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In Brief

LinksHere is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.

  • Tim Page will be taking a sabbatical from The Washington Post. Anne Midgette will be imported from New York as interim music critic. [The Rest Is Noise]

  • Having already put myself on the record as admiring the incisive writing of many British critics, the review by Jonathan Jones of the British National Gallery's Siena exhibit takes the cake. "This show is a delicious detour, but it's still a detour. Where can they go from here? You know, there were some really terrific miniaturists in 17th-century Copenhagen ... and the English sporting print deserves a second look ... and why, oh why, have we never done an exhibition dedicated to Florentine art in the age of the Risorgimento? Someone at the National Gallery should be listening politely to great ideas like this, and putting them at the bottom of a drawer." The emphasis (mine) shows where I nearly spit coffee onto my computer keyboard. [The Guardian]

  • For some balance on that Siena exhibit, read Éric Biétry-Rivierre's review (my translation): "Siena continued to shine in the 15th and 16th centuries. However, surely because of the Florentine Giorgio Vasari and his Lives of the Artists, the first art history text, it did not hold first place in the grand history of the Renaissance. Rome and, to be sure, Florence, its eternal rival, the city of Donatello, Leonardo, and Botticelli, made that impossible. Is that to be regretted? When you visit this exhibit, you think to yourself that it needs a grander throne." [Le Figaro]

  • The Vatican Museum not only unearthed the 14th-century transcript of the trial of the Knights Templar, it has published a facsimile edition. Dante, who had nothing good to say about either King Philip IV or Pope Clement V, must be so happy to know that we know the truth. [The Independent]

  • Check out my quick preview of the rest of the Washington National Opera season. [DCist]

  • Richard Taruskin is a musicologist whose writing reaches far beyond academe, and his latest article -- purportedly a review of three books about the changing fortunes of classical music -- is a whopper. Besides trashing those three books (and several others) -- even comparing one author's logic to that of Richard Wagner in his infamous tract Das Judenthum in der Musik (actually apt, but way over the top) -- Taruskin takes aim at classical music snobs for helping to marginalize classical music by insisting on its exclusivity. For my money, the most striking indictment is against highbrow critics who took on a cool aura by writing about more lowbrow, popular music, what he calls in his laser-precise language a "trahison des clercs." Some prominent critics do not even write write less about classical music, by their own choice, and some newspapers publish more rock reviews than classical ones (or hide the classical reviews somewhere behind the main Style page). It's not that clear-cut, of course, but Taruskin's argument is a good one. [The New Republic]

  • At, you can see a 16 billion pixel image of Leonardo's Last Supper. [Associated Press]


Anonymous said...

Huh? Have you read me in Commentary lately--like, say, the last three consecutive issues?

Charles T. Downey said...

Thanks for that, Terry. It's true -- Terry has published the following articles in Commentary over the past several months:

a review of Alex Ross's book (October 2007)

an article on the appointment of Alan Gilbert at the NY Phil (September 2007), in which he wrote, among other things: "For my part, I have no idea whether Gilbert is a great conductor or even a good one. I have never seen him conduct, or listened to any of the handful of recordings he has made to date. Nothing that I read about his Philharmonic concerts made me feel any urgent need to go and hear them. To be sure, he performs an impressive variety of interesting compositions, but it is not necessary for me to visit Avery Fisher Hall, or anywhere else, to hear interesting orchestral music."

a re-release of Artur Schnabel recordings (May 2007)

Hitchcock's film music (February 2007)

Correction noted.