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The Perahia experience

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Apr 02, 2015 12:00 PM

Murray Perahia

Longtime readers know my rap on Murray Perahia, the American pianist (who nonetheless has spent his adult life in England). I will rap it again, briefly.

Once upon a time, there was a pure, beautiful pianist in the mold of Dinu Lipatti and Clara Haskil. He was a model of taste (though not in the least dull, and not in the least unvirtuosic). But then he wanted to be a big, Horowitzian pianist, and started to pound and bang. Thus did Perahia lose his purity, to the sorrow of many a piano lover throughout the earth.

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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Mar 27, 2015 03:56 PM

Wind rose from a map created by Jorge Aguiar, 1492


Recent links of note:

What Price Safety?
Lawrence Christon, ArtsJournal
Just so you know, this blog is not a safe space

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Schubert and Tchaikovsky, big and small

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Mar 25, 2015 12:09 PM

Nikolai Lugansky

Last night, Nikolai Lugansky, the Russian pianist, gave a recital at the 92nd Street Y. His program was an unusual one: Schubert on the first half, Tchaikovsky on the second. Each half had a big sonata, preceded by little pieces.

And the big sonatas are unpianistic. That is, they are full of ungainly, awkward writing for the piano. But they are well worth learning, and performing.

Lugansky began with the Two Scherzos of Schubert, D. 593. These are almost never programmed. They are rather negligible Schubert, frankly. In any case, Lugansky played them responsibly—maybe a little too responsibly. They could have used a bit more mirth. They were on the sober side.

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Appreciating Ernani

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Mar 24, 2015 01:59 PM

Plácido Domingo in Ernani at the Metropolitan Opera; photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

In Ernani, Verdi spreads the wealth around. He has four starring roles, really: for soprano, tenor, baritone, and bass. The Metropolitan Opera came through on all four fronts last night. It also came through with a conductor—its music director, James Levine.

I occasionally hear that Levine is struggling, with his various medical issues. Maybe he has off nights, even poor ones. I keep attending excellent ones. In a recent Tales of Hoffmann, he was great. In last night’s Ernani, he was near-faultless. He was also full of energy.

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Dear old Golden Rule days

by James Bowman

Posted: Mar 23, 2015 03:55 PM

Peter Tait, the Headmaster of Sherborne Preparatory School in England — where, by the way, a preparatory school is one that prepares children to take at age 13  the “Common Entrance” exam into that special class of private schools that can call themselves “public”— wrote an article for The Daily Telegraph the other day insisting that “we should be teaching morals and ethics in our schools.”


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In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Mar 20, 2015 01:37 PM

Édouard Manet, Chez Tortoni, ca. 1878-80,  

Stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990


Recent links of note:

In Defense of Difficulty
Steve Wasserman, The American Conservative
"When did “difficulty” become suspect in American culture, widely derided as anti-democratic and contemptuously dismissed as evidence of so-called elitism? […] We should mark such an argument’s cognitive consequences. A culture filled with smooth and familiar consumptions produces in people rigid mental habits and stultified conceptions."

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Dark hall, bright pianist

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Mar 20, 2015 11:42 AM

Piotr Anderszewski

Last night, Piotr Anderszewski, the Polish pianist, gave a recital in Carnegie Hall. He began with Bach and ended with Bach. In between came Schumann. An unusual and interesting program.

The lighting was unusual and interesting too. Carnegie Hall was dead black for this recital. (There was a light on the piano, of course.) It was more like an opera house than a concert hall. You couldn’t read your program. In a great many visits to Carnegie Hall, I had never seen lighting like this (or non-lighting?).

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Sounds known and unknown

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Mar 19, 2015 12:28 PM

Yuja Wang and Michael Tilson Thomas

The London Symphony Orchestra played in Avery Fisher Hall last night, under the baton of an American maestro, Michael Tilson Thomas. He is popularly known as “MTT.” Last December, he marked his seventieth birthday.

First on the program last night were the Sea Interludes from Britten’s opera Peter Grimes. The LSO should play these pieces especially well, shouldn’t they? Not necessarily: nationality isn’t destiny, when it comes to musical performance. And much depends on the guy waving the stick.

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The New Criterion

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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April 29, 2015

Edmund Burke Award Gala

More events >