Philip Clark

Bach to basics

The churning, rheumatic mechanism of a harpsichord — notes needling your ears like drops of acid rain — doesn’t necessarily play well to an audience whose sensibilities have been moulded around the picture-perfect delicacies of the classical piano. J.S. Bach’s freakishly popular Goldberg Variations remains best known through the recording made by the oddball Canadian

Playing for high stakes

Now that even candidates for President of the United States can rise up from the undead dregs of reality television, it comes as no surprise to read that the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq owes its origins to a conclave of television execs. In 2008, Channel 4 and the independent production company Raw TV took

How does Karl Jenkins get away with his crappy music?

In a week that saw the UK vote itself out of the EU, the resignation of David Cameron followed by most of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, the audience who dutifully trooped to the Royal Albert Hall this Sunday for a concert celebrating the 2,000th performance of Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace

More terrible beauty

At some point during your reading of this book the realisation might dawn, if you didn’t already know about his creative double life, that Richard Skelton demonstrates an unusual sensitivity to sound. Barbed wire unfolds over a dry-stone wall, an image which he reimagines as a mutant stringed instrument. ‘What harmonies would result if all

Richard Strauss was no conservative

With the ardent zeal characteristic of the freshly converted, I found myself channelling waves of anger towards Stanley Kubrick. The closing bars of Also sprach Zarathustra had utterly turned my head, transforming what had been my passing interest in the music of Richard Strauss into an infectious bout of Strauss monomania. Kubrick’s exquisitely consummated marriage

I wish the cult of Frank Sinatra would end

Walking around central London, I’ve been struck by how many shows Frank Sinatra has been performing in town recently. He played a string of concerts in July at the Royal Albert Hall (which as any schoolboy knows was actually named after Sinatra’s middle name), and he is currently performing an extended summer season at the

The London ear

The opening bars of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s A London Symphony (1914) are scooped out from the gloopy bedrock of the city. Vaughan Williams was dredging through the same mud, silt, slime and ooze as those scene-setting paragraphs of Our Mutual Friend (1865), where Charles Dickens shows that the real glue binding his book together will

Mistress of modernism

Everyone keeps talking about classical music’s image problem, and proposals on the table designed to rescue the music from apparent extinction have included the suggestion that conductors ought to face audiences rather than orchestras, and the cunning plan, mooted by Julian Lloyd Webber, that we stop calling it ‘classical music’. But what classical music really