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Collaborating with chaos

John Hoyland dislikes being called ‘one of Britain’s leading abstract painters’. He thinks it’s lazy thinking, and over-reliance on labelling. ‘They don’t say: “Lucian Freud, leading figurative painter” — he’s just a painter. Or “Francis Bacon, leading melodramatist”.’ Mention of Bacon sends him off on a tangent, one of the digressions that make Hoyland’s conversation

Don’t forget Franck

Robin Holloway on César Franck Once so sure in the pantheon, esteemed by composers and critical taste, beloved by players and audiences, César Franck appears nowadays to be almost universally reviled. Of the late handful of indubitable masterpieces, only the Violin Sonata still enjoys the affection, admiration and performances previously accorded the Piano Quintet, the

Parisian decadence

This ought to be a hit. The Les Mis team are back in the West End with another French classic. The Lady of the Camellias, by Alexandre Dumas fils, is the play that inspired Verdi’s La Traviata and the Garbo film Camille. Retitled Marguerite the story has been parked in wartime Paris where the leading

Perfect package

Sex and the City 15, Nationwide  I do know that not everyone gets Sex and the City. Bubbles, for example, does not get Sex and the City. ‘I don’t know what you see in this crap,’ he would say, whenever I watched it on television, and before going off to do something pointedly manly in

Out of sympathy

L’incoronazione di Poppea (Glyndebourne), Der Rosenkavalier (English National Opera) Monteverdi’s last opera L’incoronazione di Poppea was the first opera I saw at Glyndebourne, in 1962. I saw it there again in 1984, once more ‘realised’ by Raymond Leppard, but in a version more complete and somewhat more austerely orchestrated than the first time. And now

Space odyssey

The light pollution at Chequers can’t be that bad in semi-rural Bucks, so perhaps someone should suggest to our troubled PM that next time he has a weekend off he should take a look upwards to the night sky. It might help him to realise that the petty squabbles and ambitious pretensions of his Cabinet

Whitehouse effect

‘Stupid old bat.’ That’s what my father always used to say when Mary Whitehouse appeared on the screen, and the older I grew the more I agreed with him. What right had this ghastly woman with her horn-rimmed specs and silly hats and Black Country accent to stand between me and ‘the torrents of filth’