Friday, 6 April 2012

"Modernists" and "traditionalists" among conductors

White tie is traditionally the required dress code of members of symphony orchestras during concerts. Of course, there are occasions when more casual clothing is favoured, but tailcoats, at least in my opinion, look great on more formal evenings.

Conductors are, at least in principle, also expected to wear white tie in concerts where the orchestra members wear tailcoats. However, many conductors - as well as soloists - have lately opted for a more liberal dress code. There is a group of "modernists", who prefer their own kind "haute couture". Still, maybe the majority of maestros, both old and young, prefer the traditional white tie.

Below you will find some of the main "players" in the two teams, "modernists" and "traditionalists". I must admit that I prefer the traditionalists (but only with regard to the dress code!):

The "modernist" maestro team: 

Daniel Barenboim
Neeme Järvi
Karel Mark Chicon
Esa-Pekka Salonen
Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Paavo Järvi
Evelino Pido
Lorin Maazel has a foot in both camps

The "traditionalist" maestro team: 

Bernard Haitink
Sir Simon Rattle
Christian Thielemann
Mariss Jansons
Asher Fisch
Gustavo Dudamel
Diego Matheuz
Alan Gilbert
Andrew Harding
Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Of course, the above listing is very tentative. It is e.g. not unusual that some of the traditionalists on certain occasions have chose to temporarily join the "modernists", and vice versa.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A shining little village church in Austria

The other night, when I woke up early (at about 5 A.M) I turned on the TV, just to have something to occupy myself with. I accidentally began watching the Austrian HD channel Servus, which during the early morning hours often shows nice views of the Austrian alps, shot from hot air balloons. 

This time the cameraman on board the balloon had (most likely) been filming in the early morning hours, with mist, clouds and shadows over the beautiful Pinzgau region, not far from Salzburg. Suddenly he had noticed a hole in the clouds, and in the middle of the hole was a small village church.

I happened to have my camera close by, and took this picture of the church:


The shining little village church inspired me to add a text to the picture.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Whisky Galore!

The "rescue operation" in full swing

On a rather chilly and windy day here in the Øresund area, what could more enjoyable than watching the 1949 Ealing comedy film Whisky Galore! based on the novel by Compton MacKenzie - of course accompanied by a glass of my favourite single malt, Bowmore from the Isle of Islay in the Hebrides

Basil Radford  as Captain Paul Waggett, the stuffy English commander of the local  Home Guard

The movie and the novel are based on the real-life 1941 shipwreck of S.S. Politician near the island of Eriskay (in the movie renamed Todday) in the Hebrides, and the islanders´ unauthorized taking of its cargo of whisky. Before that the island had run out of whisky, which resulted in a deep gloom among the natives. The shipwreck loaded with 15.000 bottles of whisky came almost as a gift from heaven ....

Whisky Galore is one of the great Ealings comedies, as enjoyable today as 60 or so years ago. Strongly recommended, especially for friends of good Scotch whisky! 

Natives celebrating the "catch"
James Robertson Justice as Dr. Maclaren


On the subject of whisky, it is good to know that original Scotch whisky is doing rather well internationally now: 

Scotch Whisky exports grew to a record £4.2bn last year as younger drinkers in emerging markets developed a taste for the tipple.
The Scotch Whisky Association, which announced the figures today, said rising demand in developing and mature markets had helped export values rise an average of 10% a year over the past five years.
Exports to the US, the biggest market by value, rose 31% year-on-year to £654.9m – breaking the £600m barrier for the first time. Sales to France, the second biggest market, grew 27% to £535.4m.
Hopefully the single malts from the Hebrides have their share of the success! 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Simple pleasures nr. 20: Andalucian olives

Spain is the world´s largest producer of olives - and Andalucia is the home of the best olives. It´s just that simple.

The first Andalucian olive trees were planted already 6000 years ago. Today there are 150 million olive trees, which are used for the production of about one billion litres of the green gold of Andalucia.

Olive trees dominate large parts of  the Andalucian landscape

Jaen is the olive capital of Andalucia

There are about 200 varieties of olives in Spain. 

The considerable health benefits of olive oil are well documented. So, there is every reason for consumers all over the world to increase the use of olives - preferably from Andalucia!