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Articles in OL Weekly

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Walton: concerto & variations

July 21st, 2017
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William Walton is very much an on-off composer. What’s remarkable about this recording is that the performance transcends his shortcomings.

Book Review: Bed-Stuy is Burning

July 19th, 2017
bed-stuy is burning

A debut novel tackles the volatile issues of gentrification and police brutality.

Book Review: Madame Zero

July 18th, 2017
madame zero

Many readers will find reflections of themselves in the nine stories that comprise Sarah Hall’s newest collection.

Book Review: The Epiphany Machine

July 18th, 2017
epiphmachin

A mysterious machine gives people tattoos that reveal deep oracular truths about themselves – and drives one young man to understand it all.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Fischer-Dieskau, Varady: Romantic duets

July 14th, 2017
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Together, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and his wife Julia Varady make the love in Schumann’s songs seem somehow less hopeless, and the hope in Mendelssohn less forlorn.

Book Review: See What I Have Done

July 12th, 2017
see what I have done

The famous Lizzie Borden axe-murders are 125 years old in 2017, and a new debut novel explores the horrors from the viewpoints of several people directly involved.

Book Review: We Shall Not All Sleep

July 10th, 2017
we shall not all sleep

The centuries-old rivalry between two families erupts in new tensions during one summer on a small island off the coast of Maine

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich & Martinu cello concertos

July 7th, 2017
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Two cello concertos, one upbeat, the other pessemistic, make a perfect companions on this new disc.

Book Review: Patrick Henry

July 5th, 2017
pehenrny

A lavishly-detailed new biography tells the story of the Virginia plantation-owner and early voice for independence from Great Britain

Book Review: The New Annotated Frankenstein

July 4th, 2017
fredmunster

Mary Shelley’s indomitable horror classic gets a sumptuous new annotated edition.

Book Review: Warner Bros

July 3rd, 2017
dt

The latest entry in Yale’s “Jewish Lives” series is the story of Warner Brothers Studo, by the great film historian David Thomson

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Ben-Haim orchestral works

June 30th, 2017
Ben-haim

he music of Ben-Haim will not change lives – by 1984, when he died, it was hardly heard in Israel any more – but the musical personality behind it is attractive, smart and persuasive

Book Review: The Allies Strike Back

June 28th, 2017
allies strike back

A vivid new history recounts the resurgence of the Allies against the Germany war machine during the highest pitch of the Second World War

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Strauss songs

June 23rd, 2017
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To sing Richard Strauss, everything has to be just-so, shimmering on the surface and hinting at Freudian urges below. English soprano Louise Alder meets his challenge.

Book Review: Blood Royal

June 20th, 2017
blood royal

A sharp new history recounts the pitch-and-tumble fortunes of York and Lancaster during the Wars of the Roses

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Carbonelli: Sonate da Camera

June 16th, 2017
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ever heard of Carbonelli? Don’t feel too bad about it. Listen to the music, though, and you will wonder how work of such quality and intricacy could vanish so comprehensively into the mists of history.

Book Review: The White Road

June 14th, 2017
teh white road

The quest for social media click-traffic leads a young video-maker to the heights of the world’s deadliest mountain in Sarah Lotz’s new thriller.

Book Review: Heretics & Believers

June 12th, 2017
heretics & believers

A big, wonderfully readable new history of the sixteenth-century religious upheaval that transformed English life

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Russia Cast Adrift

June 9th, 2017
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Georgy Sviridov was born in the thick of Russia’s metamorphosis, and his idiom in these lieder – narrative, tonal, almost static at times – reflects the stand-off between political upheaval and the impervious cycles of nature.

Book Review: The Best Land Under Heaven

June 7th, 2017
best land under

A thorough and searching new book explores not only the tragic fate of the Donner Party but the dreams that motivated them in the first place.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Ravel and De Falla concertos

June 2nd, 2017
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There is a lot of competition for performances of Ravel and De Falla’s work for piano and orchestra, but Steven Osborne’s new release belongs among the best.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich’s First

May 26th, 2017
Shostakovich cover

There is nothing wrong with this account of Shostakovich’s First Symphony it if you count all the notes and admire the sound. It takes no risks at all, and is only partially redeemed by the inclusion of rare juvenalia.

