tue 04/08/2015

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

Prom 24: BBCSSO, Runnicles

David Nice

You never quite know whether a new work by James MacMillan is going to veer towards the masterly or the overblown. His magnificent chain of concertos has arguably yielded...

Hard to Be a God

Tom Birchenough

Don’t on any account be late for the first couple of minutes of the wooly mammoth that is Russian director Alexei German’s last film, Hard to Be a God, since the opening narrative...

Dear Lupin, Apollo Theatre

Marianka Swain

A sterling case is made for the lost art of letter-writing in Michael Simkins’ dramatisation of Roger Mortimer’s missives to his wayward son. Mortimer’s inimitable turn of phrase...

DVD: War and Peace

Tom Birchenough

Indian documentarist Anand Patwardhan is far less known outside his native country than he deserves to be, and his 2002 film about nuclear proliferation on the subcontinent War...

Prom 23: Verdi's Requiem, BBCSSO, Runnicles

Alexandra Coghlan

A weekend of extremes at the Proms took us from stark solo Bach on Saturday to the massed forces of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin...

The Gift

Emma Simmonds

People who live in glass houses should be careful who they piss off. That's the superficial starting point of The Gift, the directorial debut of actor Joel Edgerton, who takes the...

Southrepps Sinfonia and Soloists, Southrepps Festival

David Nice

It only takes one outstanding musician with links to an out-of-the-way place to gather his or her top-notch friends and give...

Cilla Black, 1943-2015

Adam Sweeting

The term "beloved entertainer" might have been coined with Cilla Black in mind. Her career trajectory, from a working-class...

CD: Frank Turner: Positive Songs for Negative People

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Sad singers never write truly happy albums, but Positive Songs for Negative People – and was there ever a title that so...

Prom 22: Piemontesi, Aurora Orchestra, Collon

Peter Quantrill

What would you expect of an ensemble performance played from memory? That the odd lapse, entirely understandable over the...

theartsdesk in Tuscany: Musical landscapes

Alexandra Coghlan

“Treeless and shrubless but for some tufts of broom, these corrugated ridges formed a lunar landscape, pale and inhuman.”...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Cocteau Twins

Kieron Tyler

Cocteau Twins: The Pink Opaque, Tiny Dynamine/Echoes in a Shallow BayThe current fad for all things vinyl is of course, in...

Prom 21: Alina Ibragimova plays Bach (II)

Alexandra Coghlan

While Friday night’s triptych of solo Bach began and ended in a sombre, contemplative place, the arc created for the second...

CD: Jill Scott - Woman

Joe Muggs

Jill Scott albums should, in theory, be a bit of a chore. Everything about them, this one included, is like listening to a...

An Open Book: Quentin Blake

Fisun Güner

Quentin Blake, illustrator, cartoonist and children’s author, has, to date, illustrated over 300 books. He is most famously...

Ripper Street, Series 3, BBC One

Adam Sweeting

Axed by the BBC at the end of 2013 after its second series, ostensibly because of poor viewing figures, Ripper Street found...

Prom 19: Alina Ibragimova plays Bach

Alexandra Coghlan

I can’t be alone in often leaving a Proms violin concerto convinced that the Bach encore was the best bit. The Royal Albert...

CD: Julio Bashmore - Knockin' Boots

Thomas H Green

“Julio Bashmore” is actually the nom-de-dancefloor of Bristolian DJ-producer Matt Walker who’s been slowly building a rep...

Classical CDs Weekly: Steve Reich, Saint-Saëns, Cristina Pato

Graham Rickson

 Reich: Music for 18 Musicians Ensemble Signal/Brad Lubman (Harmonia Mundi)Playing Steve Reich's music demands...

Bakkhai, Almeida Theatre

David Nice

This is the real Greek, bloody-fantastical thing. After the fascinating but flawed attempt to bring Aeschylus’s Oresteia...

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Adam Sweeting

Stepping in for Brad Bird, who helmed 2011's Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, director Chris McQuarrie has brought a...

Prom 17: Hallé, Elder

Peter Quantrill

Roger Wright may be gone from the BBC Proms, replaced for now by a committee, but his legacy lives on. His zeal to recover...

Bolshoi Ballet acid attack leader loses his job

Ismene Brown

Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi Ballet artistic director whose sight was maimed two years ago by an acid attack organized by a...

Of Thee I Sing, RFH

Matt Wolf

Satire may famously be what on Broadway closes Saturday night, but last night's concert performance of the Gershwin brothers...

