Incognito by Nick Payne, Bush Theatre, 31 May 2014

We really liked this play/production.

We had been blown away by Nick Payne’s Constellations, so our expectations were high…

…this piece met those expectations.

It is all well explained on the Bush’s excellent on-line resource – click here.

This search term link will find you independent reviews and resources, although you shouldn’t much need them because the piece was very well received so the above Bush resource covers most of the bases.

Here is a very interesting interview/explanation from Nick Payne:

Below is a tantalising trailer which says little but looks spectacular:

A super evening of theatre. This one really deserves a revival and/or a major theatre run.

The Golden Age Of French Sacred Music, Le Concert Spirituel, Wigmore Hall, 30 May 2014

Another weekend, another early music concert that May. Perhaps I got over-excited with the booking forms or perhaps I had indeed spotted a glut of really superb visiting acts doing interesting concerts.

This was another good’un, that’s for sure.

Friday night, so no doubt the golden era sacred music will have induced each of us at some stage to nod off a little…but not a lot.

Here is a link to the Wigmore Hall resource for this concert, which helpfully shows you the programme they played. Trust me, it was sacred music and not, as advertised, scared music.

I seem to recall Janie finding Hervé Niquet a bit showy in style – Janie can be very unforgiving on that point, but we both really enjoyed the gig.

Below is a vid of Le Concert Spirituel singing something else, somewhere else, but it is a lovely short piece and you’ll soon get the idea:

Lovely sound.

Privacy by James Graham, Donmar Warehouse, 24 May 2014

This was a fascinating piece.

It is an uber-modern play about privacy, data and all that. Some members of the audience, perhaps foolishly, left their mobile phones on and acquiesced to a request to submit a selfie – only to discover that geeks can find out a heck of a lot about you just from the simple combination of that submission and other stuff we readily transmit and is there to be found.

To some extent the piece was born of the Edward Snowden/Wikileaks saga, but in truth this play is an entertainment about the issues for ordinary people more than the geopolitical aspects or the Snowden case itself. We did subsequently see a super play that really was about a Snowden-type case, Mike Bartlett’s Wild at the Hampstead, which was cracking:

Wild by Mike Bartlett, Hampstead Theatre, 17 June 2016

If this now sounds like a geeks night out without drama, I’m giving you the wrong idea. It was a powerful story and piece of drama to boot – a strong cast and superb production qualities as we might expect from the Donmar.

No Donmar resource on-line, sadly, but here is a link to a search term that finds reviews and other useful resources about the play/production.

The first time we came across James Graham – This House, we weren’t so keen. But this one was sufficiently different and engaging to convert us to Graham’s writing…

…just as well, because Ink really was smashing:

Ink by James Graham, Almeida Theatre, 17 June 2017

Two Fabulous Baroque Concerts And A Dinner At St John’s Smith Square, 23 May 2014

Both of these concerts, part of the Lufthansa Festival Of Baroque Music that year, looked superb.

For reasons of my own (work related) I had tried the more formal dining option at SJSS a couple of times by then and thought Janie would enjoy such a meal too. Turned out (as I suspected) the restaurant was all geared up for people who wanted to see the two concerts and dine in-between.

Here’s the splurge on first concert;

We hadn’t seen La Risonanza before, although we had, I think, seen Fabio Bonizzoni – at least I have his wonderful recording of the last Domenico Scarlatti sonatas.

It was a good concert, although I recall we liked the sonatas more than the duets. Not a comment on the skills of the singers, they were excellent, but the style of those baroque duets don’t tend to please us, we discovered.

We both enjoyed our dinner; very attentively and well fed we were. In many ways the SJSS dining-crypt has more atmosphere than the SJSS concert hall itself, which can seem rather large and cold at times.

But the highlight of the evening was this last chance to see The Hilliard Ensemble perform Morimur live. I had owned and enjoyed the magnificent recording of Morimur for some years by then and was delighted to have a chance to see that composite work performed live:

William Cole, on the Interlude blog, describes the Morimur concert that evening thus:

…the Hilliard Ensemble with violinist Kati Debretzeni gave quite simply one of the most extraordinary concerts I have ever attended.

Here is a link to the whole William Cole review.

Talk about going out on a high. By that December, the Hilliard Ensemble was done saying its goodbyes to the world and that (un-Sinatra-like) was that.

Of course it is still possible to get the recording of Morimur – click here for a link to general resources on it or the image below for one specific link – I would highly commend the recording.

We still listen to Morimur quite a lot – its haunting quality is just so moving. The alternating of chorale and violin music just works..at least it does for us.

As for that Baroque evening at SJSS – very memorable indeed.

In the Vale Of Health: Missing Dates by Simon Gray, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 16 May 2014

Janie and I both really like Simon Gray’s plays and we really like the Hampstead Downstairs.

So this project; taking all four of Simon Gray’s attempts to write about a quirky pair of brothers in The Vale of Health, seemed like something we should do in full.

We saw them in this sequence/timing:

  • 21 March 2014 – Japes;
  • 18 April 2014 – Japes Too;
  • 2 May 2014 – Michael;
  • 16 May 2014 – Missing Dates.

We’d often see the same faces in the audience again. One gentleman who sat next to us on the last night, we’d seen at least once before. I said to him that it would be like saying goodbye to close friends when this little season ended and he said, “that’s exactly what I was thinking”.

