6 years ago

Volume 13 - Issue 4 - December 2007

Book Shelfby Pamela

Book Shelfby Pamela Marg/esThe Rest is Noise: Listening to theTwentieth Centuryby Alex RossFarrar, Strauss & Giroux640 pages, photos; .50For music critic AlexRoss's first book, Iexpected a collectionof his writings for TheNew Yorker along thelines of the five vol-T • H • EREST.. . 5 ..NOISE'pit classical music against pop culture' willnot appeal to purists. His language is lively,colourful and witty, and never glib. The unmarkedendnotes should please both annotationfanatics and readers who don't want to botherwith them.His list of CDs is too brief and inconsistentto be useful. His choice of readings is impeccable- so why not list them in a bibliography?No matter - this is a splendid achievement.The House That George Built: With a LittleHelp from Irving, Cole, and a Crew ofAbout Fiftyby Wilfrid SheedRandom House362 pages; US .95umes his predecessorAndrew Porter issued un1N1NG Critic and novelistWilfrid Sheed's histoduringhis long tenure ,w1NrinH f A ·there. But this is c • N, u R v ry O men can popusomethingquite dif-lar song rightly putsferent, and far more A L E X Irving Berlin, Georgeambitious - a history R O S S Gershwin, Duke Eloftwentieth centurylington, Jerome Kern,music.Cole Porter, andRoss takes his title literally, explaining that Richard Rodgers.athe wants to present 'the twentieth century the top of a long hst of ,heard through its music'. He moves chronologi- great composers. He knows what s good, andcally, flipping back and forth among key corn- he knows why· . .posers. Innovators like the early Strauss, Sch- ~ut a: _much as Sheed appreciates the musicoenberg and Stravinsky share space with the he 1s ~ntm~ about, he loves words eve~ more,decidedly unrevolutionary Sibelius. It's tempt- especially his own. He layers them, twist~ing to carp about who he left out or shortch- the.n:1 ar~und, and puns them .e~dlessly. Hisanged, but in fact it's remarkable who he has wntmg 1s so convo!uted_that 1t soften hard tomanaged to include. figure ou! w~at ~e _is try mg_ t~ sa~. ~lever .He avoids grand summations, letting the phrases hke art1st1c ~arw1~sm., the amvalpolitical, cultural and personal details accumu- of the gre~t non-~ve~t and the h~h~ a~ ~he endlate to form a richly satisfying narrative. He ?fGatsby s dock qu1ckl~ lose their m1t1alshows how music matters, without ever having impact. Ideas bog do~n m layers ~fmeta~to spell it out. But his closing plea to no longer phors, as when he wntes that Berlin was atplay in the fields of ragtime, and Gershwinnever needed two invitations to a party likethat'.There is no bibliography, and sourcesrange from 'one critic' to 'he is alleged tohave said'. The index is spotty - Kay Swiftdoesn't make it, even though she appears inSheed's text and is given a brief biography inthe appendix of songwriters.Sheed understands the songs and theircontexts. He can get to the heart of whatmakes each songwriter so brilliant. And hecertainly has plenty of stories to tell. Clearaway the verbal clutter and a terrific bookcould emerge here.Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brainby Oliver SacksKnopf\ 398 pages; .00Once again Americanphysician OliverSacks has collectedhis case~ studies of patientswith bizarre mentaldysfunctions.This time thesymptoms arerelated to music.Sacks is a neurolo-MU~ICOfHILIA1'ul,·, uf 11 1o i , u 11,I r/.,· lf r u i 11O I, I \ t·: II S \ (' K Sgist, not a psychiatrist, so he looks for biologicalreasons for things going wrong. Many ofhis patients have suffered accidents, like thefootball-playing surgeon who gets hit by lighteningand becomes possessed by music - firstlistening, then playing, then composing. Othershave been struck by disease. One of themost heart-breaking situations is that of Britishmusician Clive Wearing, who suffers aEnjoy thHear Toronto willshow.ake sure you don't miss a note.Ross HarwellA registered Audiologist at Hear Toronto can HELP!Test your hearing: Hearing Tests and AssessmentsImprove your hearing: Hearing aid sales, service & RepairsBatteries & AccessoriesProtect your hearing: Custom hearing protection for musicians,recreational and industrial usesEnhance your hearing: Custom fit earphones and muscians' monitorsCustom fit communication devices.416.484.4327586 Eglinton Ave E, Suite 305, Toronto, ONwww.heartoronto.cahe a@Centre for AdvancedHearing Carer60WWW, THEWHOLENOTE,COM

