Francis Merson

Francis Merson

Articles by Francis Merson

17 August, 2012
features

Musical Briefing: 12-Tone Music

Many classical audiences cringe at the thought of 12-tone music, yet it’s one of the most influential system of the 20th century. Continue reading Get unlimited digital access from $3 per month Subscribe Already a subscriber? Log in

16 August, 2012
features

Keys to Music: Mahler 2

Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony is a metaphysical journey from the depths of human suffering to the heights of celestial ecstasy – with everything in between. Continue reading Get unlimited digital access from $3 per month Subscribe Already a subscriber? Log in

16 August, 2012
features

Musical Briefing: The Stradivarius

What makes the world’s most expensive instruments so special? Why are they synonymous with beautiful sound? Continue reading Get unlimited digital access from $3 per month Subscribe Already a subscriber? Log in

2 August, 2012
features

Backstage with SIPCA winner Avan Yu

The winner of the 2012 Sydney International Piano Competition recounts his journey, round by gruelling round. Continue reading Get unlimited digital access from $3 per month Subscribe Already a subscriber? Log in

13 July, 2012
features

Five Questions for Jiri Belohlavek

Ahead of performances at Hamer Hall, the maestro explains why Bohemian music is in the Czech Philharmonic’s blood. Continue reading Get unlimited digital access from $3 per month Subscribe Already a subscriber? Log in

14 May, 2012
features

Facing off with Richard Tognetti

What does the ACO’s charismatic leader really think about music and politics? A no-holds-barred interview. Continue reading Get unlimited digital access from $3 per month Subscribe Already a subscriber? Log in

29 March, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: Paul McCartney: Kisses on the Bottom

Given that Paul McCartney is listed in the Guinness World Records book, that ur-text of veracity, as “the most successful composer of all time”, it’s no surprise his talents as a performer have been somewhat overlooked. This collection of jazz standards and showtunes showcases McCartney as a singer who, while not possessed of the most opulent timbre, has a sweet voice and a knack for making lyrics ring true, especially when it comes to lurve. But the gazillion-dollar question still looms: why is the most successful composer of all time singing covers? OK, there are two originals on this disc, but neither My Valentine (guest harmonica from Stevie Wonder) nor Only Our Hearts (Eric Clapton on guitar) quite stand up to the gems of the American songbook on the disc. Normally you wouldn’t expect them to – but this is the man who wrote Eleanor Rigby. As a singer, McCartney is most convincing on the songs made famous by Fats Waller. The title Kisses on the Bottom comes from I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter), and the album also includes It’s Only a Paper Moon and My Very Good Friend the Milkman. Diana Krall and her band…

23 February, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: John Williams: The Adventures of Tintin (Soundtrack)

The release of any new film score by John Williams is an event. Beginning with the grand Mahler-esque melodies of Indiana Jones and Superman, the American composer has created the most recognisable film music of all time. The Williams of Tintin, however, is less like Mahler and more like the dive bar on Tattoine from Star Wars – if it had been a French colony. The theme of Tintin the character is heavily swing-infused, with a walking double bass and a synthesised harpsichord (like something out of Mario Brothers) that may disappoint some listeners. The piano-driven Snowy’s theme is more fun, and sounds weirdly like one of Rachmaninov’s more chipper Paganini Variations.  There is a chromatic, circus-like quality to all the proceedings here, with a clarinet and accordion introducing bungling detectives Thomson and Thompson. A moment of grandeur is introduced by Renée Fleming (as Mme Castelfiore) singing Ah, jeux vivre, with the final high C autotuned up to an F (to the sound of breaking glass). Williams’s ensuing variations on the melody of the aria are a witty touch. The Adventures of Tintin is perhaps not a piece of the stature of, say, Saving Private Ryan – a soundtrack that…