Early adopters

The death of Gustav Leonhardt at the age of 83 brings to an end the career of one of the giants of the early music movement. As an organist, harpsichordist and conductor he was long at the forefront of the experiments and revelations that the drive to perform music on period instruments made possible. He


There will be blood | 7 April 2012

John Webster had one amazing skill. He could craft lines that glow in the memory like radioactive gems. ‘A politician is the devil’s quilted anvil; he fashions all sins on him, and the blows are never heard.’ Eliot loved him. Pinter used to stroll around the parks of Hackney shouting his soundbites into the sky.


Standing room only | 7 April 2012

Of all the operatic ventures that have sprung up in England in the past 20 years, Birmingham Opera Company may well be the most remarkable. Its artistic director is Graham Vick, who is well acquainted with opera at its most elitist — he was artistic director of Glyndebourne from 1994 to 2000. BOC is at


Repeat proscription

If only there was an alternative ending to the Titanic story. We could use a change. ‘Phew, we almost hit that iceberg!’ Or, ‘Thank goodness the White Star Line made sure there were ample lifeboats for everyone on board!’ Or even, ‘So it’s true — this ship really is unsinkable, and tomorrow night we will


To the point

Ten years ago, Duncan MacAskill went into Rymans to buy some drawing pins and was struck by the range of colours on offer. That moment of revelation led him to construct a self-portrait from drawing pins, adapting the ideas of Seurat’s pointillism, and the ben-day dot approach of Roy Lichtenstein, to contemporary needs and materials.

Sacramental vision

As the focus for an Easter meditation, David Jones’s ‘Sanctus Christus de Capel-y-ffin’ (1925), a small, heartfelt painting in gouache on paper, could scarcely be bettered. The Crucifixion takes place in a luminous landscape with the bird of hope in attendance. This is the world of medieval illuminated manuscripts and ivory carvings, a highly sophisticated


Twilight zone

I’m not sure that everything wrong with the world can be blamed on Twilight — but most of it can. Ever since those oh-so-dreamy vampire stories first set hearts a-fluttering and cash registers a-ringing, Hollywood has been looking out for other fantasy yarns to strip down and hawk to 13-year-old girls. And now it has


Night life

He’s got the perfect voice for radio, gruff and gravelly, slow and measured so you can catch every word. His new series is not, as you might expect, on 6 or 1, or even 2, but on 4. Jarvis Cocker’s Wireless Nights (late on Thursdays) is quite a coup for the former Home Service, the