Great Grosvenor

To the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Wednesday evening for Benjamin Grosvenor’s first recital there. Barely twenty years old, he’s already a media star due to his own exceptional abilities and canny management and marketing. What makes him stand out from his peers is his complete but unfashioable affinity with the repertoire and style of playing of the…

Unpublished Revelations

  Over forty years ago, I started collecting material about Leopold Godowsky: newspaper clippings, magazine articles, references in autobiographies, recordings and music. To cut a very long story short and fourteen publisher rejections later, the book finally appeared between hard covers in 1989 thanks to Bryan Crimp of APR.             During the four years prior to…

Yeoman Yawn

I don’t think I had sat through The Yeoman of the Guard since I was a small boy taken, as I often was, to the Theatre Royal, Hanley, to see the D’Oyly Carte Company on tour in the 1950s.  Whereas I can still sing most of The Mikado, much of The Gondoliers and quite a…

Richard 11 and This England

Shakespeare’s plays (like opera) rarely work on the small screen. Even in the cinema they tend to be heavy-handed with performances played at the same level as on stage. The production of Richard 11  on Saturday night (BBC2) was a shining, magnificent exception. On every level – performances, costumes, direction, decor, lighting, editing, verse speaking – the…

The Art of Doing Nothing

A few weeks ago I interviewed the distinguished pianist and teacher Hamish Milne for one of the magazines I write for (and incidentally if you haven’t heard his latest two-disc set for Hyperion of short piano works by Medtner you really should). One of the things he said was that when he is asked, as…

Damp Fireworks in Stirling

Even for those familiar with the favelas of Caracas, ending up on a stretch of waste ground in the middle of a council estate in Raploch must have been a bit of a teeth-grinder. At least there would have been sun in Caracas – and an audience. Here, beneath the glowering Stirling Castle, a couple…

The Lost Romantics

Resurrecting the second division 19th century composers. In his opening number, the eponymous Mikado in Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta sings of the music-hall singer who attends a series of ‘masses and fugues and ’ops / By Bach, interwoven / With Spohr and Beethoven, / At classical Monday Pops.’ Yes, Ludwig (or Louis as he called…