wed 02/09/2015

Christmas

The Nutcracker, Scottish Ballet, Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Every Nutcracker has its day, and every day has its Nutcracker. But sometimes history repeats itself, and so it was that I found myself last night in Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, scene of my own childhood encounters with ballet, preparing to watch...

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Bach B minor Mass, Trinity College Choir, OAE, Layton, St John's Smith Square

While the embers of the concert year are dying out around the country, you can be sure of a great blaze-up at St John’s Smith Square. The annual Christmas Festival of quality early-music groups and top choirs – this is the 29th – now traditionally...

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Canterbury Cathedral, BBC Two

Attracting over one million visitors each year, Canterbury Cathedral is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. With its picturesque location and very nice, very white staff, the cathedral offers an easy metaphor for the version...

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Edward Scissorhands, New Adventures, Sadler's Wells

For those who’ve seen one too many Nutcrackers, nothing says Christmas better than a Matthew Bourne production at Sadler’s Wells. A man whose mantelpiece is overflowing with Tony and Olivier awards is a safe bet for entertainrment – even when...

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CD: Earth, Wind & Fire - Holiday

Can Christmas spirit be bottled? Well, there are certainly some songs that can effectively make us drunk on goodwill rather than gin and sherry. Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” and the whole of A Christmas Gift for...

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White Christmas, Dominion Theatre

What ought to be a featherweight holiday confection emerges as a charmless slog in the belated West End bow of White Christmas, a title that at this point in November may induce panic in those playgoers who haven't begun to think about holiday...

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Downton Abbey Christmas Special, ITV / The Trachtate Middoth, BBC Two

A year ago it was all so different. Lady Mary gave birth and on his way home from the delivery suite Cousin Matthew steered his vintage soft-top into a tree trunk. There's rather less to report from Downton Abbey (***) this Christmas and the Daily...

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Yuletide Scenes 6: Journey of the Magi

It was the fate of Benozzo Gozzoli (c 1422-1497) to be a contemporary of the immortals. A merry journeyman dauber, his talents were overshadowed in his lifetime and are overlooked now. He had a good start in life, working for both Fra Angelico and...

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Christmas Oratorio, Trinity College Choir, OAE, Layton, St John's Smith Square

Not every Yuletide fixture need be commercial and routine. Certainly St John’s annual Christmas Festival packs them in, but why wouldn’t it when the voices for the last two events, backed up by no less than the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment...

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Yuletide Scenes 5: Winter

Russia is the largest country on earth, unimaginably vast. Its people naturally have a great attachment to their country – and its landscape – in spite of their turbulent history, and in the late 19th century painters portrayed with deep feeling...

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Listed: The 12 Derangements of Christmas

We at The Arts Desk are as fond as the next person of swans-a-swimming, partridges and pear-trees, not to mention gold rings, but be honest: 'tis already the season to be jolly sick and tired of all those knee-jerk compilations of Slade, sleighbells...

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Yuletide Scenes 4: Nursery (Christmas Stockings)

Even by his own eerie-peculiar standards, this is a perturbingly odd painting by that gifted English eccentric Stanley Spencer. It’s the night before Christmas and Christmas stockings hang from each bed frame: in this case, long rubber boots and...

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