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
A confession: while I’ve always enjoyed classical music, until around 12 years ago I was generally quite wary of contemporary composers, and tended to stick to a few favourites like Arvo Pärt, Michael Nyman, Terry Riley, John Adams, Giya Kancheli and – really adventurous, this! – James MacMillan. (My interest in the last came about … Continue reading Mixing the old with the new: richly rewarding recent classical releases.
Sitting at home the other evening, contemplating the dismal antics of our wretched government, I found myself taking consolation from the melancholy beauty of Lawrence Power’s viola in his performance of James Macmillan’s marvellous concerto for that instrument. And, generous fellow that I am – not to mention someone who often dithers endless over what … Continue reading Music and movies for Christmas and beyond: a few recommendations
Even under normal circumstances – and the recent far-from-normal circumstances have only slowed me down further – I am not a fast reader; consequently, vast swathes of literature of the lengthy variety remain uncharted by yours truly. (That said, I am still, I think, the only person I personally know who has read Don Quixote … Continue reading In Search of Marcel’s Music: Isserlis and friends explore Proust’s passions
Names like Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001), Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) and Pierre Boulez (1925-2016) often sound alarms in the minds of music-lovers attuned to Mozart or Mendelssohn, Bach, Beethoven or Brahms, or, perhaps still more off-puttingly, in those who favour pop, rock, jazz, soul, hip-hop or all manner of ‘popular’ music. It’s perhaps hardly surprising if most … Continue reading Distance and intimacy: a welcome festival of new music
If by any chance you follow me on social media, you may recall that before the coronavirus took hold in the UK, I was an almost absurdly frequent visitor to London’s Wigmore Hall, one of the world’s finest venues for performances of chamber music; for some years I had been going there so often that … Continue reading Musical Marvels: The Wigmore Lockdown Concerts
Last week was a pretty good week for me, musically – quite possibly the best I’ve had since the one that ran from Friday 28 February to Thursday 5 March, which was my last week of live concerts. (For the record, and partly to remind myself because it now feels so long ago, I squeezed … Continue reading Viola, Viola (and the Wigmore): new music for troubled times
Like many confined to their homes during the coronavirus lockdown, I have been spending more time than usual on social media, and one Facebook post – by my friend and former Time Out colleague Derek Adams – that ended up taking a lot of my time and attention was his challenge that I post the … Continue reading 2020: A Musical Odyssey (That Challenge Thing…)
Though I don’t keep up with new jazz releases as much as I’d like, there’s a side of me that’s sufficiently completist for me to at least try to monitor anything featuring certain long-time favourites, be they dead or alive. And for anyone who shares my tastes, there’s a wealth of riches newly available, not … Continue reading This Is Their Music: new notes from (or on) some jazz greats
‘In Munich I used to frequent a record shop where the owner liked jazz, and he gave me some money to make some recordings. It was all quite accidental, and I’d no idea about business or money. I’d worked as a production assistant with Deutsche Grammophon, and I’d already met, in New York, musicians like … Continue reading Happy 50th birthday, ECM!