What’s in a name? | 5 November 2011

There was a time when ‘classical music’ meant something you could put your finger on. It denoted the musical period between roughly 1750 and 1800, when Haydn, Mozart and many others wrote symphonies, concertos and instrumental pieces with a sense of form and grace that were likened to the art and architecture of Classical Greece

Arts feature

Stealing beauty

I’m standing alongside Angela Rosengart, in a room full of portraits Picasso drew of her, when something spooky happens. Out of the corner of my eye, the old woman beside me becomes the young woman on the wall. It’s over in an instant, but it’s still strange and rather wonderful. For a moment, Frau Rosengart

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Mixing it

The term ‘fusion’ is a trendy one, which hints at the interaction of ingredients from different backgrounds in many areas of today’s culture. In dance, it often refers to the pairing of different genres, such as modern dance or hip-hop and ballet, or to the coupling of a distinctively western choreographic idiom with an equally


Fantasy auction

Have you ever felt the urge to rush backstage, brushing aside the objections of minders, and introduce yourself to a favourite actor? Or perhaps you’ve fantasised about dressing up in the old clothes of a Hollywood star? Don’t blush and walk away! We can reveal exclusively that you have nothing to be ashamed of. On

Splendid dereliction

Long may it lie in ruins. Wilton’s Music Hall, in the East End of London, is a wondrous slice of Victoriana which exploits its failing grandeur to the max. All visitors are implored to find a couple of quid for the restoration effort. But decay and dilapidation are the best things about it. Every wrinkled


Heaven and hell | 5 November 2011

Rameau is the great baroque master who has yet to be properly rediscovered, at any rate in the UK. It isn’t easy to see why, when one contemplates the Handel-mania that has been sweeping the land for the past quarter-century. Rameau is at least as melodically fertile, his scoring is extraordinary and often extraordinarily lovely,


Padding out

One of the useful things about having teen and near-teenage kids is discovering what the vulgar masses watch. Last week, for example, during half-term, I got to see two hugely popular programmes which I would probably never have bothered watching on my own: Undercover Boss USA (Channel 4, Wednesday) and The X Factor (ITV, Saturday,


Sensation seeker

For far too long, John Martin (1789–1854) has been dismissed as ‘Mad’ Martin, the prophet of doom. In the eyes of many, this unacademic painter was a grotesque curiosity, producing colossal pictures of apocalyptic destruction, crude dramas of catastrophe and tumult, much to the delight of the populace. The mere fact that he was so


Triple bill

Three films for you this week, amazingly, and they are all at the smaller, independent end of the spectrum because I’ve had my fill of mainstream blockbusters, at least for the minute, and probably know all I will ever need to know about evil villains who wish to take over the world. (Just take it


After the tyrants

What’s the best way for a dictator to fall, wondered Owen Bennett-Jones on Saturday night’s Archive on 4 (Radio 4, produced by Simon Watts). Is sending the deposed dictator into exile better for the recovery of the abused nation than execution? Would a domestic trial lead more quickly to justice than an international tribunal? These