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Music and Performance


Not so easy and poetic 'Myth’ by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Sadler's Wells, London
When watching the spinning, chaotic and muttering movement choreographed by Cherkaoui, one cannot help but feel the enchanted curiosity of Lewis Carroll’s character, Alice who stumbled upon a mirror-like world, true in its shadow resemblance but exaggeratingly twisted.
Katerina Zherebtsova

Apathy into tear-forming euphoria Silver Mt. Zion, Scala, London, 8 April 2008
After the first song, the audience knew they were witnessing something special, the band certainly had no doubt, and despite the thumping percussion and apocalyptic guitar crescendos there was barely a bobbing head in the audience throughout. It’s called transfixion.
Nathan Coombs

Piano rage Four Minutes, directed by Chris Kraus
In the end, the film bears an unlikely resemblance to the Eminem movie 8 Mile. Just as Eminem’s character Rabbit invests himself completely in his ‘one shot’ – the few minutes he has to express himself in a rap competition – Jenny must live a whole life in the four minutes she has to perform at the piano competition.
Dolan Cummings

The Perils of Political Pop The politics of protest music
It isn't that surprising that many pop stars should produce average, accessible and uncontroversial sentiments when it is these exact characteristics in their music which have secured their existence as pop stars.
Cara Bleiman

The Sounds (and Politics) of Silence Music, silence and shared meaning
It would be worrying if ‘too much music’ or ‘too much speak’ were the be all and end of the problem, as the answer seems to lie in better structured discussion and more collective decision-making about what music is heard and where.
Sarah Boyes

Atlantic Waves in London The Grand Divas of Fado, 1 November 2007 / Portuguese Guitar Masters, 2 November 2007
Custodio Castelo’s guitar pieces are perhaps a unique synthesis of the medieval fado legacy and rock and post-rock harmonies. Castelo’s pieces seem to be driven by a single principle: the exploration of the guitar universe itself, which becomes the artist's sole benchmark and musical imperative.
Anca Dumitrescu

Glenn Branca at the Frieze Art Fair Roundhouse, London, 12 October 2007
I didn’t know what to expect. It just sounded an original thing to listen and watch. Were they going to make 100 electric guitars sound like a full orchestra? Would they reveal the full spectrum of guitar sounds? What musical story would be invoked?
Tessa Mayes

Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats: Lennon and McCartney Screened at the Barbican, London, 6 September 2007
Is the mere combination of unexpected chords that make 'I Am the Walrus' an incredible song? Any musical analyst can explain the technical tricks behind a musical composition. And Goodall is surely one of the more talented ones. But merely describing the pillars of a house does not account for the beauty of the whole house.
Anca Dumitrescu

Grimeborn Opera Arcola Theatre, London
Is it far-fetched to imagine that any piece of music can be staged and shown in a theatre? These performances outlined three different visions of love and desire, where music is both the starting and final point of a human adventure… the adventure of musical composition itself.
Anca Dumitrescu

Faster Than Sound 9 June 2007, Aldeburgh Festival
Today violas sit with computers, carefully-clad arts tsars amongst trendy art-school students and eerie Cold War watchtowers amid woods in Aldeburgh’s one-day sonic arts festival, designed to ‘join the dots between musical genres and digital art forms’.
Cara Bleiman

Film: Scott Walker: 30th Century Man Stephen Kijak
The scenes in the recording studio are alive, and fascinating for the obsessive quality that surrounds the bringing together of each recorded piece. Only Walker has the whole song in his head. The musicians come in and serve each small piece of a picture that only becomes whole in the mixing process.
Barb Jungr

Radius - selection of new music Holywell Music Rooms, Oxford, 25 April 2007
In many of these works, the intelligence of the composer is not in representing ideas which might as well remain as programme notes, but in manipulating actions and sounds into captured sensations. Radius' unabashed approach to the ‘new’ deserves a wider audience.
Cara Bleiman

Children of Adam Royal Opera House, London
Marriott loses sight of the thing that really unites poetry and classical dance. In a word, form. Instead he plumbs for a degraded notion of both poetry and dance as a sopping wet melodrama of emotion - it's the 'let-it-all-hang-out-and-feel-my-pain' school of art.
Shirley Dent

Agrippina Coliseum, London
In many respects, Handel's Agrippina becomes a woman's opera under McVicar's direction. The plot and its intricacies are driven by Agrippina (Part I) and Poppea (Part II). Power and cruelty, love and lust gravitate around Agrippina and Poppea respectively. McVicar's staging is a symbiosis of musical and literary genres.
Anca Dumitrescu

D'you wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang? The audience new music needs
What matters is not simply bums on seats, but the engagement of a particular audience. Before any artform can be universal, it has to be particular. It is particular scenes or artistic milieux that give birth to new ideas, and also keep a tradition alive; without them, tradition quickly degenerates into heritage.
Dolan Cummings

Masterclasses with the Royal Ballet Tchaikovsky Experience, BBC4
What the Dowell/Acosta masterclass shows is how one master conveys to another the essence of something they know inside out, but which will also be different in the hands (and legs!) of another principal. This isn't about marching to the drum-beat discipline of technique, but about the fluidity of translating a tradition.
Shirley Dent

Fauré Requiem by Candlelight St Martin-in-the-Fields, Thursday 18 January 2007
The fluidity and purity of Elian Pretorian's singing preserved the aerial and a-temporal character of the score originally written for a boy soprano. It was highly regrettable that the dialogues between the choir and the orchestra were akin to a dialogue of the deaf.
Anca Dumitrescu

Citizen Swan Why ballet is less conservative than people think
The illusion of 'fairy-like' weightlessness is one that is only achieved by the strongest, best-trained and talented dancers and they rightfully command the stage when displaying their skill. As Darcey Bussell put it in the BBC film The Magic of Swan Lake, 'everything we work for is in this ballet'.
Shirley Dent

How Music Works written and presented by Howard Goodall, Channel 4 (UK)
Connoisseurs can probably nail down what makes Stevie Wonder's songs and Bach's cantatas timeless, while Beyoncé's 'Déjà vu' was an ephemeral hit. Yet this distinction does not come naturally. An appreciation of music has to be fostered, perhaps by documentaries like this - alas, Goodall's programme does not deliver.
Anca Dumitrescu


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