Book Review: Paradise Lost

May 23rd, 2017
paradise lost

The newest biography of the Jazz Age bard tries to get at the man beneath the high-flying legends.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Kathleen Ferrier remembered

May 19th, 2017
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Listening to these Kathleen Ferrier tracks, newly retrieved from BBC broadcasts and never released before, one is struck over again by the great contralto’s overriding characteristic – her natural, unfettered generosity.

Book Review: Ernest Hemingway

May 19th, 2017
hemingway

The epic and tortured life of Ernest Hemingway is told with remarkable insight in a powerful new biography

Book Review: The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy

May 19th, 2017
jfk afterlife

An intriguing new book charts the long, complicated, and surprisingly vital JFK memory-industry.

Book Review: Be Like the Fox

May 18th, 2017
be like the fox

A vivid new biography attempts to get at the true nature of the perennially-misunderstood Machiavelli

Book Review: Jane Austen, The Secret Radical

May 17th, 2017
jane

A hugely readable new book examines the progressive social thinker behind the most beloved novels of English literature.

Book Review: Sting Like a Bee

May 16th, 2017
sting like a bee

The greatest boxer of all time was once involved in a years-long battle … with the US government. A hugely readable new book tells the story.

Book Review: He’s Got Rhythm

May 15th, 2017
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The legendary hoofer and showman Gene Kelly gets a big, winning new biography

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Impromptu

May 12th, 2017
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Shai Wosner has released a fine recording of impromptus by various composers. But when you’re done listening, where do you put it?

Book Review: How the Zebra Got Its Stripes

May 9th, 2017
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Popular YouTube sensation Léo Grasset imports his brand of easygoing biology lessons to the pages of a slim book.

Normal Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mahler’s Third Symphony

May 5th, 2017
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There is no wholly recommendable performance on record of Mahler’s third symphony. This performance, by Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, is uneven but worthwhile nonetheless.

Book Review: Salt Houses

May 4th, 2017
salthouses

A Palestinian family is driven from one place of exile to another in this memorable debut novel.

Book Review: The End of Eddy

May 2nd, 2017
the end of eddy

The English-language translation of a French novella about the everyday trials and setbacks of growing up gay

Book Review: The Dinner Party and Other Stories

May 1st, 2017
jf

The latest volume from Joshua Ferris collects eleven of his punchy and evocative short stories.

The 71st Annual Edgar Awards

April 30th, 2017
mwaEdgar

Open Letters’ mystery maven Irma Heldman recaps the action-packed events from the Mystery Writers of America’s 71st annual Edgar Award

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lokshin’s Clarinet quintet

April 28th, 2017
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A composer uncompromising in his reckless independence, Alexander Lokshin is not always approachable. Consider this release an icebreaker.

Book Review: Dogs of War

April 25th, 2017
dogs of war

Killer robot dogs playing fetch with weapons of mass destruction! Killer ‘smart’ machines the size of a grain of sand! And every last little thing weaponized! It’s the latest Joe Ledger novel.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Davidsbündlertänze

April 21st, 2017
schumann

Do not be put off either by the coupling of Schumann with a record newbie whose name you may not recognize. Schumann requires intense contemplation before an artist can make more than pretty gallery pictures of his pieces, and Luca Burrato is up to the challenge.

Book Review: Hamlet Globe to Globe

April 21st, 2017
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A terrific new book tells the story of what happens when a hardy company takes the world’s most famous play to every country on Earth.

Book Review: What Algorithms Want

April 20th, 2017
what algorithms want

A cogent, sobering new book looks at the computer conversations that increasingly shape every aspect of our lives.

