Archive for August, 2009

Chorizo, tomato, cannellini bean and coriander brunch

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , on August 28, 2009 by Robin Gosnall

This recipe is from Eat Like A Girl. Thanks to Niamh. Visit her food blog now. You already have? Excellent.


Lang Lang Murders Chopin, Dresden Staatskapelle Does Nothing

Posted in BBC Radio 3, Music with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2009 by Robin Gosnall


Lang Lang played the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 at the Royal Albert Hall last night. It sounded to me like he was tugging for Britain and China.

OK, I watched about 25 seconds of it, but he’s quite literally unwatchable. Sound only, still dodgy – plus the engineers aren’t doing the orchestra any favours. I did just sneak another glance at the emoting in the slow movement. Appalling.

I once went to the Proms with a friend who’s a horse vet. He wasn’t allowed to leave his pistol in the car, so in it came (before security checks). Had that happened yesterday there would have been a genuine murder.

Terribly boring stuff. Just a pity one of the world’s great orchestras on tour has to be a backing group for this.

So, I have to say, it wasn’t bad, it was dire – such rubato and exaggeration all round but still what did we expect and the Dresden Staatskapelle were adequate, no more. Naturally the Prommers went wild but they’d do that if the fire alarms went off, wouldn’t they?

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Brown Bread: Ted Kennedy

Posted in News, Obituaries with tags , , on August 28, 2009 by Robin Gosnall


R.I.P. Edward Kennedy 1932-2009


Fried eggs with chorizo

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , on August 25, 2009 by Robin Gosnall


Half Hour Meals

This dish is rather like the Mexican dish huevos rancheros. I could have easily thrown away a couple of portions of broad beans and chorizo, as well as the half a dozen mini chorizo that were sitting around with a few pimientos de Padrón (Padron peppers), but I wanted the kids to think twice about what they ate and respect the cost and importance of food.

Writing a recipe like this can be tricky because I can’t expect you to have the same leftovers as me – so I’m going to give you the recipe from scratch.

100-150g cooking chorizo, chopped into small pieces
2 shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
100-120g podded weight of broad beans
4 free range duck or goose eggs
a little olive oil for frying

Heat a heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat and fry the pieces of chorizo and shallots for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often. Add the tomatoes and a couple of cups of water and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens.

Meanwhile, cook the broad beans in boiling, salted water until tender and drain. You can remove the outer skin from any large ones if you wish. Stir them into the sauce and cover with a lid. Fry the eggs in the olive oil and transfer to warmed serving plates and spoon the sauce and broad beans around.


Brown Bread: Hildegard Behrens

Posted in Music, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2009 by Robin Gosnall

I am much saddened to hear of the passing of Hildegard Behrens, of a ruptured aortic aneurism aged 72. In my limited experience of live opera she was one of the three great post-war Wagnerian sopranos along with Birgit Nilsson and Rita Hunter. They are all gone. Not only was hers a gorgeous voice she was a true actress with the deepest intelligence. Not only was she a singer she began her working life as a lawyer.

Behrens was one of the major performers of the second half of the twentieth century. Her professionalism and musicality set the benchmark in the German repertoire. She will be greatly missed.

Behrens was not only a fine singer with a bright, incisive soprano, but a singing actress of rare power and intellect. I have memories of her as Marie at Covent Garden (my first Wozzeck in the theatre, an overpowering evening for a number of reasons) and on records as Brunnhilde in the complete Sawallisch Ring – the finest recorded cycle of the stereo era – and delivering a remarkable Isolde in Bernstein’s eccentric, infuriating, absurdly slow and mannered but intermittently rather glorious Tristan.

Hildegard Behrens sang Brunnhilde in a complete Ring Cycle under Haitink in concert performances in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall a little over a decade ago (also featuring John Tomlinson and Siegfried Jerusalem inter alia). She was sensational – and she took the time to mingle with a group of stage door loiterers after Götterdämmerung on the Saturday night, wherein she seemed utterly sweet and delightful.

R.I.P. Hildegard Behrens 1937-2009

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Barbra Streisand

Posted in Music with tags , , , on August 19, 2009 by Robin Gosnall

What’s on the radio?

Posted in BBC Radio 3, Culture, Music with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by Robin Gosnall


I believe BBC Radio 3 has lost sight of its purpose, which is to entertain the public, the BBC has become too concerned with its own self-importance.

The old BBC Third Programme (I am told) never was a music first channel, but an evenings-only channel dedicated to the arts, culture and the intellect. The predominance of music came with the daytime addition of the music programme in the 1960s.

The Reithian ideals of “educate and inform” are often recalled by critics of dumbing down, but in fact the BBC effectively abandoned them long ago in the interests of entertainment to win back TV audiences from ITV.

On television the result can be seen by comparing BBC2 today with what it was when David Attenborough was in charge. And on radio I think there’s been a similar shift away from subjects and values traditionally associated (rightly or wrongly) with white, middle-class male academics.

But towards what? There I think we encounter Radio 3’s identity problem. Unlike Radio 1, 2 and 4 it seems to lack a clear character and focus; it’s trying to please all of the people all of the time.

I have always thought the answer is to re-establish BBC Radio 3 as the channel of the intellect, and define its programmes in terms of how they serve that end.

The other point to make is that demographically the population is getting older, and (I’m guessing a little here) that will include a lot of radio listeners. It’s not so likely that those aged 16-24 (if there are any) form a large chunk of the (potential) listenership. Yet there seems to be this movement towards making BBC Radio 3 more accessible – but for whom? Of course it’s important not to be elitist or exclusive, but inclusiveness can sacrifice individuality. And without getting too dogmatic, if a programme (or a radio channel) is high quality and if it is unlike anything else it is more likely to attract new listeners. If it sounds like everything else, it won’t.

It’s a fair point that BBC Radio 3 would have to sabotage its programmes quite badly to turn people (and their radios) off, because its product is still highly distinctive and quality driven. Most of the complaints are about how they are pitched, the tone, the occasional trivialization, in case it becomes a more worrying trend.

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