Telegraph loses top critic
When I was writing for the Daily Telegraph in the 1990s, critics in all genres were exhorted to ‘be more like Charlie’. Charles Spencer, the chief theatre critic, was cock of his walk. Shrewd, sharp, entertaining and without a scrap of pomp and circumstance, Charlie dispensed overnight accolades and spitballs with scant regard for rank […]
Doyenne of the French organ has died, aged 98
Marie-Louise Girod, who played at the reformed church in the Oratoire du Louvre from 1941 to 2008, died this weekend. A friend and Conservatoire contemporary of Jehan Alain, she also played at a Paris synagogue. In 1960, she married the director of the Louvre, André Parrot.
Breaking: The Met’s loss is Denmark’s gain
Fabio Luisi, who had been lined up by Peter Gelb to replace James Levine (only for Levine to reclaim his post), has been announced this morning as principal conductor of the Danish Radio orchestra. He succeeds the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Expressions of delight from Copenhagen. Congrats all round. (Will he get a role in […]
A viola squawks at sainted Kate Bush
Over the past week, the comeback singer has won five-star reviews and general beatification in the British press. With one exception. The viola player Bill Hawkes wrote this sour note to the Guardian: I played viola on Kate Bush’s last LP, and laughed myself silly at her nonsensical lyrics about snowmen. The obsequious, unquestioning critical […]
Marconi’s Strad is up for sale
Not Guglielmo Marconi, but his older brother, Alfonso. Both were capable musicians and word has it that the younger brother accompanied his violinist sibling on the piano. (You don’t get to be a great inventor without having some music in your fingers.) The 1718 Antonio Stradivari was previously owned by a Duke of Marlborough, Churchill’s […]
A commissioning influence is no more
Michael Kustow was the first commissioning editor for arts on Britain’s Channel 4. Restless, eclectic, endlessly innovative, he broke the mould of top-down arts broadcasting on British television and replaced it with programming that was at once challenging and viewer-friendly. The 1980s on Channel 4 were a golden age of arts broadcasting the like of […]
Last concert before the next war?
A group of artists from the Baltic and former Soviet states have gathered in Helsinki this afternoon to play out their differences. Here’s their manifesto: We have decided to get together to remind each other that the only sustainable way to solve our conflicts is by working together. This is a statement on behalf of […]
Finding the moral foundations of Leonard Cohen
The great troubadour will turn 80 next month. In the new issue of Standpoint magazine, I write: No musician has maintained a more assured equilibrium through good times and bad, riding the swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune and misfortune without falling prey to the temptation of an easy fix. And: At 80, Leonard Cohen […]
Simon Rattle: ‘Conductors make too much fuss about conductors’
Fascinating phone interview with Fiona Maddocks in today’s Observer here. Rattle repeats that, come what may, he’s staying in Berlin after the job’s up in 2018.
Winners (and losers) at Domingo’s Operalia
Sad to report that neither of the countertenors got a sniff at the top prizes. The two high guys shared a $10,000 consolation slot. The winners are: Rachel Willis-Sørensen (US), 30, soprano and Mario Chang (Guatemala), 28, tenor. Rachel has already sung major roles in big houses – Mimi in Bohème at Semperoper Dresden […]