Favourite things: Wigmore Hall, London

The first in an occasional series in which ArtMuseLondon reviewers select favourite art works, places, music…….

Wigmore Hall, nestling unobtrusively just a stone’s throw from the bustle and litter of Oxford Street in a row of tall Edwardian façades, is London’s pre-eminent venue for chamber music, song recitals and solo piano concerts. It was built to provide the city with a venue that was impressive yet intimate enough for recitals of chamber music. With near-perfect acoustics, the hall quickly became celebrated across Europe and featured many of the great artistes of the 20th century.

Originally called Bechstein Hall, it was built by the German piano manufacturer Carl Bechstein, whose busy showroom was next door, and opened on 31 May 1901. At the turn of the twentieth century, Carl Bechstein was Europe’s leading piano maker, its instruments preferred by most pianists outside America, where Steinway predominated. The Bechstein piano company built similar concert halls in Paris and St Petersburg to showcase its instruments and the leading performers and singers of the day. With its special barrel roofed oblong design, beloved of many musicians, the hall boasts a fine acoustic, while its small size (its capacity is c600 seats) makes it the perfect place to enjoy intimate chamber recitals.

bechstein-hall

When it opened, Bechstein Hall was promoted as the best of places for intimate music making, and boasted unrivaled comfort and facilities for patrons and artists with its elegant green room up a short flight of stairs behind the stage (so that singers did not arrive on stagBechstein Hall programmee breathless). At the time of its opening, concert life and leisure in general in London were enjoying something of a revolution. Theatres and music halls were opening across the west end, a wide public was being introduced to the experience of shopping for pleasure in the new “department stores” (Selfridges is a mere 10 minute walk, at the most, from Wigmore Street), and with cheap and efficient public transport, it was easy for people to enjoy these delights in the centre of the metropolis. A new breed of international concert promoters, agents and impresarios, such as Robert Newman, who with conductor Henry Wood founded the world-famous Proms, were dedicated to organising high-quality recitals, and Bechstein Hall alone scheduled two hundred concerts. The opening concert featured the virtuoso pianist and composer Ferruccio Busoni and violinist Eugène Ysaÿe; soon London’s concert-going populace were flocking to Bechstein Hall to see Frank Merrick and Leopold Godowsky, Artur Schnabel, Chopin specialist Vladimir de Pachmann, Camille Saint-Saens, Max Reger and ‘Valkyrie of the Piano’, the Venezuelan lady pianist Teresa Carreňo. The hall continues to enjoy special associations with leading international performers to this day.

The hall was designed by architect Thomas Edward Collcutt who also designed the Savoy Hotel on the Strand. The interior is Renaissance style, with marble and alabaster walls, and above the small bell-shaped stage is a beautiful Arts and Crafts frieze designed by Edward Moira depicting the Soul of Music. In the lights of the hall, the frieze vibrates with the burnished radiance of a Byzantine mosaic.

WigmoreHallInterior-3

During the First World War, it became increasingly difficult for Bechstein Hall to trade viably. Strong anti-German sentiments and the passing of the Trading with the Enemy Amendment Act 1916 led in June 1916 to the hall’s closure, and all property including the concert hall and the showrooms was seized and summarily closed. The hall was sold at auction to Debenhams, was rechristened Wigmore Hall and opened under its new name in 1917.

Alongside its reputation for chamber music of the highest quality, the Wigmore’s audience is famous for its loyalty, intelligence and discernment. It is considered by many musicians to be one of the most demanding audiences of any international concert hall, which brings its own unique set of pressures, and many performers will play a programme in regional venues and for local music societies before “doing a Wigmore”. But the hall holds a special place in the affections of many performers, who regard it as their artistic home in London.

There are no rough edges in this beautifully proportioned, perfect shoe-box of a hall, no jarring modern architectural details to confuse and distract. The tread of the thick crimson carpets is complimented by the red Verona marble frieze, the bustle of Oxford Street and the West End forgotten in the spacious vestibule and elegant green room. Whether playing at the Wigmore or being in the audience, one feels a sense of history, of heritage, for the Wigmore inhabits a different era and ethos to other concert venues in London. All the time one is aware of the great performances that have taken place in the hall, and the walls of the green room are lined with photographs confirming the heritage of the hall: Rachmaninoff scowling, as if the last thing he wanted to do was play the piano, Britten’s severe stare, Tippett’s twinkling eyes.

