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Culture Watch: What's new in music, DVDs, theater and books

December 8, 2010 |  6:00 am

Pinter Books: “Must You Go?” (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday). Antonia Fraser’s memoir of her marriage to Harold Pinter, as told through more than three decades of diary entries, offers an intimate look at a writer who was renowned for the enigmatic menace of his plays and the unmodulated words of his combustible political views. This elliptical book lovingly (and perhaps a touch worshipfully) portrays a man who was also a wild romantic, devoted sportsman, convivial boozer and engaged global citizen.

—Charles McNulty

CDs: Kirill Gerstein (Myrios Classics). The 31-year-old Russian pianist is this year’s recipient of the $300,000 Gilmore Artist award (given out every four years) and will perform this week with the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa. In this CD he offers thoughtfully lyrical performances of Schumann’s “Humoreske” and Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, along with the first recording of Oliver Knussen’s haunting original “Ophelia’s Last Dance.”

—Mark Swed

DVDs: “Dancing Across Borders” (First Run Features). Arts patron Anne Bass created this odd hybrid of dance documentary and vanity project that chronicles her own efforts to bring Cambodian dancer Sokvannara “Sy” Sar to the U.S. to study at the School of American Ballet in New York. The film’s ballet sequences showing Sy’s athletic technique make this intermittently engaging documentary worth seeking out.

—David Ng

“Claudio Abbado: Lucerne Festival at Easter” with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra (Accentus Music). Abbado, the revered Italian conductor and mentor of Gustavo Dudamel, takes the big Bolívar bunch for quite a ride in this concert recorded live in March. The intrepid program contains Prokofiev’s noisily barbarous “Scythian Suite,” Berg’s fabulously depraved “Lulu” Suite (some of the players look a little on the young side for this) and an intense performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony.

—Mark Swed

Carrie TV: “Wishful Drinking,” (9 p.m. Sunday, HBO)

Carrie Fisher, Hollywood’s favorite dysfunctional daughter, is often down but never out. Her Broadway show “Wishful Drinking,” which had an early run at the Geffen Playhouse in 2006, is back as an HBO documentary. So tune in to learn more about that nutty “Star Wars” hairdo and everything else you wanted to know but were afraid to ask about her bumpy Beverly Hills ride.

—Charles McNulty

Theater: “Hamlet” (National Theatre Live). NT Live’s next offering takes place on Thursday, and it promises to be a good one: a showing of Nicholas Hytner’s critically acclaimed production of “Hamlet,” starring Rory Kinnear, who just won the best actor Evening Standard Award for his performance as Shakespeare’s philosophically brooding Prince. Hollywood’s Mann Chinese 6 continues its participation in these extraordinary broadcasts, which take the globalization of theater one step further. Visit for a complete list of national and international venues.

—Charles McNulty

Top photo: Antonia Fraser and Harold Pinter. Credit: Random House

Bottom photo: Carrie Fisher. Credit: HBO/MCT