mon 20/09/2021

Prague

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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Má Vlast, Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov online review – finest silk for Velvet Revolution anniversary concert

It was Mahler as conductor who made the famous declaration that “Tradition ist Schlamperei” (sloppiness), or something along those lines. Where it becomes the opposite of sloppiness is when a national treasure in the lifeblood of Czech musicians...

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Czech Philharmonic Benefit Concert online review – profound musicianship in sombre masked fundraiser

Less than six months ago Prague’s most prestigious concert hall, the neo-Renaissance Rudolfinum, was all glittering lights and packed, smartly dressed audience for the Czech Philharmonic’s hot ticket first performance there for 49 years of its...

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Blu-ray: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

Jaromil Jireš’s Valerie and Her Week of Wonders contains many mysteries, the main one being exactly how such a strange and subversive film could have been released in 1970, so soon after the Prague Spring. That the author on whose 1935 novel the...

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'You’re Jewish. With a name like Neumann, you have to be'

It was during my first week at Tufts University in America, when I was 17, that I was told by a stranger that I was Jewish. As I left one of the orientation talks, I was approached by a slight young man with short brown hair and intense eyes. He...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Semyon Bychkov in Prague

It's a very big deal for musical Prague: Czechia's symphonic epic, the six tone poems that make up Smetana's Má vlast (My Homeland), launches every Prague Spring Festival at the Smetana Hall, but in the Czech Philharmonic's opulent home, the...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Josquin, Tchaikovsky, Janet Sung

 Josquin: Missa Mater Patris, Bauldeweyn: Missa Da pacem The Tallis Scholars/Peter Philips (Gimmell)Josquin's Missa Mater Patris is a late work, the composer's florid style pared down and clarified to the extent that some commentators suggested...

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Blu-ray: The Golem

A lumbering, barrel-chested hulk with a weirdly Ancient Egyptian wedge of hair, the eponymous clay monster of Paul Wegener and Carl Boese’s The Golem: How He Came Into the World compensates for his limited intelligence with brute strength and a...

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The Cunning Little Vixen, Welsh National Opera review - family night in the forest

Considering that Janáček’s Vixen is, among other things, an allegory of the passing and returning years, it’s appropriate that WNO continue to recycle David Pountney’s now nearly 40-year-old production, and that it comes up each time refreshed, with...

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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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