Béla Bartok

March 25, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera |
Bartok_tablo

Béla Bartok (25 March 1881 – 26 September 1945) only wrote one opera (as did Beethoven) but it was a beaut.  Bluebeard’s Castle (1918) was based on the grim fairy tale by Perrault about the Duke with skeletons in the cupboard (literally). It’s a timeless theme of wiles, deceit and blood-letting that has attracted our interest as a trope previously. In this operetta however, there’s no bloody chamber but a lot of nasty foreboding, atmospherics created almost solely by Bartok’s spiky music.  Instead of being a killer, he’s a collector.  His (apparently complicit) former wives have, according to Bluebeard, “gathered all my riches….

Continue Reading →

The Night Manager

March 23, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
NMdesk

(Dir. Susanne Bier) (2016) Once upon a time, John le Carré wrote an excellent book that was made into an excellent film, The Spy Who came in from the Cold.  Alas for John, the Cold War ended.  Since then, he’s been grumpily looking for an appropriate villain, and railed interminably in vapid fashion against untrammeled capitalism, a crusade revealed in a series of highly lucrative books, films and TV series. In The Night Manager, a 6-part serial adapted from the Carré novel by David Farr, a hotel desk-jockey, Jonathan Pine (the fervently wholesome Tom Hiddleston) decides to take on international armaments dealer Richard…

Continue Reading →

Gwen by Goldie Goldbloom

Gwen by Gwen

Gwen by Gwen

(2017) It is difficult to see, from reproductions of Gwen John’s paintings, why her lumpy daubs are thought by many to be better than the skillful if dull portraits painted by her brother, Augustus John.  Goldbloom is at pains in Gwen, her novelised version of Gwen John’s life, to say that it was so, that even Augustus knew it.  Nor is it easy to understand, at this distance, just why women found those lumpy bawds Augustus and the sculptor Auguste Rodin to be utterly irresistible, but again, apparently they did – or at least the artistic ones like Gwen and Dorelia (the mistress…

Continue Reading →

Waterloo

March 21, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Modern Music, MUSIC |
ABBA at Madame Tussauds (picture by Danny15)

ABBA at Madame Tussauds (picture by Danny15)

Waterloo (by Abba) (written by Stig Anderson, Benny Andersson and Bjorn UIlvaeus; released March 1974) [This Troll-rocker is sensational, almost too good for Eurovision, which it blitzed in April 1974, even beating our own ONJ. It gets into your head like a gummy-bear dream and stays. And weren’t they all great? Two naughty boys and two lovely lasses, from Sweden by way of Eden! We miss them.] x https://youtu.be/Sj_9CiNkkn4 ABBA’s production values are superb, elevating their bubble-gum pop to another level. The lyrics are fairly infantile but somehow, it all works.  Clean and crisp, unlike the battle from which it…

Continue Reading →

Lincoln in the Bardo

"Why, some asked, was a child riding a pony about in the pouring rain, without a coat?"

"Why, some asked, was a child riding a pony about in the pouring rain, without a coat?"

(by George Saunders). Saunders’ first novel, a heroic retelling of the death and laying to rest of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie, chops and hops, like a play or the flea on a dead man’s nose, commented on by a Greek chorus of the dead and the living. Contrived though it is (the voices include the obligatory offended-against homosexual, mulatto slave and illiterate), Saunders gathers all together in a tender and mellifluous rotting pyre, at the centre of which Lincoln (handsome, homely, noble, ignoble, guilty, arrogant) burns, while others fly and roil like sparks around him. The enveloping Images of horror and grief are well-leavened by reflections on the beauty of the…

Continue Reading →

© Copyright 2014 The Varnished Culture All Rights Reserved. TVC Disclaimer. Site by KWD&D.