Dividing the Estate (Booth, 222 W. 45, closes Jan. 4). Horton Foote’s grimly funny portrait of a houseful of Texans who’ve been sponging off their mother for so long that they’ve forgotten how to earn an honest buck is the best-written, best-acted play in town, not excluding August: Osage County and A Man for All Seasons. It’s the go-to show for theater buffs who long to spend a whole evening on Broadway without having their intelligence insulted. Give yourself a ticket for Christmas (TT).
Archives for November 22, 2008
John Adams, Hallelujah Junction: Composing an American Life (FSG, $26). A hugely important, exceedingly well-written memoir in which the composer of Nixon in China and Doctor Atomic explains with engaging clarity why he broke with modernism to forge a new, more accessible style of classical composition. Even if, like me, you find it impossible to warm up to Adams’ minimalist music, this book will leave you in no doubt of why it has made so deep an impression on a generation of American composers and listeners (TT).
John McCormack, Deutsche Lieder 1914-1936 (Hamburger Archiv für Gesangskunst). When not singing “Mother Machree” and “The Garden Where the Praties Grow,” Ireland’s favorite tenor was a dead-serious recitalist who had a knack for bringing out the ballad-like quality of German art songs. This beautifully remastered imported CD contains all twenty-seven of his surviving recordings of songs by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Raff, Schubert, Schumann, and Wolf. Some are performed in English, others in Irish-tinged German, but all are sung with a combination of straightforwardness and sweet lyricism that I find completely charming. Would that McCormack had recorded twice as many Lieder, but to hear him singing Wolf’s “Herr, was trägt der Boden hier” (his favorite art song) is to be reminded of how lucky we are to live in the age of recorded sound (TT).
“Even in its present, somewhat dilapidated state, the TV version of Reginald Rose’s courtroom drama Twelve Angry Men, which aired on Studio One in 1954, shows with stunning clarity what the finest live-drama series had to offer…”