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.
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.
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.
Kirill Gerstein’s most recent recital programme features works which push pedagogic forms to their extreme, exploring their cross-over into concert repertoire. While Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes were full of colour and character, Gerstein failed to draw as much musical interest out of the repertoire in the first half.
The Wigmore Hall audience was transported back to 18th century Italy for Andreas Scholl’s recital programme. Focusing on the Baroque cantata, an intimate song form which explores ideas of love and loss, the evening also presented a number of chamber works: as the programme explained, concerts would often use these to build anticipation for the appearance of the star vocalist, yet these were certainly not lacking in interest. These formal concert works were framed by Venetian gondola songs, providing another glimpse of how the voice was used during this period.