wed 28/09/2016, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

Beethoven's Ninth, RLPO, Petrenko, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Glyn Môn Hughes

The new season at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic is focusing on revolutionaries. Bach, Beethoven and Berlioz all feature strongly over the next few months, as will Stravinsky...

Free State of Jones

Adam Sweeting

Given the fractious state of American politics, perhaps it's a suitable moment for a movie taking a look back at the American Civil War. However, despite heaving at the seams with...

The Libertine, Haymarket Theatre

Aleks Sierz

Restoration theatre has the reputation of being a rake’s paradise – all those randy young aristos in hot pursuit of buxom wenches. But even in the depths of 17th-century...

Ana Moura, Barbican

Markie Robson-Scott

“If someone asked me what fado is,” says Ana Moura, in her introduction to “Lilac Wine”, “I would tell them that it means something like this song.” And with its notes of sadness...

Helaine Blumenfeld: 'Beauty has become synonymous with something banal'

Rachel Halliburton

Helaine Blumenfeld was living in Paris in the 1960s when she received an invitation from the Russian-born sculptor Ossip Zadkine to attend one of his salons. Zadkine had emigrated...

Swiss Army Man

Jasper Rees

Daniel Radcliffe has worked hard to put distance between himself and The Boy Who Lived. Onstage he’s been buck naked and learned to sing and tap. On screen he’s been the young...

Kew's Forgotten Queen, BBC Four

Marina Vaizey

The indefatigable Victorian spinster Marianne North (1830-1890) is the most interesting artist you've never heard of. The...

Mariinsky Orchestra, Gergiev, Cadogan Hall

Sebastian Scotney

This year, Valery Gergiev is marking the Prokofiev 125th anniversary with concerts and projects in no fewer than 17...

DVD: Fire at Sea

Nick Hasted

There’s a doctor on Lampedusa who has nightmares about the corpses the sea brings to his island: the women who give birth on...

Ed Vaizey: 'We must invest more in the arts'

Ed Vaizey

A couple of weeks ago, I held a debate in Parliament in which I called for the government to increase funding for the arts,...

Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals 4, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH

David Nice

Stravinsky's music, chameleonic yet always itself, offers so many lines of thought. One struck me immediately with the...

First Person: The Juilliard Experiment

Mark Kidel

When the French painter Fabienne Verdier told me she’d been invited to explore the relationship between painting and music...

Tubular Brass play Tubular Bells, Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

Graham Rickson

Sandy Smith’s brass band transcription of Tubular Bells is an improbable triumph. He draws heavily on composer David Bedford...

James Acaster, Touring

Veronica Lee

Five nominations for the Edinburgh Comedy Award are surely a recommendation for James Acaster – and with his intelligent,...

CD: Gruff Rhys - Set Fire to the Stars

Barney Harsent

Super Furry Animals front man Gruff Rhys is a quietly prolific talent. Every few years or so, there’ll be another album,...

First Person: Steven Isserlis on Schumann's advice to the young

Steven Isserlis

All musicians have particular musical passions, composers, styles or genres to which they are irresistibly drawn. I have...

Reissue CDs Weekly: John Foxx

Kieron Tyler

In 1985, John Foxx released In Mysterious Ways: his fourth solo album since leaving Ultravox in 1979. In 1980, he had...

Lammermuir Festival 2016, East Lothian

David Kettle

It’s just a short trip down the A1 from Edinburgh. But East Lothian – with its big skies, wide-open spaces, empty beaches...

CD: Van Morrison - Keep Me Singing

Matthew Wright

“In time, you’ll be mine,” sings Van Morrison in the opening song to his first new collection in four years. That line sets...

David Gilmour, Royal Albert Hall

Russ Coffey

A single guitar note rang out over smouldering synth-chords. It was bent up a tone and then wavered in the air before...

Abstract Expressionism, Royal Academy

Marina Vaizey

Gorgeous, sumptuous, thrilling: here comes Abstract Expressionism riding into town, the first major overview in London since...

Imogen, Shakespeare's Globe

David Nice

What's in a name? Imogen has a softer music to it than Cymbeline, the only one of Shakespeare's plays in which the title...

Pilgrims, The Yard Theatre

Aleks Sierz

At its best, theatre is great at putting resonant metaphors on stage. And, as Elinor Cook’s new play abundantly proves, the...

