Saturday, 14 June 2014


“Everyone who plays the flute should learn singing.” - James Galway

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714 - 1788) was the second son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach by his first wife. CPE Bach was recognised as one of the greatest harpsichordists of his time. After study at university, a privilege denied his father, he became harpsichordist to the Crown Prince of Prussia, later Frederick the Great, and left his service in 1767 after the death of his godfather Telemann, whom he succeeded as director of music of the five city churches of Hamburg.

He was greatly respected both as a composer and as a friend of some of the most distinguished writers and thinkers of his time. In 1755 he published his influential Essay on the “True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments”. From his very considerable output, his sonatas for flute and harpsichord remain an attractive part of chamber music repertoire, and his symphonies written for Baron van Swieten, arbiter elegantium in Vienna, a man whose taste was generally trusted in artistic matters, are similarly notable. Music by CPE Bach is often listed with a reference number from the catalogue of his works by Wotquenne (Wq).

CPE Bach wrote a set of six string symphonies, Wq. 182, for Baron van Swieten (diplomat, Court Librarian in Vienna and patron of Haydn and Mozart) as well as a set of four orchestral symphonies, Wq. 183, that include wind instruments. Four flute concertos, Wq. 166–9, are arranged from the composer’s own harpsichord concertos, as are the three cello concertos, Wq. 170–2, and the oboe concertos, Wq. 164–5.

The varied chamber music of CPE Bach includes five sonatas for flute and harpsichord, Wq. 83–7, five trio sonatas for flute, violin and basso continuo, Wq. 143–7, and an unusual sonata for solo flute, Wq. 132. CPE Bach also wrote a great deal of music for the instruments on which he was acknowledged to be pre-eminent as a performer: The harpsichord and the gentler clavichord. These include six sonatas, Wq. 49, and twelve variations on the best known of contemporary themes for variations, La Folie d’Espagne, Wq. 118-9.

Here are his concertos for transverse flute with soloist Alexis Kossenko accompanied by Arte dei Suonatori (8. December 2008):
1           Concerto In G Dur, Wq 169, H. 445: I. Allegro di molto       11:17
2           Concerto In G Dur, Wq 169, H. 445: II. Largo          7:54
3           Concerto In G Dur, Wq 169, H. 445: III. Presto        5:38
4           Concerto In B Dur, Wq 167, H. 435: I. Allegretto     8:20
5           Concerto In B Dur, Wq 167, H. 435: II. Adagio        8:08
6           Concerto In B Dur, Wq 167, H. 435: III. Allegro assai          6:11
7           Concerto In D Moll, Wq 22, H. 425: I. Allegro         7:29
8           Concerto In D Moll, Wq 22, H. 425: II. Un poco andante    8:18
9           Concerto In D Moll, Wq 22, H. 425: III. Allegro di molto   6:57
10         Concerto in A Moll, Wq. 166, H. 431: I. Allegro assai          9:04
11         Concerto in A Moll, Wq. 166, H. 431: II. Andante  8:07
12         Concerto in A Moll, Wq. 166, H. 431: III. Allegro assai       6:58
13         Concerto in D Dur, Wq. 13, H. 416: I. Allegro          6:50
14         Concerto in D Dur, Wq. 13, H. 416: II. Un poco andante e piano     7:54
15         Concerto in D Dur, Wq. 13, H. 416: III. Allegro assai           4:47
16         Concerto in A Dur, Wq. 168, H. 438: I. Allegro        6:40
17         Concerto in A Dur, Wq. 168, H. 438: II. Largo con sordini, mesto  8:38
18         Concerto in A Dur, Wq. 168, H. 438: III. Allegro assai         5:19

The painting above is “Flute Concert with Frederick the Great in Sanssouci” by Adolph von Menzel, 1852, which depicts Frederick the Great playing the flute as CPE Bach accompanies on the keyboard. The audience includes Bach’s colleagues as well as various nobles.

Friday, 13 June 2014


“Good manners: The noise you don’t make when you're eating soup.” - Bennett Cerf

We are getting some cooler, wetter weather in Melbourne, so we have been enjoying real winter foods. Soups are nourishing, warming and hearty meals that are so enjoyable with this sort of weather. Here’s a couple of favourite soups we often have at home.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

1 large cauliflower
4 sticks celery
2 handfuls of white field mushrooms
250 mL cream
2 cups stock
2 tablespoons oil
1 dob of butter
1 teaspoon dill leaves
freshly ground pepper
parsley, or other fresh herbs to garnish


Chop the mushrooms, cauliflower and celery. Warm the butter and oil in the soup pot, mixing well, and sauté the vegetables in the shortening for a few minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Cool and liquidise in blender or food processor, adding a little more stock as necessary. Return to the heat and add the cream, dill, salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped herbs.

