In mid-March of this year, I attended a concert by the pianist Boris Giltburg. Came the time to announce his encore: a lovely Bagatelle by the great if sadly too-little known Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, who at the age of 84 had just a week earlier been whisked out of his homeland and taken, via … Continue reading Maidan: A Musical Prayer for Ukraine
There have been quite a few extremely rewarding ‘classical’ releases on CD in recent weeks, ranging from Robert Levin’s seven-disc set of the complete Mozart piano sonatas performed on the composer’s very own fortepiano (ECM), through Igor Levit’s selection of pieces by Liszt, Wagner, Mahler and Henze on Tristan (Sony) and Christian Immler and Andreas … Continue reading Giving Voice: Heiner Goebbels’ ‘A House of Call’
There is, of course, no such thing as a greatest piece of music, any more than there might be a greatest movie, novel, painting or whatever. But we all have our favourites – though mine, it must be said, are constantly changing – and as far as classical music goes, one of my most frequent … Continue reading Back to Bach, Beethoven and others: recent classical releases
I haven’t written much recently about jazz, for many reasons, one of which was the illness and passing of David Fraser, a music publicist – also, in time, a friend – who introduced me to a great deal of marvellous music (and not just jazz). David’s speciality, as far as I was concerned, was ECM … Continue reading But Is It Jazz? (Five recent examples of suite sounds.)
For the list of my best (ie favourite) films, music, books, etc two years ago, I noted the importance of taking solace from the arts at a time when Brexit, Johnson, Trump, climate change and others were cause for such anxiety, anger and despondency. Last year, of course, with Covid having taken its toll, we’d … Continue reading Best of another bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2021.
In the spring of last year, the very welcome appearance of two albums featuring previously unreleased performances of music by Mike Westbrook and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra prompted me to blog about them; I also ended up recommending them as possible Christmas gifts in a blog posted in December. The Westbrook album, released by … Continue reading Just in time for Christmas: great new (and old) jazz.
Four years ago this month, a friend, knowing I was a big admirer of the music put out by ECM, suggested I put together a list of my all-time favourite releases on the label, in response to a New York Times list of 21 ‘essential’ ECM albums published to mark the music then newly available … Continue reading Further Gems from ECM: revisiting some favourites
Back in March 2017, I posted a piece in praise of the pianist Igor Levit. By then he had already garnered considerable acclaim in the classical music world, but since that time he has become remarkably well known… without, it must be stressed, having compromised his artistic integrity in any way. The daily filmed-at-home online … Continue reading Update on Igor Levit: a star takes on Shostakovich and Stevenson
As you may have noticed from my writings here, with regard to the arts I tend to be pretty constant, even loyal, in terms of my interest in the work of certain people; if they produce one or two pieces I find unusually satisfying, I generally try to keep up with what they do next. … Continue reading But Is It Jazz?… (Five recent unclassifiable musical gems)
In the few years I’ve been posting best-of blogs in the face of worsening political circumstances, I’ve often expressed a rather forlorn hope that things might improve the following year. Well, it turns out, obviously, that the hope I expressed last year could not have been more forlorn. How terrible 2020 has been… not only … Continue reading Best of a bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2020