Vivaldi, Sammartini, Nardini, Brioschi, Fabio Biondi & The English Concert, Wigmore Hall, 25 May 2008


An unusual mixture of the vaguely familiar and less familiar Italian Baroque and its aftermath. The list of composers reads like an Italian restaurant menu or perhaps the lyrics of Mambo Italiano.

Fabio Biondi is a bit of a showman, I seem to recall, which is not necessarily the style that floats Janie’s boat, but it seems almost compulsory to perform Vivaldi that way these days. Although these particular Vivaldi concertos are not the best known ones, there’s always something fairly familiar about the Vivaldi concerto sound. No bad thing.

The second half of the concert was more subdued and in many ways more interesting, as I’m not sure I’d ever heard any Sammartini, Nardini or Brioschi before. Well worth a listen, but nothing so wow that I’m desperate for a recording or rushing back for more in the concert hall.

There’s no Wigmore Hall stub for this concert – those start from January 2012, but there is an Instant Encore entry, click here, so far I am the only person to confess to having attended this concert. Not even the Orchestra…

Joking apart, it was a very good concert, just one of those low key Sunday night at the Wigmore Hall affairs.


Rosmersholm by Henrik Ibsen, Almeida Theatre, 24 May 2008

Janie and I really like a bit of Ibsen. In some ways that is odd, in Janie’s case, as she tends to prefer modern plays and eschew classics. But she makes an exception for some classics; not least Ibsen, Strindberg and to some extent Chekhov.

Anyway, Rosmersholm is rarely performed and here was a production at one of our favourite theatres with a stellar cast and production team.

It’s hard to explain why this play is so rarely performed. In some ways Rosmersholm is über-Ibsen; it seems to throw in a lot of Ibsen’s favourite political, social and moral themes all at once. But then most of his great plays do that. Perhaps it is über-gloomy.

So although this was a superb night at the theatre, with wonderful performances and a truly top-notch production, we didn’t end up thinking that “everyone should see a great production of Rosmersholm” in the same way that we might say that about Hedda Gabler, Ghosts or A Dolls House, for example.

Still, a great theatrical event and right up our street.

There is an excellent stub resource on this play/production on the Almeida site – click here.


England v New Zealand at Lord’s, 15 and 17 May 2008

With grateful thanks to Alan Cooke for this photo.

I think this test match might well have been my first sighting of live cricket that season, given the scheduling at Lord’s and the timing of our trip to France in late April.

My companions for the Thursday were Charles “Charley The Gent Malloy” Bartlett, Heinrich “The Gangmaster” Groenewald and Alan Cooke, the latter more famous on Ogblog for tales of derring do with me at fives than for cricket – click here for a link to such a tale.

The weather was less than special for that match. I recall having been disappointed to get some rather ordinary-sounding seats (Grandstand I think) in the county members’ ballot, only eventually to be pleased for the cover given the weather.

We got best part of two sessions of cricket on the Thursday, which was better than we had expected given the forecast on the day itself. We witnessed Brendon McCullum batting better than anyone else and Jimmy Anderson bowling better than anyone else.

I didn’t write up that day, but King Cricket (which I had just started to read occasionally at that time) did write up McCullum’s doings – click here.

I made up one of my bagel-based picnics for that Thursday – I know that because Cookie mentioned them in his thank you note:

In particular, I enjoyed the bagels (a decision at last) and the Lords ambience. Hope you get a decent amount of play with your second Lords sitting.

By second sitting, Alan meant that he knew that Janie (Daisy) and I were due to go on the Saturday. Unfortunately, Saturday it pretty much rained all day. I don’t think we even left the flat, secure in the knowledge that any break in the rain would be very temporary, so I’m pretty sure Daisy and I witnessed the half hour or so of play that day on the TV, ate the picnic food in the comfort of the apartment and found other ways to amuse ourselves. One of those rare occasions I got my money back for a day of cricket that didn’t happen.

It seems that Chas was luckier and got to see play on the Sunday. He sent me this photo to prove that he had been there:

Vaughan caressing the ball to the boundary, taken by Charles Bartlett

The match scorecard can be found here – unsurprisingly a draw given all the weather. Which is a shame, as it looked as though it would have been a good match had there been enough cricket possible.

King Cricket’s other pieces during the match were:

Seems strange now to think there was a time when I was only skimming King Cricket and very occasionally chiming in with a comment.

The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Lyttelton Theatre, 10 May 2008

A heartbreaking, true story.

Joan Didion wrote a memoir about her double-loss – first her husband and then her daughter. This is her one woman play based on that memoir. Vanessa Redgrave plays Joan.

We found it moving, although the critics tended to be equivocal in their praise and in their sense that the production moves as much as it should:

The audience went a bit Vanessa-sycophantic at the end, which always tends to irritate us a bit, but then she is one heck of an actress.

The City by Martin Crimp, Royal Court Theatre, 3 May 2008

Weird play, this one. You never quite know what’s going on with Martin Crimp. This play is a companion piece to one named The Country, which we saw at the Royal Court in the summer of 2000 and rated as “very good”.

The Country was also weird, but The City was, I think, even weirder. Short play, though. I seem to recall it got us talking and thinking, which is good.

A young Benedict Cumberbatch, still emerging as a star, was in this one. Hattie Morahan and Amanda Hale were also very good in it.