wed 29/06/2022

Wales

Violet, Music Theatre Wales/Britten-Pears Arts review - well sung and played, but to what end?

Best new opera in years, they said – don’t ask who – after the Aldeburgh Festival premiere of Tom Coult’s Violet. I’d have been happy in Hackney had it been as good as, say, Philip Venables’ 4.48 Psychosis or Stuart MacRae’s The Devil Inside. Alas,...

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First Person: composer Gavin Higgins on his new cantata 'The Faerie Bride'

I was a strange child, I didn’t really fit in. I would twitch and distort my face into awkward shapes. I obsessively bit my fingers and knuckles till they bled. I collected leaflets and piled them high in neat stacks in the corner of my room. I was...

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The Corn Is Green, National Theatre review – Nicola Walker teaches a life lesson

Let’s talk repertoire. Over the past decade the range of British plays, especially those from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, has shrunk in state-subsidized theatres. You can no longer easily see work by Shakespeare’s contemporaries, Restoration...

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Classical CDs: Escalators, dead leaves and a sixth-century bard

 Eric Nathan: Missing Words (New Focus Recordings)“Inspired by words from Schottenfreude by Ben Schott” reads this double album’s tagline, a high-concept project based on Schott’s 2013 lexicon of newly-invented German compound words. Words like...

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Album: MWWB - The Harvest

Wrexham band MWWB were known until recently as Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. Perhaps they changed their name because its freak-friendly quality could be mistaken for spliffed Half Man Half Biscuit-style silliness. MWWB are no bong-head novelty act....

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Manic Street Preachers, Brighton Dome review - solid gig occasionally explodes to another level

There is a three song segment midway through Manic Street Preachers’ set which suddenly ramps everything up. For this brief while, the performance and response in the sold-out, nigh-on-2000-capacity venue, elevates the concert from another decent...

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K-Music 2021: striking the right note for musical fusion

It’s been eight years since the first K-Music landed in London, courtesy the Korean Cultural Centre UK, along with world, folk and jazz concert producers Serious. Since then it has brought an eclectic range of bands and musicians from Korea to the...

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The Ballad of Billy McCrae review - beware the quarryman's beautiful daughter

An entertaining but undernourished industrial-domestic neo-noir set in South Wales,The Ballad of Billy McCrae depicts the power struggle between bent quarrying company boss Billy (David Hayman) and gullible failed businessman Chris Blythe (Ian Virgo...

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The Barber of Seville, Welsh National Opera review - back to work in an old banger

Welcome back, WNO! Yes, emphatically, and with a loud hurrah, which is precisely what the company received, and rightly received, from the somewhat arbitrarily scattered first night Millennium Centre audience for their opening revival of The Barber...

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The Toll review - once upon a time in west Wales

Budget constraints. In the hands of the right filmmakers, they can be a blessing in disguise, forcing creativity from simplicity. That’s exactly what works for The Toll, a dark comedy set in the wild west of these isles: Pembrokeshire.Michael Smiley...

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Classical CDs: Soviet symphonies, popular classics and percussion

 Louise Farrenc; Symphonies 1&3 Insula Orchestra/Laurence Equilbey (Erato)Louise Farrenc’s music is good as you’d expect from a precocious talent who’d studied piano with Hummel and composition with Reicha. Born in 1804, Farrenc’s...

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Under Milk Wood, National Theatre review - Michael Sheen at his most magnetic

There's commanding, and then there's Michael Sheen, who sweeps on to the Olivier stage 15 minutes or so into the new National Theatre revival of Under Milk Wood and scoops up the entire production with it. Inheriting a role made to order for this...

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