THE WEEK IN REVIEW

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The Independent Culture
overview

THE GIG

WOODY ALLEN

THE FILM

TOY STORY

THE DANCE

DANCE BITES

THE CONCERT

MIKHAIL PLETNEV

The resident clarinettist on Monday nights at Michael's Pub in Manhattan made a rare British appearance as the final gig in a European tour playing New Orleans-style jazz at the Festival Hall.

David Lister was underwhelmed: "The band played very competently but with no great verve or surprise." "A straightforward, fast-moving, unsurprising, enthusiastic retreading of early jazz classics... He may not be the world's greatest clarinet player... but he cares," conceded the Guardian. "It isn't necessary to be a virtuoso to play in this style. It is more important to have the right feeling and strangely, angst-ridden Manhattanite though he is, Woody Allen has that," smiled the Telegraph. "New Orleans jazz is all about free-flowing, collective improvisation where melodies interweave informally, joyfully or mournfully and always naturally. But Woody and his wooden gang seem to have lost the plot," despaired the FT. "Undoubtedly a better clarinettist than Naomi Campbell is a novelist," carped the Times.

Die-hard fans can hear him in New York. Others should watch the films. Mighty Aphrodite, with Oscar nominee Mira Sorvino, opens on 12 April.

Dear Woody,

Don't give up the day job.

John Lasseter's computer-generated animated film for Disney about toys coming to life. A box-office smasheroo in the USA: $184,205,561 and counting. Nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar.

Adam Mars-Jones was impressed: "A remarkably high quotient of jokes, visual and verbal... As much of a landmark in cartoon as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, without being quite so hectic." "A gem. The ingenious, witty script proceeds to work marvels. The most fun in town," saluted Time Out. "Terrifically entertaining, guaranteed to wow audiences," enthused Empire. "It's about as far from old-fashioned Disney as we can get... It represents the kind of world that modern kids inhabit, touched with technical genius," applauded the Guardian. "Whatever unfathomable technology brought Toy Story into being, the completed film is delightfully user-friendly," grinned the Times. "Brings the same articulately gymnastic camerawork to the animated feature that Kelly and Donen brought to the musical in Singin' in the Rain... entrancing," eulogised the FT.

Rated PG, 81 minutes long, starring Tom Hanks (in voice-over) and now at every possible cinema near you, not to mention the merchandising...

Contains that contemporary cinematic rarity: wit. A great kids' - and adults' - movie.

New work from choreographers Ashley Page, Christopher Wheeldon, Emma Diamond and Tom Sapsford for the Royal Ballet's annual small-scale tour danced by Adam Cooper, Deborah Bull et al.

Sophie Constanti praised Page and Diamond, plus Sapsford's eroticism and elegance. "While this year's programme isn't exactly brimming with noteworthy new items, it seems less shackled overall by prudish conventions of what is - and isn't - suitable fodder for the ballet stage." "Diamond makes them look glorious, freezing the dance into sharp quivering angles and then letting it fly and dip on its own momentum... a piece of fine passion and austerity... Wheeldon's Souvenir [has] a gift for surprising detail that carries a liberating feeling of giddiness," sang the Guardian. "Souvenir is wholly delightful... Movement is born of the music.The language is traditional but not stale: Wheeldon speaks it with his own youthful lyricism and sense of its possibilities. A charmer, charmingly danced, and I have high hopes for Wheeldon's future," cheered the FT.

Sheffield Lyceum tonight (0114-276 9922); then touring to Blackpool (01253 28372) 25-26 March and Bath (01225 448844) 28-30 March.

A mixed bag, but the cream of the company are on display, including Cooper, Durante and Mukhamedov.

Russian pianist-turned-conductor Mikhail Pletnev conducted concerts with the CBSO and the Philharmonia Orchestra playing Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov.

Robert Cowan bowed before Pletnev's mastery of the repertoire. "Tchaikovsky's Third Orchestral Suite was so affectionate, playful and artfully shaped... A Rachmaninov Second Symphony that was without fuss, without cuts and without the slightest hint of disfiguring overstatement. The sort of performance that challenges preconceptions and changes minds." "Just when the audience in Symphony Hall was wondering where the next brilliant young conductor was coming from, here was a vivid demonstration that such musicians do exist," exclaimed the Times. "Rachmaninov's name doesn't spring to mind as one of the great wizards of orchestration, but Pletnev's performance reminds you just how subtle his use of orchestral colour can be. As a conductor, Pletnev is eccentric, erratic and often thrilling," trumpeted the Guardian.

The concerts are over, but listen to his revelatory recording of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique or his stunning set of Scarlatti piano sonatas on Virgin.

The Rachmaninov CD is impressive, but live was better. A big, bold future.

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