tue 21/09/2021

Czech

Blu-ray: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast? Not quite; the Czech title of Juraj Herz’s 1978 fantasy is Panna a netvor, which translates, much more fittingly, as The Virgin and the Monster. This new release has a 15 certificate, a clear hint that the film wasn’t aimed at...

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The Cunning Little Vixen, Longborough Festival Opera review - life, death and the menopause in the forest

There are advantages and disadvantages about opera-in-the-round, and it’s a format that suits some operas better than others. Longborough’s Cunning Little Vixen, staged by Olivia Fuchs in their new big-top tent, makes the very most of the advantages...

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Isserlis, LPO, Elder, Southbank Centre online review – songs of life and death

The Southbank Centre automatically stuck the trusty “Bohemian Rhapsodies” headline on this London Philharmonic Orchestra concert of Czech music streamed from the still-deserted Royal Festival Hall. Given Janáček’s presence on the bill, they should...

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Blu-ray: Tomorrow I'll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea

Jindřich Polák ’s 1963 film Ikarie XB-1 (also available from distributor Second Run) still seems fresh, a cerebral, visually arresting sci-fi which clearly influenced 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s surprising to read that Polák was actually a comedy...

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Má Vlast, Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov online review – finest silk for Velvet Revolution anniversary concert

It was Mahler as conductor who made the famous declaration that “Tradition ist Schlamperei” (sloppiness), or something along those lines. Where it becomes the opposite of sloppiness is when a national treasure in the lifeblood of Czech musicians...

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Blu-ray: The Painted Bird

Václav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird (Nabarvené ptáče in Czech) comes with a lot of baggage, a critics’ screening at the 2019 Venice Festival punctuated by mass walkouts but finishing with a ten-minute standing ovation. Then there’s the supposedly...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Distant Journey

Czech director Alfréd Radok’s Distant Journey (Daleká cesta) has an unprecedented place in the history of cinema of the Holocaust. Initially released in March 1949, it has been called the first fictional treatment of the Jewish experience during the...

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Czech Philharmonic Benefit Concert online review – profound musicianship in sombre masked fundraiser

Less than six months ago Prague’s most prestigious concert hall, the neo-Renaissance Rudolfinum, was all glittering lights and packed, smartly dressed audience for the Czech Philharmonic’s hot ticket first performance there for 49 years of its...

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Mahler's 'Resurrection' Symphony, Philharmonia, Hrůša, RFH review - big picture, stunning details

So many performances of Mahler's most theatrical symphony every season, so few conductors who have something radically fresh to say about it. Two who do are London Philharmonic Orchestra chief Vladimir Jurowski, perfecting his vision over the years...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Journey to the Beginning of Time

Karel Zeman’s Invention for Destruction and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen are dizzying romps, whereas his earlier Journey to the Beginning of Time, made in 1955, is disarmingly straightforward – a simple tale of four boys searching for prehistoric...

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'This goes beyond music and drama': tenor Nicky Spence on Martinů's 'The Greek Passion'

I’m a big fanboy of Czech music, Janáček and Martinů especially, but I’d never seen The Greek Passion before being cast as Manolios in Opera North’s new production, as it remains quite a rarity in the opera house. For those who don’t know the...

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Blu-ray: The Ear

Karel Kachyňa’s The Ear (Ucho) begins innocently enough with an affluent couple’s petty squabbles after a boozy night out. He can’t find the house keys and she’s desperate for the toilet. He’s distracted, and she accuses him of having neglected her...

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