Book Review: The Malmedy Massacre

April 19th, 2017
malmedy

One of the most shocking incidents of the Battle of the Bulge was the slaughter of a group of US prisoners by the SS at Malmedy. A gripping new book tells the story of the massacre and its tangled aftermath

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Szymanowski

April 14th, 2017
szy

I generally receive the springtime festival releases with the same excitement as I’d feel about a Placido Domingo Christmas record. What comes round, comes round. This one, however, is pure class

Book Review: Humanism and the Latin Classics

April 13th, 2017
aldine-press-printers-mark

The latest addition to the I Tatti Renaissance Library gives readers the letters and prefaces of one of the greatest publishers of his day – Aldus Manutius.

Book Review: Birds of Prey

April 13th, 2017
birds of prey

The savage, beautiful carnivore-birds who fly and hunt by day are the subject of an enthusiastic new book

Book Review: The Quarry Fox

April 12th, 2017
coyotes-howling-1

A charming new book takes readers into the fascinating world of Catskills “critters,” trees, trails, and even rocks.

Book Review: The Complete Old English Poems

April 12th, 2017
Book Review: The Complete Old English Poems

A hefty new volume brings together all the poetry of the Old English world, wrought into modern verse.

Book Review: Becoming Leonardo

April 10th, 2017
becoming leonardo

An unconventional and compulsively readable new biography tries to get at the heart of the quintessential Renaissance Man.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Rachmaninov concertos

April 7th, 2017
Rach

It’s raining Rachmaninov concertos and I’m not sure the roof can take any more. This is the third new release in two weeks. Is it any good?

Book Review: Protestants

April 4th, 2017
protestants

A invigorating new history looks at the tumultuous 500-year history of Protestantism

Book Review: The Imagineers of War

April 3rd, 2017
Book Review: The Imagineers of War

Famed in pop culture, the unconventional geniuses of DARPA were tasked with developing the technology of the future, today. A big new book delves into the history of the Pentagon’s think-tank.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Verdi’s Requiem

March 31st, 2017
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The London Symphony Orchestra has released a marvelous, exhilarating liver performance of Verdi’s Requiem, one only slightly let down by its recording methods.

Book Review: Martin Luther, Renegade and Prophet

March 30th, 2017
Book Review: Martin Luther, Renegade and Prophet

A smart and rewarding new biography seeks to portray the very human man underneath the multilayered legend of Martin Luther.

Book Review: Fallen Glory

March 29th, 2017
fallenglory

A lavishly-produced new book details humanity’s long love-hate relationship with some of its most famous and iconic buildings.

Book Review: A History of Ancient Egypt from the Great Pyramid to the Fall of the Middle Kingdom

March 27th, 2017
pharaohmfa

The author’s multi-volume history of Ancient Egypt now reaches the high points of that culture’s power and refinement.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bach Trios

March 24th, 2017
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It’s hard to evaluate an album of Bach for trio, including Yo-Yo Ma, that is so expertly played yet so flagrantly inoffensive.

Book Review: Carnivore Minds

March 24th, 2017
carnivore minds

Sharks, bears, rattlesnakes … these and other infamous apex carnivores long considered mindless killing machines are given a fresh and nuanced re-examination in G. A. Bradshaw’s new book.

Book Review: The New Neotropical Companion

March 22nd, 2017
white-nosed coati

A classic nature guide gets an elaborate, beautiful update.

Bob Silvers

March 20th, 2017
bobs

Bob Silvers

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Das Lied von der Erde

March 17th, 2017
mahler

A new recording of Mahler’s vocal masterpiece is made with the best of intentions but has imperfect results.

Book Review: Swimmer Among the Stars

March 16th, 2017
kanisktharoor

Islands of bright, fable-spinning whimsy dot the debut collection of Kanishk Tharoor

Book Review: The Weight of This World

March 15th, 2017
david joy

The sudden death of their drug dealer sends two backwoods friends into a spiral of greed and violence in the new novel from David Joy.

