lebrecht to call Rattle “the Tony Blair of music” completely misses the point: behind the usual cliches about Rattle’s mop of hair, good looks and geniality lies an intensity with music that last week astounded London audiences hoping he might soon return to take over the London Symphony Orchestra.

But last week Rattle also made noises and waves of a different kind in that regard: making it clear that his enthusiasm for a permanent post in London, which he has never held, would take into consideration his view that the city that claims to be a capital of music boasts no top-class concert hall. He told the BBC that the high-end conditions under which major European orchestras work are “on the wildest edges of science fiction in this country, particularly in London”.

Yet British audiences adore the man born in Merseyside in 1955 probably more than any other conductor. They see him as their own, even though he further suggests that if he did take the post in London he would not live there while his family are settled in Germany. He calls himself “deracinated”, a genuinely, quintessentially European, international citizen. He is a Liverpool fan, but supported both clubs when the Reds travelled to Berlin to play his adopted city’s team, Hertha Berlin.

Logically, then, Rattle calls his heimat of Liverpool a city that “looks seawards, smoked Irish, the offside of the known universe, and it always was”. Yet unlike another Liverpudlian musical superstar – pianist Paul Lewis, who grew up in tough Huyton – Rattle was raised in what he calls “the Jewish, liberal-voting suburbs around Sefton Park”. While Lewis’s father was an unemployed docker, Rattle’s was a Royal Navy commander.

Rattle showed early and remarkable musical talent and brilliance of mind. He describes himself as “a weird duck… an uncomfortable, overweight, intense boy with this huge passion”. As a child, he “went to every possible thing [he] could”, played by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the orchestra then enjoying halcyon days under Sir Charles Groves. It played Europe’s first cycle of Mahler symphonies, with young Rattle in the audience.

At the age of 11, he was pleading with his father to take him on a school night to hear Groves conduct Messiaen’s vast Turangalila symphony: “I met Messaien and got the autograph. I still think it was one of the most thrilling moments of my life.”

Rattle enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music in 1971 and during his graduation three years later won the John Player International Conducting Competition.

Yet the intellectual Rattle remained restless and in 1980 he swerved into an academic year, reading English literature at St Anne’s, Oxford, explaining: “I’d never been to university and I wanted to.” He was happy to discover that he could be “just as moved by Andrew Marvell or Ulysses” as by music.

But then he took, in a way, his most significant if not biggest step: joining and then taking over the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, which he transformed into a top-flight ensemble and moved into Britain’s finest concert hall (even if all things are relative).

There, Rattle established the repertoire with which he would change life in Berlin: in addition to a Mahler cycle and the Austro-Germanic staples, there was Dvorak, Bartok, an overwhelming Glagolitic Mass by Janacek and, perhaps above all, Sibelius, whose symphonies he recorded in Birmingham to a level no one has since achieved. It was with Sibelius that Rattle stunned London last week.

So it was with a provincial English orchestra that Rattle showed how vision and inspiration can work in music, and that lured him to Berlin, and Berlin to him, in 2002. His debut with the orchestra had been a performance of Mahler’s devastating 6th Symphony in 1987.

At the heart of German music, however, Rattle’s innovations raised eyebrows among those who put an absolute premium on the core repertoire of Beethoven, Brahms and Wagner. Rattle’s retort has been straightforward: to play both the Germanic and other repertoires with insight, vigour and passion that amounts to genius. Wagner on period instruments, Rameau and French baroque, the Czech and Russian masters, Viennese modernists and contemporary premieres inspired by them – and of course “his” Sibelius. When he brought the Berliners to Liverpool in 2008, he played not what was expected of the Germans, but Turangalia, for old time’s sake.

In 2013, however, Rattle announced that he would not seek to remain in Germany beyond his current contract, which expires in 2018. “Will you still need me when I’m 64,” joked the Scouser, noting his age that year.

The man Rattle beat to the top job in Berlin was Daniel Barenboim, who remains across the Postdamerplatz as director of the Deutsche Oper. It is mind-boggling to imagine them in the same city, just as it will be when and if the LSO’s electrifying incumbent Valery Gergiev and the great Mariss Jansons share Munich, as is likely.

Barenboim has become almost as famous for his work bringing together Israeli and Palestinian musicians into the same orchestra, and Rattle has made his equally indelible mark on the notion of music as peace and liberation. He has been the leading exponent of, guest of, crusader for and unofficial patron of the miracle known in its native Venezuela as El Sistema, whereby young people from some of the poorest barrios are given instruments and redeem their lives by playing.

Their orchestras rank among the world’s finest and their first conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, is a global star. I remember interviewing former crack addicts and child prostitutes about their endeavours with Beethoven and Mahler, and an 11-year-old violinist in El Sistema’s youth orchestra telling me: “Oh, round here it’s more cool to be into Strauss than salsa.”

“El Sistema brings hope, through music, to hundreds of thousands of lives that would otherwise be lost to drugs and violence,” says Rattle, insisting that its founder, José Antonio Abreu, should be awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his work.

Rattle took El Sistema’s ideas back with him to Berlin, as well as the 18-year-old double bass player Edicson Ruiz, the Philharmonic’s youngest-ever recruit, who says: “When I was nine, I didn’t know I would get a meal at night or every day – but I did have a viola.”

Inspired by an entwinement of his outreach work in Birmingham and the model of Venezuela, Rattle launched the Berlin Philharmonic’s first education programme for youth on the city’s frayed edges, something the LSO had pioneered long ago and at which it excels. It should thrive all the more if Rattle arrives.

This passionate interest in music as redemptive life-enhancer rather than just “entertainment” is reflected in the private Rattle, the family man and music lover as well as maker. His romantic life has been a colourful one. He was married first to the American soprano Elaine Ross, with whom he had two sons (one of them, Sacha, is an acclaimed clarinettist), then came the screenwriter and political activist Candace Allen, before Rattle fell madly and mutually in love with Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena, with whom he has two more sons, Jonas and Milos.

At home nowadays, he says: “The jazz records come out a lot. You find that with many musicians – we don’t listen to our own music for relaxation.” Rattle has called the Cuban jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba “the most gifted pianist on the planet” and is a big fan of Sarah Vaughan.

He has installed a cinema-size screen in the house, on which his wife catches up with western films by Stanley Kubrick and Werner Herzog that never made it behind the iron curtain, and the maestro himself catches up with any episodes he may have missed while touring of the favourite family series: The Sopranos.


Born Simon Denis Rattle, 19 January 1955 in Liverpool. His father was a commander in the Royal Navy. Studied at the Royal Academy of Music. He has been married three times and has five children.

Best of times He spent 1980-98 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, where he made his reputation, and guided the orchestra to a newly built concert hall. Being appointed the principal conductor of Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, where he has enjoyed countless triumphs.

Worst of times Few professionally – he has had to withstand the occasional jibe from German music critics unhappy with his handling of the national repertoire, but these have been outweighed by praise.

He says “I have no satisfactory answer [to what a conductor does] because whatever you say, the opposite would also be true. It’s to do with controlling and not controlling, allowing and not allowing. It’s essentially to do with balance.”

They say “Simon Rattle does it [Turangalila] perfectly: he understands its primal rhythmic life force, and he and the wonderful Berliners make it a sheer riot of orchestral colour.”

Charles Hazlewood, conductor

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