sun 14/02/2016

theartsdesk.com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

The Barber of Seville, Welsh National Opera

Stephen Walsh

The latest themed season from WNO, to add to their fallen women, Donizetti queens and what not, goes by the slightly worrying title (for anyone with a short attention span) of “...

Nikolai Astrup: Painting Norway, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Marina Vaizey

Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest public painting gallery anywhere with one of the world’s finest collections of Old Masters, has in recent years built up a deserved reputation...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Paris Sisters

Kieron Tyler

The Paris Sisters were a look and a sound. Slightly different but still peas in a pod, Albeth, Priscilla and Sherrell Paris united to make often moodily minor-key music always...

DVD: The Martian

Adam Sweeting

The flip side of the apocalyptic evolution-and-destiny concerns of Prometheus, Ridley Scott's previous foray across the Last Frontier, The Martian is a feelgood take on the theme...

Wheeldon Triple Bill, Royal Ballet

Jenny Gilbert

Christopher Wheeldon's new ballet Strapless scores a first on a number of counts. It’s the first co-production between the Royal Ballet and the Bolshoi (London gets first dibs –...

Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Martinů, Mompou

Graham Rickson

Beethoven: Symphonies 4 & 5 Concentus Musicus Wien/Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Sony)Nikolaus Harnoncourt announced his retirement in December, so this live recording from May 2015...

The Easybeats to AC/DC: The Sound of Aussie Rock, BBC Four

Barney Harsent

Australia has long been a country shaped by its arrivals and, as this BBC4 documentary set out to show, so it was with rock...

The Odyssey, Mark Bruce Company, Circomedia, Bristol

Mark Kidel

Mark Bruce did very well with his last dance theatre production Dracula, but this time around he has reached a little too...

CD: Jack Garratt - Phase

Thomas H Green

The burden of expectation on Jack Garratt is somewhat unfair. Among the accolades he’s picked up over the past year are...

Nell Gwynn, Apollo Theatre

Aleks Sierz

As a subject for drama, theatre history is always popular in the West End. Between Mr Foote’s Other Leg, which has recently...

A Bigger Splash

Adam Sweeting

A "guests-from-hell" saga on a panoramic scale, Luca Guadagnino's A Bigger Splash is a reworking of Jacques Deray's 1969 sex...

"...como el musguito...", Pina Bausch, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Sitting near the front at a Pina Bausch piece always provokes anxiety. As my neighbour in the fourth row remarked, "at best...

The End of Longing, Playhouse Theatre

Marianka Swain

Jack is an alcoholic. Stephanie is a whore. Joseph is stupid. Stevie is a broody neurotic. These identifiers are proudly...

Mahler 3, Fink, Philharmonia, Hrůša, RFH

Peter Quantrill

"It’s all very well, but you can’t call it a symphony". So said William Walton of Mahler’s Third, all six movements and a...

Toast, Rose Theatre, Kingston

Ismene Brown

If one says, accurately, that Richard Bean’s Toast is a comedy about Hull’s lost bread industry, trade unions and the poor...

DVD: Fidelio: Alice's Journey

Kieron Tyler

Fidelio: Alice's Journey can literally be described as relating a journey of self-discovery. A mechanic on the Marseille-...

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Jasper Rees

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” Miss Bennet...

Callow, Hough, LPO, Vänskä, RFH

David Nice

2015, Sibelius anniversary year, yielded no London performances of the composer's last masterpiece, the Prospero's farewell...

CD: Rokia Traoré, Né So

Mark Kidel

The Malian music scene has always been dominated by the griot caste, the jalis who serve as historians, praise-singers and...

Happy Valley, Series 2, BBC One

Jasper Rees

“It’s routine, it’s procedure.” “It’s wank, it’s toss.” As you can tell, Happy Valley is back. If Sally Wainwright made...

The Survivalist

Adam Sweeting

This is the first feature by writer-director Stephen Fingleton, and has earned him a BAFTA nomination for Outstanding Debut...

Zavalloni, Saeijs, Britten Sinfonia, Rundell, Barbican

Gavin Dixon

The music of Louis Andriessen is instantly recognisable but frustratingly difficult to define. The American Minimalists are...

Horace and Pete

Barney Harsent

“Warning: this show is not a ‘comedy,’” wrote comedian Louis CK in an email alerting fans to the impending arrival of the...

Rock History Revisited in HBO's Vinyl

Adam Sweeting

It was 20 years ago that Mick Jagger suggested to Martin Scorsese that they should make a film "that spanned four decades of...

