sat 13/08/2022

history of music

1971, Apple TV+ review - rock'n'roll's golden year?

Back in the mid-Eighties, BBC television started broadcasting The Rock'n' Roll Years, one of the first rock music retrospectives. Each half-hour episode focused on a year, with news reports and music intermixed to give a revealing look at the...

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Michael Spitzer: The Musical Human review - charting our age-old relationship with music

Music and time each dwell inside the other. And the more you attend to musical sounds, the more complex their temporal entanglements become. Time structures music, rhythmically and in its implied narratives. From outside, we place it in biographical...

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Billie review – new documentary captures the rebel

Listen to "The Blues are Brewin", "You Better Go Now", or even "I’ll be Seeing You", and you can hear the hurt reverberate in every note Billie Holiday sang. Her voice rang with the wisdom of experience – perhaps too much experience. She lived a...

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Everything: The Real Thing Story, BBC Four review - brilliant but long overdue

This documentary is bittersweet viewing on quite a number of levels. First, it’s got all the glory and tragedy of the most compelling music stories: a Liverpool band struggling from humble beginnings, trying to find an identity, fraternity and...

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Being Beethoven, BBC Four review – from grubby kid to grumpy genius

Documentaries like this one make me sentimental for a time, until about 25 years ago, when classical music was a more or less weekly presence on terrestrial TV. Now fast disappearing from view altogether, on mainstream media and in school...

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On the Record review - #MeToo turns its lens to the music industry, gives the mic to women of colour

On the Record, the latest documentary from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (acclaimed directors of The Hunting Ground), dives into the sexual misconduct allegations against music mogul Russell Simmons, the so-called ‘Godfather of Hip Hop.’ It...

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The Two Killings of Sam Cooke, Netflix review - civil rights and singing in an unjust world

The Two Killings of Sam Cooke is a programme of multiples, a film which plays with doubles, divergences, and different narrative strands. It begins almost as if it will become a true crime investigation into a life cut short, moves into a more...

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Beethoven: 1808 Reconstructed, Aimard, Philharmonia, Salonen, RFH review - a feast in fading light

Like it or not, we live – as Beethoven did – in interesting times. In place of the revolutions, wars and occupations that convulsed the cities he knew, we now confront a silent, invisible foe that breeds an equal terror. Hence the empty seats in the...

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Classic Albums: Tears for Fears, Songs From The Big Chair, BBC Four review - anatomy of an anthem

Roland Orzabal, co-founder and lead guitarist of Tears for Fears, laughs to himself often during this documentary — the latest in the BBC’s often-excellent, always-forensic Classic Albums series. “I agree, I agree, it sounds great,” says Orzabal. He...

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Miklós Perényi, Dénes Várjon, Wigmore Hall review – Beethoven in wonderfully safe hands

"Revelatory":  it’s one of those words which is now completely devalued through having been carelessly dropped into a thousand press releases. And yet it perfectly describes the results Miklós Perényi achieved in a pair of superb concerts of...

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Preludes, Southwark Playhouse review - journeying into the mind of Rachmaninoff

Where does music come from? That’s the vital question posed to Sergei Rachmaninoff in Dave Malloy’s extraordinary 2015 chamber work, as the great late-Romantic Russian composer – stuck in his third year of harrowing writer’s block – tries to...

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Blues in the Night, Kiln Theatre review - hard times, hot tunes

It’s too darn hot, BoJo is in Downing Street, and we’re all going to Brexit hell – so we might as well sing the blues. Or at least take a night off from the apocalypse to enjoy a virtuoso company singing them for us in this rousing revival of...

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