Turning Tarkovsky into music: Nuit blanche

A confession: while I recognise the cinematic importance of the late Andrei Tarkovsky – his influence on certain filmmakers, and the high regard in which his work is widely held – I myself have never been a great admirer of his films. I like Ivan’s Childhood and Andrei Roublev well enough, but I have always … Continue reading Turning Tarkovsky into music: Nuit blanche

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…

Jonathan Demme, Man from Long Island

I’m certainly not planning to write many memorial blogs for filmmakers, but at the unexpected and very saddening news of the death of the American director Jonathan Demme, aged 73 (portrait above by Peter Hapak), I felt moved to do so. I never got to know him well or count him as a friend, but … Continue reading Jonathan Demme, Man from Long Island

From The Colour of Pomegranates to the Armenian genocide: some notes on Tigran Mansurian

If you’ve ever seen Sergei Paradjanov’s remarkable and unforgettably odd film, you will probably recognise the striking tableau above as one from Sayat Nova, released in the West as The Colour of Pomegranates. However much I admire the movie for its bold originality and painterly beauty, I must confess that its radical, highly allusive style … Continue reading From The Colour of Pomegranates to the Armenian genocide: some notes on Tigran Mansurian

‘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

Following in Hildegarde and Lili’s hallowed footsteps: today’s wonderful women composers

In just a few minutes, as this is about to go  online, it will be International Women’s Day, and while I appreciate that some may consider it presumptuous for a male to offer a few recommendations pertaining to female excellence, I hope there won’t be too many objections to this particular celebration of women’s genius. Only this week I … Continue reading Following in Hildegarde and Lili’s hallowed footsteps: today’s wonderful women composers

Craig Taborn: a keyboards virtuoso and composer to look out for

Ever since Manfred Eicher launched ECM almost half a century ago with the Mal Waldon Trio’s ‘Free at Last’ , the label has been notable for its sterling support of great jazz pianists.  Among its first 20 releases were albums by Paul Bley, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett;  these day you can find such distinguished … Continue reading Craig Taborn: a keyboards virtuoso and composer to look out for

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

Rapsodie espagnole (sort of): new music from the Iberian peninsula

Let me warn you now, immediately: you may well find you’re not remotely interested in the kind of music – contemporary music for the concert hall and the classical CD market – that I’m going to write about. But just in case your tastes do stretch in that direction – and I confess, from personal … Continue reading Rapsodie espagnole (sort of): new music from the Iberian peninsula

Music for a while… Two recent discoveries

Every now and again, a new piece of music comes along that seems to have an unusually timeless quality. For me at least, it’s often something that combines elements which are distinctly modern with others which are centuries old. I suppose the most obvious examples that spring to mind are certain works by Arvo Pärt … Continue reading Music for a while… Two recent discoveries