Vikram Seth’s “sacred shoebox”* is also my sacred space, and when I walk through the glass doors into the vestibule, usually having battled against home-going commuters (everyone going the opposite way to me!), I feel a palpable release of tension. As a member of the audience, attending a concert at the Wigmore has its own special rituals from the moment one steps through the glass doors. The richly-carpeted vestibule is a place where people meet, queue for tickets, purchase programmes, CDs or magazines. Sometimes if you arrive early, you might hear the soloist warming up or the piano tuner making some final adjustments, and that can lend an extra frisson to the evening, a tantalising hint of what is to come. Downstairs the bars and restaurant resonate with lively pre-concert conversations, and sometimes when I am there with friends we might spot a “musical celebrity” – Steven Isserlis, Alfred Brendel, Julian Lloyd Webber. I usually arrive in good time for drinks and chat with friends before the audience bell summons us to the hall and we happily sink into the plush comfort of the crimson seats. In the auditorium, in the moments before the concert begins, one senses the great collective breath of the audience’s expectation.

In 2006, attending a concert of piano music by Fryderyk Chopin by a British pianist I’d never encountered before, the Wigmore Hall took on an additional significance for me, signalling the start of an at times intense and deeply-felt friendship with the pianist who played that night. It was a difficult period in my adult life, a time when I realised, with a shock, that the boundaries of one’s emotional life are not completely impermeable, but ultimately it led, indirectly, to my writing about music for my blog The Cross-Eyed Pianist and in concert reviews, and to taking up the piano again seriously in my 40s. In fact, on reflection, Wigmore Hall rather than pianist had the greater influence: the place provides me with ongoing pleasure and stimulation, and I attend a concert there at least twice a month.

People, usually those who have never stepped inside the Wigmore let alone enjoyed a concert there, grumble about the great age of the audience, but this fiercely loyal audience is what makes the hall – for without an audience there is no such thing as a “concert”. In fact, the Wigmore audience is getting younger and more diverse as the hall has broadened its remit. Today, in addition to lunchtime, evening and Sunday morning “coffee concerts” (where the ever-popular sherry is served after the concert), Wigmore Hall offers a lively education programme, music for small babies and toddlers, and “Wigmore Lates”, concerts which start at 10pm and include not just classical music but jazz and folk too. There are masterclasses and study days with leading performers and composers on subjects such as Schubert’s last piano sonatas and coping with performance anxiety. And on the annual London Open House Weekend visitors can explore the backstage area and even take to the stage, momentarily at least, and maybe dream of playing to a full house…..

FW

 

*Vikram Seth – ‘An Equal Music’


wigmore-hall.org.uk

 

 

Tunnel Music – Eos Trio at Brunel Museum

The ArtMuseLondon team ventured to Rotherhithe Wednesday night for a fine concert in a most unusual venue  – the massive iron shaft down to the Thames tunnel, the first road tunnel under the river, conceived and built by Marc Brunel, and his then unknown  son, Isambard Kingdom. Known as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the tunnel – the first in the world under a major river –  opened in 1843 and hundreds of thousands of people walked through it in its first weeks. Originally the entrance hall to the tunnel, the shaft later provided ventilation from the steam trains which ran beneath, and many vestiges of its earlier role remain, from the soot-scorched walls with their crumbling stucco to the rumble of Overground trains which now run below in the original tunnel. The space was converted to a performance venue in 2016, complete with a freestanding cantilevered staircase (designed by architects Tate Harmer) of which Brunel, father and son, would be justly proud.

The space has a surprisingly good acoustic – with such a high ceiling it’s akin to a large church – and is atmospherically lit to create an intriguing and intimate concert space. But take a cardigan or wrap as, despite the warm evening, inside the shaft was distinctly chilly!

img_0088

Formed in 2017, Eos Trio (Angela Najaryan, Paul Evernden and Jelena Makarova) are a violin, clarinet and piano trio, all alumni of the Royal Academy of Music. They have a passion for both new and older repertoire, and their programme for the evening reflected this, beginning with a Sonata by CPE Bach (arranged for their combination of instruments by Paul Evernden), Arvo Pärt’s Frâtres for violin and piano, a new work by Greek composer Dimitris Maragopulos for clarinet and piano, and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time (for which the trio were joined by Canadian cellist Daryl Giuliano).