Book Review: Spaceman of Bohemia

March 14th, 2017
jaroslave kalfar

A lone Czech astronaut on a deep-space mission confronts his past and his fears in this taut, memorable debut novel

Book Review: In This Grave Hour

March 13th, 2017
in this grave

Even the declaration of war with Germany doesn’t stop mysteries from arriving at the doorstep of the indefatigable Maisie Dobbs.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Hanns Eisler

March 10th, 2017
eisler

A beautifully played album illuminates the expressive film scores of the unjustly overlooked Hanns Eisler.

Book Review: Sex and the Constitution

March 9th, 2017
sex and the consitution

A richly rewarding new book narrates the long and complicated history of the American quest for – and fight against – life, liberty, and the pursuit of sex.

Book Review: A Rabble of Dead Money

March 7th, 2017
rabble of dead money

Long before the Great Recession shook the modern world to its financial foundations, there was the Great Depression, the subject of a gripping new history.

Book Review: Cnut the Great

March 6th, 2017
Book Review: Cnut the Great

A taut, gripping new biography presents the life of the great warlord-monarch King Cnut

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Nadia Boulanger

March 3rd, 2017
Unknown

Nadia Boulanger deferred to the music of her short-lived sister Lily and barely spoke of herself as a composer. Two releases, newly landed, may help to adjust that misperception.

Book Review: Clement Attlee

March 3rd, 2017
citizen clem

A boisterous new biography re-examines the life and legacy of the enigmatic British Prime Minister and Labor leader Clement Attlee

Book Review: The Gulf

March 2nd, 2017
the gulf

The whole sweep of the Gulf of Mexico’s nature and history is the subject of a fascinating and passionate new book.

Book Review: Gunmetal Gray

March 1st, 2017
gunmetalgray

In the latest “Gray Man” novel, Mark Greaney’s tough-as-nails title character is on the hunt in Southeast Asia for a vanished Chinese super-hacker.

Book Review: Stalin and the Scientists

February 27th, 2017
staline and

The Soviet Union billed itself as a scientific utopia, and yet, as a tremendously readable new history illustrates, the awkward of marriage of state and science gave rise to a parade of absurdities.

Normal Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Tishchenko’s 8th

February 24th, 2017
Tishchenko

Try as I might, I can’t stop listening to these late works of a Russian composer who was close to Shostakovich but never tried, as others did, to imitate him.

Book Review: The Inkblots

February 23rd, 2017
the inkblots

You’ve all seen the famous Rorschach inkblots; a fantastic new book tells the story not only of the inkblots but also of the odd, fascinating man behind them.

Book Review: Homo Deus

February 20th, 2017
homo deus

The author of the popular-science hit Sapiens returns with a book that looks not to humanity’s distant past but rather to its immediate future.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Hungarian Treasures

February 17th, 2017
notos

The unique selling point of this release is what appears to be the first recording of Bartok’s piano quartet in C minor. Unfortunately, it’s not very good.

Book Review: The President Will See You Now

February 15th, 2017
the president will see you now

A warm, engaging memoir takes readers inside the post-presidency years of Ronald Reagan

Book Review: Presidents’ Secrets

February 14th, 2017
presidents secrets cover

A concise, hard-hitting new book outlines the long history of secrecy at the heart of US government

Book Review: Plotting to Kill the President

February 13th, 2017
plotting to kill the president

A new history by the author of Hunting the President uncovers the long history of US presidential assassination attempts

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Kapralova piano music

February 10th, 2017
kapralova

Vitezslava Kapralova was a pioneering conductor as well as a developing composer, but she died when she was only 25 years old. A disc of her piano music suggests just how much was lost when she passed away.

Book Review: Powers of Darkness

February 9th, 2017
powers of darkness

As a revelatory new version shows, the original Icelandic translation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula took more than a few liberties with the text …

Book Review: The House of Truth

February 6th, 2017
the house of truth

A wide-ranging and deeply-researched new book chronicles the history of an influential Washington political salon

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Renée Fleming’s Distant Light

February 3rd, 2017
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Renée Fleming’s Distant Light

Renée Fleming is ending her stage career. Let’s hope this album, which plays to all her weaknesses, isn’t the end of her recording career.

