Front page archive January 2021

Posted on January 2nd, 2021 by


Back to recording! Autumn 2020

Welcome to my website. In this times, there’s never been more urgency to staying in contact, sharing ideas, sharing music. If you would like to ask me anything, please use the contact form, and I will answer as soon as I can.     Overnight practice! As some of you may know I treasure the time I have to practice each day, in the hours after midnight, when everything’s still. Last night, on my desk –Martin Ellerby’s wonderful viola sonata. Roderick Chadwick and I will record this in two weeks. Violists, do play this! It’s what dear Ralph Holmes would have called a ‘humdinger’. Watch this space!
First chance to hear: Michael Hersch ‘Fourteen Pieces’
– based on poetry by Primo Levi. I gave the world premiere in Brno (Czech Republic) at Leoš Janá?ek’s house in the summer of 2008 The composer has recently revised the work, and this is the first opportunity to hear it in its up-to-date form. The drawing is one of mine
Review of Schubert Sonatas in the American Record Guide ‘I never enjoyed Schubert’s three violin sona­tas that he wrote while still a teenager until I heard the recording by Gidon Kremer and Oleg Maisenberg (Nov/Dec 2011). They understood that music this simple and direct is only as interesting and moving as you make it. The musicians either feel the music deeply, or the performance is a waste of the audience’s time. No other recording of these sona­tas has matched that one until this. I knew at the outset that Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Julian Perkins had found the essence of this music and greatly enjoyed playing it. They have a wonderful intimacy and informality, like what you would expect to hear in a salon performance (a Schubertiad?). What I espe­cially like is that this duo’s approach is so dif­ferent from the Russians! The English musi­cians are less ardent and more playful but no less moving. They find things in the music that elude everyone else, and their interpre­tive decisions invariably feel valid.’ American Record Guide November 2020

3rd December 2015. Recording Schubert 1816 Sonatas with Julian Perkins

  First Listen 12 11 20 On the way to completing final work on my disc of Johann Joseph Vilsmayr’s Artificiosus Concentus pro Camera. Here are the first three suites.
An Invitation

The heart of things: tomorrow this violin sings out in full voice for the first time in a long while. A privilege to hold it and play it, every time. Tune in next week, Wednesday 18th at 745 (GMT) to hear it.

 join Roderick Chadwick and I for Beethoven, Nicola leFanu & Thomas Simaku 745pm, November 18th
Lets pack the concert to the rafters!
New Quartets in rehearsal! 28 10 20

Wednesday morning quartets! 29 10 20

A glorious morning. Rehearsing wonderful new works by Sadie Harrison , Joel Järventausta & Peter Dickinson for our live streamed concert next month! With Clifton Harrison, Neil Heyde & Mihailo Trandafilovski Close up! Recording  Michael Hersch 19 10 20 So here’s a glimpse of my evening. A close up of the left hand in the 4th movement of Michael Hersch’s ‘Of Sorrow Born’. Lo-Fi – camera mic. The real thing is, at the moment, in the can! Where I live (new work by James Warner Duquette) – at the desk recording 19 10 29 Beethoven and the violin! Three talks for the Exhale
Starting next week, my series of three explorations of Beethoven and the violin for The Exhale. Today, I was able to visit one of my favourite portraits of Beethoven at Work. Where is it…and who painted it? Come to the talks!!!!
Film about the music of Michael Hersch  Explorations: I have been busy making films of some talks recently. This one on issues in the music of my dear friend Michael Hersch, was made for Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and now I can share it. It includes two works written for me over the past 16 works by Hersch, collaboration with another dear friend, Roderick Chadwick, , Pliny the Younger, Anne Bradstreet, Captain Oates, Marin Marais and Primo Levi. (the drawings are mine) Intrigued… watch here Collaboration with Johns Hopkins University 13 10 20

