mon 16/01/2017

book reviews of books about culture

Who was St Clair Bayfield?

jasper Rees

This week Stephen Frears's film about Florence Foster Jenkins opens. It will bring to the widest attention yet the story of a New York socialite who couldn’t sing and yet did sing, infamously, to...

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Søren Dahlgaard’s Dough Portraits

theartsdesk

Can a portrait really be a portrait if we can’t see a person’s face? And what if the reason we can’t see their face is that it is covered with a lump of dough? Is it a joke? And if it is a joke,...

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Extract: The Time Traveller’s Guide to British Theatre

Aleks Sierz And

Theatre is one of the glories of British culture, a melting pot of creativity and innovation. Beginning with the coronation of Elizabeth I and ending with the televised crowning of the current...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Günter Grass

Kate Connolly

The Nobel prize-winning writer, playwright and artist Günter Grass was arguably the best-known German-language author of the second half of the 20th century. Kate Connolly met him in May 2010 in...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Novelist Hilary Mantel

jasper Rees

Hilary Mantel is a maker of literary history. Wolf Hall, an action-packed 650-page brick of a book about the rise and rise of Thomas Cromwell, won the Man Booker Prize in 2009. Its...

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theartsdesk at the Port Eliot Festival

Mark Hudson

Remember when festivals were only about what they were ostensibly about? When, say, Reading offered nothing beyond hard rock bar disgusting toilets, overpriced hamburgers and the prospect of a...

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Extracts: John Tusa - Pain in the Arts

ismene Brown

In the midst of ferment as the arts world faces fast-shrinking public subsidy, Sir John Tusa, former managing director of the BBC World Service and the Barbican Arts Centre, publishes this week a...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Biographer Claire Tomalin on Charles Dickens

jasper Rees

The tally of Charles Dickens’s biographers grows ever closer to 100. The English language’s most celebrated novelist repays repeated study, of course, because both his life and his work are so...

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'Books have been my life': Doris Lessing

jasper Rees

Doris Lessing’s storm-tossed life would make a stirring biopic. She spent her early years on an isolated farm in the Southern Rhodesian veldt, abandoned the children of her first marriage to take...

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10 Questions for Count Arthur Strong

jasper Rees

Autumn is a season of tumbling leaves, dark afternoons and of course fatuous memoirs from people off the telly. But every so often the world is taken by surprise, less by autumn itself than by the...

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The Last Supper, BBCSSO, Brabbins, City Halls, Glasgow

You can tell it’s a big deal when even a handful of London critics abandon the capital for a Saturday evening in chilly Glasgow. And there were...

Mr Swallow - Houdini, Soho Theatre

Nick Mohammed doesn't do things by halves as his chatty airhead alter ego Mr Swallow. Forget the scholarly approach of finely researched...

Bavouzet, BBCPO, Collon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Colin Matthews’s arrangements for orchestra of the 24 Debussy Préludes (originally commissioned by the Hallé) have been widely admired....

CD: Nadia Rose - Highly Flammable

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Le Grand Macabre, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

The Big Mac – as in Ligeti's music-theatre fantasia on the possible death of Death – is here to stay. Back in 1990, three critics (I was...

Sunday Book: James Lee Burke - The Jealous Kind

In the heat of a Texas summer, Aaron Holland Broussard comes of age. It’s 1952:  the two world wars still cast their long shadows and, far...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Roy Acuff

In 1942, Roy Acuff set up Acuff-Rose Music in partnership with Nashville-based songwriter and talent scout Fred Rose. The new publishing company...

CD: Petite Meller - Lil Empire

God knows we need originality in pop, and French singer Petite Meller delivers it. At least, she does visually, which, in 2017, is 50 percent of...

Written on Skin, Royal Opera

There’s a passage in Martin Crimp’s impeccable libretto for Written on Skin that describes a page of illuminated manuscript. The ink, he...

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