Every Good Boy Does Fine – A Love Story, in Music Lessons

Every Good Boy Does Fine, the title of pianist Jeremy Denk’s recently-published memoir, will be familiar to anyone who had piano lessons as a child. It’s a mnemonic of the notes e, g, b, d and f which sit on the lines of the treble clef – other variants include Every Good Boy Deserves Favour…

Stephen Hough plays Schubert

Piano Sonatas D664, 769a & 894 – Stephen Hough (piano). Hyperion, 2022 Schubert’s  “heavenly length”, a term coined by Schumann specifically in relation to Schubert’s ‘Great’ C major Symphony,  is also very much in evidence in the late piano sonatas, whose first movements can last as long as an entire Beethoven sonata.  There is a…

Young Artists provide a compelling Onegin at Opera Holland Park

Opera Holland Park has been mentoring young singers and conductors for a decade now and its efforts to nurture burgeoning talent continue to bear fruit.  Young Artists performing Tchaikovsky’s Onegin impressed this week, the principal singers providing intriguing insights into the roles of Tatiana, Olga, Lensky and Onegin. Rory Musgrave’s Onegin in particular drew attention. For his…

Picasso-Ingres Face to Face at National Gallery

In room 46 of the London National Gallery, two portraits hang, one by classical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, the other by Pablo Picasso. Ingres’s portrait is of society beauty, Madame Moitessier (1856). Picasso’s portrait, several metres away, is of his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, entitled Woman with a Book (1932).   You may wonder why these works have been given…

Spear pressure: ‘Parsifal’, Opera North

‘Here is where time becomes space’: this is one of the most famous – and mysterious – quotes from Wagner’s final opera, ‘Parsifal’, which at its best can make that scientific impossibility seem real. Unhurried, epic storytelling punctuated with moments of overwhelming beauty or horror that somehow transcend a mere auditorium in what feels like…

Colin Riley’s ‘Isolated Pieces’

Composer Colin Riley writes: “ISOLATED PIECES is the culmination of the work of 27 contributors from across many genres of music. As an experiment on ‘connection’ and ‘trust’ during the isolating period of lockdown, I asked musicians I knew to respond to several small fragments of piano music I’d created. Everyone said yes and emailed…

Inspired Casting for Opera Holland Park’s ‘Onegin’

When Eugene Onegin premiered in Moscow in 1879, Tchaikovksy was aware of the weight of expectation around his new opera which had been directly inspired by Alexander Pushkin’s epic poem of the same title. Pushkin was Russia’s Shakespeare – a god. Would his dramatisation of Pushkin’s masterpiece come off well? Pushkin was long gone by then, having…

(P)review: African Concert Series update

A quick look backward and forward: into the recent past, recalling my most recent visit to an African Concert Series event, and ahead, to let you know about theilr upcoming events. * I collected a new venue in mid-May, on my first encounter with the Africa Centre, slightly hidden away (especially at the moment, thanks…