wed 12/08/2020

Prague

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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Blu-ray: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

Jaromil Jireš’s Valerie and Her Week of Wonders contains many mysteries, the main one being exactly how such a strange and subversive film could have been released in 1970, so soon after the Prague Spring. That the author on whose 1935 novel the...

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'You’re Jewish. With a name like Neumann, you have to be'

It was during my first week at Tufts University in America, when I was 17, that I was told by a stranger that I was Jewish. As I left one of the orientation talks, I was approached by a slight young man with short brown hair and intense eyes. He...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Semyon Bychkov in Prague

It's a very big deal for musical Prague: Czechia's symphonic epic, the six tone poems that make up Smetana's Má vlast (My Homeland), launches every Prague Spring Festival at the Smetana Hall, but in the Czech Philharmonic's opulent home, the...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Josquin, Tchaikovsky, Janet Sung

 Josquin: Missa Mater Patris, Bauldeweyn: Missa Da pacem The Tallis Scholars/Peter Philips (Gimmell)Josquin's Missa Mater Patris is a late work, the composer's florid style pared down and clarified to the extent that some commentators suggested...

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Blu-ray: The Golem

A lumbering, barrel-chested hulk with a weirdly Ancient Egyptian wedge of hair, the eponymous clay monster of Paul Wegener and Carl Boese’s The Golem: How He Came Into the World compensates for his limited intelligence with brute strength and a...

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The Cunning Little Vixen, Welsh National Opera review - family night in the forest

Considering that Janáček’s Vixen is, among other things, an allegory of the passing and returning years, it’s appropriate that WNO continue to recycle David Pountney’s now nearly 40-year-old production, and that it comes up each time refreshed, with...

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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: 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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Blu-ray: Daisies

Věra Chytilová’s 1966 film Daisies almost defies description, though what initially seems like 75 minutes of plot-free silliness does coalesce into something bordering on the coherent. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, to quote Seinfeld....

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P.E.Caquet: The Bell of Treason review - the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia

It was 80 years ago next month that Neville Chamberlain returned with the good news of peace in our time. The Munich Agreement was greeted as a triumph for the appeasers. The price Britain had to pay was a minor stain on its conscience: the...

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