sat 04/12/2021

theartsdesk com, first with arts reviews, news and interviews

David Nice
Saturday, 04 December 2021
Two major composers took Pushkin’s narrative poem The Gypsies as the subject for two very different operas. The 19 year old Rachmaninov in 1892 had inspiration but not much sense...
Guy Oddy
Saturday, 04 December 2021
Madmess are a Portuguese power trio who are based in London. Muscular and (mostly) instrumental stoner rock is their thing, which may not be particularly original but with the...
Rachel Halliburton
Friday, 03 December 2021
When the Canadian Yann Martel went to India as a young adult backpacker he fell in love – not with one person but with the rich imaginative landscape opened up by its religions...
Jenny Gilbert
Friday, 03 December 2021
How do you picture Gene Kelly? Most likely in his effervescent screen persona, either as the burly ex-GI of An American in Paris, or as the hoofer without a raincoat in Singin’ in...
Adam Sweeting
Friday, 03 December 2021
Netflix is sometimes criticised for bringing too much of everything to its online feast, but the way it’s opening up previously under-exposed territories is becoming seriously...
India Lewis
Friday, 03 December 2021
Perhaps appropriately, when I called Pete Tong for his 10 questions I was hungover, on the phone in a park after a night at a very good party. It’s a sign of the times that things...
Barney Harsent
Thursday, 02 December 2021
It’s a far cry from his beginnings in a tight, no-frills power-pop-post-punk three piece, that’s for sure. Last May,...
Demetrios Matheou
Thursday, 02 December 2021
Film festival chiefs the world over have been having a tricky time navigating the pandemic, juggling ever-changing Covid...
Florence Hallett
Thursday, 02 December 2021
The Courtauld Gallery’s dark corners have gone, and with them a certain apt melancholy, that effortlessly summoned the...
Kieron Tyler
Thursday, 02 December 2021
The opening moments don’t suggest what’s coming. A solo flute is followed by a few spoken phrases from a treated voice. What...
Richard Bratby
Thursday, 02 December 2021
As the conductor of English National Opera’s 2018 production of Porgy and Bess, there can’t be many maestros in the UK...
Miranda Heggie
Thursday, 02 December 2021
After a two year hiatus (imposed for obvious reasons) Edinburgh-born Liverpool-based singer-songwriter Ross Wilson - AKA...
Joe Muggs
Thursday, 02 December 2021
The Californian label Stones Throw has long specialised in inseparably folding together the most profound and most wilfully...
Graham Fuller
Wednesday, 01 December 2021
The archetypal fascinating male in Jane Campion’s films – whether his allure for a woman owes to his earthy virility or...
Jonathan Geddes
Wednesday, 01 December 2021
There was a brief lapse in this lengthy set when Paul Weller stood up from the piano, walked towards centre stage and then...
Graham Fuller
Wednesday, 01 December 2021
Though sexual hypocrisy in modern-day Romania is the ostensible target of Bad Lack Banging or Loony Porn – a satirical drama...
Thomas H Green
Wednesday, 01 December 2021
The first of two December round-ups from theartsdesk on Vinyl runs the gamut from folk-tronic oddness to Seventies heavy...
Kieron Tyler
Wednesday, 01 December 2021
Although it’s indirect, the overall feel of In Order To Know You points to where jazz and soul meet –  a space...
Saskia Baron
Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Do we need another documentary about Nazi Germany? Yes when it is as cogent and subtle as Luke Holland’s Final Account. Made...

BLACK NIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL, TALINN Still crazy after all these years

★★★★★ FINAL ACCOUNT Luke Holland's swan song is a powerful legacy left on film

RIP ANTONY SHER: YEAR OF THE MAD KING The actor's Lear Diaries tell of his preparation to clamber up theatre's tallest peak for the RSC

RIP ANTONY SHER - KUNENE AND THE KING, AMBASSADORS THEATRE A Shakespearean voyage through the legacy of apartheid

★★★ DEEP THROAT CHOIR - IN ORDER TO KNOW YOU Vocal collective’s jazzy, soul-influenced album brings new instrumentation on board

★★★★★ THE COURTAULD GALLERY One of the UK's finest galleries is better than ever

THE ARTS DESK ON VINYL 67 Squid, The Beatles, Beach Riot, Black Sabbath, Quantic and more

RIP ANTONY SHER - KING LEAR, RSC, BARBICAN Sher runs the full delivery gamut in Gregory Doran's distinguished production

