Friday Miscellany

— From his various blog posts about his forthcoming book on the Concord Sonata, It’s clear that Kyle Gann has written an extremely insightful, meaty book, a thorough study of this cornerstone piece. Given that, it is appalling to read about the B. S. he is having to endure at the hands of his pre-publication reviewers.

— I was happy to see three of my favorite composers – Harbison, Rochberg and Crumb – get some respect on this best-of-2014 CD list by George Grella (linked to by Alex Ross). I guess I must need more coffee, because at first I read this sentence:

I have mostly grudg­ingly admired Harbison’s com­pos­ing, appre­ci­at­ing how his music was made with­out enjoy­ing it…

as meaning John took no pleasure in it as he wrote it! (Totally my problem, not the author.) I guess some alienation from your own work – as well as some affection for it – is part of the mix for any composer. The new String Trio is fabulous, as Grella suggests, but I don’t agree that it is “surprisingly” good, as I have found John’s music similarly fine all along the way.

— Distressing news about Allan Kozinn here. Hard not to see this alongside the reduced number of classical listings in The New Yorker as a shrinking of the conversation about classical music in print.

Ives Variants

Extremely interesting post at Post-Classic in which Kyle Gann discusses variants in the Concord Sonata of Ives. Let me repeat here what I said in a comment there: it is a shame people don’t seem to be interested in preparing critical editions of scores anymore – you would think such an edition of the greatest American composition for piano would be pretty important, wouldn’t you?

Update: In a reply to my comment, Kyle Gann rightly pointed out that the Charles Ives Society has done, and is doing a lot of work on critical editions of Ives. I didn’t mean to overlook this important work – but the fashion in musicology these days is away from doing critical editions, and it seems 20th century music gets overlooked. Glad the folks working on Ives are bucking that trend.