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3.2.08

In Brief: It's February Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond. (Image from Lolcats -- also funny, this picture)

  • Tyler Green takes on the issue of money in the art world, and why newspapers shy away from confronting it. [Modern Art Notes]

  • Nerds everywhere hear their hearts singing! Not only will Peter Jackson produce a film version of The Hobbit, in two installments, Guillermo del Toro will direct. [Reel Fanatic]

  • Norman Lebrecht injects some much-needed reality into the Herbert von Karajan anniversary year. [La Scena Musicale]

  • Put this one on my reading list: David Rieff's new memoir about the horrible death of his mother, Susan Sontag. [New York Times]

  • OMG, Juan Diego Flórez, who pulled out of Lyric Opera of Chicago's Barber of Seville because of an infection caused by a fishbone he swallowed, should totally have his throat blessed today and ask for healing from St. Blaise. Srsly. [Opera Chic]

  • Is the first movement of Beethoven's fifth symphony trying to tell a story? Far from the apocryphal "knock of fate" is this classic sketch by Sid Caesar (genius!), in which he and Nanette Fabray pantomime a scene ("Argument to Beethoven's 5th") to the entire movement, a choreographed argument between a man and his wife. Not only did a TV comedy show play an entire movement of a symphony on air, but the sketch actually works with the sonata form. The A theme is matched with the argument gestures and mouthed words ("Oh yes it is" -- "Oh no it's not" -- "This is the end" all correspond to the famous four-note motif), and the B theme with attempts by one side or the other to make up and act nice, always underdone by the other taking up the A theme. Best of all, when that plaintive oboe solo breaks into the action in the recapitulation, there is Nanette Fabray turning on the waterworks in an attempt to gain sympathy. Classic! [Roger Bourland]

  • Sorry, ladies, but Nikolaj Znaider has decided to settle down -- with his new Guarneri del Gesù ("Ex Kreisler"), as he told Matthew Gurewitsch in no uncertain terms -- just look at the way he stares at it! The next chance in our area to hear him play the instrument once owned by Fritz Kreisler will be a recital with pianist Robert Kulek on the Tuesday Evening Concert Series at UVA's Cabell Hall, in Charlottesville. [Wall Street Journal]

  • People complain about the Post's art critic, Blake Gopnik, writing about New York more than Washington, but I was happy to read a review of the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Manon Lescaut from Anne Midgette this week. [Washington Post]

  • Pierre-Laurent Aimard is a persuasive advocate for difficult music, both in recital and in words. See what he said to one journalist, which did not make it into the paper. [Jessica Duchen]

  • Last year was the 100th anniversary of Grieg's death. Via Poor Richard's Anorak, Leif Ove Andsnes celebrated by having a piano flown to the top of a mountain in Norway and filming a video of himself playing Grieg's G minor ballade there. It's a stunt, but the pictures are stunning. EMI has released Andsnes' Grieg CD and a DVD. He will play that ballade at his Strathmore recital on April 22. [Leif Ove Andsnes]

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