Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

The point of this exhibition, as the title suggests, is to look beyond metropolitan France at the wider diaspora of the movement launched by André Breton’s Manifeste du surréalisme in 1924. Perhaps the first truly international art movement, Surrealism seems to have cropped up almost everywhere over the next half century, in locations as varied as Egypt, Syria, Nigeria,…

Close to the edit: Edna Stern, ‘Schubert on tape’

Edna Stern’s latest release is a fascinating find. Beautifully performed, for sure, but those performances are led by an intriguing, impeccably realised idea. The pieces on this disc are well-loved and oft-recorded: the first four ‘Impromptus’ (D899) and the ‘Moments Musicaux’ (D780). But Stern, following the courage of her convictions, has arrived at a new…

Leonore Piano Trio plays Bargiel’s Piano Trios Nos 1 and 2

Woldemar Bargiel is not a composer I had heard of. His connection to Clara Wieck (later Schumann) is intriguing. Born in 1828 in Berlin, Woldemar was Clara Wieck’s half-brother – younger by nine years. Despite their difference in age, they enjoyed a life-long closeness of music-making. When Bargiel was born, Clara had already met Robert…

Fashioning Masculinities at the Victoria and Albert Museum

With its latest exhibition Fashioning Masculinities, the Victoria and Albert Museum traces the paths of masculinity through clothes (historical mostly) objects, film, and painting, from the 16th century to today. I admit to having been a little sceptical about the enterprise, fearing that it would be too much of a challenge to cover such a broad topic…

Così Fan Tutte in Coney Island: All the Fun of the Fair with Dazzling Mozart Score

Così Fan Tutte is arguably one of the world’s most loved operas.  Librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte and Mozart chart the emotional journey of two couples; Fiordiligi and Ferrando, Dorabella (Fiordiligi’s sister) and Guglielmo. They are engaged to be married and still have everything to learn about love. Don Alfonso, self-made philosopher, bets with the two fiancés, that…

An Illuminating Show of Post War British Art at the Barbican

With Postwar Modern. New Art in Britain 1945-1965, the Barbican reappraises the art that was created on these shores from the end of WW2 to 1965, a time when artists were grappling with the devastation of WW2 and its aftershocks. UK industrial cities had been badly bombed and the wholesale destruction of Nagasaki by the atomic bomb,…

Continental lift: Rebeca Omordia, ‘African Pianism’; the African Concert Series

This marvellous disc contains multitudes. The variety of sounds and styles packed into its generous 77 minutes showcases not only the infinite intrigue of a music too little-heard until now, but the lightly-worn virtuosity of Omordia herself. (Important note: for the facts/background underpinning this post, I’m indebted to Robert Matthew-Walker’s invaluable booklet notes which, in…

Viennese Winds Blow Through Elisabeth Leonskaja’s Mozart Sonatas

In the past few weeks, I’ve been listening to Elisabeth Leonskaja’s Complete Mozart Piano Sonatas,. I have now worked my way through six discs, eighteen sonatas and one fantasia. I love Mozart’s sonatas and especially his fantasia, but it must be said that one or two early sonatas come across as a little frothy. That said, this…

A Moving New Production of Cunning Little Vixen at ENO

Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen is a perplexing but masterful opera, full of darkness, yearning and joy.  On the surface it is a fantastical story, that of a Vixen who is captured by a Forester and who escapes, after causing a minor Orwellian revolution amongst the hens. She falls for a Fox, and my apologies for the spoiler,…

Countertenor Orliński embraces film with Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater

On a wet February evening, I attend a cinematic event at London’s Soho Hotel. Countertenor, Jakub Jósef Orliński, fresh from his successes at the Royal Opera, is starring in a film of Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater. In the screening theatre, Orliński sits in the front row with an audience of journos, prs, record company execs behind him. …