At the desk – talking to Baltimore! 13 10 20

For me, a huge treat: talking to ca.60 students at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore) tonight. Extraordinary questions, which I had to reach to answer. Many thanks to my dear friend Michael Hersch and Paul Delnero Michael Hersch – Of Sorrow Born A long delayed project nears completion. At the beginning of this year, Roderick Chadwick and I recorded Michael Hersch’s 90 minute ‘Zwischen Leben und Tod’. The aim was that I would then record his works for solo violin, which I have been playing since we met, many years ago. But Covid intervened. Finally, on Monday, I am back int he studio – the first of two nights recording the 70 odd minutes of music for violin alone. Here’s the last movement of his 2014 ‘Of Sorrow Born’ at the desk this morning, with a glimpse of the north side of Ely Cathedral’s 14th century lady chapel, which Malene Sheppard Skaerved and I visited on Thursday. Astonishing, even after the best efforts of the iconoclasts Suspended Consolation At the desk/Lockdown Recording. Yesterday, Paul Pellay sent me this extraordinary, delicate suspended consolation, dedicated to Marius Skaerved, Malene Sheppard Skaerved and me ‘sempre in solidarietà’. Paul writes: ‘Think of the piece as a series of sounds unsuccessfully trying to break a silence that was always going to prevail’
‘Preludes & Vollenteries’ 6pm 19th September – St Mary Abchurch London – simultaneous YouTube release.
As so many people are unable to attend this concert because of Covid-19 Distancing protocols, I have scheduled a simultaneous YouTube release of pre-recorded audio for 6pm 19th September. Music by Vitali, Matteis, Colombi, Sainte Colombe, and more Words by Anne Finch, Milton, Anne of Winchelsea, Pepys and more – Do join us!
Sneak peek!
Back on the practice desk. David Gorton’s ‘Austerity Measures’ which we premiered 8 years, ago, which I will play with Chris Redgate in a new duo version next week. Always too much fun. Here’s the 2013 Quintet version https://wp.me/pH1iH-46Q
Back to Paganini. ‘Morendo – Tierce de Picardie – Finis’

Rehearsing on Paganini’s del Gesu ‘the Cannon’. Genoa 2007. Photo Richard Bram

What a manuscript. Leading up to the first of four sessions on the great Genoan for The Exhale. The first brings together the gothic fascinations of his audiences, reading Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Leigh Hunt in England, and this 6th Caprice. Book tickets here LINK

The end of the 6th Caprice

  Peter Sheppard Skaerved is one of very few violinists to have played on Paganini’s del Gesu violin ‘Il Canone’, both in the UK in Italy, on modern and early 19th Century setup. His performances and research into the Paganini have resulted in films for the Library of Congress, Washington DC and an exhibition for the National Portrait Gallery, London, which Paganini and his London circle played a central part. This series of talks is explores four areas of Paganini’s impact, on audiences, writers, instruments, and performance. It is designed for a general audience, reflecting how this greatest of violinists appealed to the imagination of many who heard him, and many who did not. These sessions are bookable separately @ €20. If you would like to purchase a season ticket for all 4 classes @ €70 please email zen@the-exhale.com 1. Paganini and the Gothic September 1st Paganini appealed to the wild fantasy of an age conditioned by decades of revolution and war. His British audiences were avid readers of Coleridge and Byron. He took advantage of the 1832 Cholera epidemic in France, to present himself in ever more ghostly garb and staging, whilst audience reactions in the German-speaking regions reacted with dangerous levels of hysteria. How does his music reflect these sensibilities?
Kreutzers are back in business

Kreutzer Quartet rehearsing! 10 8 2020

We are back! An amazing day, thanks to Susan Sheppard & Tony Sheppard – at last the Kreutzers are back in business – with Neil Heyde, Mihailo Trandafilovski, Clifton Harrison rehearsing wonderful works written for us by Joel Järventausta, Robert Saxton, and David Matthews. We have missed quartet playing so much, and nothing’s going to stop us now…. Photo by Malene Sheppard Skaerved At the Desk – 28 7 20 ‘A Set of Tunings by Mr Baltzar Back in front of the microphone!  More (for me) exciting news. I am back in front of the microphone this wednesday – to complete my disc of Vilsmayr- Here are outtakes from the first session for the recording, back in February at the wonderful St John the Baptist Church in Aldbury! LINK

