To describe Daniel Barenboim as one of the world's greatest conductors is a statement of the blindingly obvious. He's up there with Simon Rattle and maybe one or two others in the pantheon of outstanding maestros. But when it comes to the piano, no one comes close. On Monday evening at the Proms, he demonstrated his gift at both disciplines, playing and conducting Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 with the Staatskapelle Berlin.
There are lots of reasons why Barenboim is a superstar. The biggest is the Divan Orchestra -- that extraordinary ensemble of young Arab and Israeli players that he and the late Edward Said founded to make music a bridge between warring peoples. He is a tireless campaigner for musical education, eloquently defending the importance and meaning of music in a world where it is increasingly being dropped from school curricula.
But beyond that, there is his extraordinary musicianship. Heir to the Romantic tradition, he plays piano the way it used to be played and taught -- making every note sing and tell a story. That's easier said than done: Expression is the hardest part of any art form. And Barenboim is an absolute master of it.
Hear him in concert, buy his recordings, sign up to his Facebook page, tune into his lectures. And hear the Monday evening performance right here on Radio 3: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07sxsd4.