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Sunday 19 November 2006 17:45-18:30 (Radio 3)

Tom Service talks to Anthony Phillips, who has translated the journals of Sergei Prokofiev, and Prokofiev specialist Noelle Mann about the composer who was a compulsive diarist. After his death, many of Prokofiev's writings were kept in a special closed section of the Russian State Archive and have only recently been published.

Composer George Benjamin and his librettist Martin Crimp talk about Benjamin's first opera, Into the Little Hill, which opens in Paris.

Plus the revelatory music of composer Helmut Lachenmann.


45 minutes

In This Programme

Harry BicketThe British conductor and harpsichordist Harry Bicket has just been appointed as the new Artistic Director of the English Concert, taking over from Andrew Manze in September 2007. Bicket is currently in Los Angeles, conducting Monteverdi, and is in demand at the Met in New York and all over Europe. However, he started out as a repetiteur at English National Opera and then developed a life-long passion for Handel's operas. He tells Tom what Handel means to him, how there's more to him than Baroque music and how important the arts centre, Crear, which he helped to set up in the Highlands of Scotland, is to his ethos of seizing opportunities.

ProkofievThe first volume of the Russian composer Sergey Prokofiev's diaries has just been published in a translation by Anthony Phillips. It reveals the brilliance of Prokofiev as a writer, as well as a musician, through a treasure trove of information documenting his years at the St. Petersburg conservatoire. Sergey's son, Svyatoslav, explains how he began the massive task of copying and deciphering his father's diaries; the translator Anthony Phillips tells Tom what Prokofiev's writings reveal of the man and his music, and the Prokofiev archivist, Noelle Mann reflects on what the diaries have to offer to Prokofiev scholarship.

Sergey Prokofiev - Diaries 1907-1914, Prodigious Youth. Trans. Anthony Phillips. Pub. Faber. Hb. £25

Into the Little Hill is George Benjamin's first music-theatre piece, about to receive its premiere at the Opera Bastille in Paris. Benjamin's long search for a librettist to collaborate with him in this venture led him to the playwright Martin Crimp. Together, they have created an update of the Pied Piper tale - a story in which the idea of music is crucial. Both Martin Crimp and George Benjamin talk with Tom about this challenging new work.

Helmut Lachenmann: Photo credit Hugo Glendinning
Music of the German composer Helmut Lachenmann inspires extreme reactions. Some people think that it is ugly, perhaps not even music at all, whilst others find a unique beauty in the bizarre musical structures and sounds which he creates. As a week-long festival of his music draws to a close, the rustles, squeaks, clanging bath-tubs and cellos which sound like snorting pigs have created quite a stir. Lachenmann's music is a whole new universe of sound and expression. The cellist Gabriella Swallow explains her passion for Lachenmann's sound-world and Tom talks to Lachenmann about the beauty of his music.

Transcendent: The Music of Helmut Lachenmann. The closing concert takes place at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Monday 20th November, featuring the London Sinfonietta conducted by Martyn Brabbins.

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