Benedetti, LPO, Jurowski, RFH

Gavin Dixon

Vladimir Jurowski began his latest season as Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic with a typically bold and...


JAMES ACASTER, TOURING Beautifully crafted show of offbeat observations

DAVID GILMOUR, ROYAL ALBERT HALL The spirit of Pink Floyd lives on as the 'Rattle That Lock' tour comes home

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM, ROYAL ACADEMY Energy, alcohol and bucketloads of paint: a triumphant reunion for New York's most exciting artists

ED VAIZEY: 'WE MUST INVEST MORE IN THE ARTS' The long-serving former culture minister calls on the UK Government to increase arts funding

IMOGEN, SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE Sound and vision blazon the new regime, but this is vintage Shakespeare

FIRST PERSON: THE JUILLIARD EXPERIMENT Introducing an intimate film of a painter working with music, premiered at Raindance

disc of the day

DVD: Fire at Sea

Poetic, prize-winning documentary brings the refugee crisis to life

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Kew's Forgotten Queen, BBC Four

How Marianne North mastered the art of capturing nature

Paranoid, ITV

Hectic northern crime drama starring Lesley Sharp and Indira Varma lacks characters

Brexit: A Very British Coup?, BBC Two

A look back at recent events helps to get clarity, but not closure


Free State of Jones

Remarkable true story of Civil War renegades suffers from shagginess

Swiss Army Man

Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano go too far in self-indulgent indie two-hander

DVD: Fire at Sea

Poetic, prize-winning documentary brings the refugee crisis to life

new music

Ana Moura, Barbican

The glamorous fado star shines bright with songs from her new, upbeat album

Tubular Brass play Tubular Bells, Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

Mike Oldfield's '70s classic. Performed live. With extra trombones

CD: Gruff Rhys - Set Fire to the Stars

The Super Furries frontman releases a soundtrack that stands tall and on its own merits


Beethoven's Ninth, RLPO, Petrenko, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Standing ovation ends series of all nine Beethoven symphonies

Mariinsky Orchestra, Gergiev, Cadogan Hall

Prokofiev's 125th marked with mostly workaday playing

Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals 4, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH

Three Greek-inspired masterpieces in perfect equilibrium


Così fan tutte, Royal Opera

Conducting, not production, kills pace, singing – and Mozart

La Canterina, Classical Opera, Page, Wigmore Hall

Youthful elixir revives Haydn's sparkling material girl

Norma, Royal Opera

This contemporary religious fantasy of a Norma creates a striking spectacle


The Libertine, Haymarket Theatre

History Boy Dominic Cooper triumphs as the Restoration rake Rochester

Imogen, Shakespeare's Globe

Sound and vision blazon the new regime, but this is vintage Shakespeare

Pilgrims, The Yard Theatre

The metaphor of mountain climbing resonates in new sex-war drama

visual arts

Helaine Blumenfeld: 'Beauty has become synonymous with something banal'

To coincide with her retrospective 'Hard Beauty', the sculptor talks about philosophy, language and the conflicting roles of artist, mother and wife

Abstract Expressionism, Royal Academy

Energy, alcohol and bucketloads of paint: a triumphant reunion for New York's most exciting artists

William Kentridge: Thick Time, Whitechapel Gallery

A parallel universe revealed in immersive installations and monumental tapestries


The Flames of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Emotion and politics skilfully combine in Ratmansky's old-new ballet about the French Revolution

The Taming of the Shrew, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Unfeminist comedy in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Shakespeare ballet

Swan Lake, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

A peerless Odette almost makes up for production's psychological shortcomings


James Acaster, Touring

Beautifully crafted show of offbeat observations

Tom Ballard

Australian comic with a pleasingly original take on modern life

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: Zoë Coombs Marr/ Randy/ Sarah Callaghan

Latest instalment of comedy from the world's biggest and best arts festival


The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

A fun exercise in nostalgia that would benefit from more variety

No Man's Sky

The sky is not the limit in this open-universe adventure

Kentucky Route Zero: Act IV

The experimental narrative takes to the water with mixed results

latest comments

Garden lovers all know Marianne North well, and...

Roger Waters did not sing on 'Time.' The vocal in...

I saw her live at the Eventim Apollo, a medium...

While the review accurately reflects the tragic...

Venue was really bad choice. Her voice isnt' big...

When I saw the frighteningly furious Diana Rigg...


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