mon 23/10/2017

Russia

The Death of Stalin review - dictatorship as high farce

Like Steptoe and Son with ideological denouncements, Stalin’s Politburo have known each other too long. They’re not only trapped but terrified, a situation whose dark comedy is brought to a head by Uncle Joe’s sudden, soon fatal stroke in 1953. The...

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Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Tate Modern review – funny, moving and revelatory

The Kabakovs' exhibition made me thank my lucky stars I was not born in the Soviet Union. A recurring theme of their work is the desire to escape – from the hunger and poverty caused by incompetence and poor planning, and the doublethink required to...

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Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution, BBC Two review - words stronger than pictures 100 years on

It’s getting to that time of the century. A hundred years ago to the month, if not quite the day, the Winter Palace was stormed, and the Russian Revolution came to pass. To commemorate the communists’ accession, Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution...

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Khovanshchina/Eugene Onegin, Welsh National Opera review - Russian revivals strong and weak

About Khovanshchina I once had serious doubts. Leaving aside its unfinished condition, it always struck me as what Wagnerians would call a bleeding chunk of history, unstructured, confused, over-researched and dramaturgically obscure. Three recent...

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The Reagan Show review - engaging but frustrating

The Reagan administration produced as much video content as the previous five administrations combined. That’s the claim early on in The Reagan Show, an engaging but ultimately frustrating documentary compiled entirely from archive footage by co-...

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Zoology review - the tale of a tail

Russia has its own rich traditions of satire and the grotesque, but at first glance we may wonder whether in his new film Zoology Ivan I Tverdovsky, a director who, still to turn 30, certainly belongs to the new generation of that country’s...

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Stravinsky Ballets, LSO, Rattle, Barbican review - the big three burn with focused energy

“Next he’ll be walking on water,” allegedly quipped a distinguished figure at the official opening of Simon Rattle’s new era at the helm of the London Symphony Orchestra. Well, last night, with no celebratory overload around the main event, the...

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Proms 67 & 68 review: Freiburg Baroque, Heras-Casado / Mariinsky, Gergiev - reformation and revolution

Even tuning up, the multinational musicians of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra make a lovely sound, well-anchored by the tug of four period-instrument cellos and three basses, yet buoyant and stippled with upper-wind colours, flutes circling and...

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Prom 63 review: Gerstein, BBCSO, Bychkov - total mastery of orchestral sound

No-one, least of all the players, will forget Semyon Bychkov’s 2009 Proms appearance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a poleaxing interpretation of Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony. They had already made the history books this Proms season with a...

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Proms at...Cadogan Hall review: Pavel Kolesnikov - Chopin takes flight

If individual greatness is to be found in the way an artist begins and ends a phrase, or finds magical transitions both within and between pieces, then Pavel Kolesnikov is already up there with the top pianists. Listeners tuning in midway through...

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Proms 37 / 38 review: Latvian Radio Choir, Gavrylyuk, BBCSSO, Dausgaard - numinous Rachmaninov triptych

So it was Rachmaninov night at the Proms, but with a difference: a trinity of works sacred and profane, the first two introduced by the Latvian choir due to perform the third singing harmonised Russian Orthodox chants of the kind on which the...

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Prom 29 review: BBCSO, Bychkov - Musorgsky's Khovanshchina sears in concert

"Ura!" as soldiers cry in Russian epic opera's last fling, Prokofiev's War and Peace: supertitles have arrived at the Proms, after much special pleading here and elsewhere. They're needed more than ever in Musorgsky's typically quirky survey of...

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