Prom 22: Naturally 7 Review

Prom 22: Naturally 7

Prom 22, a late-night Prom, was something a bit different, but very, very good-different. This is not the sort of music that I usually listen to, and, I have to admit, I had not heard for Naturally 7 before, but, less than five minutes in, and I am loving what I hear! These amazing vocalists produce every sound themselves. It sounds like instruments. It’s amazing. I’m quite blown away. And I’m not even seven minutes in!

It’s a bit unbelievable, really.

Ok, that’s all for the live-writing.

The song, I think that is called ‘Run Away’ starts around the 39 minute-mark on iPlayer, and was one of my favourite songs from this Prom. The famous few bars of ‘Rule Britannia!’ are around the 44 minute mark.

The sounds that these seven guys make really are amazing, and, just listening, it’s almost impossible to believe that there is nothing but the seven of them (and some microphones so they can be heard throughout the Royal Albert Hall!). They make the sounds of scratching, drum kit, harmonica, brass, electric guitars and bass, all with the human voice. If you want something very different (from the usual classical Prom, in particular), then have a listen to this. The music these guys make is fantastic.

Naturally 7

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Melbourne Open House 2013 Round-up

This weekend was Open House Melbourne weekend, where 111 buildings were open to the public: most of them are not usually.

I volunteered this morning for the third year (this year at the State Library), but I’m quite afraid to say that my volunteer experience this year was very poor, as the lady in charge of Open House at the State Library (she was a SL employee) was so awful, but we’ll not go into that.

One of the great parts of volunteering, especially in the morning shift, was that I had to be in town before 9am. At 9am on a Sunday morning, the city is EMPTY, which is both odd, and kind of lovely. It’s so quiet!

After my shift was over, I went a got some lunch, then visited only two buildings this year (I’ve visited many in the last couple of years), the Windsor Hotel and 1 Spring St.

Some photos taken on my iPhone, some on my (rather old) Panasonic Lumix, all touched-up in Lightroom.

Bath Abbey – Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

One of the most beautiful buildings I’ve been (and been able to take photos of the exterior and interior) to is Bath Abbey.

‘The Abbey as we know it is the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott, who from 1864 to 1874, completely transformed the inside of the Abbey to conform with his vision of Victorian Gothic architecture. His most significant contribution must surely be the replacement of the ancient wooden ceiling over the nave with the spectacular stone fan vaulting we see today.’

Sir George designed a lot of public and residential buildings, most notably the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, and worked on the restoration a LOT of churches, Cathedrals and Abbeys, including Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s London, among others.

All photos taken December 2011.

Weekly photo challenge.

PS: This is my 100th blog post. Yay! Thanks to all my readers and especially subscribers 🙂

The Wolverine Review

The Wolverine

I really liked this film. I thought I’d enjoy it (it is Marvel, after all), but I ended up enjoying The Wolverine even more than I thought I would. I also liked going into the cinema knowing little about what I was in for, having not seen the full version of the trailer, and having little idea of the plot, other than Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) goes to Asia and fights some ninjas. The only one of the X-Men films that I’ve seen is First Class (which I loved), and I’ve seen about half an hours’ worth of the first hour or so of X-Men (it was on TV the other week. I was flicking between that and At World’s End. Despite having AWE on DVD, I ended up watching that instead!). So I know a bit about the background/X-Men world, but I’m not as up with it as I am with the Avenger’s universe.

Also, it’s good to point out: Wolverine and X-Men, although Marvel, are owned by 20th Century Fox, whereas Disney has the rights to the rest of the Marvel Universe. So although there’s cross-over in the comic-books, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be a film cross-over (though I’d love to see Logan and Capt. Rogers swapping WWII stories).

The Wolverine

But back to The Wolverine.

Warning! There will now be spoilers below!

I thought that the basic storyline for The Wolverine was quite similar to that of  Iron Man 3, in that our hero (Logan/Tony Stark), is trying to recover from some pretty serious emotional/physical trauma. They have to let go of what happened, accept that it did, but now it has past. In the mean-time, some fights happen, some stuff gets blown up, and to conclude, they set things up for the future instalment of their respective franchises, be it X-Men: Days of Future Past or The Avengers: Age of Ultron (more on DoFP later).

