sun 18/08/2019

Prague

theartsdesk in Prague: Czech Spring with Smetana and Martinů

On the itinerary of musical tourists around Europe, the opening of the Prague Spring Festival comes a close third to the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year's Day Concert and the Bayreuth experience. That said, Smetana's Má vlast (My Homeland) – the...

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DVD: Something Different/A Bagful of Fleas

The expectation that late means great is one embedded deeply in our culture: that the consummation of creative endeavour finds its peak towards life’s conclusion, with experience assimilated into a rich finale. These two films from the very start of...

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DVD: The Czechoslovak New Wave - A Collection, Vol. 2

Distributor Second Run’s second collection of the Czech New Wave (strictly speaking, Czechoslovak, although the three films included here are from the Czech side of the movement) reminds us what an astonishing five years or so preceded the Prague...

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DVD: Closely Observed Trains

There’s never been any agreement about translating the participle. Its victory as 1968’s best foreign film is listed on oscars.org as Closely Watched Trains. The novel by Bohumil Hrabal is generally known in English as Closely Observed Trains, and...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Prokofiev, Smetana, Valentini

Prokofiev: Symphonies 4 (Op.47) & 5, Dreams Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Kiril Karabits (Onyx)Prokofiev was adept at recycling good ideas. His Symphony No. 3 is linked thematically to the opera The Fiery Angel, and the less abrasive No 4...

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1945: The Savage Peace, BBC Two

“Enjoy the war, for the peace will be savage,” was apparently a macabre joke circulating in the German military towards the end of World War Two. Peter Molloy’s searing documentary, 1945: The Savage Peace, showed us just how prescient it would prove...

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Špaček, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Bělohlávek, Leeds Town Hall

You’ve booked the iconic Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and their charismatic chief conductor Jiří Bělohlávek to do a whistle-stop UK tour. Hoorah. But what do you get them to play? The mind boggles with programming possibilities. A symphony by...

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DVD: Traps/Fruit of Paradise

“Iconoclast” is the word used in one of the booklet essays accompanying Second Run’s rerelease of two films by the great Czech director Věra Chytilová (1929-2014) to describe her work. Other terms that have appeared over the years include: feminist...

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theartsdesk in Thuringia: Easter with Bach

Sing, dance, breathe: those are the three imperatives for successful Bach performance, and three superlative interpretations at the Thuringia Bach Festival glorified them in excelsis. Frankly, I would have thrilled even to a merely good performance...

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The Last of the Unjust

It is 30 years since Shoah. In the filmography of the Holocaust Claude Lanzmann's document is the towering monolith. At nine-and-a-half hours, it consists of no archive footage at all, just interviews with witnesses unburdening themselves of...

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The journey to hell in Theresienstadt

In 1998, as I was driving home and flipping through the radio channels, a piece of music caught my ear. A string trio. With elements of Bartók , Stravinsky and maybe Janáček? And yet I was pretty sure none of these composers had written for this...

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DVD: The White Dove/Josef Kilián

Though never really part of the country’s groundbreaking New Wave, František Vláčil was a Czech master who's best known for his films like Marketa Lazarová  and The Valley of the Bees, both complex historical works. His first feature The White...

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