Archive for May, 2010

78s

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Has anyone got any old scratchy vintage recordings which they love to death?

I have Alma Rosé. She was the niece of Gustav Mahler, at the time director of the Vienna Opera, and the daughter of Arnold Rosé, concertmaster of the Opera Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic. She was detained in Auschwitz and died there, but organised the orchestra.

The disc also has Vasa Prihoda and recordings of Arnold Rosé from 1900. It’s heart-breaking stuff.

I know that many 78s end up in skips, but I’m not crying, there’s plenty of 78s at the record fairs for the few collectors that there are nowadays. If we saved all 78s then there would be nowhere to keep them and they would really be worth nothing. For every hundred 78s in a skip there will be one or two rare ones.

I still buy and listen to vinyl LPs and 45s, I am not a “collector” as such, i.e. I don’t pay exorbitant prices for recordings that are available on CD.

I buy from charity shops and car boot sales and give unwanted or finished with stuff back to the shops. Some of the sound on the early 60s vinyl is unsurpassed, especially Decca, EMI and Mercury, although of course playing them too much is a problem.

The finest sound I have come across is on the first pressings of Decca classical recordings of the late 50s and early 60s, a combination of excellent reproduction and great engineering.

I always end up with many records that are no use to even the charity shops (although they would take them to be polite), “Des O’Connor’s greatest hits”, “Christmas with Andy Williams” type of thing. They usually end up on a skip.

Brown Bread: Anneliese Rothenberger

Posted in Music, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Anneliese Rothenberger as Lulu

Anneliese Rothenberger, an internationally known German soprano who sang with the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the 1960s, died on Monday in Switzerland. As befits a diva, her exact age had long been shrouded in obscurity; she was believed to have been either 83 or 85.

The death, at a hospital near Ms. Rothenberger’s home on Lake Constance, followed a short illness, friends told the news service Agence France-Presse.

Ms. Rothenberger retired from opera and concert stages in the 1980s. She did not mind not singing, as she told the German magazine Stern in 2003:

“People in the street would say to me, ‘It’s a pity we can’t hear you anymore,’ ” she recalled. “I thought, ‘That is better than if they said, “The old woman is still singing.” ’ ”

R.I.P. Anneliese Rothenberger 1926-2010

Lobster curry

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

This is a luxurious curry, and something of a treat due to its price. The dish’s base is fairly mild, as it is important that the flavour of the lobster is not overpowered. If you prefer, you can substitute the lobster with any firm-fleshed white fish – monkfish is perfect, although it is endangered. Sea bass would work, as well – though it need not be cooked beforehand, merely added right at the end so that it is no more than just cooked through.

4 live lobsters, weighing 500g
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 white onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 red chillies, diced with seeds left in
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
5cm piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds, roasted and ground
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp tamarind water
400ml coconut milk (preferably fresh, though tinned will do)
75g dried coconut flakes, lightly toasted

Bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil; once the water is boiling vigorously, add the lobsters and cook for seven minutes, then remove and set aside until cool enough to handle. To remove the flesh from the shell, make an incision all the way down the underside of the body. Remove the flesh in one whole piece. Crack the claws gently and remove the flesh there, also in one piece if possible.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan, add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Now add the chillies, garlic, ginger, coriander and tomatoes, then turn down the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Add the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water and cook for five minutes, then pour in the coconut milk. Raise the heat just slightly and cook for 10 minutes, then turn the heat to low and add the lobster. Cook gently for three to four minutes, then remove. Divide the lobster in its sauce between four warmed soup plates and garnish with toasted coconut. Serve with half a lime and flat bread or jasmine rice.

“World’s finest opera house” re-opens

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

The re-opening of one of the world’s leading opera houses helped to kick off Argentina’s 200th birthday celebrations on Monday, as the curtain was raised at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires for the first time in almost four years.

An audience of 2,700, including the presidents of Uruguay Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil, was treated to an elaborate programme of music and dance while images from the venue’s history were projected on the walls.

The opera house, built in 1908 from a design inspired by La Scala in Milan, is reputed to have the world’s finest acoustics, and has played host to almost every great performer of the past century, from Pavarotti and Maria Callas to Nijinsky and Nureyev. It temporarily closed in 2006 for a £60m facelift which ran several years and many millions over budget.

Much like the restoration, the venue’s reopening didn’t run entirely smoothly. Argentina’s President, Cristina Kirchner, stayed away from the performance to prevent it being overshadowed by political posturing, after the capital’s mayor, Mauricio Macri, announced that he would feel uncomfortable having to sit near her husband, the former president Nestor Kirchner. Mr Macri is planning to stand against Mrs Kirchner for the presidency next year.

Several other government representatives boycotted the evening in support of the Kirchners. They forfeited the chance to join the country’s élite beneath the ornate venue’s French stained-glass windows and pink Italian marble staircases, restored by more than 1,000 craftsmen.

Do you hate modern art? What about modern music?

Posted in Culture, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

I think the principal problem with someone saying that they “hate modern art” is the dismissal of a lot of very diverse works completed over a century or so, in widely differing circumstances by a host of unconnected artists.

The people who say they don’t like “modern” art are actually saying that they like paintings or sculpture to “look like something” and haven’t bothered going too far beyond that. Thus, it’s hardly surprising that, when confronted with something abstract, that they are less than impressed. It’s interesting that in those modern works which people do say they like, it is the design element which they highlight.

Music doesn’t usually start from a representational perspective – we don’t expect a dance to literally represent the dance (other than rhythmically) so people are perhaps more ready to accept more divergent sounds. I’d say however that film music has done more to bring modernist music into the wider sphere than it gets credit for.

So instruction and education is the key. The less you understand (or are prepared to understand) art – any art – the more you will be willing to dismiss entire genres outright, no matter whether it is visual or musical art.

Just having a willingness to be open to art is only the first step. While it’s true that there are musical prodigies, there are few, if any, in the written and visual arts. The reason seems clear. What we tend to see in a lot of artistic production and consumption is mirrored in a degree of experience of the world, and some sort of processing of it (meaningful or otherwise). Children don’t yet possess that (or enough of it), nor, I suggest, do adults who have never had, or have never taken, the educational opportunities to expand their horizons. I suppose I’m rather old-fashioned in that I don’t feel that anything truly worth having comes easily, and that the big, insightful benefits in art only come with study and reflection.

The irony is that in order to see the “plain truth” about artworks, you need to understand a lot more than most of the “I know what I like” brigade are prepared to be bothered with.

Before & After: Alex “Hurricane” Higgins

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Before


After

Snooker legend Alex Higgins looked a shadow of his former self as he attended a charity fund-raiser in his honour. The 61-year-old, who won snooker’s world title in 1972 and 1982, is said to have been living on baby food after losing his teeth from radiotherapy while battling throat cancer.

Stars from the sport including Jimmy White, 47, John Virgo, 63, and Tony Knowles, 54, joined the “Hurricane” at Yang Sing Chinese restaurant in Manchester to raise £20,000 to pay for crucial surgery.

Handel & Hendrix

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

The curators and administrators of the Handel House Museum in Mayfair, London, are now preparing to pack up their files, dismantle their desks and open up the rooms where Hendrix lived to visitors to mark the 40th anniversary of his death.

Twin blue plaques on the outside wall pay tribute to the extraordinary flatmates, separated by two centuries, who lived in 23 and 25 Brook Street, once separate buildings but long since interconnected.

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