Leek and Potato Soup
6 medium potatoes
2 large leeks
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 dob of butter
1 cup milk
1cup cream
2 cups vegetable stock
Ground nutmeg
Salt, pepper
Parsley to garnish


Peel, halve and boil the potatoes. In the meantime wash and slice the leeks. Lightly fry the leeks and garlic in the butter/oil mixture in a large saucepan until soft.  Remove from heat.  When potatoes are soft, drain and mash them in a bowl. Add the mashed potatoes to the leeks and add the with milk and stock. Return to heat and cook thoroughly. When ready to serve add the spices, cream and chopped parsley.

Thursday, 12 June 2014


“Keep your words sweet - you may have to eat them.” - Proverb

How many times have you heard people remarking:
“Don’t eat too much sugar, you’ll get diabetes…”
I certainly have, and regrettably sometimes it is even University students that say so, and they should know better!

Diabetes mellitus is described as a disease of multifactorial cause and there are five distinct types. The most common one that has reached epidemic proportions nowadays is the so-called non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, type II (NIDDM II). It occurs in genetically predisposed people who generally have a poor diet, don't exercise much, and who are overweight. Most cases of this type of diabetes occur in middle and old age, but an alarming number of obese children are now presenting with the disease, which has given rise to a new group in the classification of the disease.

The association between sugar and diabetes is that in NIDDM II diabetes, the pancreas is not making enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps our body use glucose efficiently and hence it lowers blood glucose levels when it is secreted. As these people aren’t making enough insulin for their body, their blood sugar rises with many terrible effects on the tissues of the body. Hence eating of too much sugar can make the person who doesn’t secrete enough insulin show signs of the disease. Similarly, it is this type of person who benefits from limiting their intake of sugar and may deal with their disease by dietary means and exercise.

Sugar itself is a very useful substance in the body and all cells around the body need it and consume it, some having it as their exclusive nutrient (for example, our brain cells). If we don’t eat enough glucose, our body has a process that makes it from other nutrients (the process is called gluconeogenesis). So in the case of the diabetic, the high level of sugar in the blood is a case of too much of a good thing. The diabetic takes in lots of sugar, the body cannot use it efficiently, blood sugar rises to dangerous levels and all sorts of strife follows.

Sugars (and there many kinds) are part of our diet and an integral component of many foods. For example, fructose (or fruit sugar) is a simple sugar found in most fruits. Sucrose found in cane and beet sugar is a compound molecule of fructose joined to glucose. Lactose (milk sugar) is found in milk and dairy products and is made up of glucose and galactose. Honey contains many different types of sugars, but over 85% of sugars in it are glucose and fructose.

There are very few people who dislike sweet foods and will go out of their way to avoid eating them. Most of us (and I am one of them) have a sweet tooth or two… The important thing to remember is that we have to moderate our sugar intake (especially the refined types) and combine the simple carbohydrates of sugars with the more complex ones, as well as fibre, protein and smaller quantities of fats. Now that we have clarified that, does anybody have any good dessert recipes? :-)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014


“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” - AlfredLord Tennyson

“Write a poem about an object or a person that has disappeared from your life or entered it and is now uniquely special to you…” So Poetry Jam instructs the participants of the weekly poetry meme here. My offering below:

The End

How abruptly one may choose to end it,
How easily one may choose to love no more;
How quietly, how softly,
Without much premeditation
One may sever ties, cut bonds,
Stop one’s heart beating.

How soft the flesh
As it succumbs to sharp knife blade,
How tired the heart must be of torture
To give up so readily;
How wrung out the soul
To leave the body without any fight,
Without a battle, surrendering to unbeing.

What lies ahead is a threat no longer,
The miseries that promise
To be constant companions,
The sweet pain of lost love, the emptiness,
They do not scare one.
All is lost, all is ended
When one sees the eyes of one’s beloved
Burn with hellish fires for another.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


“Hunger is the best sauce in the world.” – Miguel de Cervantes

I witnessed quite an amazing scene at a little place I stopped for lunch the other day. It was a family who had sat down to eat at one of the tables of the shop I had stopped at to get a couple of salad sandwiches cut. The mother was obese and the father was overweight. The little boy accompanying his parents was about 8 years old and also quite overweight. I don’t know why he wasn’t at school, but never mind that.