This was a most interesting concert, and once one’s ears had tuned in to the rather unusual, echoey acoustic and the strange rumblings and other “noises off” from the railway beneath, it proved an absorbing evening of music, sensitively and imaginatively played. Being so close to the music made it all the more powerful, especially the Messiaen, where the stark venue served as a reminder of the place where the Quartet was originally composed and premiered (a German prisoner of war camp). But this concert wasn’t just about the music – the venue was an integral part of the performance, providing a dramatic backdrop to some of the most spiritually profound music of the 20th century.

 

FW


Eos Trio

Brunel Museum

Just add water: Monet and Architecture at the National Gallery

Monet was born a city-boy, in Paris, but grew up to be the great philosopher-artist of the rural (haystacks) and the bucolic (his lily-pond). Aside from his mirage-like studies of the front of Rouen cathedral, you don’t think of him in relation to architecture, or as having been inspired by the hustle and bustle of city life. Correcting that impression (forgive the pun) is just one of the reasons to visit this deeply satisfying, gently surprising show.

A while ago, it seemed any London gallery finding itself short of cash would schedule a ‘can’t fail’ Impressionism show – until some of them did. The public, it turns out, does know when a pot of paint is being flung at them. But the National Gallery’s show – carefully considered, strongly themed, beautifully paced, and including a number of works rarely if ever seen in London – demonstrates how it should be done. It also rather daringly does it without wall-text. So if it’s important to you to know the title or date of what you’re looking at, you’ll need the audio guide. The show, however, makes perfect sense without.

I want to paint the air”, Monet declared in 1895, and in works such as Fog Effect of 1875, a painting which I simply fell in love with, there and then, did just that.

Effet de brouillard, 1872
Fog Effect (Effet de brouillard), 1872, 47 × 73.7 cm, Mr Joseph D. Conté and Mrs Lynn Von Freter Conté, © Photo courtesy of the owner

His words might put you in mind of Hockney’s Yorkshire landscapes, painting the atmosphere weighing down on the land; the painting certainly will. Suddenly Monet stands in a new relation not only to Hockney but to Millet, and Millet’s scenes of stubbly French fields. Other bits of artistic connective tissue, made visible here, link him to Dutch landscape painting, to Turner, and to Whistler’s London riverscapes above all – indeed, you start to imagine that the two of them must almost have been painting away on the banks of the Thames, easels almost side-by-side, even if a good couple of decades separate their river-scapes.

Charing Cross Bridge, reflets sur la Tamise, 1899-1901
Charing Cross Bridge, Reflections on the Thames (Charing Cross Bridge, reflets sur la Tamise), 1899-1901, 65 × 100 cm, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Helen and Abram Eisenberg Collection, BMA 1945.94, © The Baltimore Museum of Art / Photography By: Mitro Hood

The show also makes you reconsider quite how deliberate and structured Monet’s works were, for all their evanescent, catch-the-moment qualities. He worked out what he wanted to do and how to do it in canvas after canvas, in a series of precise experiments – portraits of backyards, of train stations, of churches and boulevards in different lights, palettes, and weather. What the city and its architecture gave him was life and energy and movement on the surface; the work all goes on underneath. It also gave him steam, rain, snow, fog and pollution – water in every scintillating, evanescent, structure-dissolving form. When he retired to Giverny (the show ends of course with the National Gallery’s own Water-Lily Pond of 1899), you wonder if this was because with failing eyesight, the softer forms of nature were easier to interpret than those of hard architecture. But even there, water was still the key.

JCH


Monet & Architecture, National Gallery, London

Until 29 July 2018

Iconoclassics with Anthony Hewitt – Classical music in an iconic jazz venue

The Jazz Room in Barnes, SW London, affectionately known as “the suburban Ronnie’s Scotts” (and almost as longstanding as the eponymous Soho jazz club), resonated to a different vibe on Sunday evening when internationally-renowned pianist Anthony Hewitt – an artist more used to playing in hallowed gilded spaces such as the Wigmore or Carnegie Halls – gave a concert of classical music by Bach, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel and Gershwin – all performed on the Yamaha upright piano which resides in the Jazz Room. It’s a very good piano, but it ain’t a Steinway model D!

