Recent links of note:
Museums Ban Selfie Sticks From Their Stately Venues of Enlightened Gazing
by James Panero
Recent protests at the Met Opera and Carnegie Hall signal a new turn in the relationship between art and politics.
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On Tuesday night, Janine Jansen played a recital in Zankel Hall, accompanied by Itamar Golan. She is a Dutch violinist, he is an Israeli pianist. I knew they would play a competent recital, probably a good one. As it transpired, they played a great one. Isn’t it nice when that happens?
The program consisted of Prokofiev in the first half and Ravel in the second. To begin were the Five Melodies, which Prokofiev wrote in the 1920s. The first one has intervals reminiscent of “I’ve Got a Crush on You” (Gershwin). Swear.
Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Carafe, Bottle, and Fruit, 1906
Henry Pearlman liked to say that every time he saw his art collection, it gave him a lift. We should all be so lucky. His highly selective collection is far from the grand holdings of Alfred Barr, Isabella Stewart Gardner, or Samuel Kress, but no less remarkable. In fact, it is an enviable group of paintings and sculpture that describes the uniquely acquisitive personality of a cold-storage magnate from Brooklyn.
Last Wednesday night, Matthew Polenzani gave a recital in Alice Tully Hall. He is the American tenor with the ultra-beautiful lyric voice. He was joined by Julius Drake, the well-known British accompanist. (Please note that I am one of the last of the Mohicans in not considering “accompanist” a dirty word.)
When Polenzani took the stage, the audience gave him a long and roaring ovation. They knew. They had heard this tenor before.
Polenzani and Drake gave a nicely mixed recital. That is, they offered an appealing variety of composers, styles, and languages. There was no “theme” to this program. Bless a program with no theme. It seems to me they are getting rarer.
Edith Schloss, Still Life, 1951
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Yesterday afternoon, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra played a concert in Carnegie Hall. They were led by their music director, James Levine. By the end of the concert, he was conducting like the Levine of old—i.e., like an immortal.
The program began with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D major. The symphony begins with a little note followed by a big, sustained note. From Levine and the Met Orchestra, this second note had amazing heft and gravity. It was completely Levine-like.
Pablo Picasso, Sleeping Peasants, 1919
Alan Gilbert conducting the New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic announced today that prior to the 2017–18 season, Alan Gilbert will step down from his post as Music Director, which he has occupied since 2009.
Piotr Beczala as Vaudémont and Anna Netrebko as the title character in Tchaikovsky's Iolanta. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is staging a double bill, composed of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle. The first is about a blind princess, healed by truth and love. (And the mysterious machinations of a Moorish doctor?) The second is about a lady who falls for a murderous duke and winds up in the soup with the rest of his wives.
Serving as stage director for these operas is Mariusz Trelinski, a Pole. Serving as conductor is Valery Gergiev, the Russian. I attended the double bill on Tuesday night.
( 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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