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The concert hall as warzone

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Jan 26, 2015 10:47 AM


Vengerov at the Philharmonic, via NYT

Frankly, I wasn’t sure I would ever hear Maxim Vengerov play again. I was afraid the great Russian violinist was through. I knew he had suffered some injury, and I also heard rumors about a loss of interest in the violin. Or a loss of heart. Or something. Moreover, he had turned to conducting. That wasn’t rumor but fact.

The loss of Maxim Vengerov to the violin world would be … I don’t know, something like the loss of Tiger Woods to the golf world (which has just about happened).

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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Jan 23, 2015 11:29 AM


Nave of Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

 

Recent links of note:

Chile Will Erect Antoni Gaudí’s First Building Outside of Spain
Laura C. Mallonee, Hyperallergic
La Sagrada Familia still isn't finished, but a chapel the Catalan architect designed in 1915 is finally coming to life.

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A tenor, lent

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Jan 19, 2015 11:52 AM


Vittorio Grigolo in the title role of Offenbach's "Les Contes d’Hoffmann"

Over the years, I have used a funny term: “performance-dependent.” Some works of music, I believe, are performance-dependent. They depend on a good performance, for their worth to be brought out. The worth of other pieces comes through, in performances good and bad.

My classic example of a performance-dependent work is Der Rosenkavalier, the Strauss opera. Performed badly, the work can be deathly dull. Performed well, it is sheer magic.

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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Jan 16, 2015 11:20 AM


Claude Monet, Les Peupliers à Giverny, 1887

Recent links of note:

MoMA's Monet Fire Sale
Jerry Saltz, Vulture
"Is it really worth trading a Monet for a slice of Koons's hanging locomotive?" You can probably guess what we think. 

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Dvorak’s stinkeroo

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Jan 16, 2015 10:23 AM


Stephen Hough at Carnegie Hall

Here’s a parlor game for you—or rather, a parlor question: What’s the poorest piece of music ever written by a great or near-great composer? And minuets and other ditties don’t count. Let me rephrase the question: What’s the poorest major piece of music ever written by a great or near-great composer?

I have often snoozed or seethed through Mozart’s concerto for flute and harp. But, as (the conductor) Trevor Pinnock once pointed out to me in an interview, “It would be hard not to love that slow movement, wouldn’t it?” Yes, it would.

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Michael Spence wins the 2015 New Criterion Poetry Prize

by Christine Emba

Posted: Jan 14, 2015 06:16 PM


The New Criterion is pleased to announce that Michael Spence’s Umbilical has been selected as the winner of the 2015 New Criterion Poetry Prize.

 

After earning his B.A. in English from the University of Washington, Michael Spence served four years as a naval officer aboard the USS John F. Kennedy. Soon afterwards, he began his three-decade career as a driver of public-transit buses in the Seattle area. His poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review, Tar River Poetry, The Southern Review, The Yale Review, and The New York Quarterly; he has published four previous collections of poetry: The SpineAdam ChoosesCrush Depth, and The Bus Driver's Threnody. Spence has also been featured in Limbs of the Pine, Peaks of the RangeMany Trails to the Summit; and other anthologies.

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Von Otter on the prowl

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Jan 14, 2015 11:39 AM


Anne Sofie von Otter performing in Beijing in 2011

I could only assume that Anne Sofie von Otter was a great teacher. Why? Not because she is a great singer—but because she is brainy, cosmopolitan, and articulate. Still, you never know. You never know whether a great artist, or any artist, will be able to convey what he knows. Sometimes the great artists are busts as teachers. Sometimes the mediocre ones bloom as teachers. Teaching is their highest calling.

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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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