Recent links of note:
“Mozart’s infinite riches”
Jonathan Gaisman, Standpoint
Navigating Mozart’s twenty-three original piano concerti can be a daunting prospect. Like the proverbial mosquito in a nudist colony, one does not know where to begin. In an apposite essay for Standpoint, Jonathan Gaisman discusses the reception of this body of work since Mozart’s time and contends that, beyond the handful of widely popular ones, “there remains a body of at least a dozen lesser known masterpieces, and the question is where the enthusiastic listener should concentrate first in his efforts to get to know them.” Proceeding to an analysis of two of Mozart’s E-flat piano concerti, K. 271 and K. 482, he puts on a platter, as it were, those qualities of endless invention and supreme control so present in the composer’s work, all for the reader’s delectation.
“‘The Scourge of War’ Review: A Long March into Myth”
Fergus M. Bordewich, The Wall Street Journal
History has tended to portray the Union general William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous “March to the Sea” as a regrettable but necessary evil, the destruction of Columbia, South Carolina, differing only in degree from, say, the bombing of Hiroshima or the razing of Carthage. In The Wall Street Journal, Fergus M. Bordewich writes that Brian Holden Reid’s new biography of Sherman, The Scourge of War, “explodes” this and many other “persistent fictions and delivers a subtle portrait of one of the most sophisticated military men in U.S. history.” Indeed, embittered Southerners have loved to contrast an intemperate and vindictive Sherman with that paragon of genteel restraint, Robert E. Lee. But the reality is that Sherman was enormously cultivated, became a brilliant tactician, and, perhaps most importantly, possessed invaluable foresight about the impact his campaign would have on a weary Confederate cause.
John Lanchester, London Review of Books
Mozart’s compositional output, alluded to above, was prodigious, but in terms of sheer volume of creative work, the French author Georges Simenon had him beat. Simenon wrote an extraordinary number of novels, novellas, and memoirs—by the end of his life, even he admitted he could not keep track of them all—and while the official score is unsettled, his current publisher in English, Penguin, tallies over four hundred individual works. In his early career, he churned out eighty typed pages a day and produced 150 novels in a mere seven years; later, he slowed down somewhat, but would still lock himself in a room for a couple of weeks to see a project through. Most famous are his “Maigret” novels, centering on the eponymous detective. Writing for the London Review of Books, John Lanchester explains how these seventy-five books, “uncannily consistent in quality,” differentiate themselves from usual genre-fiction fare. Rejecting the traditionally Manichean universe of the detective novel—a world divided into good and evil, truth-telling and deception—they set up camp somewhere “between the formal, inquisitorial, antiseptic language of bureaucracy and the realities of life and crime.”
“Music for a While #26: Time, timelessness, etc.”
Jay Nordlinger, music critic of The New Criterion, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“Planting the Plantagenets”
Paul du Quenoy reviews Richard III: The Self-Made King by Michael Hicks.