sat 02/03/2024

Prague

Rock 'N' Roll, Hampstead Theatre review - exciting music, uneven staging

There is a song by Syd Barrett, founder member of Pink Floyd, called “Golden Hair”. It’s on his album The Madcap Laughs, released in 1970, a couple of years after he left the band, and every time I hear it I feel like I’m falling in love again. It...

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Morison, Immler, BBCSO, Bychkov, Barbican review - a Kafka journey and a mighty landmark

The German composer Detlev Glanert, taught by Hans Werner Henze and a past collaborator with Oliver Knussen, received a Proms commission as far back as 1996. He remains, it might be fair to say, a shadowy presence here despite his prominence back...

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Blu-ray: Pearls of the Deep

Released in 1965, Pearls of the Deep (Perličky na dně) is that rare beast, a successful portmanteau movie. Five young Czech film makers each directed a segment, with two more contributions excised for reasons of length and later released separately....

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Blu-ray: The Cassandra Cat

As films involving cats go, The Cassandra Cat (Až přijde kocour) is up there with the best. Part fairy-tale, part political satire, Vojtěch Jasný’s 1963 fantasy, shot on location in the picturesque village of Telcis, is an offbeat, unclassifiable...

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Classical CDs: Cymbals, monsters and Morse code

 Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Paavo Järvi (Alpha)Parsifal Suite London Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Gourlay (Orchid Classics)There are many things to like about this sleek performance of Bruckner 7. The playing of the...

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The Makropulos Affair, Welsh National Opera review - complexity realised brilliantly on the stage

What, anyway, is The Makropulos Case all about? Is it simply about the horrors of unnatural longevity; or does it expose the limitations of the rational mind confronted by the irrational; is it about love of a distorted ideal, like some updated...

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The Excursions of Mr Brouček, Grange Park Opera review - biting satire from bouncing Czechs

Now for something completely different. The Excursions of Mr Brouček is Leos Janáček’s least typical opera and is rarely performed. Among his tragic tales such as Jenufa and Kat’a Kabanova, the charm of The Cunning Little Vixen and the strangely...

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Blu-ray: Coach to Vienna

As a title, Coach to Vienna suggests an opulent Boule de Suif-like drama directed by Max Ophüls and starring the likes of Danielle Darrieux and Michel Simon. But Karel Kachyňa’s film is no Viennese waltz. It’s a bleak end-of-World War II drama in...

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CBSO Chorus, Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov, Barbican review - a mass of life

One of the world’s top five orchestras – sorry, but I locate them all in continental Europe – played on the second night of its London visit to a half-empty Barbican Hall. Half-full, rather, attentive and ecstatic. As for the much-criticised venue,...

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DVD/Blu-ray: The Fifth Horseman is Fear

One of several 1960s Czech films which explicitly addresses the Holocaust, Zbyněk Brynych’s 1964 thriller The Fifth Horseman is Fear ( …a pátý jezdec je starch) wrong-foots us from the first frame. There’s Jiří Sternwald’s jagged, brittle score, and...

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Classical CDs: Solo harp, solo trumpet and two discs of orchestral jazz

 Reicha Rediscovered, Volume 3 Ivan Ilić (piano) (Chandos)Antoine Reicha’s L’Arte de varier tantalises before you’ve heard a note; the composer’s Opus 57, its theme followed by 57 variations. Reicha was an exact contemporary of Beethoven and...

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Blu-ray: Tomorrow I'll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea

Jindřich Polák ’s 1963 film Ikarie XB-1 (also available from distributor Second Run) still seems fresh, a cerebral, visually arresting sci-fi which clearly influenced 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s surprising to read that Polák was actually a comedy...

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