The whole family was consulting the menu and the mother was trying to tempt her offspring by reading out the typical fare of a café/take away eatery.

“Would you like the ham salad Johnny?”
“What about some lovely fish and chips?”
“Oh, here we are, pie and chips then?”
 “Spaghetti on toast?”
“Hamburger and chips?”
 “What about sausages and eggs on toast, you like that!”
“Joyce, let him choose on his own.” The father interjected.
“But dear you know that I have to look after his diet, otherwise he won't be eating well.” And undaunted she persisted:
“You must have lunch, Johnny, what about some sausage rolls and chips?”

At this stage I was gritting my teeth and looked up at the woman who was making my sandwiches. She smiled a rather pained smile while I raised an eyebrow meaningfully and she looked down at the tomato she was slicing so that she wouldn’t start laughing. I turned slightly and looked at the family. The little terror had all of his attention turned to a hand-held electronic game and was oblivious to his parents. A waitress went to the table where the mother was continuing her suggestions of “healthy fare”:

“What if we get a pastie some chips and some ice cream afterwards?”
“Naaaah, I want some dim sims and potato cakes.” Johnny spoke at long last, his attention diverted momentarily from his game. “And ice cream after…”
“Well, all right, but you’ll promise to eat your meat and veggies tonight. Is that OK, darling?”
“Yeah, yeah…”

The waitress who had been waiting patiently wrote down the order. My sandwiches were ready at this stage, but I dawdled at the refrigerator deliberating over the selection of juices, so that I would see where the saga of the “healthy lunch” would terminate. Here is what the order that the waitress wrote down consisted of:

For Johnny – Five dim sims (deep fried), 4 potato cakes, some chips, a can of soft drink and ice cream afterwards.
For Mum – Two sausage rolls, chips, and a dim sim (deep fried), a low-calorie soft drink (she made a great deal of fuss over this), and no dessert.
For Dad – Steak, two eggs, grilled onions and chips, a ginger beer and an apple turnover (deep fried) for afters.

I sat outside to eat my sandwiches and drink my apple juice, positioning myself so that I could watch the family eat. Johnny was a sight for sore eyes. As soon as his food came he placed the electronic game to one side and then with his fingers attacked the dim sims after drenching them with soy sauce. The potato cakes were accompanied by potato chips and now and then a greasy finger was thrust towards the console of the game while his mother protested, taking the game from him. He sulked a bit and crossed his arms over his chest. The mother made a great deal of fuss, Johnny made a lot of noise and finally the game was restored to him, who attacked it and the food at the same time, with great gusto and quite a smug grin on his face.

The scene I have described is real, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. In Australia presently we are struggling with an obesity epidemic and the incidence of childhood diabetes has sky-rocketed. We are bombarded by advertisements in the media about a healthy diet and yet the message does not seem to get through. How many little Johnnies and families are out there eating too much, too fatty, too processed, too meat-rich food? How many families are eating take away foods rather than home-cooked healthy meals with lots fibre, fresh fruits and vegetables? How many children are out there that get their way and blackmail their parents into providing them with all the wrong things to eat?

Children are not to be blamed overly for what they eat. It is largely the family environment and the family’s eating habits that will make for the child’s eating habits. As a child I remember never being having been forced to eat anything. If I did not like eating something that had been cooked that day there was always salad, bread, cheese, fruit on the table. As Cervantes says, hunger is the best sauce in the world! If the family eats well, the children will grow up and they will have learnt to eat well also. If the family eats badly, don't blame the children for eating rubbish…

•One in five Australian adults is obese, and a much larger proportion (67% of males and 52% of females) is overweight and obese.
•Over 5% of children are obese and 14-18 % are overweight.
•These children have a very high probability of progressing to adult obesity.
•Obesity in general trebled in the 10 year period from 1985-1995.
•Annual direct costs of obesity in Australia are between $680 - $1239 million (for 95-6).
•Childhood obesity leads on to other health risks: heart disease, elevated insulin levels, lower self-esteem, and orthopaedic complications.
•These risks continue and worsen into adulthood.
•Type 2 diabetes, (formerly termed ‘late-onset’ diabetes) has now begun to appear among Australian adolescents and is being diagnosed in increasing numbers. This is an ominous development in view of the potential complications of diabetes which include heart disease, stroke, limb amputation, kidney failure and blindness which may occur at a much earlier age…

It’s time that we learnt what “eating well” really means and to really put it into practice, as early as possible in childhood!

