Music

Jazz band playng in Marseille St. Charles ralway station

Marching jazz band Cie La Rumeur et l'Incroyable Freaks Band performing their Déambulation ludique in Marseille St. Charles railway station to promote the 17th Marseille | Jazz des Cinq Continents festival (jazz from five continents). Totally mad but rather a nice way to be greeted at a major rail terminus. I rather liked the jazz piano on the high wheel trolley! A couple of numbers with obvious rail associations, although I didn't hear "Chattanooga Choo Choo". In the best traditions of French musicians, the wacky name of the band currently defies translation...

 Ralph McTell at the Royal Albert Hall, May 2016

“Streets of London” was one of the background songs to my time at university in Nottingham, the first track on Ralph McTell’s album “Spiral Staircase” (1969). The song’s a mainstay of London buskers even now - I heard it played and sung very creditably by a busker at Leicester Square tube station just yesterday. Not a hit until a rework in 1974, the song has a timelessness with its poignant words and simple tune.

Read more: Ralph McTell - Royal Albert Hall

Hand balancing acrobatics at La Soiree in the Spiegeltent on London's South Bank

Lots of fun on the South Bank for La Soirée in the Speigeltent, part of the winter festival next to Hungerford bridge. Just to list acrobats, burlesque, magic, melodrama, pole acrobatics, clowning and bubble blowing doesn't do this show justice. Nor does a single photo. The company quickly won over even the knowing London audience (the cabaret atmosphere with the bar open during the show clearly helped).

Read more: La Soirée

Brighton’s own Philharmonic started an adventurous New Year’s Eve Viennese Gala with a brisk and colourful rendition of the Overture to Die Fledermaus. Warm strings, confident brass with supportive conducting from Barry Wordsworth. The Brighton Philharmonic clearly enjoy playing together and (having many seasoned players in their ranks) have respect but little fear for technical difficulty. A fullish house, I heard a figure mentioned of more than 1320. So the second item, Bahn Frei (“Line clear”) was doubly ironic as Brighton has been marooned from London by Rail Engineering Works since Christmas Eve.

Franz Lehar’s Waltz Gold and Silver, with its lusciously beautiful melody, was the first of no fewer than four full-scale waltzes in the programme; each given sensitive and intelligent performances, no small feat of preparation and commitment. And shining through the Brighton Philharmonic’s performances is a sense of enjoyment in the same way as happens with the best performances of chamber music amongst friends.

Read more: New Year’s Eve 2015 Viennese Gala

French orchestral music at Brighton Dome from the early twentieth century, the first night of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2015/6 residency at Brighton Dome. Claude Debussy worked on La Mer whilst at Eastbourne, nearby to Brighton along the coast of the English Channel. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Robin Ticciati gave us a spirited and stormy account consistent with today’s weather: evocative of sharp showers and low visibility on the Channel rather than the grandeur, majesty and depths of the oceans.

Read more: Fauré, Ravel, Debussy: London Philharmonic at the Brighton Dome