sat 13/08/2022

Czech

Blu-ray: Larks on a String

Jiří Menzel's Larks on a String (Skřivánci na niti) was in production while Soviet tanks rumbled into Prague in August 1968. Predictably, the film was banned by the new Czechoslovak regime and it remained unreleased until 1990, though illicit video...

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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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Wang, Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov, Barbican review - the sound of history

“The past is never dead,” William Faulkner famously wrote. “It’s not even past.” Funny to think that I approached 2022 bored in advance with all the glib celebrations of post-WWI international modernist breakthroughs that the centenary of Ulysses...

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Blu-ray: The Devil's Trap

Released in 1962, František Vláčil’s The Devil’s Trap (Ďáblova past) is the first in a loose trilogy of historical epics, the second instalment of which (Marketa Lazarová) is often cited as among the greatest of all Czech films.Shorter and sparer...

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First Person: Pavel Šporcl on Paganini and the Czech violin tradition

It is taken for granted today that Paganini is almost a God-like figure for violinists. After all, he epitomises the ultimate virtuoso figure, both as someone whose technique outshone (so we are told!) every other player of his time, and who oozed...

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Smetana Trio, Wigmore Hall / Minerva Piano Trio, Christ Church Kensington review - spirits of delight

Comparisons might have been odious between three of the world's most cultured players – pianist Jitka Cechová, violinist Jan Talich and cellist Jan Páleníček of the Smetana Trio – and the young, British-based Minerva Piano Trio (Annie Yim...

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Blu-ray: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast? Not quite; the Czech title of Juraj Herz’s 1978 fantasy is Panna a netvor, which translates, much more fittingly, as The Virgin and the Monster. This new release has a 15 certificate, a clear hint that the film wasn’t aimed at...

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The Cunning Little Vixen, Longborough Festival Opera review - life, death and the menopause in the forest

There are advantages and disadvantages about opera-in-the-round, and it’s a format that suits some operas better than others. Longborough’s Cunning Little Vixen, staged by Olivia Fuchs in their new big-top tent, makes the very most of the advantages...

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Isserlis, LPO, Elder, Southbank Centre online review – songs of life and death

The Southbank Centre automatically stuck the trusty “Bohemian Rhapsodies” headline on this London Philharmonic Orchestra concert of Czech music streamed from the still-deserted Royal Festival Hall. Given Janáček’s presence on the bill, they should...

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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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Blu-ray: The Painted Bird

Václav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird (Nabarvené ptáče in Czech) comes with a lot of baggage, a critics’ screening at the 2019 Venice Festival punctuated by mass walkouts but finishing with a ten-minute standing ovation. Then there’s the supposedly...

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