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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some wonderful anecdotes and a brilliant fresh perspective., 31 Aug. 2009
This review is from: The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
Worth a read for some of the unusual anecdotes eg.Boulez kissing Shostakovich's hands. Given Boulez's supposed antipathy (or is it just a pose?)it seems unlikely, but the story is apparently from a trusted source.
The perspective of Ross's book is refreshingly different from previous attempts as figures like Strauss,Sibelius and Feldman (sidelined by Paul Griffiths) are given prominence over some of the usual suspects.
Most tellingly,Ross has the ability to capture the flavour of a particular time and place which puts him ahead of comparable volumes, and why I'd imagine this book has reached beyond the normal confines. This has only been achieved in the medium of television: Paul Crossley's 'Sinfonietta' which was broadcast on Channel 4 in the late 1980s.
On the nitty gritty of musical grammar Ross can be absurdly spurious-take the comparison drawn between the opening four notes of Sibelius's 5th Symphony and Coltrane's 'A love Supreme'-this is thrown in to impress readers who are less familiar with musical notation.
I guess it's inevitable, but Ross is on shakier ground when it comes to living composers-here we are left with speculation, and bereft of the sifting process which takes place over a period of time:Here I feel Ross succumbs to the allure of the fashionable.
An amazing amount of attention is lavished on John Adams,composer of the incredibly anodyne opera 'Doctor Atomic' and a truly atrocious violin concerto.
Only time will tell...I may well be completely mistaken of course!
By comparison, Frederic Rzewski(b.1938) is a mere footnote, and the unconventional British composer Michael Finnissy (b.1946) doesn't even get a mention.
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