sun 25/06/2017

19th century

Brenda Maddox: Reading the Rocks review - the revelations of geology

Reading the Rocks has a provocative subtitle, “How Victorian Geologists Discovered the Secret of Life”, indicating the role of geology in paving the way to an understanding of the evolution of our planet as a changing physical entity that was to...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Minute Bodies - The Intimate World of F Percy Smith

F Percy Smith was a maverick film-maker whose most important work was created in a house in suburban Southgate, North London. Born in Islington in 1880, he joined the Quekett Microscopical Club as a teenager, all the better to pursue a healthy...

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Ripper Street, BBC Two, Series 5 review – apocalypse looms in Victorian Whitechapel

There has always been an air of incipient doom hovering over Ripper Street, since the show is more of a laboratory of lost souls than a mere detective drama. Now, as it embarks on its fifth and final season, there’s every reason to suppose that the...

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Kuusisto, London Chamber Orchestra, Ashkenazy, Cadogan Hall

Tears were likely to flow freely on this most beautiful and terrible of June evenings, especially given a programme – dedicated by Vladimir Ashkenazy to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire – already prone to the elegiac. It could hardly...

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Common, National Theatre review - Anne-Marie Duff fails to ignite

History is a tricky harlot. She is bought and sold, fought for and thrown over, seduced and betrayed – and always at the mercy of the winners. In a general election week, it is hard to deny that still now we are the progeny of the possessive...

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Sergei Vikharev, master ballet-reconstructor, 1962-2017

Just as the 200th anniversary is about to be celebrated of the great genius of 19th-century classical ballets, Marius Petipa, the creator of The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, La Bayadère, half of Swan Lake, and many other masterpieces, his oeuvre's...

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The Discovery of Mondrian review - the most comprehensive survey ever

Standing inside the Gemeentemuseum’s life-size reconstruction of Mondrian’s Paris studio, the painter’s reputation as an austere recluse seems well-deserved. Returning from Holland to France after the First World War, he lived and worked in what...

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Little, CBSO, Seal, Symphony Hall Birmingham

The CBSO is justifiably proud of its association with Benjamin Britten. There’s rather less proof that he reciprocated, dismissing the orchestra as "second-rate" after it premiered his War Requiem in 1962. Throughout the 1950s, he’d repeatedly...

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Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave, British Museum

With its striking design, characteristically restricted palette and fluent use of line, Hokusai’s The Great Wave, 1831, is one of the world’s most recognisable images, encapsulating western ideas about Japanese art. First seen outside Japan in the...

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An Octoroon review - slavery reprised as melodrama in a vibrantly theatrical show

Make no mistake about it, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a playwright to watch. London receives its first opportunity to appraise his vibrant, quizzical talent with this production of An Octoroon, for which he received an OBIE in 2014 (jointly with his...

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theartsdesk on the Seine: a second new concert hall for Paris

It's funny how Parisians grumble about any major new venue which lies outside their chic central stamping ground. First they moan about having to trundle out to the Philharmonie concert hall in the Cité de la Musique, and now they look as if they'll...

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Mayerling, Royal Ballet review - 'every ballet fan should see this'

Sure, there are things not to like about Kenneth MacMillan's Mayerling. Confusing plot. Plethora of characters. Unsympathetic (anti-)hero. Borderline melodramatic choreography. Tense, scary dénouement. But to be at the Royal Opera House last night...

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