Archive for June, 2010

Play Me, I’m Yours (in Bolton)

Posted in Culture, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

(The Bolton News)

New York, Barcelona, Sydney, Sao Paulo – now Turton, near Bolton, has become the latest place to host a quirky art project which has brought music to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.

From next month, pianos will be installed in the street outside the Barlow Institute in Edgworth and in the grounds of Turton Tower, near Chapeltown. Anyone who wants to tickle the ivories will be able to do so, free and unrestricted.

The pianos are part of a huge international art project, called “Play Me, I’m Yours”, and is the idea of Bristol-based artist Luke Jerram. He said that he has installed 160 pianos in towns and cities all over world, and so far only three have been vandalised.

Mr Jerram said: “I’ve brought the project to Turton because I’ve been invited to, and people are going to have a great time. It’s important that we reach a broad and diverse audience, and that means taking some risks.”

Mr Jerram opened his largest Play Me, I’m Yours installation yet on Monday in New York, where 60 pianos were placed all over the city, including outside the Cathedral of St John the Divine in Manhattan, a post office in Jackson Heights and a zoo in Staten Island. He says the aim of the project is to give people a chance to express themselves and share their creativity.

He said: “Disrupting people’s negotiation of their city, the pianos are also aimed to provoke people into engaging, activating and claiming ownership of their urban landscape.”

Mr Jerram was invited to set up the project locally by the local councils in Blackburn and Burnley, and Turton’s pianos are two of 23 across the two boroughs. The pianos will be in place from July 8 to July 29, and a launch event is due to be announced. There will also be a number of events in which pianists give short performances before allowing the public to take over.

All the pianos have been donated, and community groups will be able to apply to keep them after the project finishes. They will be locked shut at night to prevent disturbances.

Cllr Jean Rigby said: “It sounds like a fine idea. There aren’t enough people playing instruments, and I hope it will encourage more kids to get involved in music.”

Yotam Ottolenghi’s aubergine cheesecake

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Like all good cheesecakes, tucking into this is so effortless and soothing that it’s easy to forget yourself and just gobble up more and more. And, like a sweet cheesecake, it’s also a bit of a no-brainer that yields very impressive results. Cut it into elegant squares and serve as a starter with a lemony salad of bitter leaves and fresh herbs. A rustic alternative would be to bake it in a casserole and spoon out portions at the table. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix – buy it online, in specialist shops and in some supermarkets. Serves four.

90ml olive oil
2 small aubergines, cut into 2cm thick slices
salt and black pepper
150g feta
150g cream cheese
60ml double cream
3 eggs
150g baby plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthways
2 tbsp picked oregano leaves, torn
¾ tsp za’atar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line with foil the base and sides of a deep, 19cm square baking tin (or a round, 22cm diameter dish), then brush lightly with oil.

Lay the aubergine slices on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and brush all over with four tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in the hot oven for 40 minutes – the aubergines need to go soft and golden. When cooked, remove, set aside to cool, and lower the oven to 150°C.

Put the feta, cream cheese, cream, eggs and some pepper in a bowl and whisk until smooth and thick.

Arrange the aubergine neatly in the baking tin – the slices should fill up the tray as they lean against each other, almost standing on their sides. Fill the gaps with tomatoes and sprinkle over half the oregano.

Pour in just enough of the cheese mix to leave some aubergine and tomatoes exposed, sprinkle over the remaining oregano and bake for 30 minutes, or until the “custard” sets. Leave the cake to cool down to room temperature, then remove it from the tin and cut into four squares (or into wedges, if using a round dish). Before serving, gently brush all over with za’atar mixed with a teaspoon of olive oil, or just olive oil.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi.

First Class Second Class Composers

Posted in BBC Radio 3, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

I remember fondly the BBC producing a series under this heading many years ago which highlighted works of great merit by lesser-known composers. Their craftsmanship, ideas and structure were in no way inferior to the works of the big names, but they simply didn’t make it to the forefront, possibly because they didn’t have the volume of output, or that they weren’t the big hitters like Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, et al.

This is especially noticeable in the field of chamber music, where works by Spohr, Berwald, Hummel and many others stand comparison with any of the big names.

My post title is of course a quote from Richard Strauss, who saw himself thus. On another occasion he said “I know more about music than Sibelius, but he is the better composer”. I think that is a profoundly truthful remark.

Other composers in this category I would list as Ravel, E. J. Moeran, Dutilleux, Massenet and Gounod.

If my memory serves me right, F.C.S.C.C. had its heyday before the advent of round-the-clock Radio 3 and after the primitive days of the Third Programme, which started at 6.00 p.m. then shut down four hours later.

Greek pasta salad

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

250g dried fusilli pasta
½ cucumber
1 x 200g pack Roussas Barrel Aged Feta, crumbled
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced
½ x 250g pack baby plum tomatoes, halved
½ x 30g pack fresh basil, leaves shredded

For the dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
juice of ½ lemon
2 tsp dried oregano

Cook the fusilli pasta according to the pack instructions, or until al dente. Drain and refresh under cold water, and drain again.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and dried oregano, and season to taste.

Halve the cucumber lengthways and, using a teaspoon, scoop out the seeds, then cut into thick slices. Add to the pasta along with the crumbled feta cheese, red onion, tomatoes and fresh basil. Pour over the dressing and gently toss. Season and serve.


Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

I’ve just bought the Runnicles/BBCSO Tristan und Isolde. I played the Liebestod and was surprised and annoyed at the burst of applause and cheers at the end. I know it’s a recording of a live-in-front-of-an-audience concert, but I feel that keeping the applause at the end is not appropriate for a CD – especially at the end of thie work. In the concert hall one has an emotional involvement with and response to the performance, and would (probably) join in with the applause; at home the atmosphere isn’t the same, and I certainly wouldn’t be joining in with the applause.

I think that this is a purchase that will be returned to the shop.

I can’t stand applause on CDs. I’m all for capturing the atmosphere of a live performance in a recording, but there’s an enormous difference between being in the middle of an applauding audience and listening to a distant recording of it coming out of loudspeakers. Personally I would prefer there to be a longer silence before applause begins in live performances too.

The truth is that live recordings unless very special (Nilsson’s 1966 Bayreuth Isolde or Karajan’s Mahler 9) don’t bear repeated listening. It’s not fashionable to state this, but I don’t want that cough on bar 132 or whatever returning at the precise moment at every playing.

Nigella Lawson’s Eton Mess

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Half Hour Meals

Brown Bread: Brian Duffy

Posted in Culture, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Brian Duffy, whose photographs helped define the mood of the Swinging Sixties, has died aged 76.

Together with David Bailey and Terence Donovan, Duffy formed part of the “black trinity” of photographers who became as famous as the models, musicians and film stars they worked with.

He had been suffering from lung disease.

Like Bailey and Donovan, Duffy was born in London’s East End. He studied dress design at St Martin’s School of Art and worked as a fashion artist for Harper’s Bazaar before turning to photography. He was one of just a handful of photographers to shoot two Pirelli calenders, and was credited for his inventive approach to fashion photography.

His work also spanned reportage and advertising, including two award-winning campaigns for Benson & Hedges and Smirnoff in the 1970s. He shot three David Bowie album covers, including Aladdin Sane.

In 1979, Duffy decided to give up photography and burned many of his negatives in a bin. But he resumed taking pictures in 2009, and in January the story of his career was the subject of the BBC documentary The Man Who Shot the 60s.

He is survived by his wife, June, two sons and two daughters.

R.I.P. Brian Duffy, 1933-2010


Brian Duffy: “Photography was dead by 1972”

Before & After: Marco Pierre White

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2010 by Robin Gosnall



Even before Marco Pierre White has to face his wife, Mati, in the divorce courts, he has suffered the indignity of being accused of bringing celebrity chefs into disrepute by Ainsley Harriott, of all people.

Harriott, the cheap and cheerful presenter of Ready Steady Cook claims that White demeaned himself by agreeing to promote Bernard Matthews.

“Marco has compromised himself, but then money speaks louder than words in some cases,” says Harriott, who has provided voice-overs for television advertisements for cough medicine and promoted Fairy Liquid. “Turkey Twizzlers is something you would more expect someone like me to be associated with, with my fast food connections and all. Marco has always tried to align himself with the really high-end side of things. You spend years building a career and working on your restaurants and earning a reputation, but there comes a point in some people’s careers where they think: ‘I’ll sacrifice a bit of credibility and buy a house in France.’”

White signed up in March as an ambassador for Bernard Matthews, whose Turkey Twizzlers were singled out for criticism by Jamie Oliver in his series Jamie’s School Dinners. The product became an emblem of the mass-produced, processed food that Oliver wanted to remove from schools. Marco Pierre White once described Jamie Oliver as “a fat chef with a drum kit”.

Marco Pierre White is one of my heroes and I’m sorry to read that his wife is taking him to the cleaners, but not before metaphorically and for all we know literally going through his pockets to determine how much he’s worth.

Best Food Blogs

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Food bloggers: elusive, obsessive and one click from notoriety, writes Rose Prince in the Daily Telegraph.

She chooses seven of the best food blogs:

Scrambling Eggs
Eat Like a Girl
Lizzie Eats London
The Lambshank Redemption
From Fat Bloke to Tough Guy
Dos Hermanos
Silverbrow on Food

Table Tennis

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

What do David Cameron, Nigella Lawson, George Clooney and Wayne Rooney have in common? Apart from healthy bank balances and the odd column inch? They’re all devotees of table tennis, the humble game that’s capturing the zeitgeist, taking to the streets and likely to be a persistent theme of the summer, writes Michael Hogan in the Daily Telegraph.

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