fri 20/07/2018

Scotland

Ariadne auf Naxos, Opera Holland Park - stylish staging, world-class singing

"When the new god approaches, we surrender, struck dumb". Especially if, for the singer of those words, popular entertainer Zerbinetta, the “new god” takes the shape of same-sex love. Director and designer Anthony McDonald locates the real “mystery...

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Postcards from the 48% review - wistful memorial to forgotten values

Writer and director David Nicholas Wilkinson felt moved to make his reflective, rather melancholy documentary on the 48% who voted to remain in the EU, he says, because nobody else was making one. When it came to funding the project, not a single...

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theartsdesk at the East Neuk Festival 2018 - Bach as bedrock

There is a tide in the best-planned festivals that comes in and out almost imperceptibly, bringing with it changes as the days move on. Put it down to the kind of perfect planning that discards any one rigid theme, and to forging long-term links...

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theartsdesk in Orkney: St Magnus Festival 2018 - choral music to the fore

With – unusually – no visiting orchestra at this year’s St Magnus International Festival in far-flung Orkney (the fall-out from delayed funding confirmations, we’re assured), there was a danger that the annual midsummer event might have felt a...

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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Donmar Warehouse review - Lia Williams makes an iconic role her own

Lia Williams can be said to have been in her prime ever since the double-whammy several decades ago when she appeared onstage in fairly quick succession in Oleanna and then the original, and unsurpassable, production of Skylight. But she's rarely...

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RSNO, Oundjian, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - ending on a high in Mahler

Marking his departure as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra's Music Director after six years, Peter Oundjian definitely left on a high, conducting a gripping, visceral performance of Mahler’s last completed symphony. Its beginnings were glassy...

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Malcolm Middleton, Brighton Festival review - mordant brilliance

Before starting this review a decision was taken: that the over-used description of singer-songwriter Malcolm Middleton as a “Scottish miserablist” would not appear. However, this has proved impossible. Middleton is renowned, to the coterie who...

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Karen Cargill, Simon Lepper, Wigmore Hall review - opulence within bounds

Singing satirist Anna Russell placed the French chanson in her category of songs for singers "with no voice but tremendous artistry". Mezzo Karen Cargill has tremendous artistry but also a very great voice indeed, a mysterious gift which makes her...

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Edie review - Sheila Hancock gets summit fever

There have been plenty of films about mountains, and they are mainly about men. The plot tends not to vary: man clambers up peak because, as Mallory famously reasoned, it is there. Whether factual or scripted, often they are disaster movies too:...

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Wang, RSNO, Oundjian, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - percussion sets Shostakovich's 'Leningrad' ablaze

Featuring two Russian composers, the two halves of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s programme could hardly have been more different. In the first, pianist Xiayin Wang (pictured below) joined the RSNO for Scriabin’s florid, rarely-heard...

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Dickson, SCO, Swensen, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh review - world premiere of a bold new work

It’s as intricate as it is concise. The depth to the architecture of James MacMillan’s Saxophone Concerto – which was given its world premiere this week by saxophonist Amy Dickson and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra – is quite astounding, and all the...

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CD: National Jazz Trio of Scotland - Standards Vol.IV

The National Jazz Trio of Scotland are not really that at all. With a name designed to sound like a stiffly formal unit they are, in fact, an entity based around Bill Wells, a Scottish institution, albeit an alternative one. He’s been around the...

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