March 23, 2009
"The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life."
Arthur Miller (quoted in the New York Times, May 9, 1984)
Posted March 23, 2009 12:00 AM
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5704 entries and counting
A list of new things we've liked (subject to unexpected and wildly capricious updating). CD BOOK DVD CD BOOK
Not new, but still worth a look or listen (and no less subject to change without notice). CD FOLIO
This is a blog about the arts in New York City and the rest of America, written by Terry Teachout, Laura Demanski (otherwise known as Our Girl in Chicago, or "OGIC" for short), and Carrie Frye (who signs her postings "CAAF"). Terry, who lives in New York, is the drama critic of The Wall Street Journal and the music critic of Commentary.
Terry's latest book, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in December. One of his essays is included in Robert Gottlieb's Reading Dance, published last year by Pantheon. He contributed an essay to Coudal Partners' Field-Tested Books (as did OGIC) and wrote the introductions to William Bailey on Canvas and the paperback edition of Elaine Dundy's The Dud Avocado.
To watch Terry's wsj.com review of Guys and Dolls, go here.
Terry is collaborating with Paul Moravec on The Letter, an operatic version of Somerset Maugham's 1927 play. It was commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera and will open there on July 25, 2009. Here is an ongoing series of progress reports on the writing and production of The Letter.
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The case for lower-case opera
The envelope, please
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Scene stealing (I)
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Becoming an artist
In one piece
Among the brethren
By the clock
No, but I heard the movie
The Doctor is in
A doll's house
Free at last
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Step away from the car, sir
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Constant Lambert Conducts Ballet Music (Somm). In addition to being a brilliant critic, a gifted composer, and a provocative personality, Constant Lambert was the best ballet conductor who ever lived. The proof is on this imported CD, which contains the never-before-reissued suite from Sleeping Beauty that he recorded in 1939 shortly after leading the Sadler's Wells Ballet in the first complete production of Tchaikovsky's ballet given outside of Russia. Lambert and the company's pit orchestra perform this nine-movement suite with a breathtaking blend of poise, elegance, and rhythmic lift--exactly what it takes to bring a stageful of dancers to swirling life. Would that Somm had also included the equally rare excerpts from Sleeping Beauty that Lambert recorded with the Covent Garden pit orchestra after World War II, but this recording, coupled here with other ballet suites by Boyce, Meyerbeer, and Rossini, is more than precious enough in its own right (TT).
A.J. Liebling, The Sweet Science and Other Writings (Library of America, $40, in stores Mar. 19). This omnibus, edited by Pete Hamill, is very nearly the best single-volume collection of Liebling's domestic writings that could possibly be put together. (His World War II journalism has already been collected here.) It contains The Sweet Science, The Earl of Louisiana, The Jollity Building, Between Meals, and The Press, which between them cover all the bases. The New Yorker never had a better staff writer: Liebling's prose was an exuberant, extroverted alloy of uptown and downtown, more or less what H.L. Mencken might have sounded like had he stuck to reporting instead of switching to the editorial page. If you don't know his work, this is a very, very good place to start (TT).
Alec Guinness: A Film Collection (five discs). Yes, there was far more to Sir Alec than the Ealing Studios comedies he made in the Fifties, but if he'd done nothing other than make Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob, The Man in the White Suit, and The Ladykillers, his reputation as a great screen comedian would be absolutely secure. This new boxed set contains good transfers of all four films (plus a lesser effort, The Captain's Paradise) and is a must for anyone who doesn't already own these zany studies of Austerity Britain as seen through the cracked lens of farce. The Ladykilllers is the best of the four, but all are essential and immortal (TT).
Jerry Junkin and the Dallas Wind Symphony, Lincolnshire Posy: Music for Band by Percy Grainger (Reference). An exquisitely well-played collection of Grainger's folk-flavored compositions and arrangements for concert band. Lincolnshire Posy, his six-movement masterpiece, is performed in a manner comparable in quality to the long-celebrated 1958 recording by Frederick Fennell and the Eastman Wind Ensemble. That version remains the gold standard, but it's out of print, and this one has the advantage of being coupled with such delectable miniatures as "Shepherd's Hey," "Spoon River," "The Duke of Marlborough Fanfare," and the deservedly ever-popular "Irish Tune from County Derry" (that's "Danny Boy" to you). Grainger's way with a folksong was both charming and brilliantly imaginative, and what he didn't know about scoring for concert band wasn't worth knowing. This might just be the best Grainger album to come along since Benjamin Britten's 1969 Salute to Percy Grainger (TT).
Brad Gooch, Flannery: A Life (Little, Brown, $30, out Feb. 25). The first full-length biography of Flannery O'Connor is now available for pre-ordering. Flannery is lucidly written, sympathetic yet detached, thorough but not overly detailed. Among Gooch's more startling revelations: "Good Country People" is autobiographical, more or less. Don't expect too, many shockers, but don't worry about it, either. Surprising or not, this is the book O'Connor's admirers have been waiting for, and it does her justice (TT).
Out of the Past
Robert Casadesus, George Szell, and the Cleveland Orchestra, Mozart Piano Concertos, K. 467 and 491. French pianism can be superficial, but it can also be irresistibly cool, clear, and limpid. Casadesus filled all three bills, never more fully than on this budget-priced CD. Yes, there are other ways to play Mozart, just as there are those who think that George Szell was a cold fish, but these performances of the C Major and C Minor Piano Concertos seem to me to be as close to definitive as a classical recording can get (TT).
Wolf Kahn's America: An Artist's Travels. I love Kahn's paintings and pastels, in which the utterly distinctive palettes of Bonnard and Mark Rothko are miraculously blended into a no less individual style that wanders fruiltfully from abstraction to representation and back again. I'm embarrassed to admit, though, that I knew nothing of this 2003 volume, which consists of miniature essays by Kahn in which he talks about the real-life settings for a hundred of his canvases and works on paper, until I interviewed the artist last week at his Manhattan studio. It turns out that Kahn is also a marvelously blunt and funny writer with a knack for pungent anecdotage. Rarely has a modern artist written so unpretentiously yet vividly about his art (TT).
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Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Rebuilding Gulf Culture after Katrina
Douglas McLennan's blog
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Martha Bayles on Film...
Drew McManus on orchestra management
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jerome Weeks on Books
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
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Archive 5704 entries and counting
A list of new things we've liked (subject to unexpected and wildly capricious updating).
Not new, but still worth a look or listen (and no less subject to change without notice).