HE GAVE US MORE TO SEE Stephen Sondheim in memoriam

★★★ PAUL WELLER - AN ORCHESTRATED SONGBOOK The Modfather adds another string to his bow with varying degrees of success


disc of the day

Album: Madmess - Rebirth

A head-spinning debut from the Portuguese power trio


Hellbound, Netflix review - supernatural assassins usher in an age of terror

Nightmare alternative reality from director Yeon Sang-ho

The Beatles: Get Back, Disney+ review - 1969 revisited in Peter Jackson's three-part documentary

Eight hours of vintage Fab Four footage may be a trifle excessive

Death of England: Face to Face, National Theatre at Home review - anti-racist trilogy ends with a bang

Roy Williams and Clint Dyer bring their monologue sequence to a triumphant conclusion


theartsdesk at Tallinn's Black Nights Film Festival - still crazy after all these years

With its black carpet and audiences referred to as ‘wolves’, Black Nights is 25

The Power of the Dog review - of rawhide and roses

Jane Campion's 1920s Western nails the lid on rugged masculinity

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn review - viral venom in Bucharest

Radu Jude's satire takes the sword to Romania's hideous past and present

new music

Album: Madmess - Rebirth

A head-spinning debut from the Portuguese power trio

10 Questions for musician and DJ Pete Tong

On his latest EP and his musical life thus far

Album: Paul Weller - An Orchestrated Songbook

The Modfather adds another string to his bow with varying degrees of success


Feng, CBSO, Wilson, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - effortless expression

Big emotions and unexpected connections, played with matchless style

Tchetuev, LPO, Larsen-Maguire, Congress Theatre, Eastbourne review - sunshine by the sea

Recreative energy from a conductor to watch, fantasy from a fine Ukrainian pianist

Imogen Cooper, Wigmore Hall review - calm waters run deep

A piano journey down the river of musical time


Zingari/Tosca Suite, Opera Rara, Rizzi, Cadogan Hall review - symphonic mastery and fluent hokum

Top singers and orchestra deliver the goods in Leoncavallo's fast-moving melodrama

The Valkyrie, English National Opera review - fitfully flickering flames

Consistently fine orchestra, singing from strong to strenuous, clear but patchy staging

The Cunning Little Vixen, CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - nature, large as life

Janáček's natural wonder goes large, in a supercharged concert staging


Life of Pi, Wyndham's Theatre review - visually ravishing show uplifted by astonishing puppetry
Despite its deceptive lightness, at heart this is a dark terrifying story
Stephen Sondheim in memoriam - he gave us more to see
A master gone but in no way and never to be forgotten
The Good Life, Richmond Theatre review - popular sitcom gets its own origin story
Tom, Barbara, Jerry and Margo are back in the '70s, but with a message for today


Starstruck, Scottish Ballet review - smart, sassy and cinematic

A ballet by Gene Kelly from 1960 gets new wings

Past Present, Linbury Theatre review - historic, but very much alive

Yorke Dance Project premieres the final work of Robert Cohan

Ballet Black, Linbury Theatre review - an essential part of the landscape

Twenty years on, the pity is that it's still necessary for this excellent company to exist


The Good Life, Richmond Theatre review - popular sitcom gets its own origin story

Tom, Barbara, Jerry and Margo are back in the '70s, but with a message for today

Alfie Brown, Soho Theatre review - a contrarian on great form

Mental health and male privilege examined

Ahir Shah, Soho Theatre review - lockdown laid bare

Disappointing show feels like a work in progress


Peter Robison: Flying Blind review – a story of decline and crawl

The galling account of the 737 MAX Boeing tragedies

Lucie Elven: The Weak Spot review - a cryptic modern fable

This study in manipulation asks what happens when our weaknesses are weaponised

Sarah Moss: The Fell review - a dark night on the hills

What happens when you go missing in a pandemic?

visual arts

The Courtauld Gallery - the old place, just better

After a three-year redevelopment, one of the UK's finest galleries is better than ever

Lubaina Himid, Tate Modern review – more explication please

A carnival of characters looking forwards as well as backwards

The Danish Collector: Delacroix to Gauguin review - fabulous art, not sure about the framing

Exhibition on Screen offers a catch-up for those who missed the RA show

latest comments

I have been rather addicted to South Korean drama...

Agreed, a masterpiece. Jonny Greenwood's...

Lol, how to make a review about a thing you know...

Lovely tribute, Matt. Thank you. We all have our...

This a very in depth interview. Charles Lloyd is...

Gosh, this looks fun! We'll be dancing to this at...

Yes! I loved Shetland, but season 6 is tiresome...


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