Recent links of note:
“Ave, Maria Grinberg”
Damian Thompson, Spectator USA
Though the Berlin Wall fell some thirty years ago, there remains work to be done in rolling back the Iron Curtain, especially in the arts. Soviet censors put a persnickety kibosh on everything from unseemly literature to musical compositions that failed to incorporate the right folk themes. One such casualty, writes Damian Thompson for The Spectator, was the pianist Maria Grinberg. Born in 1908, she was guilty of two things above all: being Jewish, and being at the height of her powers when the kgb was at the height of theirs. In 1970, she became the first woman and the first Russian to record all of Beethoven’s sonatas; due to what I’m sure has been termed a clerical error, the record label Melodiya didn’t get around to releasing a CD box set until 2012. But the real tragedy is hardly symbolic: her interpretation represents a towering pianistic achievement, says Thompson, and so the world of music almost certainly would’ve profited from its release. Thankfully, these recordings (and more) have begun to make their way onto the Spotify, Youtube, and the like for our listening pleasure.
“The Lighter Side of Homer”
Evan Eisenberg, The Wall Street Journal
We often think of mock epic as a relatively modern invention—Don Quixote and The Rape of the Lock, say—but in reality authors have been going low for as long as their peers have gone high. The Batrachomyomachia has a name worthy of its fine bathetic pedigree: the ancient Greek poem, which translates as The Battle of Frogs and Mice, spoofs Homer’s Iliad and has been around for about two thousand years. Used as a pedagogical tool by Byzantine schoolmasters for centuries, the tale has been spruced up with a fine translation by A. E. Stallings and illustrations by Grant Silverstein, writes Evan Eisenberg for The Wall Street Journal. For “grown-up children and whimsical adults.”
“Stolen Gustav Klimt Painting May Have Been Discovered in an Italian Gallery’s Wall”
Tessa Solomon, ARTnews
Paintings can be hidden in strange places. Sometimes under other paintings. Sometimes behind trap doors. But rarely both at once—which appears to be the case with a canvas stashed in the walls of the Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in Italy. Experts are still verifying whether the painting is indeed Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of a Lady (1916–17), which disappeared from the gallery twenty-three years ago. Just before its theft, an art student examining the canvas had discovered via X-ray analysis another Klimt, Portrait of a Young Woman (1896–97), that had been thought missing since 1917. The director of the gallery, Massimo Ferrari, told reporters that “the stamps and wax behind the picture are original,” but it’s understandable that he and his team would want to make sure before proclaiming the picture’s (pictures’?) authenticity: the canvas was last valued at $66 million.
James Hankins & James Panero discuss Leonardo da Vinci
An interview occasioned by “Léonard de Vinci” at the Musée du Louvre.
A mixed Marriage
by James F. Penrose
On a new production of The Marriage of Figaro at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris.