Archive for December, 2010

Eric Dolphy

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Eric Dolphy does things with a bass clarinet that Stravinsky never dreamed of. Charles Mingus wanders off during his solo.

The 2010 Brown Bread List

Posted in Books, Culture, Music, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Here is a list of some of the significant figures who departed in the last year.

Kate McGarrigle, singer and songwriter, born February 6, 1946; died January 18 2010

Jean Merilyn Simmons, actor, born 31 January 1929; died 22 January 2010

Lee Alexander McQueen, fashion designer, born 17 March 1969; died 11 ­February 2010

Michael Mackintosh Foot, politician, journalist and author, born 23 July 1913; died 3 March 2010

Malcolm Robert Andrew McLaren, impresario, born 22 January 1946; died 8 April 2010

Alan Sillitoe, author, born 4 March 1928; died 25 April 2010

Lynn Rachel Redgrave, actor, born 8 March 1943; died 2 May 2010

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne, singer and actor, born 30 June 1917; died 9 May 2010

Dennis Lee Hopper, actor, photographer and painter, born 17 May 1936; died 29 May 2010

Beryl Bainbridge, writer, born 21 November 1934; died 2 July 2010

Alexander Gordon Higgins, snooker player, born 18 March 1949; found dead 24 July 2010

Edwin George Morgan, poet, born 27 April 1920; died 19 August 2010

Tony Curtis (Bernard Schwartz), actor, born 3 June 1925; died 29 September 2010

Joan Sutherland, opera singer, born 7 November 1926; died 10 October 2010

Agostino “Dino” De Laurentiis, film producer, born 8 August 1919; died 11 November 2010

Ingrid Pitt (Ingoushka Petrov), actor, born 21 November 1937; died 23 November 2010

Leslie William Nielsen, actor, born 11 February 1926; died 28 November 2010

Boris Ivanovich Tishchenko, composer, pianist and teacher, born 23 March 1939; died 9 December 2010

Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart), musician and artist, born 15 January 1941; died 17 December 2010

Roberto Alfonso Farrell, singer and dancer, born 6 October 1949; died 30 December 2010

Nigella Lawson’s red cabbage with pomegranate juice

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Recipe taken from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £25)

Nigella Lawson seems very keen on pomegranate juice and even adds it to her Eton Mess.

2 x 15ml tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, peeled and halved
scant 15ml tablespoon Maldon salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
2 red apples
1 head red cabbage
3 x 15ml tablespoons soft dark brown sugar                        
2 teaspoons ground allspice
750ml pomegranate juice

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying saucepan (with a lid) or a flameproof casserole. Finely slice each halved onion into thin half-moons and add to the pan along with the salt. Fry for about 5 minutes until the onion begins to soften but doesn’t burn; the salt will help to prevent it from burning.

While this is going on, quarter the apples (no need to peel), cut away the cores and chop them roughly, and add them to the softening onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.

Finely shred the cabbage and add it to the onion-apple mixture in the pan, stirring slowly and patiently to mix. Add the brown sugar and allspice and stir, then pour the pomegranate juice into the pan.

Let the mixture come to a bubble, then give another stir, turn down the heat, put on a lid and cook very gently at the lowest possible heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. It really won’t get overcooked. Taste for seasoning only when you’re ready to reheat, as the flavours won’t have mellowed and come together properly until then.

To reheat, put the pan back on the stone over a medium to low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes.

Nigella Lawson’s redder than red cranberry sauce

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Recipe taken from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £25)

1 x 340g pack fresh cranberries
200g caster sugar
45ml cherry brandy
75ml water

Put everything into a pan and let it bubble away until the berries start to pop, stirring every now and again with a wooden spoon. This will take about 10 minutes.

You should bear in mind, though, that the pectin-rich nature of the fruit means it solidifies enormously on cooling, so although it will be cooked when the berries have burst, it will still look runnier than you think cranberry sauce should.

At this stage, give the sauce a final, vicious, whipping stir to help crush the berries into the liquid, and taste – making sure not to burn your mouth – to check whether it needs more sugar; if you find it too sweet, which is unlikely, just spritz in some lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

If you cook this sauce way in advance, it will jellify a lot so thrash it through with a fork before serving.

Meatballs with yellow polenta

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

1kg minced pork
1kg minced veal
75g soft white breadcrumbs
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
small bunch of thyme, leaves only
75g freshly grated Parmesan
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 fresh bay leaves
1 bunch of sage
200ml full-bodied red wine
2 jars of good quality Italian tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl and mix very well. The easiest and most thorough way of doing this is with your hands. Once the mixture is well combined, roll into 18 generous-sized balls and set aside while you make the sauce.

Place a large, heavy-based pan on top of the stove, turn the heat to medium and add the olive oil. Once the oil is warm, add the onion, chilli and garlic, turn the heat down slightly and cook for 10 minutes; the onion should be soft and translucent.

Add the bay leaves, sage and a good pinch of salt and cook for a further five minutes, then add the wine and return the heat to medium.

Allow the wine to bubble for a minute, then add the tomatoes, place a lid on the pan and cook for half an hour, by which time the sauce should have reduced a little to be rich and dark.

Season with a good pinch of salt and a little black pepper and add the meatballs. Return the lid and cook for 20 minutes, then serve.

Gay Composers

Posted in Culture, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

It seems to me that everything in an artist’s life informs his/her art in some way, not just sexuality, but class, race, privilege, education, and all the other usual suspects. But the influence is in varying degrees and according to the whim of the artist.

For instance (to take an example from the trivial art that I prefer), Arthur Sullivan was a notorious womaniser (even keeping a record of the number of sexual encounters in his diary); but I have seen it asserted recently that he was gay (there does not seem to be any real evidence for this). Question: does his music settle the point either way? Is it notably “straight” or particularly “gay”? I’m open to contradiction, but I personally would answer “No” to all the questions I’ve just posed myself.

I would even argue that most of Oscar Wilde’s writings are not specifically “gay”. For instance The Importance of Being Earnest (A Trivial Comedy for Serious People), if we set aside the occasional “underworld” joke negligible in the fabric of the whole, is a frivolous amusement 100% in line with the Victorian farcical tradition, in which romantic love is formalised just as it is in most Victorian drama.

But Wilde would not have written what he did if it were not for every element of his character that made him what he was. I state the bleeding obvious, for the sake of completeness.

Paul Hindemith: Idle Thoughts

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

I am listening to Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber with the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Herbert Blomstedt.

Absolutely thrilling and just a bit weird!

My impression is that Hindemith should have gone to the well from which he drew the Symphonic Metamorphoses a few more times!

I’ve found only a very few other Hindemith works that I’d save from the blaze: the Mathis der Maler symphony and maybe the Konzertmusik for strings and brass Op. 50. I’ve tried a fair bit of his other music but not much seems to linger fragrantly in the memory.

But … I do love the ‘cello concerto of 1940, the main theme from the second movement of which Walton took as the theme for his Hindemith Variations of 1962-3.

Hindemith also, and quite understandably, wrote beautifully for the viola, and for the violin come to that.

After the Second World War war Hindemith returned to Germany and became a respected figure in teaching. Otto Klemperer viewed this with some cynicism and attended one of his lectures. After Hindemith had explained a complex point at length and asked for questions, Klemperer put his hand up and said in his umistakeable gravelly voice “Where is the lavatory?”.

Unfortunately, Hindemith drank too much and went completely mad.

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