Singing siblings

10 December 2011 12:00 pm

The Unthanks couldn’t have chosen a more fitting venue for the first night of their current tour than St James’s…

Pure and simple

26 November 2011 10:00 am

Philip Hensher finds Stephen Sondheim, in his later years, side-stepping from smartness into sincerity

Sound and vision

19 November 2011 11:00 am

The 20th century was a century of musical revolutions. One of the last and most audacious ignited 50 years ago…

Brain gain

19 November 2011 11:00 am

The arrival of the composer Eric Whitacre and his family in London as permanent residents brings a ray of Californian…

Pump up the volume

12 November 2011 12:00 pm

It occurs to me sometimes that this column is, essentially, one long and painful confessional. I admit to enjoying all…

What’s in a name?

5 November 2011 2:00 pm

There was a time when ‘classical music’ meant something you could put your finger on. It denoted the musical period…


22 October 2011 2:00 pm

The Biophilia live show at Harpa, Reykjavik is another cog in the complex wheel that makes up Björk’s eighth album,…

Box of delights

22 October 2011 2:00 pm

I don’t know about you but I have to steel myself these days to turn on the Today programme in…

Ideal marriage

15 October 2011 1:00 pm

In all the heavier-duty excitement of Liszt’s anniversary I had failed to register that W.S. Gilbert expired 100 years ago;…

All that jazz

8 October 2011 4:00 pm

The human voice has always been celebrated as one of the most direct forms of musical and personal expression. This is especially true in jazz, where improvisation is such a key element. We so often listen to singers ‘baring their soul’, revealing something ‘deep within’.

Giving it some Elbow

8 October 2011 4:00 pm

What with one thing and another, I had rather lost track of what Sting was up to. Still on the lute? Moved on to nose flutes?

Classical affair

1 October 2011 12:00 am

Before Stephen Fry walked on to the stage at the Barbican on Monday to take part in a discussion on…

Metal head

24 September 2011 12:00 am

CNN recently referred to Birmingham as ‘the unlikely birthplace of heavy metal’. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is hosting…

Understanding Boulez

24 September 2011 12:00 am

What was it Sir Thomas Beecham said about Stockhausen? ‘I’ve never conducted any of his music, but I once trod…

Lucky charms

10 September 2011 12:00 am

I have just finished a book (writing one, not reading one, you fool) and, as ever, I am hoping that it’s good enough and people will like it.

Fatal flaw

10 September 2011 12:00 am

I love the story of Jane Eyre more than life itself, which has never been much cop but, infuriatingly, I could not love this adaptation.

Inspired by Mahler

27 August 2011 11:00 am

The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra will be giving the concluding two concerts of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival under its chief conductor Jonathan Nott.

In times of trouble

20 August 2011 12:00 am

This year is the 500th anniversary of the death of Tomás Luis de Victoria, whose work, as I have written before, I consider to be the most moving High Renaissance music there is.

Blighted by Dylan

13 August 2011 12:00 am

I loathe that voice. Why doesn't everyone?

Musical mockery

6 August 2011 12:00 am

Betwixt pulls apart the musical while expecting its audience to still believe

On a slow night

30 July 2011 1:00 pm

American trio Low are what you get when a band evolves far from the established music scenes of laidback California and buzzing NYC. Fronted by husband and wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, their sound evokes the relative isolation and five-month winters of their native Duluth, Minnesota, with glacial tempos and minimal arrangements, laced with almost folky two-part harmony. Now, nine albums into their career, they can sell out the Barbican’s main hall.

Present imperfect

23 July 2011 12:00 am

Handel’s Rinaldo, the product of a composer of 25, we should remind ourselves, is not thought, nowadays, to be a masterpiece even by the most fervent Handelians, though when it was first produced in 1711 it was wildly successful, thanks to acres of coloratura and some very elaborate scenic effects.

Tim Rice: a hard graft to success

23 July 2011 12:00 am

When one thinks of Tim Rice, one doesn’t exactly picture a man who has had a tremendous struggle to make it to the top.

Happy anniversaries

16 July 2011 12:00 am

There has been much to celebrate in Barcelona this week for musicians of a certain bent.

Rubies and pearls

18 June 2011 1:00 pm

It’s so rare I want to shout about anything from the rooftops but I do want to shout from the rooftops about The Ruby Dolls and their latest show, Rubies in the Attic, which takes cabaret and shapes it into something so original that if you can catch it you must.