📖 Sunday Culture Crunch 📖
For all your weekend culture needs
Good morning all, hello to new subscribers, and welcome to the Sunday Culture Crunch — my weekend roundup of thought-provoking listening/reading, new music, upcoming events, and recommendations for general culture stuff to look out for over the next few weeks. Happy browsing, and do comment if there’s anything you’d like to see featured in the Crunch. Want more/less fiction? Non-fiction? Old recordings? Let me know!
I’m speaking twice in London this coming week — at Arts Richmond on Wednesday 1st, and then at the Barbican on Sunday 5th to give a Quartet concert with Fenella Humphreys and Nicola Eimer. I can’t wait for these, and as always please do come and say hi!
What I’m Reading
Honoré de Balzac, Old Man Goriot. A friend bought this for me because they were convinced it would be right up my street, and they weren’t wrong. Balzac’s observations are deliciously malicious. Has some strong writing-out-a-bad-relationship energy.
Tarjei Vesaas, The Ice Palace. Been stuck in bed this fortnight with Covid (boo), so I’ve been revisiting some comfort classics. The Ice Palace remains one of my favourite novels…ever? If you don’t know Vesaas’s writing yet then you are in for a treat. His prose is sparse and unforgiving, and yet so beautifully formed. It really stays with you.
Hjalmar Söderberg, The Serious Game. This is the quintessential Swedish fin-de-siècle novel. It’s a love story about Arvid Stjärnblom and his childhood sweetheart Lydia Stille, but it’s also a book about Stockholm, about a world in transition, about moral conflict, and about love and deception. It really deserves a wider readership.
“I hope that wherever you are these memories are as precious to you as they are to me” — Letters of Note from WWII
Sarah Ditum’s Toxic: Women, Fame and the Noughties published this week, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into that.
Eros: Bridge, Grime, Eröd & Ginastera. The debut album from New Generation Artists the Mithras Trio, and it’s a corker.
Garuta: Apple Tree. Sigvards Klava leads the Latvian Radio Choir in the premiere recording of choral works by Lucija Garuta.
Philharmonica. This is a really delightful recording of music from seventeenth century London, including works by a composer curiously named ‘Mrs Philharmonica’…
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5. A fabulous recording of this work by the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda.
Brazilian Women Composers: Music for Viola. Rafaell and Ana Lucia Altino present a varied programme of viola music by Brazilian composers.
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé. A sumptuous rendition from John Wilson and the Sinfonia of London & Sinfonia of London Chorus.
Enigma. A really eye (ear?)-opening disc from soprano Sarah Aristidou.
Brahms: Piano Concertos. Simon Trpčeski takes on the Concertos with the WDR Sinfonieorchester and Christian Măcelaru.
Louis Wayne Ballard. Orchestral music by Native American composer Ballard — look out in particular for The Four Moons ballet.
Franz Benda: Symphonies & Concertos. This is the extremely perky disc I needed this week. Great fun.
Palmgren: Complete Piano Works Vol. 7. I love Palmgren’s music, so it’s a good thing he wrote so prolifically for the piano. Up to volume 7 (!) in the complete piano works now.
Schubert & Beethoven: 14th String Quartets. If you’re going to make ANOTHER recording of ‘Death and the Maiden’, do it like the Sacconi Quartet.
Christmas Eve. The Christmas album you never knew you needed — Rimsky-Korsakov takes on Gogol!
…and the more traditional take on the Christmas album, Bob Chilcott’s Christmas Oratorio from the Choir of Merton College Oxford led by Benjamin Nicholas, with soloists Sarah Connolly, Neal Davies and Nick Pritchard.
An oldie and a goodie…
The Gryphon Trio’s rendition of Clarke and Ravel’s Piano Trios. This remains my favourite recording of the Clarke Trio, and the pairing with Ravel is just perfect.
BBC National Orchestra of Wales are performing Grace Williams’ Symphony No. 2 with Kaija Saariaho and Sarah Lianne Lewis on the 2nd November.
Stile Antico are giving the world premiere of a new work by Kerry Andrew inspired by William Byrd, in Birmingham on the 8th November.
Fiona Maddocks is in conversation with Vasily Petrenko about her new Rachmaninoff book, at The Bindery on 13th November.
The London Symphony Orchestra are performing Carpenter, Barber, and Bartók with cellist Abel Selaocoe at the Barbican on the 16th November (for which yours truly wrote the programme notes).
And for something completely different…
Something I have learned while performing with Fenella Humphreys is that not only is she a spectacular violinist, but she’s also a prolific knitter with her own Etsy store. She makes THE cutest gloves and arm warmers, so if you are thinking ahead to Christmas presents for a friend who might appreciate a musician-knitted garment, her store is here.