Bowled over by Bruckner

The two Proms concerts given on consecutive evenings by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra were well planned: a short opening work, and after the interval a long and demanding symphony. Moreover, the big symphonies were by Bruckner and Mahler, to the latter of whom this orchestra has been devoted almost since its foundation. Willem Mengelberg, the

Arts feature

Made in Port Talbot

Port Talbot, on the coast of South Wales, is literally overlooked. Most experience the town while flying over it on the M4, held aloft by concrete stilts planted in terraced streets. From that four-lane gantry, the only landmarks are the dockyard cranes and belching steelworks. Over Easter in 2011, National Theatre Wales staged a piece

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The National: Sleep Well Beast

Grade: A– There are plenty of websites where fans try to discern, without any success, what in the name of Christ The National are actually singing about. Thousands of words have been expended on just one — rather lovely — song, ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’, from the album High Violet. The answer is, they’re more often


Keeping it in the family

A new orthodoxy governs the casting process in Hollywood. An actor’s ethnicity must match the character’s. If you extend this decree to Shakespeare, you need Macbeth to be played by a Highlander, Shylock by a Venetian Jew, Richard III by an English hunchback and Cleopatra by an Egyptian who has slept with her brother. As


Viennese whirl

‘First performance: Vienna, October 3, 1880’ declares the programme for Opera della Luna’s new production of Johann Strauss’s The Queen’s Lace Handkerchief. ‘First British Performance: Wilton’s Music Hall, London, August 29, 2017’. They’re not joking: this really is the first full UK staging of the Waltz King’s single most successful (in his lifetime, anyway) operetta.


Second thoughts | 7 September 2017

I had planned to review David Mitchell and Robert Webb’s new Channel 4 sitcom Back without constantly referring to their last one Peep Show. Not only did it seem too obvious a way to go; it also felt a bit unfair to compare a deservedly revered programme that ran for 12 years with a single


Silent films

On 15 September 1888 Vincent van Gogh was intrigued to read an account of an up-to-date artist’s house in the literary supplement of Le Figaro. This described a purple house in the middle of a garden, the paths of which were made of yellow sand. The walls were glass bricks ‘in the shape of purple


Male order | 7 September 2017

The starting point for Taylor Sheridan’s crime-thriller Wind River is explicitly stated at the end when the following words come up on screen: ‘While missing person statistics are compiled for every other demographic [in the US], none exist for Native American women.’ A shocking fact that has to be worthy of a film, although whether


The listening project

As Classic FM celebrated its quarter-century on Wednesday with not a recording but a live broadcast of a concert from Dumfries House in Scotland — Bach, Mendelssohn, Chopin and Liszt, and the première of a specially commissioned work by the Welsh composer Paul Mealor — Radio 3 has upped the ante by announcing an autumn