Book Review: Hardwick Hall

February 2nd, 2017
hhall stairs

The great old fortress of good taste, Hardwick Hall, is the focus of a beautiful new anthology of essays on the place’s storied art and architecture

Book Review: William the Conqueror

February 1st, 2017
william the conqueror

The latest volume in the Yale English Monarchs series is a hefty new biography of the man who started the whole series in the first place: William the Conqueror

Book Review: Montaigne

January 30th, 2017
k10834

An English-language translation of a monumental biography of the founder of modern essay form urges readers to remember the man, not the legend.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bernstein Symphonies

January 27th, 2017
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Leonard Bernstein’s symphonies have long been neglected in favor of his popular work, but Marin Alsop breathes new life into them by surpassing the composer himself.

Book Review: Secrets of Churchill’s War Rooms

January 25th, 2017
war room

Down below the sidewalks of London, a warren of secret rooms housed the war effort while bombs were falling on the city; a lavish new book tours the war rooms.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Weinberg Chamber Symphonies

January 20th, 2017
weinberg

Formerly unknown, Mieczylaw Weinberg stature as a composer is growing–deservedly so, as these chamber symphonies attest.

Book Review: Three Days in January

January 19th, 2017
three days in january

As a new book about Eisenhower and Kennedy makes clear, transitions of presidential power, especially between rival parties, have always been testy.

Book Review: The House of the Dead

January 18th, 2017
the house of the dead

Long before the Soviet gulag, Russian dissidents, criminals, and political exiles were sent to the vast frozen wasteland of Siberia. A grim new book tells their stories.

Book Review: The Egyptians

January 16th, 2017
Book Review: The Egyptians

The Egyptian Revolution and its cataclysmic aftermath forms the subject of a riveting new book by a journalist and keen-eyed witness.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich concertos

January 13th, 2017
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Despite how they’re often played, Shostakovich’s piano concertos weren’t intended for virtuoso performers. Boris Giltburg tries an originalist approach.

Book Review: Falling Ill

January 13th, 2017
williams

From the late and much-honored poet CK Williams, one final work

Book Review: Making Faces

January 12th, 2017
making faces

The quintessential human feature – the large, expressive face – gets a thorough and fascinating scientific examination.

Book Review: The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner

January 10th, 2017
ring

The famed writer of “You Know Me Al” was also a life-long prolific deadline writer. An invaluable new book collects the journalism of Ring Lardner.

Book Review: John Singer Sargent – Figures and Landscapes

January 9th, 2017
mckellar

The magnificent catalogue from Yale University Press of the paintings and drawing of John Singer Sargent comes to its conclusion with volume IX

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Guglielmo Ratcliff

January 6th, 2017
CD152

The release of a long-forgotten opera proves, finally, that Pietro Mascagni was not a one hit wonder.

Graphic Novel Review: Son of Superman

January 4th, 2017
supermanmoon

In the first story-arc in the newest era of the ultimate comic-book hero, a deadly enemy threatens the young son of Superman

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Pictures of America

December 31st, 2016
sony88985342842

What would Natalie Dessay find in a collection of American songs that others have not found before?

Book Review: True Faith and Allegiance

December 29th, 2016
mark greaney

A Canadian businessman is more than he seems in the latest big addition to the Tom Clancy fictional universe

Book Review: If Our Bodies Could Talk

December 22nd, 2016
if our bodies could talk

A handy new books ranges over the whole breadth of human aches and pains and losses and gains – and provides the science behind it all.

