Blistering Performance by Stuart Jackson on ‘Flax and Fire’

  On Flax and Fire, operatic tenor Stuart Jackson offers a recording of love songs from the romantic repertoire of Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt and Hugo Wolf, with more contemporary works by William Denis Browne and Benjamin Britten. Britten opens the album with homages to Purcell but I really started to listen from track three. Um Mitternacht…

Navarra Quartet take on ‘Love and Death’

  On the 17th July the Navarra Quartet release ‘Love and Death’ on Orchid Classics, profound themes that power artistic creation. Joaquín Turina’s exotic and passionate La oración del torero (The bullfighter’s prayer) is an invigorating start to the album. Originally a work composed for four lutes in the 1920s, the arrangement for violin, viola…

Body and soul: Anakronos, ‘The Red Book of Ossory’

This brilliant suite of songs practises its own apparent witchcraft, seducing you more or less straightaway with its beauty – which doesn’t fade after repeated listens. But as the debut album from Anakronos grows more familiar, it reveals and revels in layer after layer of sinister chills and thought-provoking arrangements and effects. Anakronos are a…

The Velvet Underground & Nico: The Ultimate Statement of Popular Art?

Guest post by Doug Thomas I recently re-immersed myself in the works of The Velvet Underground — especially The Velvet Underground & Nico (TVU&N) — and self-flagellated myself for not having written anything about it before. The album, released in 1967, is The Ultimate Statement of Popular Art, and an incredibly accurate portrait of the…

Mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge and Irish composer Sir Hamilton Harty

Sir Hamilton Harty, composer of many songs of the Edwardian era, has the sort of name you would associate with the character from a Woodhouse novel. He was however a serious musician of Irish extraction from County Down. In 1901 he left Dublin, where he was church organist, and headed to London. Though virtually unknown…

Camerata Tchaikovsky’s ‘Russian Colours’ sheds new light on Alexander Glazunov

London-based string orchestra, Camerata Tchaikovsky, releases its second recording, Russian Colours on Orchid Classics on June 19th 2020. The heavyweights of the Russian romantic canon are all there on this album: Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Borodin, Arensky, and the lesser known, and the under-appreciated, Alexander Glazunov.  Taught by Rimsky Korsakov at the St Petersburg Conservatoire,  Glazunov was…

Virtual reality

I think experience has now told us – if we needed convincing – that these communal events are worth having. Not because they’re a substitute for live events, but because they ‘top us up’ culturally and emotionally, while reminding us to never lose sight of the irreplaceable power of the real thing.

Celebration of Dutch master Nicolaes Maes at the National Gallery

    I admit I hadn’t heard of Nicholaes Maes, reportedly Rembrandt’s favourite pupil, so I was very keen to discover his work at the National Gallery at the beginning of March 2020, just before lockdown. The mid-seventeenth century must have been an exciting time for the young Maes, who left his home town of…

Titian: Love, Desire, Death extended at the National Gallery

When COVID-19 forced the doors of the National Gallery to shut on 18 March 2020, it meant that the long planned, eagerly anticipated, once in a lifetime exhibition Titian: Love, Desire, Death also had to close after being open for just three days. Universally acclaimed Titian: Love, Desire, Death brings together the artist’s epic series…