Orchestra of the Swan Glides into Old Street

It’s Thursday night and the bars and pubs in Shoreditch are lit up and pumping out music into the cold November air.  I have come to an album launch of Stratford-Upon Avon-based Orchestra of the Swan. It’s an edgy venue at Kachett, under the railway arches in Old Street. Half of the musicians have travelled up to London…

Poussin and the Dance at the National Gallery, London

 Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)  A thought-provoking exhibition which offers a different view of Poussin’s early work in Rome and displays his paintings in a sympathetic and joyous environment.  Guest review by Sarah Mulvey Detail from a Bacchanalian Revel Before a Term, ca.1632-33, London, National Gallery  I am spellbound before Poussin’s painting of the Adoration of the Golden Calf in the…

Two of US: Lucas Meachem & Irina Meachem, ‘Shall We Gather’

This is a big, bold, beautiful beast of an album: a concept recital that uses song to grapple with belonging, community and how those noble aims align with what it means to be American. Let me say at the outset that this is a bravura performance by both singer and pianist. This may be a…

Much to admire in Philip Glass’s Satyagraha at ENO

In the past fifty years, avant-garde thinker, artist, composer, Philip Glass, has notched up thirty operas, three more than the prolific Verdi. It’s an amazing achievement for a contemporary living composer and there is no doubt that Glass’s minimalist scores have done much to break open the opera genre.  It is only fitting therefore that…

Igor Gryshyn Touches the Divine with his Scriabin Sonata

I discovered German-Ukranian pianist Igor Gryshyn, listening to soprano Olena Tokar sing on her album Charmes. Gryshyn accompanied her and the focus was clearly on the very talented Tokar. Gryshyn’s solo album Transitions has followed and reveals his own brilliance, and love for composers, Viktor Kosenko (1896-1938); his 11 Études to be precise, and the better-known Alexander Scriabin,…

Portal remains: Wyndow, ‘Wyndow’

Even when dealing with highly original, individual talents, sometimes musicians collaborate and produce something so complete that – not only do you wonder how they never found each other before – it also sounds like they’ve already been working together for years. This is the case with the self-titled debut album by Wyndow, whose core…

Darkness and Light: Nightlight – Cordelia Williams, piano

Darkness and light pervade Cordelia Williams’ latest release, Nightlight, which explores the many facets of nighttime – its turmoil, terror and tenderness, and the longing for and consolation of light – through a programme of brooding, atmospheric and ultimately consoling music.

Climbing the walls: ‘Jenůfa’, Royal Opera House

Perhaps it’s appropriate that the first opera I’ve seen at Covent Garden since lockdown is this unflinching depiction of confinement and familial dysfunction, Claus Guth’s new staging of Janáček’s masterpiece, ‘Jenůfa’. (Please beware spoilers in this piece – I’ll be roaming around the entirety of the plot, the better to discuss the production.) The drama…

Summer Exhibition 2021 at the Royal Academy of Arts

Summer Exhibitions at the RA are often organised around a single unifying idea – ‘From Life’, say, or ‘Man Made’ – although most years you wonder why they bother, for all the difference it makes to the range (or quality) of submissions. The theme this year, though, ‘Reclaiming Magic’, is apt, because for once the…