Sound and fury | 28 January 2016

No one is consulted. No one is held to account. No one has the authority to turn it off. How is it that muzak has slipped through every legal control? The blame, I’d say, lies with those who are frightened of silence — with those who spend more money in shops that buzz to a

Arts feature

Magnetic north

‘Edvard Munch, I cannot abide,’ wrote Nikolai Astrup in a letter to his friend Arne Giverholt. ‘Everything that he does is supposed to be so brilliant that it doesn’t have to be more than merely sketched.’ Near contemporaries, Munch and Astrup were both innovative and admired painters but while Munch is today one of the


Fine vintage

A beautiful crumbling theatre in Notting Hill is under threat. The Coronet, which bills itself as the Print Room, faces the menace of renovation. The lovely rambling building has the tumbledown air of an abandoned Romanian palace. The raised stage sits opposite the dress circle of a former cinema and the auditorium, steeply raked, is


Northern lights | 28 January 2016

Opera North continues to be the most reliable, inspiring, resourceful and enterprising opera company in the United Kingdom, and all that without taking account of its extremely limited budget. From April through July it will be presenting its remarkable interpretation of Wagner’s Ring cycle in various cities, including London, so it may not be surprising


An inconvenient truth | 28 January 2016

On the face of it, the Netflix documentary serial Making a Murderer should only take up ten hours of your life. Judging from my experience, though, its ten episodes will prove so overwhelmingly riveting that you’re going to need at least two more days to scour the internet in an obsessive quest for every scrap


Show me the Monet

Philip Larkin once remarked that Art Tatum, a jazz musician given to ornate, multi-noted flourishes on the keyboard, reminded him of ‘a dressmaker, who having seen how pretty one frill looks, makes a dress bearing ninety-nine’. If you substitute paintings of flower-beds and dappled sunlight for chromatic keyboard runs, something similar is true of the


Doing the wrong thing

Like The Revenant and The Big Short, Spotlight is yet another Oscar contender ‘based on true events’ — although it has now been suggested that The Revenant was 99.7 per cent made up. (Does this matter? Only, I suppose, in the sense that you should know what you’re watching.) But we’re on firm ground with


Lessons in the surreal

The new season of the Serial podcast (produced by the same team who make This American Life) was launched last month, releasing one episode a week as the investigative reporter Sarah Koenig looks this time into the strange story of Bowe Bergdahl. He’s the US army soldier who walked out on his platoon in 2009