The dark ascending: Dead Space Chamber Music, ‘The Black Hours’

This is music at once vivid, immediate – and at the same time, otherworldly, almost surreal. In its heady combination of genres, approaches and sounds, the album feels both timeless and original. In the best sense, it’s a sonic trap, daring you to identify familiar elements and motifs, only to snatch them away and re-purpose…

Picture This : ‘Pina’s Line Dancing Troupe’ by Natasha Durlacher

Pina is the one wearing the stripy trousers and here they are practising at St.Pauls Church, Marylebone, where I photographed them. Pina is eighty-four and is the choreographer and the one who set up the dance troupe about twenty years ago. The dancers are now all over seventy years old and most are in their late seventies,…

Picture This: ‘The Erasing of Names, Under Black and White’

‘The Erasing of Names, Under Black and White’ (Oil pastel, ink and acrylic on heavy paper, 75 x 55cm) Jim Aitchison, composer & artist This picture represents part of my work that explores acts of obscuring and erasing, but where the original object still affects the visual result, and where meaningful marks are rendered apparently…

Kosuge’s Electrifying Chopin Wraps up ‘Elements’ Project’

For the past 5 years, pianist Yu Kosuge has created a series of four recordings inspired by the Greek concept of the four elements: Fire, Water, Wind and Earth. Last year her ‘Wind’ album really impressed me with its bird-inspired 18th century music by Daquin,Couperin and Rameau. With her Beethoven, the Tempest Sonata No 2, she really took off.  ‘Wind’…

Retrospecstive 2021: slight return

One more look in the rear-view mirror before 2021 disappears completely… After the multi-course blowout of choosing 25 recordings of the year, this is more of a digestif, if you will. A few events and developments that gave me cause for celebration: one each for pop, classical, TV, media and film. Bon ‘Voyage’: the return…

Picture this: St Aldhelm’s Chapel, Dorset

St Aldhelm’s chapel stands above the headland of St Aldhelm’s (or St Alban’s) Head on the Dorset coast, near Swanage. The chapel is just visible from the village of Worth Matravers, about 2 miles inland, and is accessed via a rough path from the village. I am by no means a skilled photographer, but I…

Retrospecstive 2021: Adrian Ainsworth’s 25 recordings of the year

As ever, blood, sweat, tears and several industrial-strength mugs of tea have gone into this year’s round-up. Even while the ongoing impact of the pandemic continues to make musicians’ lives uncertain at best and hellish at worst, they have still managed to do us listeners proud. I have already written about some of the below…

Redefining “normal” in the arts in 2021

In the closing paragraph of my review of 2020, I wrote “I am hopeful that we will be something close to a return to “normal” by the summer of 2021.“ “Normal” has shifted in meaning over the past nearly two years of the covid pandemic.  For galleries, concert halls and opera houses – the places…

With ‘Heritage’ Violinist Rudin Uncovers Denisov

Fedor Rudin’s album Heritage celebrates Russian repertoire and more specifically the music of composer Edison Denisov (1929-1996). Denisov is associated with modernist music in Soviet Russia of the 1960s. With mentors like Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich and Debussy an early inspiration, I was keen to hear how these musical influences panned out. Rudin’s decision to premiere…