The Wolverine

My fellow country-man Hugh Jackman was his usual buff self, spending a fair amount of the film shirtless or in just a singlet/vest, and sporting a rather Jean Valjean haircut in the opening scenes (before he is bathed and cleaned up by a couple of Japanese grannies, “I feel violated”). And I couldn’t help thinking that every time Mariko (Tao Okamoto) asked “who is Jean?”, Logan was going to break into “I’ve Jean Valjean!” Too much Les Mis for me, obviously.

There are a lot of fight scenes in this film. I think one about every 15 minutes wouldn’t be over-estimating! Logan is constantly fighting with ninjas or samurais or just general henchmen. The scene on top of the bullet-train is particularly good fun, as is the following scene, when Mariko and Logan end up hiding out in a ‘love hotel’, then getting some rather important assistance from a veterinary student. Most of the film followed the simple formula of: flashback, Jean-dream, plot development, fight scene, repeat. But heck, it was great fun.

The Wolverine

And of course, this being a Marvel film, you have to stay for the credits to get the extra scene at the end, which, in this case, was a MASSIVE set-up for DoFP. I can’t believe that after all these years, people STILL leave Marvel films before the end of the credits! Do they honestly not know that the extra scene is there? Anyway, in this scene, we see Logan at an airport. Suddenly, all the metal objects start wobbling – then bam! There’s Ian McKellen/Gandalf/Magneto behind him! But Magento wants Logan’s help. Logan’s all “F*** no.” But then we notice that everyone in the background has stopped moving, and out of the crowd wheels Patrick Steward/Charles Xavier! He tells Logan that they need his help, and he (Logan) has to help them.  Does it make me excited for DoFP? Oh yes.

★★★★

Photos from The Wolverine official website.

Rainbow Jam Tarts

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These beautiful little tarts just make you smile, epsecially when you use a couple of different fillings, as the colours are gorgeous. I’ve used raspberry jam, and lemon curd.  The recipe for these tarts is from my favourite cookbook (if you’re a regular on my blog, you can probably guess which one!) Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain. The recipe can also be found here, on the Jamie Magazine website. For convience, I’ve copied it below.

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For the pastry, put the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor with a pinch of salt and pulse until you have a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs. Crack in the egg, add the zest from your orange or lemon and pulse again, adding a little milk to bring everything together, if needed. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/   gas 4. Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour and roll out the pastry so it’s 5mm thick. Get yourself a few 12-hole jam-tart trays (or cook the tarts in batches) and a fluted pastry cutter just a little bigger than the holes of the tray (normally around 6cm). Cut out rounds of pastry and gently push them into the wells so they come up the sides. Any leftover pastry can be gently pushed back into a ball and rolled out to make a few more tarts. Put 1 heaped teaspoon of filling into each jam tart, interspersing and alternating the flavours of jams, curds or jellies.

Pop the trays on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 12–15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling. Remove from the oven, leave in the tray to firm slightly, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.
PS I know this might sound a bit girly, but if you can track down a lovely old tart tin from an antique shop, then serve these straight out of the tin – it looks really good, as the old tins are really cute. See, I told you it was girly!

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Prom 17: The Apotheosis of the Dance

The Apotheosis of the Dance

Prom 17 was  ‘a concert of music inspired by or written for dance’, and I rather did like the programming of it. This was probably the second Prom of the season where you missed quite a bit listening to it on iPlayer, rather than seeing it live (the first being the Doctor Who Prom).

Prom 17 began with a world premiere, this time of John McCabe’s Joybox. This five-minute piece reminded me quite a bit of the Tango from Shostakovich’s Bolt Suite, (which I love) which goes mad in the middle and has everyone playing slightly different things at different time, but all comes together massively at the end. Joybox was a little like that, only it was quite at the end. It was good, but, eh.

