Preview: Chipping Campden Music Festival

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The Borodin Quartet will appear at the Chipping Campden Music Festival.

THIS year’s Chipping Campden Music Festival is looking set to break its own box office records with organiser Charlie Bennett describing the 2016 programme as perhaps the strongest to date.

He told Herald arts this week: “The last night sold out completely on day one of bookings and many other concerts are close to selling out.”

The festival, which takes place from 8th May to 21st May, has grown in stature each year since it began as an annual event in 2002. It attracts some of the world’s greatest musicians, and this year is no exception, with the Borodin Quartet, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Trevor Pinnock, Imogen Cooper, Isabelle Faust, and the Nash Ensemble among those taking part.

The actors Dame Harriet Walter and Alex Jennings, with the pianist Lucy Parham, will also be staging an evening of words and music depicting the relationship between the composer Frederic Chopin and the French writer Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, better known by her pen-name of George Sand.

One of the biggest star turns — confirming the festival’s ranking among the top events of this kind — will be a lecture called A Pianist’s Alphabet by Alfred Brendel, whose peerless performances in concert halls and recordings put him at the pinnacle of his profession in the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.

But perhaps even more star-studded than the appearance of Mr Brendel, who, incidentally, adores the acoustic of the festival’s St James’ Church venue, will be the feat being taken on by one of his worthy successors, the internationally-renowned pianist Paul Lewis. Mr Lewis will be performing all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos during the festival — a daunting challenge he undertook at the BBC Proms in 2010.

And yet another demonstration of the clout of Chipping Campden Music Festival is that Mr Lewis is its President. He describes the two-week festival as having grown into one of the most anticipated events in the UK’s musical calendar. “The 2016 programme is as exciting and varied as ever and, once again, the fortnight will see the arrival in Chipping Campden of some of the world’s most renowned musicians,” Mr Lewis added. “As always, the Festival Academy Orchestra will be in residence and I am very excited about performing all five Beethoven concertos with them and their inspiring conductor, Thomas Hull.”

A full programme is online at www.campdenmusicfestival.co.uk, with tickets also on sale by calling 01386 849018.