Manfred Honeck leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Sarah Connolly and Camilla Tilling on 7.26.14; photo by Hilary Scott
We have lost several great conductors in 2014. In June, it was the eminent Spanish maestro Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Frühbeck was, among other things, a celebrated interpreter of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana (a piece now unfortunately most familiar through action movie trailers). The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s eclectic program at Tanglewood on Sunday afternoon, which he conceived and was to have conducted, made for an odd parting gift.
Having just returned from a stimulating colloquy at a semi-secure, undisclosed location among the California redwoods—a location, moreover, cut off from the always exigent importunities of the internet—I find that our masters in and about Washington, D.C., have continued that long-running road show “Wrecking the United States of America.” The latest act, taking its place […]
Vasily Kandinsky, Group in Crinolines (Reifrockgesellschaft), 1909.
A quick Google search for Kandinsky Before Abstraction, 1901-1911 at the Guggenheim yields disappointingly few results. At a time when technology has made everyone a potential critic, one can hardly find an exhibition note, blog post, blurb or even a tweet that mentions the show, let alone evaluates it. This is a shame; for though the exhibition is small and the subject familiar, it is still worthy of attention and consideration. Vasily Kandinsky is a pivotal figure in the history of modern art: perhaps more than any other painter, he is identified with the transition from representational to abstract painting that occurred early in the second decade of the twentieth century. Kandinsky’s pioneering role makes an examination of the period before his momentous leap very much worth one’s time.
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This week: Reassessing Roberto Bolaño's work, a World War I film series, and a must-see group show on the Lower East Side.
Spartacus | © E. Fetisova
On Saturday night, the Bolshoi Ballet presented Spartacus at the Koch Theater. This was another evening in the Lincoln Center Festival. Spartacus was composed in the mid-1950s by Aram Khachaturian—whose fortunes rise and fall, at least in America.
There was a time when his piano concerto was wildly popular. A recording by Willy Kapell sold like hotcakes. His violin concerto was popular too—particularly in a recording by David Oistrakh, with the composer himself on the podium. These days, you can go many a moon without hearing either work.
Annie Considine, Johnny Lee Davenport and Kelly Galvin, via Shakespeare and Company
Something about Shakespeare's plays seems to encourage directors to micromanage. The problem is exacerbated by the almost ubiquitous practice of blank-set stagings. Keeping the floor clear of furniture and props can help to focus attention on the text and the interactions of the characters, but all too often directors become nervous about the idea of actors standing around in empty space and end up over-blocking their scenes.
Links of interest from the past week:
To Orchestrate a Renaissance
Shut Up, Please
How Many Greek Legends Were Really True?
Don't Send your Kid to the Ivy League
From our pages:
From Super to Nuts
E-mail to friend
by James Panero
Jacob's Pillow, the legendary summer dance festival in Becket, Massachusetts founded in 1933, has had a stirring start to 2014, with dance that stands on its own two feet. On the second stage of the Doris Duke Theatre, Dorrance Dance tapped out a sold-out two-week run. Meanwhile on the main stage at the Ted Shawn Theatre, New York City Ballet principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht directed several teammates from his NYCB squad in the enigmatically titled "Ballet 2014."
by James Bowman
Marvel Comics' new Thor
The other day Ann Hornaday, film critic for the Washington Post, had an interesting piece in the paper inspired by the new movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. In it, she asked why, much as she admired the film, it fell into a now-familiar pattern of “darkening” in movie adaptations stories and characters that began life in comic books or the equivalent. “Dawn’s funereal tone,” she wrote, “seems to be the norm these days, especially for reboots of legacy franchises that, in their efforts not to succumb to sentimental nostalgia or trivialized camp, succumb to amped-up carnage and inflated self-seriousness instead.” Ms Hornaday suggests several reasons why this might be so, among them the fact that “they flatter the sensibilities of studios and the executives who greenlight these projects, reassuring them that their core competency—raiding their and others’ archives for valuable ‘pre-sold’ source material—can be one of gravitas and meaning, rather than simple repurposing of pop signifiers.”
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In the Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil sang of "arms and a man" (Arma virumque cano). Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.
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