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The New Criterion

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



Levine’s Offenbach

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Mar 16, 2015 08:36 AM

Matthew Polenzani in the title role of Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann." Photo by Cory Weaver/Metropolitan Opera

In January, I offered a review of The Tales of Hoffmann at the Metropolitan Opera. This is the opéra fantastique of Jacques Offenbach, which bowed in 1881. Now I am back with another word. Why? The Met has a different conductor and cast.

The conductor is James Levine, the company’s music director. When he began the opera on Wednesday night, the music was precise, bold, and masculine. It had gravitas. How does Levine do that? How does he get that sound, in work after work?

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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Mar 13, 2015 03:15 PM

Kay Nielsen, They Saw that the Cottage Was Made of Bread and Cakes, 1924 


Recent links of note:

How the Grimm Brothers Saved the Fairy Tale
Jack Zipes, Humanities
Did someone say...Philology?

Picking Up The Torch: The Golden Age of the Continuation Novel
Rhys Griffiths, History Today
"The concept of one novelist ‘writing as’ another […] is an increasingly familiar feature of the contemporary literary landscape. My copy of The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory doesn't include an entry on the continuation novel, but future editions probably will. In recent years Sebastian Faulks has written as P.G. Wodehouse, William Boyd as Ian Fleming, Sophie Hannah as Agatha Christie, Anthony Horowitz as Arthur Conan Doyle, and more. ‘When you read Anthony Horowitz' new James Bond novel in September, you will think it is a lost Ian Fleming’, tweets literary agent Jonny Geller."

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A knight in recital

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Mar 11, 2015 03:30 PM

Sir András Schiff 

Being a critic, I will begin with a complaint: András Schiff began his recital in Carnegie Hall last night at 8:13. The scheduled time was 8:00. Does he think we have all night?

I’ll tell you when I like concerts to start on time: when I’m on time. If I’m running late, that is a different story. Typical, huh?

I saw by the program that the pianist is “Sir András Schiff” now. Frankly, I didn’t know he was British. He must be the most famous Hungarian “Sir” in music since Solti.

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A walk through the art fairs

by Brian P. Kelly

Posted: Mar 10, 2015 03:58 PM

Diana Copperwhite, Shadowland, 2014

There were two really great things about this year’s Armory Show. The first was that I didn’t have to take a bus to get to Volta, since that fair relocated from SoHo to the pier adjacent to its bigger, flashier cousin. The second was that so many of my friends hate-liked my photo of Mickalene Thomas’s bronze pair of Crocs that my Klout Score went up two whole points.

Which is to say that the Armory Show itself might not have been the highlight of New York’s most important week in contemporary art. (There were of course several stand-outs at the fair. To name just two: Daniel Arsham’s crumbling sculpture of a Hasselblad cast analog photographic processes as ancient history; Sverre Bjertnæs’s multimedia installation for Galleri Brandstrup blended fantasy with bleak reality and featured a fantastic bronze sculpture of a dog.)

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An exercise in exercises

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Mar 10, 2015 11:52 AM

Kirill Gerstein

Kirill Gerstein is a Russian-born pianist who has lived in America since his youth. He must be the most famous Kirill in music since Kondrashin (the late conductor). Last night, he played a recital in Zankel Hall. His program comprised Bach’s Three-Part Inventions on the first half and Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes on the second.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a most unusual pairing. I don’t think I have ever seen it before. It is certainly clever.

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A human voice

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Mar 09, 2015 11:59 AM

Anna Caterina Antonacci

Anna Caterina Antonacci sang a recital in Alice Tully Hall on Thursday night. The hall also turned into an opera house, as I will explain in due course.

Antonacci is an Italian soprano who has established a career in French music. Zino Francescatti, the late violinist, was a Frenchman. Roberto Alagna, the tenor, is a Frenchman. Anna Caterina Antonacci, however, is an Italian who, by choice, is semi-French.

I have called her a soprano, and she calls herself that—but she is a ’tweener: a singer who dwells between soprano and mezzo. This can be a nice space from which to work.

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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Mar 06, 2015 11:56 AM

Carla Gannis, The Garden of Emoji Delights (detail).
Photo by Sarah Cascone, via Instagram

It's Armory Week!


Recent links of note:

How Music Hijacks Our Perception of Time
Jonathan Berger, Nautilus
A composer details how music works its magic on our brains.

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Music from discord

by Eric C. Simpson

Posted: Mar 02, 2015 12:42 PM

Julian Wachner

I heard an ambitious concert at Carnegie Hall a Saturday ago: Julian Wachner, who commands the musical forces of Trinity Wall Street and the Washington Chorus, brought just about every musician at his disposal to perform two comparatively rare works.

About the first, Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 4, I won’t say much other than that it is a strong (if somewhat scattered) piece that received a strong (if somewhat scattered) performance.

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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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