Ludwig von Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 was the second piece of the first Act. The third movement of this symphony has become synonymous with The King’s Speech film, as it is the music used during the climax, when King George VI addresses the Empire at the outbreak of WWII. The third movement always gives me shivers, and it continued to do so in this performance. There was applause after the second and third movements, and huge applause at the end, so I guess I’m not the only one who liked what I heard!

The first piece of the second act was by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla’s, with his Three Cornered Hat. There were dancers and props used for this piece, which would be fantastic: only it’s a bit hard to see them when you’re listening on iPlayer! Great for the RAH audience, however. There was MASSIVE applause part way through. I mean the music was good, but I’m guessing the audience saw something great that we poor folk listening on the radio missed! I did enjoy this piece: quite stereotypical Spanish-style music, but it was good, and by the audience reaction, the Antonio Márquez Company were quite something!

The final piece was Ravel’s Bolero. I know this is a very devise piece: people tend to either love it or absolutely loath the piece. Thankfully for this Prom, I like it. It’s one of those pieces of classical music that have been used in numerous popular TV shows and movies. The one it always reminds me of is Doctor Who, The Satan Pit and The Beast Below, when the Doctor and Rose get stranded on a meteorite that should be falling into a black hole, but is not. Bolero is used in those episodes by the people on the base on this meteorite as their shift change-over music (this probably makes no sense to people who haven’t seen this episode/no nothing about Doctor Who, but oh well. It’s a good double episode).

In this Prom, Bolero was danced along to by members the Antonio Márquez Company, whose stamping and jumping could be heard in the recording. I’m sure it looked fantastic, but, just via iPlayer, it was a bit annoying to be perfectly honest, as it wasn’t necessarily completely in time with the music. The BBC Philharmonic played beautifully, and I think Bolero was my favourite piece of Prom 17. And, after the piece had finished, the orchestra encored it, and the audience clapped along. Got to love a bit of audience participation. That’s what the Proms are all about!

Prom 16: Elgar, Bantock, Walton & Tchaikovsky

Elgar, Bantock, Walton and Tchaikovsky

Prom 16 started the BBC National Orchestra of Wales’s cycle of the Tchaikovsky symphonies, starting with the Fourth Symphony. I am very happy about this, as Tchaikovsky is my favourite composer. This Prom also had a bit of a Hollow Crown-theme to it. I really liked this one.

It began with Sir Edward Elgar’s Falstaff, a suite for the (in)famous character created by William Shakespeare, and co-star in his Henry IV Part I and Part II, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. This is not my favourite piece by Elgar, but it was well played, and, well I liked it well enough, but nothing overly special.

The second piece was Bantock’s Sapphic Poem, performed by cello soloist Raphael Wallfisch, along with the BBC NOW. This was beautifully played by Wallfisch, and sounded as though it was highly enjoyed by the audience, too.

Raphael Wallfisch

The second act began with two short pieces from William Walton’s music for Sir Laurence Olivier’s Henry V, ‘Touch her soft lips’ and  ‘Death of Falstaff’. These were really very lovely and beautiful, ‘Death of Falstaff‘ hauntingly so.

Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony would have to be my favourite piece in the entire classical repertoire. That’s big praise, I know, but there is not one thing I do not like about this symphony. Not one note or phrase or anything. The melodies, the orchestration, everything is just so amazing. I must also add: this is the piece that really got me into classical music, and whatever your ‘first’ favourite is, the piece that converts you, you will love forever. I found it as it was the background music that played on the MSO’s website about five years ago now. I just completely fell in love, went and bought the CD, and have loved this symphony (and Tchaikovsky) ever since. Anyway, back to Prom 16, and the BBC NOW. What can I say? I think the BBC NOW are brilliant, and they’re playing my number one  favourite classical piece. Applause after the first and second movements (out of place, but definitely deserved). STRAIGHT from the third movement into the fourth (there can be a pause there). And the epic fourth movement. Loved the speed. It was fantastic. Huge applause at the end.

This Prom is probably my favourite straight classical Prom of the season so far (probably entirely because of the Tchaikovsky). Well done BBC NOW and Jac van Steen. Goodness I wish I was there.