Yet such is Anthony’s skill and sensitively that he wrought myriad sounds and colours from the modest instrument – and somehow listening to Bach (Partita No. 1) in a venue normally reserved for jazz, one suddenly becomes hyper-aware of all the jazzy syncopations and offbeat rhythms inherent in Bach’s writing.

The piano music of Brahms, more usually heard on a modern concert grand, had a lightness which lent a greater poignancy and tenderness to his Op 119 piano pieces; while in Debussy’s Estampes multi-layered lines and textures were revealed.

The second half of the concert swung to the sounds of Ravel’s decadent and sensuous La Valse and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in blue, his vibrant and exhilarating evocation of the melting pot of America and the sounds of the big city. Anthony did a remarkable job in drawing so much colourful sound out of the Yamaha upright to achieve brilliant results.

For the audience, the small size of the Jazz Room means one gets up and close and personal with music and performer in a way which is never possible in a larger or more formal venue. Such closeness creates a very special sense of communication and shared experience between audience and performer, and throughout the concert there was a very palpable sense of people listening really intently – a great compliment to the music and the pianist. In addition, Anthony introduced the music engagingly and audience members were able to meet and chat to him after the performance. As one audience member remarked “the Jazz room is a real gem and now to start a classical series there is an added bonus”.

The concert was billed as “Iconoclassics”, paying homage to the Jazz Room’s iconic status as one of London’s leading jazz venues. More like this please!

The Iconoclast returns…… Anthony Hewitt performs at the Jazz Room on Sunday 26th August. Further information and tickets www.7stararts.com

 

7 Star Arts says: audiences can enjoy more classical music, fused with jazz, world and original compositions on 10 April when pianist and composer Helen Anahita Wilson makes her Jazz Room debut. Book tickets

Picasso’s ‘Year of Wonders’ at Tate Modern

Picasso’s output was so vast and diverse that exhibitions invariably deal with just one aspect of his work. His portraits, for example, were covered by the National Portrait Gallery in 2016, while ‘Minotaurs and Matadors’ at the Gagosian Gallery last year was about his fascination with bullfighting. Now Tate Modern – in what, astonishingly, is its first solo Picasso show – has gone one better by concentrating on a single year of his artistic production. The result is the best art exhibition that I’ve seen in London since the same gallery’s ‘Henri Matisse: the Cutouts’ four years ago.

There are good reasons for choosing 1932 as Picasso’s ‘year of wonders’. Just turned fifty and approaching the summit of his career, success had brought fame and riches, including a château in Normandy and a chauffeur-driven Hispano-Suiza. In June of that year there was a retrospective of Picasso’s work in Paris – rare for living artists in those days – and in September another major show in Zurich. The Zurich exhibition was notable for an excoriating review by C. G. Jung, who concluded that ‘the pictures immediately reveal their alienation from feeling’, suggesting that Picasso might even be psychotic.

Picasso’s private life, meanwhile, was as complicated as ever. By now his marriage to the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhova was more or less on the rocks, and unbeknownst to Olga he had started an affair with a girl nearly thirty years his junior, Marie-Thérèse Walter.

2
Pablo Picasso Nude Woman in a Red Armchair [Femme Nue dans un fauteuil rouge] 1932 Oil Pain on Canvas 1299 x 972 mm Tate. Purchased 1953. (c) Succession Picasso/DACS London, 2018
 As always with Picasso, art mirrored life, and the recurring theme of the show, organised over ten rooms, is the artist’s infatuation with his young mistress. Picasso’s libido was matched only by his phenomenal work rate; after putting in a full day, followed by a leisurely dinner, he would often go back to the studio for another four or five hours. In the first six months of the year he painted some of the most erotically-charged paintings in the history of art: ‘Sleep’, ‘The Dream’ and the iconic ‘Girl before a Mirror’ from the Met in New York.

Picasso’s inspiration was clear enough, although what Olga thought of it all is anyone’s guess. Olga was a svelte brunette, Marie-Thérèse a buxom blonde; so on the evidence of the paintings alone, how could Olga not have suspected that something was going on? Yet she only found out in 1935, when Marie-Thérèse became pregnant.

