Sixty years of friendship: can any heading in English more quickly reduce the Fourth Estate to total narcolepsy, other than perhaps “Worthwhile Canadian initiative” or “Small earthquake in Chile, not many dead”? Let us hope a few journalists do control their yawn-reflexes at such a subtitle, because this slim, beautifully rendered book justifies its hefty asking price. (A single solecism mars it: not a translator’s flaw, but a crude typo, wherein on Plate 12 “photograph” mysteriously turns into “photogrpah”.) Two leading composers from France’s Third Republic—neither famous for bare-chested self-exposure—chronicle their mutual regard via 138 letters. Born a decade apart, Saint-Saëns and Fauré considered themselves blood-brothers from the beginning. In 1862 Fauré, then seventeen, first became the twenty-seven-year-old Saint-Saëns’s pupil at Paris’ second...

 

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