Drake’s progress

Those poor Canadian rappers. Hailing from a country with a functioning benefits system, sensible firearms restrictions and relatively harmonious race relations, it must be a job convincing people of their authenticity. Aubrey Drake Graham, however, has risen above this cruel accident of birth — in Toronto, to a white Jewish mother — to become not

Age concern | 9 February 2017

Brahms didn’t always have a beard. The picture in the London Symphony Orchestra’s programme book showed him clean-shaven, and rightly. The beard didn’t reach its final imposing form until 1878, around the time Brahms started sketching his Second Piano Concerto. (‘Prepare your wife for the grisly spectacle,’ he wrote to his friend Bernhard Scholz, ‘for

Arts feature

Some like it hot

In the mid-6th century, legend has it, St Brendan set off from Ireland with a currach-load of monks on a mission to find the Isle of the Blessed. The Irish like to think that his Atlantic odyssey took him to Newfoundland before the Vikings; what seems more probable, if you believe the medieval account, is


Timeless and dated

Tennessee Williams’s breakthrough play is a portrait of his dysfunctional family. A young writer, Tom (Williams’s real name), lives with his effusively domineering mother and his painfully coy sister, Laura. Mother, once a famous beauty, gets Tom to find an eligible chap for Laura. Tough call. Beautiful Laura has a deformed ankle and she’s just


Losing the plot | 9 February 2017

Fully to enjoy Opera North’s new production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel you need to take a trinocular perspective on it, but you can enjoy it a lot anyway. You could be mystified, if you don’t know the story, by the setting and action, as indeed I was some of the time despite having recently


Impaired vision

With the Shannon Matthews story, it’s not easy to accentuate the positive — but BBC1’s The Moorside (Tuesday) is having a go nonetheless. Although touching at times, the result ultimately proves a rather awkward watch. Shannon was nine when she went missing from the Moorside estate, Dewsbury, in February 2008. Her mother Karen made a


Sunny delight

No Californian could have painted Hockney’s pools. No La-La Land artist, raised on sun and orange juice, would have done tiles and diving boards and tan-lined bottoms as the boy from Bradford did. It had to be a Hockney, brought up, the fourth of five children, in a two-up two-down. Hockney, who aged three had


Mother superior

Unlike with buses, you wait ages and ages for one fabulous film as framed by the older female perspective to come along and then there’s absolutely no saying when the next one will be, or if there will ever be another. (Indeed, a recent study of 2,000 films found that women in the 42–65 age


Rules of engagement

The BBC foreign correspondent Hugh Sykes was meant to be talking about how music has shaped his life with Sarah Walker on Essential Classics last week (Radio 3, Friday), but their conversation actually gave us far more crucial insights into why he has won awards for his work, reporting from troubled places such as Tehran,