Milvus Milvus (Red Kite) over St John the Baptist Aldbury 23 5 16

Talk in Nicosia ‘Invisible Cities’ just posted online
This talk ‘Invisible Cities’. that I gave, as the keynote for Bringing New Music to New Audiences International Conference 21-23 September 2017 in Nicosia, has just been posted. With thanks to De Montfort University, : European University Cyprus and Q-O2, and as ever, to Evis Sammoutis
Tomorrow, I will be in a REHEARSAL 26 7 20
– Playing Sonatas with someone else!!! So happy to go back to Beethoven Op 30. A lifetime’s work and it’s not there yet. Here’s a link to all the Piano /Violin Sonatas and more.
Nigel Clarke – a new concerto emerging!!!

Vortigern watches the war of the two dragons predicted by Myrddin Emrys/Merlinfrom Roman de Brut (14th Century)

I can ‘t keep quiet about this anymore. Over the past month or so, my long-term collaborator and friend, has been composing his third violin concerto, inspired by our shared fascination for the ‘Prophecies of Merlin’. Nigel and I have worked together for many, many years, and the pieces that he has written for me have shaped how I thing about the violin and the possibilities of string instruments. The new piece is astonishing (even though the composer insists its only in formative stages, and I can’t wait to perform it!) Here’s a link to my recordings and some film of my performances of the 2 concerti, ensemble works and the wonderful solo pieces. Enjoy! Interview with David Smith, for Presto Classical – 17th, 19th and 21st Century Music! https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/articles/3394–interview-peter-sheppard-skaerved-on-schubert-cowie-and-more Johann Vilsmayr, a conversation with the Reliques of Ancient Poetry 24 7 2020 (at the desk) Arrival Platform Humlet: Trains, Boats and Ideas

The 1875 train shed of Liverpool Street Station (London), where Percy Grainger & Lionel Tertis waited for the Boat Train from Harwich on a freezing night in 1908

Any object, be it a tool, a stone in the road, a tree, or a piece of music, is full of stories. All that we need to do is to look, listen, touch, taste and smell with enough attention. I spent a happy few hours investigating Percy Grainger’s solo viola piece ‘Platform Humlet’. Here’s a link to the result, involving transport, weather, and a Dane. LINK Or you can just listen to the piece, below. Publishing news: my lockdown completion of George Antheil’s Solo Sonata will be published (in Germany). Here it is – in my NOT QUITE FINAL version  The Violinists’ Practice Desk

Performance space: Talking about/playing Telemann 24 Fantasies (plus some Corrette and Pergolesi) for The Exhale – ‘The Violinists’ Practice Desk’ 8 7 2020

My series of lecture recitals for ‘The Exhale’ continues, and on the 22nd July at 4pm LONDON time, will be focusing on Philip Glass ‘Strung Out’  . For more information, and to book, here’s the link  Reviews and more!

With the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, and composer/conductor Gregory Rose. Angel Studios 11 11 19

‘Peter Sheppard Skærved dominating proceedings, performing to his usual stratospheric standards of musicianship and virtuosity in every track.’ Gramophone Magazine April 2020 ‘….played with superb commitment by Peter Sheppard Skærved’ MusicWeb April 2020 ‘Peter Sheppard Skærved gives a stunning virtuoso performance of the piece’ British Music Society News May 2020 ‘His intelligent readings and lyrical interpretations of these pieces make for rewarding listening’ Early Music Review April 2020  ‘that aristocrat …among violinists, Peter Sheppard Skaerved.’ Musicweb May 2019 (Rob Barnett) Enthusiasm for ‘Klagenfurt Manuscript’ Volume 4 of the great Violins ‘The Strad recommends’…

