tue 12/12/2017

21st century

From Life, Royal Academy review - perplexingly aimless

Dedicated to a foundation stone of western artistic training, this exhibition attempts a celebratory note as the Royal Academy approaches its 250th anniversary. But if the printed guide handed to visitors offers a detailed overview of working from...

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The Farthest: Voyager's Interstellar Journey, BBC Four review - awe-inspiring and life-affirming space odyssey

Long before Barack Obama spoke about the audacity of hope, the Voyager mission left the Earth driven by something else: the audacity of curiosity. What do the outer planets look like? What are they comprised of? And what’s beyond that?Storyville:...

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Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival review - new generation throws down the gauntlet

Reading the line-up for Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival can be a bit of a //+DiGit<ijjjjjjjjjjjjj.ggiiigggggH1-RMXn4000// experience (and no, I haven’t invented those). There are flashing light warnings. Ear defenders are routinely...

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The Best of AA Gill review - posthumous words collected

Word wizard. Grammar bully. Sentence shark. AA Gill didn’t play fair by syntax: he pounced on it, surprising it into splendid shapes. And who cared when he wooed readers with anarchy and aplomb? Hardly uncontroversial, let alone inoffensive (he...

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Mother Courage, Southwark Playhouse review - this production is not one for our times

One of the questions that can be asked of Brecht is whether for a modern audience his Verfremdungseffekt — or alienation effect — still works as intended, provoking genuine reflections on justice by distancing audiences from emotional...

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Total Immersion: Julian Anderson, Barbican review - BBC ensembles showcase leading British composer

Julian Anderson’s 50th birthday this year was the prompt for the latest of the BBC’s Total Immersion days, devoted to the work of a single contemporary composer. I have long been a fan of Anderson’s music since hearing the marvellous Khorovod in the...

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Niall Ferguson: The Square and the Tower review - of groups and power

The controversial historian Niall Ferguson is the author of some dozen books, including substantial narratives of the Rothschild dynasty, a history of money, and a study of Henry Kissinger up to and including the Vietnam war. His new one has the...

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CD: Robert Plant - Carry Fire

Robert Plant once again ploughs the vibrant field he cultivated on his last album Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar. The mix of Led Zeppelin-rooted hard rock, softly passionate English folk with Arab rhythm and blues works wonders.  Plant has,...

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DVD: Centre of My World

Director Jakob M Erwa's Centre of My World may be a coming-of-age story, but it’s definitely not a “coming out” one. Youthful hero Phil (Louis Hofmann) has barely reached the third sentence of his voiceover narration before he tells us he’s gay, and...

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Widmann, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - when Mirga met Jörg

Apparently it was Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s idea to invite Jörg Widmann to be the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s Artist in Residence this season – indeed, according to backstage rumours she made the phone call herself. If that’s true, it’s a...

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An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power review - Al Gore's urgent update

When An Inconvenient Truth won the best documentary Oscar 10 years ago, the film’s success marked two significant events: a positive turning point in the campaign to avert environmental catastrophe; and the resurrection of the public career of Al...

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CD: James Heather - Stories From Far Away on Piano

The blossoming of modern classical into a serious commercial contender has been an unexpected recent development. Then again, it should come as no surprise that in a world raddled by stuff to hear and look at 24/7, people are turning to music that...

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