thu 26/11/2020

Czech

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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DVD/Blu-ray: A Case for a Rookie Hangman

The excellent booklet essay by Michael Brooke that accompanies this Second Run release of Pavel Juráček’s second, and final feature (it’s presented in a fine 4K restoration) tells us much about the director’s importance for the Czech New Wave, that...

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Blu-ray: Ikarie XB 1

This Blu-ray reissue brings sci-fi masterpiece Ikarie XB 1 back to its original visual glory, with the 1963 film presented here in the 4K restoration first shown at the Cannes festival in 2016 (distributor Second Run had previously released an...

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Blu-ray: Diamonds of the Night

The opening shot of Jan Němec’s 1964 debut feature, Diamonds of the Night, recalls the start of Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil. Němec’s camera also ducks and dives, here following a pair of teenagers fleeing from a moving train and escaping into a...

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Thomas Adès, Wigmore Hall review - playful and erratic Janáček

Janáček has been an abiding passion for Thomas Adès. As both composer and performer, Adès revels in the whimsical and the absurd, and he finds both in Janáček’s piano works. This recital presented the complete surviving piano music of Janáček (...

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