by Frank Behrens

JACK TAYLOR 2

KEENE, N.H. - Yes, yet another police series that tries to be different. "Jack Taylor, Set 1" began with the title character, then an police offer, punching in the face a haughty politician who thinks that speeding laws in Ireland are not for him. When next seen, Taylor is a private citizen, out to solve crimes on his own.

And thus began the series on a 3-DVD set from Acorn Media. Set 2 is pretty much the same. Taylor is on the wagon, but soon relapses when things get rough. To my taste, he is at times less admirable than a hero should be. He is played with grim intensity by Iain Glenn, whose prize possession is the Garda coat he never returned to the police station. He is, albeit reluctantly, abetted by the attractive police woman Kate Noonan (Nora-Jane Noone), whose career is jeopardized by just being near him.

Taylor picks up a helper in the first series: Cody (Killian Scott), who has used Taylor as a role model and yearns to become his Robin/Watson. At the end of the second episode, he becomes a full partner. Over the course of time, problems arise between them.

The plots of the three episodes in Set 2 are all familiar. "The Dramatist" concerns a killer obsessing over the play "Deirdre of the Sorrows." "Priest" concerns the still current problem of sexual abuse among the clergy. "Shot Down" concerns a young girl and two families in a group of "travelers" (Gypsies who go from place to place in their caravans).


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The surprising thing in this set is the shooting of two of the main characters--but I leave it at that lest I spoil things.

Good acting, grim watching. Each episode runs about 91 minutes, and the subtitles are essential to American ears.

HAYDN CONCERTOS

Who composed more delightful music with a twinkle in his notes and now and then his tongue in cheek than Joseph Haydn? When I first began to collect CDs, I wound up with Haydn’s works on many labels, played by many artists, and difficult to arrange. So when an "integral" set came out, such as the one in this report, I grabbed it and donated my other copies to the Public Library or to friends.

So I was very happy to find a 7-CD set on the Brilliant Classics label, titled "Joseph Haydn, Complete Concertos." Skipping for lack of space the "Hob" category numbers, the concertos include 3 piano, 3 violin, 3 cello, 1 trumpet, 2 horn, 6 organ, 1 violin and organ, 2 flute, and 5 lira, plus a divertimento trio.

I will not list the several orchestral groups and individual artists, as most are little known over here, if at all. And I am sure there might be superior renditions on other labels. However, this integral set is fine with me and I hope it will be with my readers.

ROMEO AND JULIET BALLET

The program notes to the Opus Arte DVD "Romeo and Juliet" ballet to a magnificent Prokofiev score include choreographer Kenneth MacMillian’s comments on his approach to this work. He wanted it to be about "youth and passion and impetuosity." And judging from the 2012 production filmed at the Royal Opera House, I think that MacMillan has hit the mark.

The costumes are bright, especially the fiery Tybalt’s bright red attire, and the scenery is solid and not at all abstract. The dancers include Lauren Cuthbertson (Juliet), Frederico Bonelli (Romeo), Alexander Campbell (Mercutio), and Bennet Garside (Tybalt).

I am no expert in ballet, but I simply like what I see and find it quite exciting. Since the Prokofiev score is one of my favorite ballet scores (I hear it over and over on CDs, along with another favorite, Gliere’s "The Red Poppy"), I will keep this video for many repeated viewings.

There is a short bonus about the ballet itself and a shorter one about fencing on stage. The running time is 158 minutes. And for once, Opus Arte does provide a tracking list in the booklet, but without timings.

Frank Behrens reports on classical and Broadway music as well as recordings of books and plays for the Arts & Entertainment section.