3
Pablo Picasso The Crucifixion [La crucifixion] 1932 Ink on paper 345 x 505 mm Musée National Picasso (c) Succession Picasso/DACS London, 2018

Picasso being Picasso, however, there was a flip side to this coin, and as the exhibition goes on it gets darker and darker. In September and October he suddenly changed tack and produced a series of tortuous drawings inspired by the crucifixion scene in Matthias Grünewald’s mighty Isenheim Altarpiece at Colmar. And what is one to make of the canvases and etchings that Picasso produced at the very end of the year, showing women either succumbing to sexual violence or drowning while out bathing? It’s been suggested that the drowning motif may have been triggered when Marie-Thérèse contracted a serious viral infection while swimming in the polluted river Marne. In any case, as the exhibition points out, some of the paintings in the last room, such as ‘The Rescue’ from early 1933, foreshadow the angst-ridden themes of ‘Guernica’ four years later.

Or maybe Jung was on to something.

NM

Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy: until 9 September 2018

4
Pablo Picasso Girl before a Mirror [Jeune fille devant un miroir] 1932 Oil paint on canvas 1623 x 1302 mm The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mrs. Solomon Guggenheim 1937 (c) Succession Picasso/DACS London, 2018

All too human curating at Tate Britain

‘All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a century of painting life’ at Tate Britain takes its cue from an article written by Walter Sickert for ‘The New Age’ magazine in 1910, in which Sickert called for art to mirror ‘the sensation of a page torn from the book of life’. Despite this intriguing premise, ‘All Too Human’ is marred by questionable curating decisions, some of which I found completely baffling.

For one thing, although it claims to span ‘a century of art making’, the exhibition doesn’t really deal with the first half of the twentieth century at all, unless you count the rather perfunctory selection, including two paintings by Stanley Spencer, in the first room. The real starting point is actually Bacon’s brooding ‘Figure in a Landscape’ (1945). A better subtitle might have been ‘Paintings by the School of London’, because, in addition to Bacon and Freud, the big names here are all post-war London artists: David Bomberg, Leon Kossoff, Frank Auerbach, Michael Andrews and Ron Kitaj.

Euan Uglow 1932-2000 Georgia 1973 Oil paint on canvas 838 x 1118 mm British Council Collection © The Estate of Euan Uglow

Another caveat that I should enter, because it’s not entirely clear from the title, is that although this is a show about painting ‘life’, it’s not really about painting from life as such. Freud, of course, painted directly from the model but Bacon, for example, worked almost exclusively from photographs. True, there’s a room of carefully-composed paintings by William Coldstream, Euan Uglow and the Slade school, whose traditional methods Bomberg dismissed as ‘the hand and eye disease’. Mostly, though, the emphasis here is on the ‘conceptual’ rather than the ‘perceptual’ .

The selection of artists in the show is frequently bizarre. Where is David Hockney? The only possible explanation I can think of for his absence (he isn’t even mentioned) is Hockney’s lack of a London connection – not a recent one, at any rate. Or perhaps Tate Britain thinks we’ve had enough of him after all the hype surrounding last year’s retrospective. Equally odd is the decision to devote an entire room to the work of the Indian artist F. N. Souza, who worked in London for a while after the war (he painted a bit like Jean Debuffet) before moving to New York in 1967. Without wishing to sound chauvinistic, why include Souza and not, for the sake of argument, Richard Hamilton, John Minton or Carel Weight? Sticking my neck out still further, why does the final segment of the show, covering the last thirty years, include only women artists: Paula Rego, Jenny Saville, Celia Paul, Cecily Brown and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye? Why no Julian Opie or Peter Doig or Gary Hume?

Francis Bacon, 1909-1992 Study for Portrait of Lucian Freud 1964 Oil paint on canvas 1980 x 1476 mm The Lewis Collection © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS, London Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.

Otherwise, Bacon and Freud predictably take centre stage, cropping up not only in each other’s paintings but also in other people’s – Michael Andrews’s ‘Colony Room I’ (1962), for example, although there’s no mention of this on the wall label. The big draw is supposedly Bacon’s seldom-exhibited portrait of Freud from 1964 but I find it rather a comical thing, almost a caricature, reminding you that sometimes Bacon could produce thunderously bad art. Thankfully, there are much better works by Bacon here.