Review from the June 2020 edition of The Strad Magazine

Lockdown ‘At the desk’ The Lockdown/At the desk music films have now hit no. 60. Lots to discover (Daiken, Pousseur, Dinescu, Antheil, Asmussen … ) you can listen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VQqRRdN4uk&list=UUSTpOAgYMuKsayCG-D0MMlg Here’s yesterday’s second recording – uploaded at 1 am. At the desk – exploring Anthony Gilbert’s masterpiece for violin and tape! 28 4 2020 At the desk last night. One of many joys of this last month, has been the chance to explore the work of Anthony Gilbert. Today, I have put together my first exploration of his violin & tape piece, ‘Treatment of Silence’. It was premiered by Chrisopher Rowland in 1974, and brims with the creativity and wonder of what could be done with then new technologies. I can’t wait to to do it live – not stuck behind a desk! Interview in April 2020 Early Music Today B   Edward Cowie – A brand new piece – soft boiled! 13th April 2020! It is amazing to watch the sunbursts of creativity from artists in lockdown – today, two new works arrived. First up, Edward has sent me this EGG Passacaglia – which is wonderful. (Get our disc here – shameless plug) https://divineartrecords.com/?dasearch=cowie+kreutzer YouTube Channel Here are nearly 200 bespoke videos ( which will run consecutively) and many more album tracks. I will be adding talks over the next few days and weeks. Enjoy A second moment (see below) I was playing this Fiorillo caprice as part of my Beethoven talk for the MetMuseum last week, and fell in love with it. Walking past the Middlebury Falls this morning with my son, it all came back! So here it is, filmed in my Middlebury Inn hotel room bathroom! A moment in a hotel room in Vermont A moment in today’s room, with the violin. Richard Strauss arranged a melody from his one act ‘Daphne’ (1937) as solo piece for his grandson. I have always loved it. and had to play it today. In the Studio – Simon Bainbridge – 1972 Quartet (3 3 20) Genius. First chance to hear Simon Bainbridge’s 1st Quartet (1972). It’s amazing, and the fact that the composer was 18 when it was written is really neither here nor there. A new work by David Gorton 27 2 20

Rehearsing David Gorton’s ‘Consort set – after William Lawes’ 27th February 2020

The joy of collaboration. Working on David Gorton’s wonderful new ensemble piece, celebrating William Lawes tonight, with Diana Mathews, Stefan Östersjö, Harry Buckoke, Evie Littlefair, Olwen Foulkes – what a privilege too work with such a team of creative artists. I know how lucky I am. Spot the composer…. And here, an earlier collaboration, filmed and recorded at the National Portrait Gallery. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdd7SgAKX7U Early Quartet by Simon Bainbridge

The wonderful MS of Simon Bainbridge’s 1972 Quartet

So happy to have this back on the stands. The extraordinary 1st Quartet dedicated to Andre Previn by Simon Bainbridge in 1972. A joyful few hours exploring colour, timbre, beauty and profoundly expressive music, with Mihailo Trandafilovski, Clifton Harrison Neil Heyde. More here. https://www.sheppardskaerved.com/2019/07/simon-bainbridge-2nd-quartet-first-recording-outtakes/ A Small Strad – Documentary (February 2020) Just finished work on this little film about the 1685 Stradivari. Very grateful to Colin Still, Harry Baker and the RNCM for all the put into this! Enjoy. Recording/filming Michael Hersch. 16 2 20
So, finally, the third of Michael Hersch’s 22 movement cycle. The biggest movement of the 100 minute (I’ve timed it now!) set. The picture was taken in Maida Vale, two days before this was recorded, while the composer was listening to Ah Young Hong singing his new song cycle with the BBCSO.
The outtakes of the whole set – recorded over two days, can be heard at https://wp.me/pH1iH-7do