• • 4 ' ,..,... ~ ,(;brain infection that leaves him unable to rememberanything that has happened just afew minutes previously.Sacks looks at cases where music is anaffliction, like that of the woman who is tormentedby Neapolitan folksongs. He reportshow composer Tobias Picker makes hisTourette's syndrome work as a creative forcefor his music.Leon Fleisher, once one of the finest pianistsin the world, had lost the use of his righthand and spent decades trying to repair thedamage. Sacks describes what Fleisher wentthrough, and tells how he finally found a cureand returned to the concert stage with twohandedrepertoireSacks is compassionate, funny, moving andprofoundly humane. He enriches his descriptionswith his own ability to think and feel asa musician. This is a disturbing, moving, andultimately inspiring contribution to understandingwhat music is, and how it helpsmake us who we are.Ravel: A Novelby Jean Echenozforeword by Adam Gopniktranslated by Linda CoverdaleNew Press128 pages; .95 USIn a series of ninevignettes, Frenchnovelist JeanEchenoz paints aportrait of Frenchcomposer MauriceRavel as apractising musician,as a visitingcelebrity, andfinally as a greatmind deterioratinginto incapacitatedfragments.Echenoz's tone is so gentle and loving thatthis novel can certainly be read as a tribute.Services RecordingIn many ways his diaphanous textures reflectRavel 's music. But Echenoz provides sensualdetails that are purely the province of thenovelist, even if his protagonist is real.Other historical figures show up, like PaulWittgenstein, the one-armed pianist whocommissioned one ofRavel's best-knownworks, the Concerto in D Major for the lefthand. When Ravel lands in New York, he ismet by French pianist E. Robert Schmitz,who in real life taught Canadian composersHarry Somers and Samuel Dolin.This is a beautifully written work. It hasbeen expertly translated by Linda Coverdale,who has supplied useful explanatory notes. Inblurring the distinction between fact andfiction, Echenoz has created a moving andmemorable novel. His poetic approach worksas a complement to Sacks' clinical studies,and manages to actually deepen our appreciationof Ravel's music.To Inquire and QuestionAs SeniorsTo Pursue Life's Greater PotentialAmong SeniorsJoin Uswww.ulyssean.on.ca416 410-1892HomeProfessional ServicesIN InvestorsSymphonyGroup""Your finances will sing Jiwith a Symphony strategicinvestment planning portfolio!STRATEGIC INVESTMENT PLANNINGIsaac Klassen (888) 565-9996 ext. 352isaac.klassen@investorsgroup.comRelease pain.Relax. Breathe. Move.jDr. Katalina Bulat ll.Sc. o c. 1&,1us1cus)Chiropractor 416-461-1906Private practic-e. Coxwell & Danforth area.$ ? .,) NEED HELP WITH YOUR TAXES?-Specializing in personal, business,partnership, and corporate tax returnsincluding prior years and adjustments.Call Norm Pulker905-830-2985npulker@rogers.comfax: 905-830-9810• free consultation• accurate work• pickup & deliveryarrangedAffordable web sitesfor performing artists"We keep your site up-to-date!"Visit www. veritygraphics corn forclient list and examples of our 416-351 · 7171Recording & Mastering.Great live room in old movie theatre.Yamaha Grand Piano. Hammond M3& Leslie Milestone Drums. per hour 416.467.9597www.studio92canada.comCall for a coffee and tourecording • l\r1i'-llig.Masifrtng !, ¥am·ahaGrand • l·I,~m1?1qn~': fB3 • S Isolated Rooms IRestaurantsCommensal Vegetarian RestaurantLive Jazz Friday and Saturday Evenings655 Bay St. (entrance on Elm St reet)Validated Parking after 6pm 41 6-596-9364the business of the arts· fundraising· development· publicity· marketing•I J' I IF,flllLEr,swww.lau raadlers.coml (41ri) 467 0634loLn J_ilauroadlers.co1,lA!exander 'Techniquewith Verna Johnson...Certified Alexander Teacher-22 years' teaching experience,WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COM

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