 

THE ODYSSEY, MARK BRUCE COMPANY, CIRCOMEDIA, BRISTOL 21st-century Homer fizzes with energy, but reaches too high

MAHLER 3, FINK, PHILHARMONIA, HRUSA, RFH The biggest symphony is wholehearted but missing the bigger picture

WHEELDON TRIPLE BILL, ROYAL BALLET New work about a 19th-century It Girl's dramatic fall sheds a welcome light on John Singer Sargent

CD: JACK GARRATT - PHASE 2016's big pop hope is sonically adventurous but vocally tiresome

THE EASYBEATS TO AC/DC: THE SOUND OF AUSSIE ROCK, BBC FOUR The story of the band's long way to the top was engaging, but too short

NELL GWYNN, APOLLO THEATRE Gemma Arterton shines in West End outing for jolly Restoration romp

disc of the day

DVD: The Martian

Ridley Scott delivers an optimistic vision of life on Mars

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We Made It

We Made It: Stuntwoman Tracy Caudle

Forget Evel Knievel: a well-crafted stunt is more about precision than daring

We Made It: 'The Revenant' Production Designer Jack Fisk

How he stunningly recreated the authentic American frontier of 1823

We Made It: Double Bass Maker Laurence Dixon

Love at first sight, a six-day week and the satisfaction of a job well done

tv

The Easybeats to AC/DC: The Sound of Aussie Rock, BBC Four

The story of the band's long way to the top was engaging, but too short

Happy Valley, Series 2, BBC One

Sally Wainwright and Sarah Lancashire return to police work in Yorkshire laden with BAFTAs

Horace and Pete

Louis CK defies expectations with his brand new 'not a comedy' show

film

DVD: The Martian

Ridley Scott delivers an optimistic vision of life on Mars

A Bigger Splash

Last tango in Pantelleria

DVD: Fidelio: Alice's Journey

Despite smatterings of the ludicrous, a spiced-up sea voyage brings self-discovery

new music

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Paris Sisters

Delightful studio-crafted pop from Los Angeles which unites the languorous and yearning

CD: Jack Garratt - Phase

2016's big pop hope is sonically adventurous but vocally tiresome

CD: Rokia Traoré, Né So

A Malian singer with a touch of vulnerability

classical

Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Martinů, Mompou

A great conductor bids farewell, luminous Czech orchestral music and deep thoughts from a quiet Catalan

Mahler 3, Fink, Philharmonia, Hrůša, RFH

The biggest symphony is wholehearted but missing the bigger picture

Callow, Hough, LPO, Vänskä, RFH

Rainbow colours in Sibelius's masterly incidental music for 'The Tempest'

opera

The Barber of Seville, Welsh National Opera

Slapstick start to WNO's Figaro cycle rescued by fine singing

The Magic Flute, English National Opera

Mozart's opera rediscovers its magic in this revelatory revival

The Devil Inside, Peacock Theatre

Compelling new Faustian-pact opera is small in scale but big on ideas

theatre

Nell Gwynn, Apollo Theatre

Gemma Arterton shines in West End outing for jolly Restoration romp

The End of Longing, Playhouse Theatre

The one where love conquers all in Matthew Perry's fatally artificial debut

Toast, Rose Theatre, Kingston

Richard Bean's ribald bakery comedy is proof of a gap year well spent

visual arts

Nikolai Astrup: Painting Norway, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Primal and domestic mingle in passionate homage to the Norwegian landscape

Generation Painting 1955-65, Heong Gallery, Cambridge

New Downing College space opens with the mid-century collection of former Tate director Alan Bowness

Bruegel in Black and White: Three Grisailles Reunited, Courtauld Gallery

Virtuoso works by the Netherlandish master dazzle and beguile

dance

Wheeldon Triple Bill, Royal Ballet

New work about a 19th-century It Girl's dramatic fall sheds a welcome light on John Singer Sargent

The Odyssey, Mark Bruce Company, Circomedia, Bristol

21st-century Homer fizzes with energy, but reaches too high

"...como el musguito...", Pina Bausch, Sadler's Wells

Tanztheater Wuppertal in choreographer's gentle last work

comedy

Reeves & Mortimer, Leicester De Montfort Hall

The gloriously daft duo return

Dave Gorman, Touring

Likeable comic points out life's inanities

Eddie Izzard, Palace Theatre

Surreal comic kicks off his West End run

gaming

The Room 3

A tactile puzzle of ingenious construction

Life Is Strange Limited Edition

Acclaimed graphic adventure episodes finally gets the boxset treatment

Best of 2015: Games

Action replay! We select the top titles from a vintage year in games

Listed

Listed: Forget the Force
Star Wars wasn't the only groundbreaking film of 1977. We identify some others
The 11 Best Gigs on Film (after Stop Making Sense)
As Talking Heads' masterpiece is restored on disc, we hail the great screen concerts
Listed: The 100 Funniest Things about Downton Abbey
Julian Fellowes' juggernaut has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous in six series. Here's how he did it

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