Recent links of note:
“The Art of Operetta”
Richard Bratby, Gramophone
I can still remember a big red Reader’s Digest box set, The Golden Age of Operetta, in among the Lawrence Welk and Perry Como LPs of my grandparents’ record collection. Needless to say, this album, with its garish, Disneyesque cover art of a grinning, waltzing couple, was of little interest to me when I inherited that collection as a teenager. These days, the public’s taste for operetta—the little brother of opera, “pop opera,” if you will—isn’t too far off from what mine was then. Now that I’m older I can see why the genre once had its (enormous) appeal: it’s fun stuff, and, like a Strauss waltz, it perfectly fulfills a platonic ideal of entertainment and pleasure with no extraneous pretensions. I might have to go dust off that box set next time I’m home.
“Born out of suffering: the inspiration of Dostoevsky’s great novels”
Daniel Rey, The Spectator
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s life was less opera buffa than tragédie lyrique. Dostoevsky mined his troubled biography for story material, and as Daniel Rey writes for The Spectator, he often gave his own characters a run for their money. Dostoevsky’s life story makes for fascinating reading, but it’s not for the faint of heart—from finishing a contracted novel (and averting financial ruin) with two hours to spare, to escaping a firing squad’s bullet by a last-minute reprieve, he lived life on the razor’s edge. Be sure to read Gary Saul Morson’s article in the January issue of The New Criterion for an in-depth (and more uplifting) look at the influence of some of these moments on Dostoevsky’s philosophy of life.
“What a sham! On fakery and the Russian avant-garde”
Madeleine Schwartz, Apollo
Fakes abound in the market for Russian avant-garde art. Madeleine Schwartz reports how the Museum Ludwig in Cologne—after its curators discovered a number of forgeries among its holdings—has opened a new exhibition featuring its fakes and authentic paintings side by side. The deception runs deep: apparently, the oeuvre of the Soviet artist Nina Kogan, who died in obscurity in 1942, may have been heavily embellished or even invented outright. Being musically inclined, my mind goes to the Adagio in G minor by Tomaso Albinoni (1671–1751), by far his most famous piece, yet one that was likely forged by one of his biographers in the twentieth century. But while an undisputed classic resulted from that particular coup, I’ll have to reserve judgement on Comrade Kogan’s work until I see it in person.
From the Editors:
“Don’t sweat it.”
James Panero, Spectator USA
“Music for a While #40: Entering into heaven.”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“One man’s ‘Well-Tempered,’” by Jay Nordlinger. On Piotr Anderszewski’s new recording of (half of) Book II.