“A universal consciousness…”

My interview with the utterly incredible Gabriela Montero is in The Independent today: enjoy.

Meanwhile reports continue to flock into my email about the Chopin Competition result. One correspondent in Warsaw says that they are “still picking pieces of jawbones off the floor”, another that “it’s time to buy a pianola”. Another person thinks, too, that the jury dumped the “points” system in favour of “impressions” of each for the ranking at each stage (I can’t confirm or explain this any further, I’m afraid). Bozhanov divided opinions very strongly; Wunder was the local favourite and allegedly studies with one of the jury; and apparently commentators on Warsaw’s radio and TV have been saying that the competition risks losing credibility with this first prize.

Closer to home, in the papers everyone is number-crunching about the cuts. There are so many conflicting versions out there at present about what the 29.6% cut to Arts Council England really means for its clients that I think we need to let the dust settle a bit more before adding to them. But those figures are perhaps the least frightening of the lot. I spent part of yesterday explaining to one friend what life will be like in a city where councils can’t afford local upkeep, people can’t afford homes and police numbers have shrunk – shabby, non-functioning, frightening, angry and crime-ridden – as well as another part realising that a lot of people in the arts today don’t remember the dogfights in the Thatcher/Major years because they are young and I guess I must be getting a bit old. Here is Johann Hari on the likely return of Cardboard City. Please read.

It’s been a pianoy time, this, so let’s go the whole hog and have some more. Here is Gabriela improvising a Goldberg Variation that Bach did not write (and nor did Ginastera or Keith Jarrett). Have a nice weekend, all.

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens