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Surprised by Beauty


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Dundonnell
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« on: July 06, 2018, 02:16:32 pm »

So..."Surprised by Beauty" has just been delivered to me and I have had a very brief and initial run-through the book.

My preliminary observations will not surprise you:

The choice of composers is idiosyncratic. Many of them I would have included, a few I would not (partly through choice and partly sheer ignorance of their music)
Some of the chapters on individual composers are so short that I am left oddly deflated and unsatisfied.
The book could have been better edited: in the end of chapter discographies there are repetitions of the same cds
The book is-in relation to the current cd availability of certain works-obviously and unavoidably a snapshot in time and will (hopefully!) be steadily outdated.
The particular works discussed are chosen with care but reveal some anomalies: eg the last few symphonies of Roy Harris are ignored (probably wisely!), Robert Simpson's Ninth (which many, including myself, regard as his masterpiece) gets barely a mention
There is some considerable variation in the accuracy of the listings of currently available cds (eg Harald Saeverud).

........but, the book is written in a throughly accessible style (ie it eschews overly technical analysis), seems never less than interesting and, no doubt, at times thought-provoking, and is full of that enthusiasm which I have always found infectious (no surprise there then Greg Grin). I even smiled at the reference (in the chapter on Richard Arnell): "Now I can only wonder how works of this magnificence and of such noble striving could have been overlooked for so long, particularly in Great Britain, where they are given to doting on even their third-rate composers" (my italics)

I don't know, Greg....there will be much which will almost certainly have you raising your eyebrows in scepticism or grinding your teeth in derision but I would still suggest you see for yourself Smiley Smiley
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