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The New Criterion

Quite simply, the best cultural review in the world
- John O’Sullivan



Mozartean and Da Pontesque

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Sep 30, 2014 10:43 AM

Isabel Leonard and Marlis Petersen in Le Nozze di Figaro; photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

When James Levine appeared in the pit on Saturday night, the crowd at the Metropolitan Opera went nuts. They were happy to see him, because the conductor has had a host of health problems, and is back in action. Of course, they were happy to see him even before these problems set in. On Saturday night, he waved at the audience for a good long time, expressing his appreciation. Then he got down to work.

His work was The Marriage of Figaro, the Mozart–Da Ponte opera. The overture was not Levine’s crispest or most stylish. But it was plenty good. So was his conducting of the rest of the opera. I have often spoken of Levine’s “just rightness,” especially in Mozart: a sure sense of tempo, phrasing, weight, and overall spirit. I have also spoken of a “natural law” of Mozart—a law to which all good Mozarteans conform. At his best, Levine conveys a sense of inevitability and inarguability: “This is not interpretation. This is the way it goes, period, according to the law.”

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Ho-hum, It’s Turner Prize Time Again

by Roger Kimball | from PJ Media

Posted: Sep 30, 2014 07:31 AM

I had almost forgotten about the Turner Prize, one of the art world’s longest running and most boring bad jokes.  You remember the Turner Prize: it’s Britain’s tired adolescent effort to show that the avant garde is not dead, it just has nothing to do with art. Begun in 1984, the TP is 30 this […]

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The EU vs. Apple

by Roger Kimball | from PJ Media

Posted: Sep 29, 2014 08:05 AM

 London. A story in The Financial Times today reveals that the EU, in its hyper-regulatory wisdom, has set its sights on Apple, which it accuses of profiting from “illegal” deals with Ireland.  I put quotation marks around “illegal” because the case is far from proved. But as far as Brussels is concerned, Apple’s real sin […]

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The fate of free speech

by Roger Kimball | from PJ Media

Posted: Sep 28, 2014 09:15 AM

Yesterday, I came back to London from Winchester, where I was at a conference about “threats to free speech.”  We’ll be publishing edited versions of the papers this winter in The New Criterion. In the meantime, I wanted to underscore the oddity of our topic.  “Threats to free speech”?  Haven’t waged, and won, that battle?  […]

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What is a ‘Grand Strategy’?

by Roger Kimball | from PJ Media

Posted: Sep 22, 2014 03:56 PM

The other day, I had the pleasure of joining an earnest group of serious thinkers in a freewheeling discussion with Henry Kissinger at a disclosed, but still secure, location at Yale.  The occasion for the discussion was Kissinger’s new book, World Order, a brilliant historical conspectus of the major political dispensations that have imposed, or […]

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Horses, colts, swans, etc.

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Sep 22, 2014 11:53 AM

Behzod Abduraimov, via Decca Classics

On his new CD cover, he looks so young—a definition of “baby-faced.” But he is a grownup, at twenty-three or twenty-four: He was born in 1990, that we know. He is Behzod Abduraimov, born in Tashkent. For one or two years, he was a “Soviet” (such a vague and false term, over the decades). Since then, he has been an Uzbekistani.

Have I said that he is a pianist? Yes, and his new album, on Decca, offers two warhorses: Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1. It should be enough to say “Tchaikovsky Concerto,” or even “the Tchaik”—because, by “Tchaikovsky Concerto,” we never mean the Piano Concerto No. 2. (We may mean Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto, in a different context.)

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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Sep 19, 2014 01:49 PM

Happy Birthday to illustrator Arthur Rackham, born today in 1867. 

Recent links of interest:

Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West (video)
Free speech triumphant! Ayaan Hirsi Ali delivered her Yale lecture with aplomb.

A Theory for Tattoos
From the body as physique to the body as text. And not just any text, but one demanding translation and critique. 

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Fun with praise

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Sep 18, 2014 12:00 PM

Diana Damrau, via Arizona Public Media

Let me paste a paragraph from my Salzburg chronicle—it’s about Diana Damrau, the German soprano, who gave a recital one evening:

She sang several encores, one of them a coloratura number. And that leads me to her bio, printed in the program. It begins with a statement from me, acclaiming her the “leading coloratura soprano in the world.” Hmmm. I did some Googling. Reviewing a Barber of Seville at the Metropolitan Opera in 2006, I wrote, “Rosina is Diana Damrau, perhaps the leading coloratura soprano in the world right now.” Her publicist has obviously done some lopping, getting rid of “perhaps” and also “right now.” Is Damrau still the leading coloratura in the world, perhaps or no perhaps? I don’t know, but she remains first-rate.

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About ArmaVirumque


( AHR-mah wih-ROOM-kweh)


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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November 12, 2014

Friends and Young Friends Event: Book Launch Party with Andrew Roberts

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