Going for a song | 10 September 2015

This column does like a bargain. Indeed, it not only esteems and relishes a bargain, it has also worked long and hard to prove Milton Friedman wrong. Sometimes there really is such a thing as a free lunch. And for those of us still wedded to the notion of owning music on some kind of

Arts feature

See no evil

When I was at university, Reggie Kray was my penpal. I wrote to him in 1991, asking for an interview for The Word, an Oxford student newspaper. Kray was unavoidably detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure. But he sent me a prompt, polite letter back. ‘Thanks for your letter,’ he wrote. ‘I will see you as


Nice work

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Kate Maltby and Igor Toronyi-Lalic discuss Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet” startat=1642] Listen [/audioplayer]You can’t play the part of Hamlet, only parts of Hamlet. And the bits Benedict Cumberbatch offers us are of the highest calibre. He delivers the soliloquies with a meticulous and absorbing clarity like a lawyer in the robing room mastering a


Get me to an opera house

In anyone’s hands, Verdi’s Aida is not the easiest opera to raise up to greatness on the stage. How does a director spotlight hidden subtleties, musical or dramatic, in a libretto and subject so easily swamped by the spectacle of marching breastplates, roaring divas, Egyptian bling and the aroma and sway of live camels? Novice


Cock and bull

It’s hard to know whether the actor James Norton was being naive or disingenuous when he claimed in publicity interviews for BBC1’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover that ‘We are no longer shocked that people have sex.’ Either way, the tabloids soon proved him wrong. Days before the programme went out, the Sun had duly worked itself


Lines of beauty | 10 September 2015

Marshall McLuhan got it at least half right. The medium may not always be the entire message, but it certainly dictates the kind of message that can be transmitted. This is one lesson of Drawing in Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns, an exhibition at the British Museum that is packed with subtle masterpieces,


Dual control | 10 September 2015

Legend is a biopic of the Kray twins starring Tom Hardy as Reggie and Tom Hardy as Ronnie, so it’s buy one get one free, and this offer will sell the film. It sold it to me, who would otherwise have little interest in the Krays, and was never moved to correspond with either (see