Saturday, 31 March 2012

Three ships in the Sound

This morning the DFDS Oslo-Copenhagen ferry Pearl Seaways met the cargo ships Cimbris (100 x 18m) and Silver Bergen (97 x 15m) in the vicinity of Helsingborg/Helsingør.

Friday, 30 March 2012

In anticipation of Easter

In anticipation of Easter, here is a wonderful rendition of  "Erbarme Dich" from J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion: 

The Hungarian born mezzo soprano/alt Julia Hamari - now academic voice teacher in Stuttgart - in 1966 made her debut as a soloist in the St. Matthew Passion with Karl Richter in Vienna. This recording is from a later appearance with Richter and the Münchener Bach-Orchester.  

Below is the duet "So ist mein Jesus nun gegangen", where Hamari is joined by soprano Helen Donath, followed by the choir singing "Sind Blitze, sind Donner in Wolken verschwunden". 

Beautiful, clean voices ideally suited for this music!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Simple pleasures nr. 19: A cup of good espresso coffee

A cup of good espresso coffee is definitively one of the small daily delights to look forward to at the beginning a new day. For lazy persons, like me, the traditional espresso machines are often too time consuming and complicated to use. That is why I bought a capsule machine.

There are many good capsule machines to choose from. I finally bought a Nespresso Citiz, a rather basic machine, but perfect for my needs. What I do not like, is the high price of capsules, which are available only through Nespresso. 

Fortunately, a friend of mine told me about the Dutch company Coffeeduck, which manufactures and sells refillable capsules for Nespresso´s espresso machines. With the Dutch refillable cups I have the freedom to choose whatever espresso coffee I like, instead of having to buy everything from Nespresso. And the refillable cups are also an environmentally excellent choice. 

The people at Nespresso are probably not delighted, but freedom to choose benefits the consumer. Nespresso could, of course, try to hit back by e.g. lowering the price for their capsules, or perhaps beginning to sell their own refillable cups. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Caravaggio and contemporary art

Caravaggio´s "Young sick Bacchus"(1593), now in Galleria Borghese, Rome, is also a self portrait

Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1571 – 1610) one of the greatest painters of all times, was also one of the first in a long line of artists, who have not been able to handle their fame in private life:

The artist’s life was short, and his unruly behavior attracted as much attention as his revolutionary works. His numerous misdemeanors, documented in police records, culminated with his murder of an opponent during a game of pallacorda, or tennis, and led to his flight from Rome in 1606. By the time of his death in 1610, his style of painting was already the most imitated and influential in Europe.

Read the entire article here

Very soon after his death Caravaggio was forgotten, and it was only in the 20th century when his importance to Western art was rediscovered. Caravaggio´s influence on such artists as Rubens, Bernini, Rembrandt and Velasquez  is wellknown.

However, often one has a feeling that art historians, curators and critics - especially those with an interest in contemporary art - have a tendency to connect contemporary artists to the Caravaggio legacy in a somewhat carefree way. It is e.g. not easy to understand what somebody like Damien Hirst has in common with the great Italian painter.

My suggestion: Forget Hirst et consortes and just enjoy Caravaggio!

"The Taking of Christ" - detail - (1602), National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

"The Cardsharps" (about 1594), now in the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

"Bacchus" - detail - (1595), Uffizi Gallery, Florence

"The Ecstasy of Saint Francis"  (c. 1595), Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut

"The Fortune Teller" (1594) Musei Capitolini, Rome

"Caravaggio - The Complete Works" is an excellent site to visit if you want to learn more about Caravaggio´s works.