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Next, it is the turn of the man on the podium: 'Few of the world's choral conductors are equally good with orchestra music; some just cannot lead oratorios prepared with chorus in a performance that also includes orchestra and soloists. Conductors of pop music are often frustrated exiles from the so-called classic repertoire, and generally find that they cannot go back once they have crossed the artificial divide ... In an opera house it is a rather different story: one cannot negotiate act I of La Boheme without the crucial ability to listen to a singer or singers before conducting.' On interpretation: 'even if (it) may be very faithful to the more explicit symbols of the composer, the variables involved are too numerous for interpretation to be the object of critique.' Lengthy and highly pertinent sub-divisions like 'The Edition Can be Critical', 'To Cut or Not to Cut?', 'Tempo' (How slowly do you take the Adagietto from Mahler 5?), and 'The Metronome', all add fuel to the argument.

In the chapter on composers, Webern, Schoenberg, Berg and (pride of mention) Beethoven and Mozart are all put on pedestals and compared with Vivaldi, Bach, Haydn and Wagner, while audiences and critics are alternately 'put through the paces' in an illuminating huge chapter entitled 'Out There in the Dark'. It all makes much more practical sense than Mr Norman Lebrecht for many reasons. Succeeding chapters dealing with opera, the symphony, recorded music and musical life embrace nationalities and personalities to the full, and Leinsdorf discusses his possible solutions viz-a-viz the global economic crisis and its dramatic effect upon the world of music which leads towards his 'Brave New World'. I last met him outside the American Embassy in London, where he was waiting for Aaron Copland to leave after his lecture. He was full of words and ideas then and I wish we could have talked at length. This book provides many of the answers!


Copyright © 9 September 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK






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