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Michael White’s music news: Guitarist Michael Christian Durrant at Burgh House

23 May, 2019 — By Michael White

Michael Christian Durrant gives a recital at Burgh House on May 30

FOR most musicians, the demands of the music itself are more than enough to think about when they play to an audience. But the guitarist Michael Christian Durrant takes things a bit further. He’s just finished a Masters at the Royal College of Music in the psychology of performance, with a wide-ranging brief that takes in the whole business of (as he says) “looking after yourself as an artist”. And how that affects his concert-giving is something you can judge for yourself when he plays at Hampstead’s Burgh House next week.

“Dance companies are getting good at wellbeing”, he says, “but musicians are only just starting to take all this on board. It’s always been a sort of badge of honour to suffer for your art. But is that the best way to achieve a good outcome? We need to think about these things, and give them proper attention.”

Durrant’s attention to the guitar began as a child in the Midlands where he got to hear and love the sound of Julian Bream, the leading British player of his generation. “And it’s still his playing that I go back to on a regular basis. He set the standard for me.”

More particularly, Durrant’s standards were set by lessons with Carlos Bonnell “who taught me about phrasing: the need for the guitar to breathe”. And Bonnell also taught him a thing or two about the guitarists’ habit that listeners either love or hate: the squeak of fingers sliding up and down the fret. “To my ear it’s all part of the sound of the instrument,” says Durrant, “and I accept it. But it needs control, and I try not to squeak too much – especially in a small venue like Burgh House where everything registers.”

These days he plays big spaces, with concerts coming up at the Berlin Philharmonie and Gloucester Cathedral. But for the intimacy of this recital he’s picked a programme of Albeniz, Villa-Lobos and William Walton (sometime Hampstead resident). Squeaks audible but not obtrusive.

• Classical Guitar Recital, 7pm, £15, Thursday May 30, Burgh House, Hampstead NW3 1LT, 020 7431 0144,



• Zedell Piano Trio – Royal Academy postgrads playing Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Debussy. 1pm, free, Regent Hall, Oxford Street, WC1 2DJ

• Messiaen’s haunting Quartet for the End of Time – written in a Second World War prison camp for the odd collection of instruments available – played by celebrated pianist Alice Sara Ott and friends. 1pm, £14/cons £12, LSO St Luke’s, Old Street, EC1V 9NG, 020 7638 8891,

• All-female wind quartet the Tailleferre Ensemble play Haydn and others. 1.05pm, free, St Giles in the Fields, 60 St Giles High Street, WC2H 8LG,

• One of the current crop of must-hear pianists Igor Levit plays Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations alongside a modern classic counterpart: Frederic Rzewski’s 1970s variations on a Chilean workers’ song “The people united will never be defeated”. Can only be interesting. 7.30pm, £18+, Wigmore Hall, 36 Wigmore Street, W1U 2BP, 020 7935 2141,

• Singer/song-writer Lara Eidi blends folk, contemporary and cross-genre jazz with her newly-formed trio and returns to Hampstead with songs from their latest album Transition. 8pm, £15 +, Hampstead Jazz Club, Duke of Hamilton pub, New End, NW3 1JD, 07916 0595, hamp­



• Sir Antonio Pappano takes time off from the Royal Opera, where he’s music director, to bring over his Italian orchestra the Academy of St Cecilia in Rome. With Mahler’s 6th Symphony. 7.30pm, £15+, Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS, 020 7638 8891,



• Young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason became hot property when he played at the last royal wedding. Here he is with his pianist sister Isata in Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Lutoslawski. 11.30am, £16, cons £14, Wigmore Hall, 36 Wigmore Street, W1U 2BP, 020 7935 2141,

• Fresh from playing the title role in the Royal Opera’s Billy Budd, baritone Jacques Imbrailo sings Sibelius & Rachmaninov. With pianist Alisdair Hogarth. 3pm, £16, Wigmore Hall, 36 Wigmore Street, W1U 2BP, 020 7935 2141,

• Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanski with the Benyounes Quartet play arrangements of Piazolla and Puccini. 6.30pm, £10 advance, £12 on door, 8 to 25s free, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL, 020 7405 1818,



• Finalist at the Montreux Jazz Piano Competition, Hungarian keyboard-star Matyas Gayer plays Camden Town. 8pm, £8, musicians £5, Oxford Tavern, Kentish Town Road, NW5 2AA, 020 7485 3521,



• Russian-born but London-based pianist Yulia Chaplina (above) won the junior section of the ultra-prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, Moscow. Here she plays works for what is apparently the UK/Russian Year of Music. 7pm, £32, English-Speaking Union, 37 Charles Street, W1J 5ED, book at



• The magnificently-named Maximilian Battefeld is a German pianist currently studying for a Masters at the Guildhall School. In this fundraising concert he plays Brahms, Wagner, Mozart. 7pm, £30 donation, 1901 Arts Club, Exton Street, SE1 8UE, 020 7620 3055,



• Michael Tilson Thomas returns to the LSO, the band he ran back in the 1990s, to conduct Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. Plus John Cage’s take on The Seasons. 7.30pm, £16+, Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS, 020 7638 8891,

• Described as a cross between Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Bassey (!) jazz vocalist Shireen Francis performs with a trio led by guitarist Ciyo Brown. 8pm, £15+, Hampstead Jazz Club, Duke of Hamilton pub, New End, NW3 1JD, 07916 0595, hamp­

• Chris Laurence Quartet play jazz night at Lauderdale. 8.30pm, £12, cons £10, students £7 in advance. Tickets +£1 on door, Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill, N6 5HG. 020 8348 8716,

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