Catching up with ‘in vain’ – an act not remotely in vain…

When I first heard about ‘in vain’, an orchestral work by the contemporary Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas, I confess I was little sceptical about the oft-repeated claims that it was one of the first genuine masterpieces of the 21st century. For one thing, such assessments – even when those making them include the likes … Continue reading Catching up with ‘in vain’ – an act not remotely in vain…

‘In a class of his own’: some notes on pianist Igor Levit

London, as any fule kno, is a great city for live music; spoilt for choice almost every night, you could spend a fortune, if you had such a thing. (I don't, by the way.) But if you choose carefully and avoid the big, expensive gigs, you can pack in a fair bit. It's all about quality. For me … Continue reading ‘In a class of his own’: some notes on pianist Igor Levit

Bach and Britten and other balms for Brexit, a Braggart and Bully

The inauguration of the new President of the United States – the last two of the B…s in the title above, in case you hadn’t figured that out – was for me, as for many, an abomination best avoided; I decided not to watch a single second of the ceremony. Nevertheless, I was of course … Continue reading Bach and Britten and other balms for Brexit, a Braggart and Bully

My year in movies, music and books (what I liked best, anyway)

You certainly don’t need me to remind you that 2016 was in many respects a terrible year – an annus anus, so to speak – and an extremely worrying one in terms of what we may expect of 2017 and thereafter. And I am not going to darken your mood still further by listing the many greats who passed … Continue reading My year in movies, music and books (what I liked best, anyway)

Not in Their Names: Carla Bley and Liberation Music Orchestra in London

Since I first came to live in London 40 years ago, there’s been a handful of American jazz favourites I’ve made a point of seeing on each and every occasion they’ve crossed the Atlantic to play a gig. It was certainly that way with both Ornette Coleman and Charlie Haden, and it’s still the case … Continue reading Not in Their Names: Carla Bley and Liberation Music Orchestra in London

Norwegian good: the Nils Økland Band in London

While I may have reservations about the sheer size of the London Jazz Festival, I long ago stopped asking myself whether this or that act can really be described as ‘jazz’. What matters for the individual in the audience, after all, is whether he or she enjoys the music, and the organisers’ highly inclusive approach … Continue reading Norwegian good: the Nils Økland Band in London

Two musical evenings: Shostakovich and Sibelius

I have loved the music of Jean Sibelius and Dmitri Shostakovich ever since my teens. Back then they were probably more important to me than Beethoven, and right up there with King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, David Ackles and other rock favourites. I bought their symphonies and concertos on budget labels like Classics for … Continue reading Two musical evenings: Shostakovich and Sibelius