sat 22/07/2017

20th century

Buxton Festival review - early Verdi, earlier Mozart and refreshing Britten

“The subject is neither political nor religious; it is fantastical” wrote Verdi to the librettist Piave about his opera Macbeth. “The opera is not about the rise of a modern fascist: nor is it about political tyranny. It is a study in character”...

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Eureka: novelist Anthony Quinn on completing his acclaimed trilogy

I am intrigued by those writers who plan their novels with the bristling rigour of a military strategist, drilling their characters like counters on a model battlefield. And impressed that they seem in absolute control of the direction their story...

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Fahrelnissa Zeid, Tate Modern review - rediscovering a forgotten genius

I can’t pretend to like the work of Fahrelnissa Zeid, but she was clearly an exceptional woman and deserves to be honoured with a retrospective. She led a privileged life that spanned most of the 20th century; born in Istanbul in 1901 into a...

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DVD/Blu-ray: The Naked Civil Servant

For those of us still mourning John Hurt, this lovely HD restoration of the actor’s favourite film is a real joy. Made in 1975 for Thames Television, it’s stood the test of time remarkably well. Funny, moving and often cited as a turning point in...

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DVD/Blu-ray: My 20th Century

Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi’s 1989 debut feature My 20th Century (Az én XX. Századom) opens on a grandiose scene depicting the first public demonstration of Thomas Edison’s electric light-bulb. We see the wonder of onlookers as they ...

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Jean Arp: Poetry of Forms review - subversive pioneer honoured in Holland

This summer the wonderful Kröller-Möller museum in Otterlo hosts the first major Dutch retrospective of the works of Hans (Jean) Arp since 1960 – an exhibition that will travel in a marginally smaller version to Margate’s Turner Contemporary later...

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Highlights from Photo London 2017 - virtual reality meets vintage treasure

At heart, Photo London is a selling fair for expensive photographic prints. You wander through the steamy labyrinth of Somerset House from gallery show to gallery show surrounded by black-clad snapperati, assaulted on all sides by images until lost...

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No Dogs, No Indians, Brighton Festival review – poor production shoulders too big a task

A whacking great story has gone largely untold in British theatre: the legacy of colonialism in India, including the cultural ghosts the British left behind. With the 70th anniversary of Indian independence just round the corner this summer, poet...

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CBSO, Wilson, Symphony Hall Birmingham

It’s been said – and with some justification – that John Wilson’s own Orchestra has the finest-sounding string section in the world today. What’s certain is that when Wilson guests with other orchestras, he transforms their string sound. It’s not...

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Queer British Art 1861-1967, Tate Britain

"Good for the history of music, but not for music," one of Prokofiev's professors at the St Petersburg Conservatoire used to say of artistically dubious works which created a splash, according to the composer's diaries. I'm not even sure that this...

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Dego, CBSO, Rustioni, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari has never quite been a one-work composer. No points for knowing the fizzy overture to his delightful 1909 pro-smoking comedy Il segreto di Susanna; quite a few more if you know the whole opera. Extra credit for being able to hum...

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Juan Diego Flórez, Vincenzo Scalera, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

“Who says Mozart is not like Rossini?” remarked Juan Diego Flórez, about a quarter of an hour into his debut recital at Symphony Hall. “There are seven high Cs in this aria.” And with a flicker of notes from the pianist Vincenzo Scalera, he was off...

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