Picasso and Paper at the Royal Academy of Arts

  Picasso had a lifelong love affair with paper. You might say it was his fifth element: earth, fire, water, air, paper. Wherever he went he accumulated it and he was always surrounded by it. Photographs show that once his tables and chairs and mantelpieces were filled to overflowing he would hang it on lengths…

Rencontre avec France Mitrofanoff

Depuis ses débuts dans les années 70, France Mitrofanoff n’a cessé de peindre. D’abord inspirée par le mouvement Cobra, avec ses créatures étranges, elle s’en dégage pour peindre dès Villes, constructions chaotiques où se cachent les habitants, ombres dissimulées derrière les murs. Plus récemment elle a porté son regard sur la nature, en particulier les arbres….

My Favourite Things : Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’

Battle of Moscow (Borodino) 7th Sept 1812 by Louis-François Lejeune   Christmas is nearing and every year I find myself irritable and exhausted and walking over to my bookshelves for literary solace. Dancing over rows of black paperwork classics, my fingers slow over my favoured volumes, all epics. Worlds of past existence inhabit my weighty…

Wagner Singing Competition at the Wigmore

Climatic scene from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde 1910 Rogelio de Egusquiz   1979 was my A-level year. Also the year I discovered Richard Wagner. We had one good stereo system in our sitting room which pumped out rock, pop, jazz and classical at all hours, to all corners of our Victorian house in Barnes. One Sunday afternoon,…

In Search of Dora Maar

Model, Assia Granatouroff photographed by Dora Maar   Walking into the Tate Modern show on Dora Maar, a question wouldn’t go away. Would Maar’s best work turn out to be what she produced during her years with Picasso? The Barbican show I had attended on artistic couples, in January of this year, was still fresh…

Baroque in our time

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-36) Christmas is nearly upon us and time for the Requiems, the Stabat Maters, to be performed in concert halls and churches up and down the country. Now, more so than ever, audiences, can’t seem to be able to get enough of these religious works. Their familiar musical settings are popular for…

Monumental Messiaen: Steven Osborne at Queen Elizabeth Hall

Olivier Messiaen’s monumental and profound work Vingt Regards sur l’enfant-Jésus (Twenty Gazes on the Infant Jesus) is one of the greatest works in the pianist’s repertoire, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with such titans as Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas in terms of its scale. It is one of the most extraordinary and ground-breaking works in…

Umpteenth revival of Jonathan Miller’s Mikado at ENO

  1986 wasn’t a particularly memorable year in the grand scheme of things. In January Spain and Portugal joined the European Community (as it then was), in July Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey and in October Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher officially opened the M25 motorway. I seem to remember spending most of…

An Electrifying ‘Mask of Orpheus’ at ENO

  Aerialists, Matthew Smith (Orpheus Hero) and Alfa Marks (Eurydice Hero)   Commissioned by ENO, The Mask of Orpheus, caused quite a stir, when it premiered at the Coliseum in 1986. Some heralded it as a genius work. Others found it difficult, which probably explains why it has not been fully staged again until now….