Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This and That: Books, Music and Architecture

Some stuff:

  • I finally read the PD James novel that I got for Christmas: The Private Patient. This happens every year; I want a book and someone gives it to me for Christmas and then I put off reading it because I don't want to read it too fast. This one was worth the wait. It probably isn't my favorite PD James novel but I did enjoy it. The idea of having a modern plastic surgery center adjoining an old Manor sounds odd to American ears. But the idea reminded me of a hotel in Scotland I stayed in that was an old Manor in the front and a modern conference center in the rear. I did feel that James cheated a little with the ending of this book, introducing a new character at the end who "explains" everything. But the cheating wasn't enough to ruin it for me.
  • Anthony Tommasini reviews the performance of The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Well, actually, he reviews conductor David Robertson's amazing last minute fill-in performance as a singer:

    "That David Robertson conducted the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on Saturday night in the most transparent and riveting account of Sibelius’s elusive Fifth Symphony in memory would have been momentous enough. But for making news in the staid world of classical music, nothing topped Mr. Robertson’s unplanned New York debut as a singer during the symphony’s concert on Friday night at Zankel Hall, the first of two programs during this visit."

    Bad weather caused the orchestra to arrive in New York with only a couple of hours to spare before the performance and HK Gruber, who was to perform the vocal portion of his own work "Frankenstein", never made it. So Robertson handed the baton over to the assistant conductor and performed the work himself.
    "Mr. Gruber intended for the texts to be delivered in a kind of speech-song, complete with nasal squawks and patter. You do not need a proper singing voice to perform the part, but you do have to be uninhibited. Mr. Robertson’s performance was a tour de force of uninhibition.

  • This reminds me that I need to go to the Symphony more often.

  • Last Friday I attended a lecture by Anthony Alofin, of the University of Texas, who is one of the preeminent Frank Lloyd Wright scholars in the country. We have one Frank Lloyd Wright designed house which is operated and preserved by a non-profit entity. As part of its mission it sponsors a free lecture every year about Wright. During the lecture Alofin sneered at the recent novels written about Wright including Loving Frank which I discussed here. Alofin said that author Nancy Horan used the research of others "without attribution." I didn't much care for Loving Frank, but I question whether a novelist is required to attribute any of the research she uses in constructing an historical novel.