thu 23/11/2017

21st century

The Best of AA Gill review - posthumous words collected

Word wizard. Grammar bully. Sentence shark. AA Gill didn’t play fair by syntax: he pounced on it, surprising it into splendid shapes. And who cared when he wooed readers with anarchy and aplomb? Hardly uncontroversial, let alone inoffensive (he...

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Mother Courage, Southwark Playhouse review - this production is not one for our times

One of the questions that can be asked of Brecht is whether for a modern audience his Verfremdungseffekt — or alienation effect — still works as intended, provoking genuine reflections on justice by distancing audiences from emotional...

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Total Immersion: Julian Anderson, Barbican review - BBC ensembles showcase leading British composer

Julian Anderson’s 50th birthday this year was the prompt for the latest of the BBC’s Total Immersion days, devoted to the work of a single contemporary composer. I have long been a fan of Anderson’s music since hearing the marvellous Khorovod in the...

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Niall Ferguson: The Square and the Tower review - of groups and power

The controversial historian Niall Ferguson is the author of some dozen books, including substantial narratives of the Rothschild dynasty, a history of money, and a study of Henry Kissinger up to and including the Vietnam war. His new one has the...

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CD: Robert Plant - Carry Fire

Robert Plant once again ploughs the vibrant field he cultivated on his last album Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar. The mix of Led Zeppelin-rooted hard rock, softly passionate English folk with Arab rhythm and blues works wonders.  Plant has,...

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DVD: Centre of My World

Director Jakob M Erwa's Centre of My World may be a coming-of-age story, but it’s definitely not a “coming out” one. Youthful hero Phil (Louis Hofmann) has barely reached the third sentence of his voiceover narration before he tells us he’s gay, and...

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Widmann, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - when Mirga met Jörg

Apparently it was Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s idea to invite Jörg Widmann to be the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s Artist in Residence this season – indeed, according to backstage rumours she made the phone call herself. If that’s true, it’s a...

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An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power review - Al Gore's urgent update

When An Inconvenient Truth won the best documentary Oscar 10 years ago, the film’s success marked two significant events: a positive turning point in the campaign to avert environmental catastrophe; and the resurrection of the public career of Al...

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CD: James Heather - Stories From Far Away on Piano

The blossoming of modern classical into a serious commercial contender has been an unexpected recent development. Then again, it should come as no surprise that in a world raddled by stuff to hear and look at 24/7, people are turning to music that...

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Silver Birch, Garsington Opera review - gritty drama in the Chilterns

"Everyone suddenly burst out singing"’ wrote Siegfried Sassoon in his paean to humanity amidst the horror of war, "Everyone Sang". And sing they did, all 180 of them, crammed onto Garsington’s modest stage for its new community opera Silver Birch by...

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The Exhibition Road Quarter review, V&A - an intelligent and much needed expansion

Oh those Victorians!  Hail Prince Albert whose far-sighted ambition led to Albertopolis, embracing museums, galleries, universities and the Royal Albert Hall. And what in the early 21st century do you do with the Victoria & Albert Museum...

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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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