When one thinks of Audrey Hepburn, one thinks in terms of images. That iconic soft focus picture from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with Hepburn gazing enigmatically yet invitingly into the camera; the audacious expression and equally bold black jumpsuit which has come to represent Funny Face; the expression of glee as she rides on a moped driven by Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday.
The National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Portraits of an Icon’ exhibition traces how different photographers have depicted Hepburn throughout her career, but fails to capture the spirit of the actress. The camera seems fascinated more by her features and her potential to create a striking image than bringing out the enchanting quality which defines her screen performances – rather strange, given that many of the portraits were linked to some of her best-loved films.
Hepburn was famously shy, admitting that she was as far from the extrovert Holly Golightly as could be imagined. On the evidence of these photos, there is a correlation between her timidity and her level of fame. Early photos from Hepburn’s days as a chorus girl capture a spark and joie de vivre which is suddenly lost as her film career flourishes, almost as if a veil is drawn over the eyes. While some might argue that the ambiguous expression draws the viewer in, the number of portraits with this guarded expression suggests that something else is at play. The most effective portraits are surely those which tell a story; it appears that the story here is of Hepburn trying to protect something of herself from the media.
A world premiere recording of a piece by Boulez is reason enough to invest in this disc, but the ‘comprovisations’ which complete the recording cannot help but intrigue. Recorder player Erik Bosgraaf pairs up with ‘laptop artist’ Jorrit Tamminga for a series of seven Dialogues, in which the sound of the recorder is captured and transformed by electronics. However, one can imagine these works being much more successful in a live context: the Dialogues are of variable musical interest, meaning that some stand up to repeated listens much better than others. The situation is not helped by the intricacy of the Boulez.
Nielsen’s Maskarade Overture should have been the ideal way to launch the 2015 BBC Proms. In the festival’s 120th year, one would expect that the first concert would begin with a bang. While the actual fireworks came after Gary Carpenter’s Dadaville, the musical fireworks were saved for the end.
Japan-born British clarinettist Anna Hashimoto compiled a wide-ranging programme for her ‘Roots’ recital at St John’s Smith Square. Performing works from Britain and Japan as a soloist, accompanied by pianist Daniel King Smith and as part of the Atéa Wind Quintet, this was one of Hashimoto’s two recitals at the venue as part of its young artists’ scheme, which offers mentoring, performance opportunities and support to musicians early in their careers.
Nicholas Daniel shot to fame upon winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition with Vaughan Williams’ oboe concerto, and here he returns to the work on a disc of luscious English pastoralism. Suffusing its lyricism with wistful longing, Daniels gives a performance both reflective and robust. He handles the juxtaposition of lyrical and scherzo-like material with élan, integrating both into a sweeping arch to poignant effect.
Joshua Bell and friends brought their brief residency at Wigmore Hallto a fiery finale with impassioned performances of Smetana and Dvořák. These chamber pieces became virtuoso vehicles in the hands of the five musicians, with the dialogic nature of the repertoire prompting the players to spur one another on. The first half of the programme may not have been up to the same high standard, but this was still a successful and memorable collaboration.
The Minimalism Unwrapped series at Kings Place has been questioning the concept of minimalism as much as affirming a body of works embodying the genre and its ideals. The Duke Quartet’s concert was no exception, juxtaposing Kevin Volans’ episodic Hunting:Gathering with the narrative sweep of John Tavener’s The Hidden Treasure. While the programme effectively juxtaposed the individual voices of each of the composers, the Tavener received the most striking performance by far.