 

THE GIFT Far-from-formulaic thriller from actor-director Joel Edgerton, with Rebecca Hall

CILLA BLACK, 1943-2015 From cloakroom attendant at The Cavern club to national treasure 

CD: JILL SCOTT - WOMAN The neo-soul queen on charming form on her fifth studio album

PROMS 23: VERDI'S REQUIEM, BBCSSO, RUNNICLES Sacred intensity, secular drama

PRUNE A meditative and artistic puzzle game

BAKKHAI, ALMEIDA THEATRE Ben Whishaw's ambiguous Dionysos and operatic chorus serve superb Euripides translation

THE ARTS DESK IN TUSCANY: MUSICAL LANDSCAPES Encounters of the classical kind in Tuscany's loveliest garden

disc of the day

DVD: War and Peace

Nuclear weapons in India and Pakistan, and wider issues, in insightful documentary

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We Made It

We Made It: Coracle Maker Malcolm Rees

We Made It heads to South Wales to discover a living craft tradition

We Made It: Stage Technician Tom Robinson

Peek behind the scenes with the set builder of the Young Vic's amazing mirrored box for Caryl Churchill's A Number

We Made It: Hauser & Wirth Somerset

Gallery director Alice Workman on housing contemporary art in the threshing barn

tv

Cilla Black, 1943-2015

From cloakroom attendant at The Cavern club to national treasure

Ripper Street, Series 3, BBC One

Pungent Victorian crime drama returns to network television

Life in Squares, BBC Two

The elaborate lives and loves of the exhaustingly self-obsessed Bloomsbury Group

film

Hard to Be a God

Remarkable visuals, mystifying story make Alexei German's final film a one-of-a-kind

DVD: War and Peace

Nuclear weapons in India and Pakistan, and wider issues, in insightful documentary

The Gift

Far-from-formulaic thriller from actor-director Joel Edgerton, with Rebecca Hall

new music

Cilla Black, 1943-2015

From cloakroom attendant at The Cavern club to national treasure

CD: Frank Turner: Positive Songs for Negative People

Positive mental anthems from folk-punk troubadour

theartsdesk in Tuscany: Musical landscapes

Encounters of the classical kind in Tuscany's loveliest garden

classical

Prom 24: BBCSSO, Runnicles

James MacMillan's new symphony holds a candle to Mahler's Fifth as the Scots triumph again

Prom 23: Verdi's Requiem, BBCSSO, Runnicles

A masterpiece of sacred intensity and secular drama

Southrepps Sinfonia and Soloists, Southrepps Festival

Some of the world's best young string players gather in a Norfolk village

opera

Bakkhai, Almeida Theatre

Ben Whishaw's ambiguous Dionysos and operatic chorus serve superb Euripides translation

Prom 11: Fiddler on the Roof, Grange Park Opera

Bryn Terfel's effortless Tevye hampered by amplification as the shtetl musical hits the Proms

Xerxes, Longborough Opera

Handel's Persian comedy in a nightclub done with great polish by young singers

theatre

Dear Lupin, Apollo Theatre

Roger Mortimer's waspish letters are transposed into cosy semi-drama

Bakkhai, Almeida Theatre

Ben Whishaw's ambiguous Dionysos and operatic chorus serve superb Euripides translation

Of Thee I Sing, RFH

Sound issues all but scupper period satire

visual arts

An Open Book: Quentin Blake

From a biography of Rimbaud to Annie Proulx's collage-like prose, we delve into the celebrated illustrator's literary tastes and habits

Shirley Baker, Photographers' Gallery

A forgotten photographer of the northern slums is rediscovered

Alice Anderson, Wellcome Collection

The artist who wraps the world in gleaming copper wire – but to what end?

dance

Bolshoi Ballet acid attack leader loses his job

Sergei Filin's contract will not be renewed, and his post abolished

Matthew Bourne's The Car Man, Sadler's Wells

New Adventures company on sizzling form in revival of slick, exciting show

Cinderella, Wheeldon, London Coliseum

Dutch National Ballet give UK première of oddly modernised fairy story

comedy

Rob Delaney, QEH

Filthy but funny hour from the US comic

Tommy Tiernan, Soho Theatre

Delightful devilment from the Irishman

Nina Conti, Theatre Royal, Brighton

Wonderfully funny evening with a comedian-ventriloquist at the top of her game

gaming

Prune

A meditative and artistic puzzle game

Anna's Quest

Fairytale wanderings with a semi-comatose telekinetic - *Nnnnh!*

Her Story

The search bar as thrillingly brilliant videogame

Listed

Listed: Songs of Summer
From seaside nostalgia to a consumerist jihadi paradise, we list the sounds of summer
Listed: Precocious Writers
As the Royal Court introduces some very young playwrights, we celebrate the great child authors
Listed: Essential BBC Proms
Our classical writers choose 12 of the best

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