Wonderful to have ‘Five Fragments’ on the stand 16 02 20

Lunchbreak recording Michael Hersch’s epic ‘Zwischen Leben und Tod’ with Roderick Chadwick. I don’t eat when I am recording, so I am using the break to start work on recording the sets of solo works he has written for me, beginning with the shortest ‘Five Fragments’. Done. here’s an early performance in Mexico City. https://wp.me/pH1iH-ma A new work from Paul Pellay This just in – a glimpse of Paul Pellay’s wonderful new piece for me. It’s dedicated to the whole family (Malene Sheppard Skaerved & Marius Skaerved) and can’t wait to perform it. In meantime – here’s an extract from Paul’s wonderful two hour ‘Thesaurus of Violinistic Fiendishness’ – the Warmonger’s Hoedown. Violinists, listen and take the challenge https://youtu.be/Pqw7SRi4H9Q Two exciting Days! With guest composer Michael Alec Rose in London It’s a great joy for me this week to welcome back my dear friend and colleague, compose Michael Alec Rose for two days of music and exploration. Click on the links below for details of what’s happening and don’t miss the opportunity of hearing this great composer at work! SOUNDBOX – Thursday February  6th 1230 pm String Gallery Royal Academy of Music   LINK ‘Caprice 3 – Thursday February  6th 7pm  A Sense of Place’, Council Chamber, Deptford Town Hall Building, Goldsmiths Link Preludes & Vollenteries 26 February 7th 6pm, St Anne & St Agnes, Gresham Street LINK New for February 1st! My recording (double disc) of 96 movements from the Klagenfurt Mansuscript, on a 1685 Stradivari with 7 tunings! Now available direct from my new ‘merchandise’ page LINK Vilsmayr Partitas in the Studio More Vilsmayr Partita 6) from Monday’s session. At A-416, which has got me into trouble in the past …seemingly inexhaustible energy.’ Fanfare 2019 Welcome to my website.  It’s full of recordings, films, writing, process stories and a lot of drawing. A long night with Messiaen’s birds 28-29th January

Messiaen birdsong on the practice desk 2am 29th January 2020

I was planning on NOT practising tonight, and then the Messiaen birdsong transcriptions which Roderick Chadwick has introduced me to ( I have a feeling that this will become a serious fixation) — and here’s we are playing the Fantasie a few years ago. https://wp.me/pH1iH-26D Zwischen Leben und Tod – 26th January 2020 A glimpse of today’s odyssey – day one of recording Michael Hersch’s ‘Zwischen Leben und Tod’ ( 14 movements in the can, 8 to go). With the fantastic Roderick Chadwick – the latest stage in our long journey with this wonderful piece.  Pergolesi for violin alone! On gut Pergolesi (Amen Chorus from the Stabat Mater) arranged by Johan Helmich Roman (1694 – 1758) on the wonderful Thomas Smith violin (all gut) in wonderful St Botolph without Bishopsgate (1729) today. Rehearsal grab. With thanks to Ben Hebbert! It’s’ here – Peter Dickinson Quartets + works for violin and piano …with Roderick Chadwick, Clifton Harrison, Neil Heyde, Mihailo Trandafilovski, with enormous thanks to Martin Anderson at Toccata Classics! Have been playing Peter’s music all my adult life – and there’s a wonderful piece in memory of Ralph Holmes. Now order your copy – in whatever format makes you happy – here https://toccataclassics.com/product/peter-dickinson-chamber-and-solo-works/ First Glimpse-New Gregory Rose disc! Preludes & Vollenteries New cycle begins
Coming up this Friday the begining of the new cycle of Preludes & Vollenteries concerts details here. https://wp.me/pH1iH-77A
It’s the first chance to hear the extraordinary 1641 Jacob Rayman viola in public. Many thanks to Ben Hebbert for the chance to work on this amazing instrument. Liste here – to Nicola Matteis on this utterly Southawark viola!#
An extraordinary piece by Jeremy Dale Roberts Jeremy Dale Roberts – ‘Wieglied’ This piece marked the beginning of my collaboration with the great British composer, Jeremy Dale Roberts (16 May 1934 – 11 July 2017).’Wieglied’ was originally written for solo viola, and then he made the version for solo violin for me. I played it, I think at a concert of Priaulx Rainier’s (his teacher) at Kettles Yard, Cambridge, and then we began our real work together, which resulted in his writing me ‘Tristia’ (violin and piano), the recordings of that and the great String Trio ‘Croquis’ for NMC, and then the composition of the ‘String Quintet’ for the Kreutzers (my quartet), which proved his (as he described it, with a smile) ‘swansong.Here it is, at the practice desk today A new work for Paul Pellay! 2 1 20 Paul Pellay sent Malene Sheppard Skaerved, Marius Skaerved & me this piece written on Juleaften. And today, I was able to spend some time with it. It’s wonderful, the latest addition to the extraordinary body of works for violin by this amazing composer.