Best of a bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2020

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

Mixing the old with the new: richly rewarding recent classical releases.

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.

Music and movies for Christmas and beyond: a few recommendations

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

Distance and intimacy: a welcome festival of new music

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

My best movies, music and other moments from 2018

When, around this time last year, I posted my round-up of my favourite movies, music and so on of 2017, I felt the need to say what a difference the arts had made for me in a time of depressing political confusion and chaos. I’m not going to kick off another rant this year, even … Continue reading My best movies, music and other moments from 2018

Movies and music for Christmas and beyond

This time last year I posted a piece highlighting some favourites movies of mine which had been released on disc during 2017; I hoped it might prove helpful for anyone wondering what to buy for Christmas presents. It seemed to go down quite well, so this year I’ve decided to repeat the exercise, with some … Continue reading Movies and music for Christmas and beyond

A Night to Remember (Brilliance, Brilliance, Everywhere…)

As anyone who follows me on Twitter probably knows, I these days spend a very pleasurably inordinate amount of my time attending concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall. Only during the last decade have I become a regular there; while I’ve always liked classical music, for many years I behaved (unwittingly) as if I wanted some … Continue reading A Night to Remember (Brilliance, Brilliance, Everywhere…)