Book Review: Tracking Gobi Grizzlies

December 21st, 2016
tracking gobi grizzlies

The world’s most endangered population of grizzly bears is the subject of a powerful, haunting new book

Book Review: I Contain Multitudes

December 21st, 2016
Book Review: I Contain Multitudes

If who we are includes the multitudes of microscopic organisms that we house and feed, which in turn help regulate our immunity and sculpt our destinies, then what constitutes the individual?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bach complete keyboard works

December 16th, 2016
190295912406

Amid the seasonal rock fall of weird-shaped box sets and unopenable recorded turkeys, one project stands out as indispensable in both musical and moral dimensions.

Book Review: The Pursuit of Power

December 14th, 2016
the pursuit of power

A master historian analyzes the tumultuous century that gave rise to the modern era

Shirley Hazzard

December 13th, 2016
shirley hazzard

Shirley Hazzard

Book Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

December 12th, 2016
Book Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Poor Simon Lewis has been a human, and he’s been a vampire – and now he’s a student at the forbidding Shadowhunter Academy, in the latest chapter of Cassandra Clare’s ongoing YA fantasy series

Norman Lebrecht’s Alternative Record of the Year

December 9th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Alternative Record of the Year

Most critics pick their album of the year from the ones they reviewed over the past 52 weeks. I’ve decided to choose from the ones I haven’t, the ones that for one reason or other failed to make the weekly cut

Book Review: The Good Occupation

December 8th, 2016
good-occupation

For the thousands of US and Allied troops who were ordered to remain behind and help rebuilt countries the Allies had just defeated, their war was extended and altered. A new book dissects the on-the-ground realities attending the aftermath of conquest.

Book Review: The Man with the Poison Gun

December 5th, 2016
the-man-with-the-poison-gun

The gripping true story of celebrated KGB assassin – and defector.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Henselt piano works

December 2nd, 2016
henselt

Adolph von Henselt was a follower of fashion, not a leader of trends, but as Daniel Grimwoods latest release shows, he is nonetheless very much worth a listen.

Book Review: Rasputin

December 1st, 2016
rasputin-cover

The mesmerizing lunatic who grafted himself onto the Romanov dynasty in its final decades gets a highly detailed new biography.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Encores after Beethoven

November 30th, 2016
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If you thought of encores as sweetmeats, Andras Schiff’s album of encores given during a Beethoven cycle will redefine the genre.

Book Review: Brothers at Arms

November 29th, 2016
brothers-at-arms-cover

An invigorating new history looks at the American Revolution from a wide-angle international view

Book Review: Crane Pond

November 25th, 2016
crane-pond

A smart and gripping new novel brings the Salem Witch mania to life.

Book Review: The First Victory

November 24th, 2016
the-first-victory

The tough and bitter East Africa campaign of 1941 receives a comprehensive new history.

William Trevor

November 21st, 2016
wtrevor

William Trevor

Book Review: The Vanquished

November 21st, 2016
vanquished

A thought-provoking new history shines a spotlight on the long and brutal aftermath of the First World War

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Elgar and Martinu cello concertos

November 18th, 2016
gabetta

Sol Gabetta authors a splendidly distinctive interpretation of Elgar’s famous cello concerto, and pairs it with an underappreciated work in the genre by Martinu.

Book Review: Fifty English Steeples

November 15th, 2016
steep

That familiar glory of medieval English architecture -the church spire – is the subject of a stunning new book.

Book Review: Egyptomania

November 14th, 2016
egyptomania-cover

A new book chronicles the world’s enduring fascination with Ancient Egypt

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich plays Shostakovich

November 11th, 2016
visu_shosta_by_shosta_250365_ml

The people Shostakovich played with were the elite of Russian music. A treasure trove of archive finds reveals the music they made together.

Book Review: Scarlet Experiment

November 7th, 2016
bird-glass-feature

Can birds – any species of bird, anywhere in the United States – survive their contact with humanity? A new book looks at the science and the sobering numbers.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the week – vocal works by Schoenberg & Shostakovich

November 4th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the week – vocal works by Schoenberg & Shostakovich

Two composers in despair composed these works for voice and piano, which contain some of the darkest moments known to music. How do they sound with a full orchestra?

