Festival du 8 de Montcabrier

In Montcabrier in the Lot for the annual visit to the Festival du 8 de Montcabrier. A very eclectic selection of works, with a first half of pieces connected by the theme of travel, with Felicien David’s ‘Marche de la Caravane’ from his ode-symphony ‘Le Desért’,  Henri Duparc’s setting of Charles Baudelaire’s poem ‘L’Invitation au voyage’, and Camille Saint-Saëns’ ‘Tournoiements’ from ‘Mélodies persanes’.  They were followed by Felix Mendelssohn’s overture ‘The Hebrides’ and four pieces by Hector Berlioz: ‘Villanelle’ and ‘L’île inconnue’ from ‘Les nuits d’été’, extracts from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Le Bal’ from ‘Symphonie fantastique’.

Festival du 8 de Montcabrier 2019

David: ‘Marche de la Caravane’; Duparc: ‘L’Invitation au voyage’; Saint-Saëns: ‘Tournoiements’ from ‘Mélodies persanes’;  Mendelssohn: overture ‘The Hebrides’; Berlioz: ‘Villanelle’, ‘L’île inconnue’, extracts from ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Le Bal’ from ‘Symphonie fantastique’.

Quatuor Akitania in the Dordogne

An extremely enjoyable concert in Saint-Chamassy in the Dordogne, part of the XXXI Festival Musique en Périgord. Quatuor Akitania played a very varied programme, including  Bach and Mozart, Shostakovich String Quartet no. 8 and works by two new, to me, composers from Azerbaijan: Khayyam Mirzazadeh and Moussa Mirzoyev.

Quatuor Akitania

J.S. Bach: 2 Fugues, BWV 1080, counterpoints 1 & 5; Mozart: Divertimento in D, KV 136; Mirzazadeh: 8 miniatures; Mirzoyev: String Quartet no. 1; Shostakovich: String Quartet no. 8

Brahms and Schumann in Cahors Cathedral

In Cahors, in the Lot department of France, for an excellent concert to celebrate the 900th anniversary of Saint Etienne Cathedral. Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse under Lio Kuokman played the overture to Schumann’s ‘Genoveva’ and Brahms ‘Concerto for Violin and Orchestra’, with soloist Kristi Gjezi, in the first half, followed by an extremely well played Symphony no. 3 by Schumann in the second half.

Cahors cathedral

Schumann: Overture to ‘Genoveva’, opus 81: Brahms: ‘Concerto for Violin and Orchestra’, opus 77: Schumann: ‘Symphony no. 3’, opus 97.

Exploring in Tuscany


The walled town of Monteriggioni

San Gimignano

San Gimignano

Picture 485

Benozzo Gozzoli ‘Scenes from the Life of Sant’ Agostino’ (1464 – 65) San Gimignano



Rosso Fiorentino 'Deposition from the Cross' (c.1521) Pinacoteca Comunale, Volterra

Rosso Fiorentino ‘Deposition from the Cross’ (c.1521) Pinacoteca Comunale, Volterra

Siena - Piazza del Campo and Palazzo Pubblico

Piazza del Campo and Palazzo Pubblico, Siena

Ambrogio Lorenzetti 'The Effects of Good Government' (1338 - 39)

Ambrogio Lorenzetti ‘The Effects of Good Government’ (1338 – 39) Palazzo Pubblico, Siena

Ambrogio Lorenzetti 'The Effects of Bad Government' (1338 - 39)

Ambrogio Lorenzetti ‘The Effects of Bad Government’ (1338 – 39) Palazzo Pubblico, Siena

Simone Martini 'Maesta' (1312 - 15)

Simone Martini ‘Maestà’ (1312 – 15)

Simone Martini 'Guidoriccio da Fogliano' (1328)

Simone Martini ‘Guidoriccio da Fogliano’ (1328)

Siena cathedral

Siena Cathedral

Florence cathedral

Florence Cathedral

Frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence (1426 - 82)

Frescoes by Masaccio, Masolino and Filippino Lippi, Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del                                                                      Carmine, Florence

Masaccio 'Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden' (c.1424 - 27)

Masaccio ‘Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden’ (c.1424 – 27) Brancacci Chapel

Verrocchio at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

In Florence for the exhibition ‘Verrocchio – Master of Leonardo’. The artist known as Verrocchio was born Andrea di Michele in Florence, circa 1435. He trained as a goldsmith but also became a master of carving in marble. He came to painting late, but by about 1470 he had established himself with works such as ‘Madonna and Child’, ‘The Virgin and Child with Two Angels’ and ‘Tobias and the Angel’.

He was responsible for training some of the greatest artists of the second half of the fifteeenth century, including Pietro Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Lorenzo di Credi, Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci.

Verrocchio - Master of Leonardo exhibition

Verrocchio 'Madonna and Child' (c.1470)

Andrea Verrocchio ‘Madonna and Child’ (c.1470)

Verrocchio 'Virgin and Child with Two Angels' (c.1471 - 72)

Andrea Verrocchio ‘Virgin and Child with Two Angels’ (c.1471 – 72)

Verrocchio 'Madonna and Child' (c.1470 or 1475)

Andrea Verrocchio ‘Madonna and Child’ (c.1470 or 1475)

Verrocchio 'Tobias and the Angel' (c.1471 - 72)

Andrea Verrocchio ‘Tobias and the Angel’ (c.1471 – 72)

Verrocchio 'Giuliano di Piero de' Medici' (c.1475)

Andrea Verrocchio ‘Giuliano di Piero de’ Medici’ (c.1475)

Verrocchio and Lorenzo di Credi 'Madonna and Child between St. John the Baptist and St. Donatus' (c.1475 - 86)

Andrea Verrochio and Lorenzo di Credi ‘Madonna and Child between St. John the Baptist                                                      and St. Donatus’ (c.1475 – 86)

Berlioz in La Rochelle

An excellent all-Berlioz programme by Les Siècles under François-Xavier Roth at La Coursive in La Rochelle. In the first half was the overture to the unfinished opera Les Francs-Juges and a beautifully sung Les Nuits d’été with mezzo-soprano Marie Lenormand, whilst the second half saw a wonderfully performed Symphonie Fantastique.

Les Siecles

Berlioz: Overture from ‘Les Francs-Juges’; ‘Les Nuits d’été’; ‘Symphonie Fantastique’

Mahler in Toulouse

Back at the Halle aux Grains, Toulouse for another very enjoyable concert by the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, this time under American conductor Joseph Swensen. In the first half  was the Adagio from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony no. 10, whilst the second half was Mahler’s excellent ‘Das Lied von der Erde’, with soloists Janina Baechle and Christian Elsner.

Mahler Swensen

Mahler: Adagio from Symphony no. 10; Mahler ‘Das Lied von der Erde’

The modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudi

Antoni Gaudi was the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism. All his buildings have a highly individualized style, influenced by nature and religion.

The industrialist Eusebi Güell was an early patron and for him Gaudi designed a home, the Palau Güell, and began an ambitious development now known as Parc Güell. Other commissions for houses included Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, both located in Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona.

From  1883 Gaudí took over as chief architect of Sagrada Familia, his magnum opus, on which he would work until his death in 1926.

Palau Guell

Palau Güell

Casa Botllo 1

Casa Battló

Casa Mila

Casa Milà

Parc Guell 2

Parc Güell

Sagrada Familia 1

Sagrada Familia