Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Ken Russell (1927-2011) was nothing if not confrontational, often of the sledge-hammer variety. Now I'd hate to suggest he peaked early, but if there's one film of his that I don't ever want to be without, it's his 1962 BBC documentary portrait of Sir Edward Elgar. The stunning black and white photography of the Malvern Hills is alone enough.

See what I mean:

Monday, November 28, 2011


Well, that's that. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra / Ashkenazy 'Mahler Odyssey' ended on Monday with the final of four performances of the Second. While the ninth and incomplete tenth hold the secrets to where Mahler's thoughts and emotions were finally focused, the ninth was rightly played on the centenary of his death, and so this huge dramatic and overtly Christian version of 'what might happen' made a fine ending for us, if not for Mahler. Thanks for the massive journey to all involved. It's a rare privilege, a once in a lifetime dare I cliche, to get the 'lot' in such good hands. Now let's hope we don't pay for it with years of abstinence - there's no Mahler for 2012. I know there's been new Mahler aficionados and converts gathered so we need a steady feed, like more of the less familiar (down here) 6, 7 and 9 please.

If you missed the Second (and by the way, Saturday was much tighter, and a good deal more moving - read teary-eyed in S stalls, the apex of the perfect triangle in the hall - than Friday), you can hear and watch it on demand, right here.

The performance will be released on CD (Saturday as played would be just fine) but in the meantime, no collection of Mahler should be without this staggering live performance of the Second with a ravishingly beautiful Yvonne Kenny at her very best. And it's about 14 minutes slower than the legendary Klemperer which is not the least of the reasons it packs such a mighty emotional punch. Look around the buy sites - I'm not linking to Amazon or the like as my account details come up - can't have that.

Friday, November 25, 2011


"Hers is a voice of the earth with deeply embodied richness of sound, alabaster smoothness and the sort of diction where word and tone become one."

So says Peter McCallum. There are three more nights - tonight, tomorrow and Monday. We're going tonight and tomorrow. Here she is, pulsing like something in a far off galaxy.


I'm not sure what we would do. We fought for the legality of our existence and the end of persecution. Our lives are organised and we are blessed with loving families.

Those in our footsteps now have their battle, and they will win. There are times when I agree with Lilli Tomlin - 'who wants to be like them' - but then the importance of this recognition to the generations behind me is not for me to dispute.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The background to the staggeringly inept gormless episode is here. It's hard to imagine any organisation so out of touch with consumer sentiment.

Anyway, thanks to Sir Roger (Migently), this has popped up. Have a giggle before it disappears.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Early morning in the country

Late afternoon in the city

Monday, November 14, 2011


From the Guardian is this story of the most expensive photograph ever sold - Andreas Gursky's Rhine II. I find its harrowing minimalism hypnotic.

As someone steeped in naive purism, not to mention ignorance, I was (though shouldn't have been) a little shocked to discover just how much digital alteration had been used in getting the required look.

"... the artist carefully digitally removed any intrusive features ... until it was bleak enough to satisfy..."

I've at last overcome the block that held me captive to the folly that creativity began at the tripod and ended in the darkroom. These days, digital tools are just that - tools. For people who say, oh the computer did that, well it didn't. The artist behind the computer did that.

So, I start off on my third course tonight at the Australian Centre for Photography - Adobe Lightroom. That it is five weeks of one three-hour class a week was enough to convince me that there's a lot more here than can be found in the early entry digital tools of (say) i-photo.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Hello. I just somehow disappeared, not without trace but without apologies. Sorry.

Yes, I've been busy and there'll be a brief rundown on the lost few weeks for diary's sake soon. One thing I've discovered is that blogging is a habit, and a discipline. I think I'm back again, with mostly all good news to come.

A lot of the time has been gobbled up doing a photography course, and of that there's lots to say. But this is just to reignite my fire, and there's no better way than a snap I took during the week in Centennial Park. Of course it's Millie, in a photo I wouldn't have been able to take ten weeks ago, or if I did, would have most likely overlooked or deleted. It's taken with a new (and remarkably good value) lens, a Canon prime (fixed length) 1.8 50 mm.

I think the teacher would say the good points of the shot are that the action is running left to right, into the 'space', the blurring gives a sense of movement as well as concentrates and exaggerates the main subject, the composition has interest, incompleteness invites and engages the imagination, and most of all, there's a story at work. As the course evolved, the emphasis kept on coming back to telling a story.