Recent links of note:
“Making an appearance—architectural copies and cover versions”
Charles Holland, Apollo
Walking the streets of Warsaw’s Old Town, one notices something slightly uncanny about the buildings, a bit like those of a movie set. Understandably: almost every brick of it was reconstructed after the ravages of World War II. What does the “authenticity” of a building mean in such a historical—and moral—context? One can hardly blame the Poles for wanting to reclaim what was taken from them, even if what results is an echo of the past that requires a certain amount of make-believe to conjure back again. Yet in a sense, all buildings are emanations from an idea in an architect’s mind, and all buildings realizations of these ideas. It seems to me this relationship distinguishes architecture from the visual arts and aligns it much more with music: a symphony score is to a performance as a blueprint is to a building. Read on for more variations on this theme by Charles Holland in Apollo.
“Mahler’s Symphony No 4: a complete guide to the best recordings”
David Gutman, Gramophone
One realizes this comparison well when listening to Mahler, a composer whose symphonies inspire heated debate from partisans of his many different interpreters. This year’s Thanksgiving holiday, I listened to a symphony a day from maestro Georg Solti’s venerable cycle. After the pomp and furor of Mahler’s Third, what a devilishly curious little symphony Mahler’s Fourth is. “Little” is a word one seldom hears in connection with Mahler, but little it is, comparatively at least—at around fifty-five minutes, it is in many performances his shortest symphony. And “curious”? Well, just give a listen to the opening, in which Mahler puts us on edge with an icy jolt of flutes and sleigh bells worthy of Hitchcock’s Psycho, immediately followed by an almost parodically restrained section in the Viennese classical style. If you have a hankering for a symphony with sleigh bells this Christmas, consult David Gutman for a guide through the best recordings of this appropriately brumal piece.
Julian Barnes, London Review of Books
The painter Edgar Degas kept up regular correspondences throughout his well-traveled and eventful life. Julian Barnes reviews a new edition of these letters for the London Review of Books and tracks the painter’s political opinions, volatile friendships, and fickle health, from Degas’ time in New Orleans, to his travels to London, to his rifts with friends during the turbulent and vitriolic years of the Dreyfus Affair.
“Music for a While #37: Over the moon,” by Jay Nordlinger. Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“Wang Jie, a woman to know,” by Jay Nordlinger. On a Chinese-American composer.