Great Beethoven and More: Music through a Danish Prism

Since 2018, when the Danish String Quartet released their first Prism CD, I have been eagerly awaiting the fifth and final album in the series, and at last it is here. The Quartet’s idea for the string of releases was simple, as announced on the back cover of each of the CDs: ‘Lines of connection … Continue reading Great Beethoven and More: Music through a Danish Prism

But Is It Jazz? (Three recent releases…)

In December 2021 I was moved to write expressing my enthusiasm for a new album by Graham Collier (pictured above) – new only in terms of the disc’s release, since the British bassist-composer had died a decade previously; the music – a jazz suite in five parts – had actually been recorded (for the first … Continue reading But Is It Jazz? (Three recent releases…)

Bach at the keyboard: András Schiff’s latest gem

It was my friend Nick James who introduced me to the pianistic brilliance of András Schiff, pointing out that the playing I’d hear on the birthday gift he’d bought me – the Hungarian’s 2001 concert recording of the Goldberg Variations – would be rather different from Glenn Gould’s renowned recordings of Bach’s masterpiece. Certainly, I … Continue reading Bach at the keyboard: András Schiff’s latest gem

My best movies, music, books and other moments from 2022

As regular readers will know, I’ve been posting my personal ‘year’s best’ lists ever since I started writing here in 2016, and each time I’ve prefaced the survey of my favourite movies, music, etc, with complaints about the dreadful state of British and international politics followed by the expression of (mostly forlorn) hopes for an … Continue reading My best movies, music, books and other moments from 2022

Just in Time for Christmas: Some Great Jazz Revisited

Sometimes a musical blast from the past is so exhilarating, I feel moved to share my enthusiasm; such has been the case, in the last few years, with releases or re-releases of works by major jazz figures like John Coltrane, Charlie Haden, Paul Bley, Graham Collier and Mike Westbrook. So I’ve been delighted by the … Continue reading Just in Time for Christmas: Some Great Jazz Revisited

Maidan: A Musical Prayer for Ukraine

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

Giving Voice: Heiner Goebbels’ ‘A House of Call’

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’

Here comes some sun: the music of Enrico Rava

Last month saw the 83rd birthday of the great Italian trumpeter Enrco Rava. You’d think that he might have slowed down a little, but apparently not. Checking the ECM website, I just saw that he has nine gigs in Italy coming up over the next couple of months; what’s more, this week he has a … Continue reading Here comes some sun: the music of Enrico Rava

Back to Bach, Beethoven and others: recent classical releases

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

But Is It Jazz? (Five recent examples of suite sounds.)

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.)