The Substance of Things Heard: Writings about Music (Eastman Studies in Music)
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Paul Griffiths offers his own personal selection of some of his most substantial and imaginative articles and concert reviews from over three decades of indefatigable concertgoing around the world. He reports on premieres and other important performances of works by such composers as Elliott Carter, Sofia Gubaidulina, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Steve Reich, as well as Harrison Birtwistle and other important British figures. Griffiths vividly conveys the vision, aura, and idiosyncrasies of prominent pianists, singers, and conductors (such as Herbert von Karajan), and debates changing styles of performing Monteverdi and Purcell. A particular delight is his response to the world of opera, including Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (six contrasting productions), Pavarotti and Domingo in Verdi at New York's Metropolitan Opera, Schoenberg's Moses and Aaron, and two wildly different Jonathan Miller versions of Mozart's Don Giovanni. From the author's preface: "We cannot say what music is. Yet we are verbal creatures, and strive with words to cast a net around it, knowing most of this immaterial stuff will evade capture. The stories that follow cover a wide range of events over a period of great change. Yet the net's aim was always the same, to catch the substance of things heard. "Criticism has to work largely by analogy and metaphor. This is no limitation. It is largely through such verbal ties that music is linked to other sorts of experience, not least the natural world and the orchestra of our feelings." Paul Griffiths's reviews and articles have appeared extensively in both Britain (Times, Financial Times, Times Literary Supplement) and the United States (New Yorker, New York Times). He has written numerous books on Bartók, Cage, Messiaen, Boulez, Maxwell Davies, twentieth-century music, opera, and the string quartet, and is the author of the recent Penguin Companion to Classical Music. He is also author of The Sea on Fire: Jean Barraqué.