Monday, 9 June 2014


“Cinema will always have an important role to play in society.” – Leslie Caron

For Movie Monday today I am looking at Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator”, which we watched recently. This is a “biopic”, a biographical film looking at the early career of Howard Hughes, the American multimillionaire and aviator, covering his life between the 1920s and mid 1940s.

I must admit that before seeing this film, I was only aware of Howard Hughes as an eccentric, reclusive multimillionaire who donated a great deal of money to found an Institute for Medical Research. The film was an eye-opener as far as Hughes contribution to the early days of aviation. Anyone who has an interest in airplanes and flying should definitely watch this film. In conjunction, it may be of interest to look at the Wikipedia entry on Howard Hughes.

Scorsese is one of the great directors and every scene of this movie, however inventive and daring, is made to look elegantly simple. The direction, editing and cinematography are all excellent and the costumes, makeup and design are flawless.

As is the case with biopics, one has to be convinced that the people depicted live yet again on the cinematic screen - especially so, when the people depicted are such well-known screen legends as Katharine Hepburn (excellently played by Kate Blanchett), Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani) and Errol Flynn (a hilarious vignette played by Jude Law). The casting was very good and Leonardo Di Caprio did a sterling job as the man struggling with his demons in order to achieve his dreams.

Although the film was long (170 minutes), it never dragged for me and I was spellbound by its intricacies. Hughes’ genius in aeronautics is well shown and is counterpointed with his mental problems that would become legendary later on in life. His obsessive-compulsive disorder and mysophobia (or molysmophobia = fear of dirt or contamination) are shown in context by Scorsese and Hughes’ achievements despite these monumental setbacks are displayed.

The world of corrupt politicians and dirty tricks in big business is a sub-plot of the movie and the llama scene is a classic! I won't give too much away because if you have not seen the movie, I strongly recommend that you do so!

Sunday, 8 June 2014


“An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why.” - William Faulkner

For Art Sunday today, I’d like to look at the art of Childe Hassam (born October 17, 1859, Boston - died Aug. 27, 1935, East Hampton, NY, US). He was a painter and printmaker, one of the foremost exponents of French Impressionism in American art.  Hassam studied in Boston and Paris (1886–89), where he fell under the influence of the Impressionists and took to painting in brilliant colour with touches of pure pigment. On his return from Paris he settled in New York City, where he became a member of the group known as “The Ten”.

Born on October 17, 1859 in Dorchester, Massachusetts, of impeccable Bostonian lineage, his given name was Frederick Childe Hassam. Hassam showed a love of art at a very early age, but became an accountant at the urging of his father. He left that career after mere weeks and began to train as a draftsman in wood engraving. In 1879, he began experimenting with oil paintings, but quickly moved to watercolour and subsequent work in illustration.

He illustrated children’s stories for magazines such as Harper’s Weekly and continued to study art at Lowell Institute and the Boston Art Club. He continued to paint what was around in him -- particularly cityscapes. After signing early works ‘Fred C. Hassam’, he dropped ‘Fred C.’ and began using ‘F. Childe’ at the urging of artist-friend Celia Thaxter, who felt his middle name both more memorable and marketable. As of 1883, all derivatives of ‘Frederick’ disappeared, and it was strictly ‘Childe Hassam’ from then on.

In 1886, Hassam and his wife moved to Paris, where he studied at the Académie Julian, which left minimal impact on his art, as he was far more interested in what the French Impressionists were doing. Though he didn’t consider himself an Impressionist, he is best known for a similar use of colour, light and brushwork. Hassam continued to paint life around him and earned much acclaim. In 1916, he began creating the ‘Flag Series’, a collection of flag paintings inspired by the war relief effort. The most famous of these, ‘The Avenue in the Rain’, resides in the Oval Office of the White House. Hassam died on August 27, 1935 in East Hampton, New York.

His works are distinctive for their freshness and clear luminous atmosphere. Scenes of New York life remained his favourite subject matter. He also painted landscapes of New England and rural New York that, with their intense blue skies, lush foliage, and shimmering white light, became especially popular. Hassam also produced about 300 black-and-white etchings and lithographs that are notable for their sense of light and atmosphere. The work above is “Celia Thaxter’s Garden, Isles of Should, Maine” painted in 1890. It is characteristic of his sunny, luminous, impressionistic style.