The New York Philharmonic had a guest soloist on Saturday night: Alisa Weilerstein, the American cellist. Readers of The New Criterion are well familiar with her. I have, for many years, called her one of the greatest instrumentalists in the world. Indeed, one of the greatest musicians.
Her concerto on Saturday night was the Dvorak. Some years ago, I did a public interview at the Salzburg Festival with a famous cellist. I asked him whether he ever got a little tired of playing the Dvorak concerto. He seemed shocked and scandalized by this question. Indeed, offended by it. Well, then.
Jessica Grové and Matt Dengler in The Underclassman; photo by Richard Termine via playbill.com
Not everybody’s sophomore year would make for a compelling drama. But don’t tell that to F. Scott Fitzgerald—miraculously, he managed to turn his own sophomore slump at Princeton into This Side of Paradise, the novel that would launch one of the most celebrated literary careers that America has ever seen.
Recent links of note:
China Will Send Artists to Live and Work in Rural Areas
Installation view: Blue Times, Kunsthalle Wien (2014)
It's a risky business to stage an exhibition dedicated to the concept of color. It would seem simple: presumably, colors are little more than the range of frequency at which we see light. But individual colors, and whole movements dedicated to their permutations, have occupied the interiors of institutions for the better half of the past sixty years. In Blue Times, at the Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, Austria, the color blue is the primary topic of discussion: as a mood, a pigment, a status symbol, and even a sentient being.
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Jacob Collins. Orange, 2007. Oil on panel
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I begin my latest “New York Chronicle”—out today in the magazine—with some comments about Elza van den Heever, a South African soprano. She gave a recital in Weill Hall. Here on the blog, I’d like to add a dollop to what I say in the chronicle.
Van den Heever sang two encores, ending with a song from her native land. Her first encore was an American song—a nod to her audience, I feel sure. And a kind gesture.
She sang a Charles Ives song, “Memories.” This is a popular song and a frequent encore. It is also a novelty. Everyone loves it. I love it too, sort of—but I don’t love it as much as I want to. As much as I think I should.
Dana Gordon, "Endless Painting 1" (2014). Oil on canvas.
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by Nola Tully
White Fence, Port Kent, New York. (1915). Platinum Print.
Though it feels like serendipity, “Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography” was five years in the making. In 2009 the opportunity arose for the Philadelphia Museum of Art to acquire 3,000 prints from the Paul Strand Archive at Aperture, making it the world's largest and most comprehensive repository of the artist’s work. In 2010 the museum began cataloging Strand’s prints. From what is now a collection of over 4,000 works, the museum’s Brodsky Curator of Photography, Peter Barberie, has culled 250 for this critical reassessment of the artist’s evolution, and the result is worth the wait.
What’s that saying? “The Scotsman is one who keeps the Sabbath and anything else he can lay his hands on.” Parsimonious? Sure, maybe a little. But we’re also… well, fissiparous. Last October, support for Scottish independence had flat-lined at twenty-five percent. Who could have guessed, back then, that a whopping 45.7 percent (that’s 1.6 million) of the (equally whopping) 84.6 percent of Scots who turned out to vote on September 18th would back a campaign which couldn’t tell us, post independence, if we would go back to hoarding pounds or groats? It’s time—so everyone keeps saying—that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland “take a long, hard look at herself.”
( 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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