sat 16/11/2019

Czech

DVD/Blu-ray: Journey to the Beginning of Time

Karel Zeman’s Invention for Destruction and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen are dizzying romps, whereas his earlier Journey to the Beginning of Time, made in 1955, is disarmingly straightforward – a simple tale of four boys searching for prehistoric...

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'This goes beyond music and drama': tenor Nicky Spence on Martinů's 'The Greek Passion'

I’m a big fanboy of Czech music, Janáček and Martinů especially, but I’d never seen The Greek Passion before being cast as Manolios in Opera North’s new production, as it remains quite a rarity in the opera house. For those who don’t know the...

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Blu-ray: The Ear

Karel Kachyňa’s The Ear (Ucho) begins innocently enough with an affluent couple’s petty squabbles after a boozy night out. He can’t find the house keys and she’s desperate for the toilet. He’s distracted, and she accuses him of having neglected her...

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DVD/Blu-ray: A Case for a Rookie Hangman

The excellent booklet essay by Michael Brooke that accompanies this Second Run release of Pavel Juráček’s second, and final feature (it’s presented in a fine 4K restoration) tells us much about the director’s importance for the Czech New Wave, that...

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Blu-ray: Ikarie XB 1

This Blu-ray reissue brings sci-fi masterpiece Ikarie XB 1 back to its original visual glory, with the 1963 film presented here in the 4K restoration first shown at the Cannes festival in 2016 (distributor Second Run had previously released an...

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Blu-ray: Diamonds of the Night

The opening shot of Jan Němec’s 1964 debut feature, Diamonds of the Night, recalls the start of Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil. Němec’s camera also ducks and dives, here following a pair of teenagers fleeing from a moving train and escaping into a...

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Thomas Adès, Wigmore Hall review - playful and erratic Janáček

Janáček has been an abiding passion for Thomas Adès. As both composer and performer, Adès revels in the whimsical and the absurd, and he finds both in Janáček’s piano works. This recital presented the complete surviving piano music of Janáček (...

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theartsdesk in Brno: Czech 100th feted through Janáček and Smetana

Five of Leoš Janáček's 10 operas are staples of the worldwide repertoire. Two I'd never seen on stage, so the slice I chose of the19-day festival devoted to all of them for the second time in the history of Brno, the cultured Moravian capital...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Invention for Destruction

Karel Zeman’s Invention for Destruction (Vynález zkázy) was, for many years, his best-known film in the West, dubbed into English three years after its 1958 premiere as The Fabulous World of Jules Verne by an enterprising Hollywood producer. Both...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Cage, Janáček

 Beethoven: Symphonies 2 and 7 Wiener Symphoniker/Philippe Jordan (WS/Sony)Philippe Jordan’s cheery face adorns this third volume of Beethoven symphonies from Vienna’s other orchestra, setting the tone fairly well. These are overwhelmingly...

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Olga Tokarczuk: Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead review - on vengeful nature

In a small town on the Polish-Czech border where the mobile signal wanders between countries’ operators and only three inhabitants stick it out through the winter, animals are wreaking a terrible revenge. The bodies of murdered men, united in their...

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P.E.Caquet: The Bell of Treason review - the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia

It was 80 years ago next month that Neville Chamberlain returned with the good news of peace in our time. The Munich Agreement was greeted as a triumph for the appeasers. The price Britain had to pay was a minor stain on its conscience: the...

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