The Diary of One Who Disappeared is the title of a song cycle written by the Czech composer Leoš Janáček. One of the purposes of this site is to act as a diary where I can keep a record of some of the things that I have spent my time doing, as well as memories that I want to preserve. The tabs above also contain some essays that I have written on subjects that interest me.
Although I am English I have disappeared from my native land and for the past two decades I have split my life between the south-west of France and the north-east of Italy. This has given me the opportunity to pursue a range of activities and interests, including completing a PhD in social history, teaching art history and English in Italy, going to art exhibitions throughout Europe, attending concerts and operas by favourite composers such as Janáček, Mahler, Shostakovich and others and travelling and exploring as much as possible.
At La Halle aux Grains, Toulouse, for a superb performance of Mahler’s Symphony no. 2, the ‘Resurrection’, by the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse under Tugan Sokhiev. The choir, ‘Orfeón Donostiarra’, were excellent, as were the soloists, mezzo-soprano Christa Mayer and soprano Jeanine de Bique.
In Agen, in the Lot-et-Garonne region of south-west France, for the exhibition ‘Goya: avant-garde genius. The master and his school’.
The exhibition followed the career of Goya from his time as a designer of tapestries and as a portrait artist whilst at the courts of Kings Charles III and IV in Madrid in the 1770s and 1780s, through his ‘Caprichos’, published in 1799, his ‘Disasters of War’ etchings from 1810 – 20, and the ‘Majas’ paintings, as well as a variety of works concerned with witches, fantastical creatures and religious and political corruption.
Francisco Goya ‘Self-Portrait’ (1783)
Francisco Goya ‘Mariana de Waldstein, Marquesa de Santa Cruz’ (c.1798)
Francisco Goya ‘Cannibals’ (c.1800)
Francisco Goya ‘And they are like wild beasts’ (1812 – 15)
Francisco Goya ‘The Balloon’ (c.1816 – 24)
Francisco Goya ‘Capricho with flying animals’ (c.1818 -19)
The west front of the Eglise Notre-Dame la Grande, Poitiers, with its magnificant Romanesque statuary.
At Opera Limoges to see an entertaining production of Maurice Ravel’s opera ‘L’Enfant et les Sortilèges’. First performed in 1924, the second of Ravel’s fantasy operas (after ‘L’Heure Espagnol’ 1907), the opera tells the story of a child ordered to stay in his room as a punishment. Magic takes over as toys, household objects and animals come to life. Back-projected images onto a black curtain provided the special effects that brought the story to life.
At La Halle aux Grains, Toulouse, for a concert with a definite Spanish flavour. Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse under Spanish conductor Josep Pons played a first half of Ravel’s ‘Rapsodie Espagnole’ and ‘Piano Concerto in G major’. The soloist was renowned Spanish pianist Javier Perianes, who returned to the stage for a stunning encore with a solo arrangement of the ‘Ritual Fire Dance’ from Manuel de Falla’s ‘El Amor Brujo.’ The second half began with Ravel’s ‘Alborada del Gracioso’ before continuing with an excellent performance of de Falla’s ‘Le Tricorne, Suites 1 & 2’.
Josep Pons and Javier Perianes
Ravel: ‘Rapsodie Espagnole’; Ravel: ‘Concerto for Piano in G major’; de Falla: ‘Ritual Fire Dance’ from ‘El Amor Brujo.’; Ravel: ‘Alborada del Gracioso’; de Falla: ‘Le Tricorne, Suites 1 and 2’.
An extremely varied programme at the Théatre Ducourneau, Agen, in the Lot-et-Garonne department of France, by Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine under Douglas Boyd. Beginning with the orchestrated version of ‘5 Piéces enfantines’ from ‘Ma Mère l’Oye’ by Maurice Ravel, followed by an excellent performance of Francis Poulenc’s ‘Concert champêtre pour clavecin’, with the extraordinary Jean Rondeau on harpsichord. The second half saw a beautifully-played ‘Symphony no. 2’ by Robert Schumann.
Ravel: ‘5 pièces enfantines’ from ‘Ma Mère l’Oye’; Poulenc ‘ Concert champêtre pour clavecin’; Schumann ‘Symphony no. 2 in C major’ opus 61.
At La Halle aux Grains, Toulouse, for an excellent concert by the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse under Tugan Sokhiev. The first half saw Liszt’s ‘Piano Concerto no. 1’ wonderfully played by the renowned French pianist Lucas Debargue, who was deservedly called back for two encores. The second half was a powerful performance of the ‘Eighth Symphony’ of Dimitri Shostakovich, an epic work which evokes the suffering of the second world war.
Liszt: ‘Piano Concerto no. 1 in E Flat’ S.124; Shostakovich ‘Symphony no. 8’ opus 65.