Very intimate plays, beautifully written (it’s Simon Gray after all) and very well acted/directed.

I’m cutting and pasting this same piece for all four evenings; the above and the links below basically apply to all four.

Here is a link to a search term that will find you Hampstead resources and (unusually for downstairs) reviews, as they transferred this little season upstairs afterwards, because it had done so well downstairs.

Here is a YouTube interview and stuff:

Treasures Of The Renaissance – Masterpieces From The Golden Age Of Choral Music, Stile Antico, 11 May 2014

Just gorgeous, this concert was.

Here is a link to the helpful Wigmore Hall calendar note that tells you exactly what we saw.

This was Renaissance choral music at its best.

Barry Millington in the Evening Standard gave the gig this rave review – click here.

Below is a vid of Stile Antico, singing Ego flos campi by Jacobus Clemens non papa, which was the second piece they sang to us and which gives a very good sense of their glorious sound:

Coincidentally, the above recording was made at the Old Royal Naval College which I shall be visiting in a few day’s time (as I write in January 2018), although not for music purposes.

For those who are not blessed with Latin scholarship, “Ego flos campi” means, “I maintain my oral hygiene when I go camping”…

…although those words are occasionally mistranslated by so-called experts as, “I am the flower of the field”.

Anyway, enough of scholarship. Janie and I had enjoyed an early music oriented weekend from start (Joanna MacGregor tinkling the Goldberg on the Friday) to finish – we had no complaints about that.

Play that vid again, go on…gorgeous it is.

Searching For Sugar Man, Riverside Studios, 10 May 2014

I’m not sure quite what put us on to this superb movie, but we booked an all-too-rare showing of it weeks in advance at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith. I suspect this was our last visit there before the closure for major redevelopment of the site.

It is a most unusual, true story. The American singer-songwriter, Rodriguez, was for some time billed as “the next Dylan” (the kiss of death for many a career) but vanished into obscurity.

Unbeknown to him, he was a cult, underground figure in South Africa where his music was extremely well-known and where he was believed to have died. After South Africa emerged from the apartheid era, some fans tried to track down Rodriguez’s story, discovered that he was still alive and the rest is history.

Here is a link to plenty of resources on the film and Rodriguez’s story.

Here is the IMDb item on this movie.

And below is the official YouTube trailer for the movie:

I also bought the soundtrack album, which Janie and I have enjoyed listening too quite a lot.

It isn’t often that a movie sticks in our thoughts for a long while after we saw the movie, but this one really did. Highly recommended.

Goldberg Variations, Joanna MacGregor, Followed By Jazz, Wigmore Lates, 9 May 2014

We rather like these Wigmore Lates concerts, although we do sometimes find it hard to drag ourselves from the comfort of my lovingly prepared dinner at the flat to the concert hall, albeit a mere couple of miles up the road.

We’d been very keen on the idea of this one when we booked it, but I do recall that fatigue factor coming into play as we set off for the Wigmore Hall.

But by gosh this one was worth it.

Here is a link to the Wigmore Hall diary page for this concert.

We’d enjoyed Joanna MacGregor playing interesting fusion music some years earlier, at the Roundhouse – click here or below… 

Joanna MacGregor and Britten Sinfonia, Reverb: Roundhouse, 23 January 2010

…but had never seen her perform solo before.

Her interpretation of the Goldberg Variations was a fine one. Not overly flash or unusual; perhaps the odd flourish that nodded to her breadth of influences. Very relaxing.

Did either Janie or I nod off during the performance, I hear you ask? That is between us and our consciences, but in any case, with the Goldberg, it almost feels compulsory to do so, at least for a short while, in honour of the great composer’s original purpose.

We certainly didn’t nod off in the bar afterwards where we heard the Julian Bliss Quintet play some swinging jazz. We both like that style, as does Joanna MacGregor, it seems, as she joined a fairly sizeable late night swing contingent in the bar for quite a while.

I think Janie and I slipped away just before midnight – we normally do – don’t want anyone to see our carriage turning into a pumpkin or anything like that.

A very enjoyable late evening at the Wig.

In the Vale Of Health: Michael by Simon Gray, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, 2 May 2014

Janie and I both really like Simon Gray’s plays and we really like the Hampstead Downstairs.

So this project; taking all four of Simon Gray’s attempts to write about a quirky pair of brothers in The Vale of Health, seemed like something we should do in full.

We saw them in this sequence/timing:

  • 21 March 2014 – Japes;
  • 18 April 2014 – Japes Too;
  • 2 May 2014 – Michael;
  • 16 May 2014 – Missing Dates.

We’d often see the same faces in the audience again. One gentleman who sat next to us on the last night, we’d seen at least once before. I said to him that it would be like saying goodbye to close friends when this little season ended and he said, “that’s exactly what I was thinking”.

Very intimate plays, beautifully written (it’s Simon Gray after all) and very well acted/directed.

I’m cutting and pasting this same piece for all four evenings; the above and the links below basically apply to all four.

Here is a link to a search term that will find you Hampstead resources and (unusually for downstairs) reviews, as they transferred this little season upstairs afterwards, because it had done so well downstairs.

Here is a YouTube interview and stuff: