Classical: Ian Bostridge and the Belcea Quartet, Usher Hall
By Raymond Monelle
There are singers, and there is Ian Bostridge. This extraordinary artist manages to be totally convincing without a trace of golden tone or beauty of line; he declaims elegantly, expressing an earnest belief in the texts of the songs, but he is not sensual, not really embodied, and he sings without swing or humour.
Presumably the existence of a version of Fauré's La Bonne Chanson for tenor, string quartet and piano gave him the idea of combining it with Vaughan Williams's cycle On Wenlock Edge. The two works are so utterly different that they scarcely make a concert, however. The French composer's high sophistication, combined with the fragrant musicality of his poet Paul Verlaine, require colour and temperament, an ardent self-absorption alien to this singer's quiet decorum.
The Belcea Quartet, with the pianist Julius Drake, played with such restraint that you scarcely noticed Fauré's expert scoring. The much slighter cycle of Vaughan Williams, with AE Housman's fragile poetry, is an exercise in old-fashioned pastoralism with an overlay of homespun tragedy, and it suited them better. Bostridge seemed pained rather than tragic, but he is always so sincere – so English, you might say – and these touching songs lived strongly in his hands.
Dance: Statuts, Edinburgh College of Arts
By John Percival
All praise to Boris Charmatz for his courage in being one of the two men who clamber on board wide discs and are spun in alternate directions by the engines of washing machines. Hazardous at best, these eventually reach a speed that precipitates the riders on to the ground.
Called Short Cycle With Spin Dry, and devised principally by Gilles Touyard, this is the most interesting (I almost wrote the only interesting) event in Statuts – an evening of installations, performances and films by 16 different hands, curated by Charmatz – wherupon my admiration for him ceases.
Other contributions include a photograph of a man piddling in the street meant, would you believe, as "a tool for research into cultural and natural phenomena". One dancer recites his instructions as he sinks to the ground and cavorts on it (I hope the guy who joined in was meant to do so); a woman stands still in a ludicrously uncomfortable posture; there is a film of drunk boys, and various appliances to stand on which produce noises or start a mincer. Too bad that the supply of fresh meat for that ran out.
Tonight and Thursday, 8pm (0131-473 2000)
Comedy: Craig Hill, Assembly Rooms
By Fiona Sturges
The Scots comic Craig Hill knows how to make an entrance. No sooner have we sat down than he bursts into the room in a kilt and skin-tight T-shirt and shakes his stuff up and down the aisles to the sounds of "I Will Survive" – the Brazilian mix. Yes, this bald and boisterous stand-up is gay and, like his hero Graham Norton, he milks it for all it is worth. Hill gets away with the kind of double-entrendres and bitchy one-liners that would have a straight stand-up run out of town.
"Hello divorced lady," he cries, waving pityingly at a woman in the second row. "Do you read Cosmopolitan?" he asks another. "Well you should do. They're giving away conditioner this month." The show is riotously funny, if a little lacking in focus. Hill's show revolves around our (and his) love of gossip magazines, though it's not long before he's abandoned his thesis and is laying into Big Brother's Jade and the artists formerly known as S Club 7. But if Hill's attention span is short, his energy is boundless. If he doesn't make you smile, you must be made of wood.
Venue 3, 22.30 (1hr), to 26 Aug (0131-226 2428)Reuse content