Freud gets a huge room to himself. The overall effect is undoubtedly impressive, although I still prefer the paintings he did before he discovered hog hair brushes, including the two portraits of Kitty Garman, his first wife (‘Girl with a Kitten’ and ‘Girl with a White Dog’), both of which crop up earlier in the show. Kenneth Clark would have agreed, once telling Freud as much to his face (that took guts): Freud never spoke to him again,

Paula Rego, born 1935 The Family 1988 Acrylic paint on canvas backed paper 2134 x 2134 mm Marlborough International Fine Art

The true creative genius here, though, in my opinion, is Bomberg, and this isn’t the first time he’s stood out for me in a survey show of twentieth century British art. Even before he left the Slade in 1913 Bomberg was producing stunningly original paintings with the merest nod to contemporary Cubism and Futurism. Between the wars he went off to paint landscapes in Spain; ‘Toledo from the Alcazar’ (1929), shown here, is a knockout. Both in his own work and in his later teaching at the Borough Polytechnic Bomberg was an advocate of ‘painterly’ values, and his importance in this regard to Auerbach, Kossoff and indeed Freud emerges very clearly in ‘All Too Human’. (I can’t illustrate his work because the organisers obviously don’t think it’s important enough to be included among their authorised images).

Pallant House Gallery in Chichester recently held a retrospective of Bomberg’s work but the Tate hasn’t had a major show on him since 1988. If anyone epitomises the search for truth through painting – the hallmark, you might say, of the School of London – for me it’s Bomberg. He deserves to be up there with Sickert, Spencer, Bacon and Freud.

NM

All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a century of painting life: Tate Britain till 27 August 2018

ArtMuseLondon recommends…… ‘Phantom Thread’

Phantom Thread, the latest film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, The Master) is an intense, beautifully-crafted meditation on creativity and obsession. Said to be Daniel Day-Lewis’s final film before he retires (he has stated this is the case and he’s not given to changing his mind), the film explores the relationship between a man and the women in his life through the lens of a couture house in London in the 1950s. This eye-wateringly sumptuous setting also provides the backdrop for an examination of the nature of creativity and the persona and habits of a creative individual.

DDL plays Reynolds Woodcock, an English couturier to society ladies, princesses and dames. He is fastidious to the point of ridiculousness (and this makes for some wonderful comic set pieces, usually over breakfast). Effete, almost autistically-obsessive and buttoned-up, he rules his workshop and fashion studio with a hawk-like eye for detail and a violent distaste for anything considered “chic”.

The women in his life are the ladies in his workshop who sew and create the dresses he designs, Cyril, his sister and business partner (played by Lesley Manville with a masterfully cool acerbity and authority) and Alma (Vicky Krieps), a pretty young waitress whom he meets at a country hotel and who becomes his muse. Over time, Alma determines to unbutton Reynolds via a sequence of weird and dysfunctional Hitchockian schemes which bring a piquant ambiguity to the narrative right up to the close of the film.

It’s a delicious feast for the eyes, not least the surreally-beautiful gowns which are paraded through the film, and the scenes of 1950s London. DDL inhabits the role fully – just as he did in There Will Be Blood – with a brooding intensity, impossibly controlling and exquisitely bizarre in his appearance, manner and attitudes. The overall feeling throughout the film is one of claustrophobia and neurosis. For example, Reynolds’ intolerance of noise at breakfast when he is trying to sketch new designs, hints at the unsociability and almost pretentious meticulousness of the creative person (traits which I have observed in musicians, writers and artists).

phantom-thread-daniel-day-lewis

The lavish visual impact and unsettling narrative of the film is further enhanced by the score by Jonny Greenwood, who has worked with Paul Thomas Anderson before, which perfectly captures both the period of the piece (lush, silky strings, touches of popular jazz and dance music) and the obsessive atmosphere – unsettling dissonances, minimalist loops, slithering harmonies, itchy anxious strings, Baroque statements and Messiaen-esque timbres, spiky harp sounds and pearly droplets of piano notes. I was fortunate enough to see a preview of the film with a live score, performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra, which brought film and score to life with an immediacy made the viewing even more concentrated, as if in a state of heightened reality.

Phantom Thread is strange, beautiful, unpredictable, bizarre, poised and Gothic, very much deserving of its standing ovation at the Royal Festival Hall last night, and its Oscar nominations.

Highly recommended

 

FW


Phantom Thread opens in the UK on 2 February 2018