Saturday, November 22, 2014


John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary opened in its first-ever full staging at ENO last night. I was mesmerised and mind-blown. Here's  my review... 

There is something extraordinary about seeing a composer taking a bow for a really fantastic new(ish) piece in front of a standing ovation. It doesn't happen very often, and when it does, it's a privilege to be there.

Dear ENO, why, oh WHY were the dancers not honoured with biographies in the programmes? A lot of us are really cross about this. They were marvellous. They deserve equal billing.

Anyhow, go and see it. There are only 5 more performances. Book here.

And here's an introduction on film.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Robeson rides again

The glad news that Steve McQueen is making a film about Paul Robeson is inspiring a good look at who this legendary singer, actor and activist really was, and what he did, and what America did to him. I've written this, for the Independent - out today.

This is a recording of him performing and talking to the Welsh miners - many thanks to Peter Tregear for sending it my way.

And here he is singing Sarastro's aria - transposed down!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Exploring John Ogdon, tonight

This evening at the Richmond-upon-Thames Literature Festival I'm interviewing John Ogdon's biographer, Charles Beauclerk, about his tour-de-force book Piano Man. You may remember we did a similar event a couple of months ago at the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival - it went so well that we're reuniting. The event is TONIGHT at York House, Twickenham. Starts 7pm, lasts about an hour, and Charles will be doing a book signing afterwards.

Here is a taster of Ogdon's utter genius. This is rare film of him playing part of Liszt's Dante Sonata. (The opening announcements, by the way, are the kind of thing that one senses many critics of BBC Radio 3 would like to hear restored to today's airwaves.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jonas Kaufmann, Lang Lang, Bambi and a beard


This was the performance by Jonas Kaufmann & Lang Lang at the BAMBI awards in Berlin yesterday. JK sings 'Dein ist mein ganzes Herz' with LL at the piano; first time they've worked together. The latter gives a very fast, but rather invigorating, Mozart Turkish Rondo first. Jonas is sporting a beard, over which the jury is currently out, but he's in astonishing voice. Happy Friday, everyone.

Some very special visitors...

The BBC has given a prime TV slot - 8pm on Sunday evening, BBC4 - to a new documentary about an actual orchestra. This isn't any old orchestra, though: it is the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra from Congo, or rather the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste. The film follows its formation, development and journey to London to perform at the Royal Festival Hall in spring 2014 and is narrated by its own players. Do tune in. And if you can't, you'll be able to find it on the iPlayer for 30 days afterwards, here.

Here is a taster to brighten up your day on this very rainy Friday...
(Apologies - this video is only available in the UK. Hopefully that also applies to today's weather.)