Viva La Liberta!

Don’t miss Tony Palmer’s searing thump-on-the-head of a documentary on the Wagner family, screening as the first in the last-ever series of the South Bank Show on Sunday night. Here’s a very short piece I wrote about the film for today’s Independent. ITV should be ashamed of itself for dropping the single best series it has ever done. It’s a scandalous, miserable and pathetic choice of the axe.

On a different tack, if you want to go to something in London this weekend and the Last Night of the Proms isn’t your thing, there’s a nice Haydn anniversary event with the Haydn Trio Eisenstadt at Kings Place all day on Sunday. It only seems possible to make a link to one concert at a time (here’s the evening one). I wish Kings Place would get its act together. They have some great concerts and it’s one of the best venues in town – great acoustic, a cool building, a lovely restaurant & bar on the canal… Yet my impression through several experiences this year is that teething problems in the website, box office and marketing are not helping to sell tickets (and contrary to popular opinion I can’t do it all for them through this blog).

Besides, I’m off to Salzburg tomorrow. Well, Salzburg airport. From there, a bus to the wonderfully-named Wolfgangsee – then a long, long walk finishing some days later somewhere near, er, Berchtesgaden. Not a place I’d ever have imagined going…you can see it in the Tony Palmer film, as well, of course…So, for Historical Friday, here (audio only, though) is the party scene from Don Giovanni, conducted by Wilhelm Furtwangler and featuring Tito Gobbi as the Don, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf as Donna Elvira, Irmgard Seefried as Zerlina and many more – recorded live in 1950 at, of course, the Salzburg Festival. Listen out for the three onstage bands playing in different time signatures. Tom was in one of these at Glyndebourne about ten years ago. Graham Vick told him off for overacting.

Mountains ahoy – viva la liberta! Back soonish.

Underrated: Abroad

The ravenous longing for the infinite possibilities of “otherwhere”

The king of cakes

"Yuletide revels were designed to see you through the dark days — and how dark they seem today"