Monday, April 19, 2010

James Rhodes, Pianist

Right. So I know I've mentioned James Rhodes at least twice before in this little blog that I seem to neglect, but I would like to devote an ENTIRE entry to him (which I think I may've already done... oh well, twice the love), just because I am so impressed with him, and what he is achieving out there in the Big, Wide World.

I first encountered James Rhodes on Twitter. Stephen Fry posted something about how we should all be following this amazing young English pianist he'd just been to hear. My ears instantly pricked up. Pianist? Young? Yes? Clicked, and voila. A young English pianist (I say young, but he's older than me - but seriously, until you hit age fifty in classical music, you're not truly considered old) with an immense talent.

I mean, what would you think of this album if you didn't know anything about it? Look closely at the cover:

Yes. You would think, "Oh, a punk rock album!", or "Oh, wow, cool, some emo album!", or "Heck, that guy's gorgeous!", or "Little pills? Razor blades? What the hell?". You wouldn't necessarily pick it up, look at it briefly and think, "Oh, wow, check this out - an album of extraordinary pianistic talent from a young, cool, English guy who hasn't had any formal education in music like the rest of us music plebes who have, indeed, gotten their degrees and still aren't cool." Would you? Would you really be thinking that? No, you wouldn't. Your curiosity might be piqued by the "big pianos" part, but, on the whole, you'd be a bit, "Well, I think this was shelved in the wrong part of the store. What's it doing amongst the people-in-suits Bach French Suite recordings?" (Suit you! SUIT YOU!)

However. (There is always a "however". It's usually followed by a comma, but I'm trying to be more dramatic.) The album is SO EXCITING. It is classical piano porn, I am telling you. I haven't been so intrigued and bewitched by a pianist's album in ...-- Well, that's just the thing. I haven't been this intrigued and bewitched before by a pianist (unless, of course, we are talking about pianists like Malcolm Martineau or Julius Drake, who have released albums with incredibly sexy singers... That's different; they are gods). Of course, I'm not a connoisseur of pianists. I cannot profess to know all of them, and to be fair, I am training to be an operatic soprano, so the majority of my listening is recordings of singers. Still, as my main partner in musicianship has to be a pianist, I like to think that I know a little bit about what I like. Also, I did indeed take piano lessons for six years (but as I hardly ever practised, I don't think I have any right to comment there). Anyway, my long-suffering point is that I am just entranced by James Rhodes' playing. It is elegant, provocative, mischievous, thoughtful, musical, intelligent, daring, sweet (in the dolce sense, not the lolly sense) and has a certain je ne sais quoi, which is what we all say when we're trying to think of something terribly intelligent to say, and just can't.

James must be enjoying great success from his first album (maybe the rest of his fans bought two copies, too? -- I know, shut up -- such a fan-girl), because he's already released the second one! Look! And it's a double-album!

Magical pants. And I can't get away with that shade of red. Dizamn.

I've been pov, what with no job and all in this new city as I pursue my Master of Music degree (again, which James Rhodes doesn't have and he doesn't seem to need one, either - if I could just sing all the time without having to do the degrees... I'd be so happy), but now that I have gained employment, this CD shall be MINE! Mine, I tell ye.

Let's watch James Rhodes kick arse at playing some Volodos/Mozart. (Even my favourite pianist/partner-in-crimes-against-lieder, Mikey, confessed that he thought that James Rhodes' pianistic skills was well leet, mate, well 1337, in this clip):

Or about we watch James Rhodes be utterly amazing at Moszkowski: Etincelles? Yes? More tea.

Let us now watch James Rhodes being utterly charming:

Actually-- alright. We could be here all day. Just click here and go directly to James Rhodes' YouTube channel, and watch the rest for yourself.

So, to recap: This is where you go to admire James Rhodes. This is where you go to read James Rhodes on Twitter. This is where you go to watch James Rhodes on YouTube. This is where you go to buy James Rhodes' CDs. This is where you become a fan of James Rhodes on Facebook.

Until next time, I remain,
eternally a stalker of James Rhodes,
Pam xxx

NB. Obviously, the images in this blog post do not belong to me. I don't really fancy that James Rhodes would be too offended if he knew, because all I'm doing is singing his praises, but you never know. Just so you're all aware: Not mine. His.


  1. He really isnt a nice person very false and stuck up his own bottom - do yourself a favour pop someone else on a pedastal
    Its all marketing and pr he plays very heavily and he really isnt that good nor is he that attractive - inside nor outside.

  2. What a load of nonsense, anonymous.

    He has more integrity in his big toe than someone who trolls anonymously.

    And he's about so much more than just playing the piano perfectly. He's opening up the classical genre to a whole new audience.

  3. Totally agree, Mim. James Rhodes is a pianist who plays with a lot of gumption, and he represents himself online, which is a lot more than I can say for somebody who leaves anonymous comments on blog posts. Anonymous, I think he's doing terrific things for classical music - topping the iTunes charts recently proves that. As for not being attractive - are you human?? Yes, he is!!

  4. Erm, can I just mention something else; James Rhodes has also been incredibly brave and open about his struggle with his mental health: something that us classical musos are encouraged NOT to disclose at any point.

    I've written a post about this on my own blog, and would seriously welcome a comment from you love, because you are an operatic singer like me, and this presents a whole level of emotional complexity that instrumentalists don't have to deal with as their bodies don't "house" the instrument they play.

    I've carried mental illness right from the age of about 14 to the current day, and have found it really annoying that more people on our side of the industry don't speak about their experiences even under a pseudonym like me!

    Look forward to hearing from you, and will add you to my blogroll!

    Best wishes and good luck with studies,

    Clarissa Smid X