Book Review: Herbert Hoover

November 4th, 2016
herbert-hoover

Depression-era US President Herbert Hoover has always been easy to malign – a new biography argues that he’s just as easy to underestimate

Book Review: Charlemagne

October 31st, 2016
charlemagne

The larger-than-life medieval Frankish king Charlemagne is the subject of a definitive single-volume biography now translated into English

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Kurtág string quartets

October 28th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Kurtág string quartets

Away from the imprisonment of a concert hall, György Kurtág’s string quartets create an ambience akin to Gregorian chant: it’s the perfect chillout music.

Book Review: Turner

October 24th, 2016
trunercover

A sumptuous new biography of the man behind the Turner legend

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Tchaikovsky

October 21st, 2016
028948306565

The benchmarks for Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony are mono in both uses of the term, aural and chromatic. How does a modern release hold up?

Book Review: Black Elk

October 19th, 2016
9780374253301

The Sioux medicine man and centerpiece of “Black Elk Speaks” is the subject of a comprehensive new biography

Book Review: Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion

October 18th, 2016
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A big new biography attempts to get at the flesh-and-blood man behind the problematic theory of Marxism

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: French Suites

October 14th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: French Suites

After playing all his life for Columbia Masterworks, Murray Perahia has released his first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, a luminous recording of Bach’s French Suites.

Book Review: Something in the Blood

October 12th, 2016
something

A big, generous new biography of the man who created Dracula

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder

October 7th, 2016
4796565

It is so rare to hear the Gurre Lieder live that most of us are acquainted with it only on record. A new concert recording of this liminal composition aims to join the pantheon.

Book Review: Britain’s War, 1937-1941: Into Battle

October 7th, 2016
britains-war

A lively new history of the years England fought alone against the might of Nazi Germany

Book Review: Vanity Fair’s Writers on Writers

October 4th, 2016
vf-wrtiers

The editors of Vanity Fair magazine delve into their century of writing to serve up dozens of their best writers writing about other writers.

Book Review: Northmen

October 3rd, 2016
norhtmen

A gripping new history tells the broader story of the Viking Era

Book Review: Eyes on the Street

October 1st, 2016
vital-little-plans

A lively new biography tells the story of iconic urban visionary and outspoken cultural critic Jane Jacobs.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Pretty Yende

September 30th, 2016
a10301a0003520186w

It is now seven years since the South African soprano Pretty Yende burst on our ears as winner of the 2009 Hans Gabor competition in Vienna. That omission has now, finally, been repaired.

Book Review: Tamil

September 27th, 2016
tamilcover

A dense yet lyrical new book tells the long, intricate life story of the Tamil language and Tamil literature

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lang Lang: New York Rhapsody

September 23rd, 2016
cover170x170

A bizarre “crossover” album combines pop songs, fragments of Andrew Copland, Gershwin, and a dual performance by Lang Lang and Herbie Hancock. So how New York is this album?

Book Review: The Playful Little Dog

September 22nd, 2016
the-playful-little-dog

Penguin Random House continues its re-issue series of classic little children’s books.

Book Review: Lusitania – The Cultural History of a Catastrophe

September 22nd, 2016
lusitania-cover

Just over a century ago, the luxury liner Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat with great loss of life, a disaster that, as a new book explains, re-shaped the world.

Book Review: Looking For Betty MacDonald

September 19th, 2016
looking-for-b-macdonald

The beloved author of “The Egg and I” receives her first full-length biography

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Prokofiev Violin Concertos

September 16th, 2016
bis-2142

Prokofiev’s violin concertos, one anarchic, one written under duress to please Stalin, anchor an intriguing new release from Vadim Gluzman and Neeme Järvi.

Book Review: Cocteau – A Life

September 15th, 2016
cocteau-cover

The multi-faceted artist and director Jean Cocteau is the subject of a mammoth biography, newly translated into English

Book Review: Selling Hitler

September 15th, 2016
selling-hitler

A brilliant new study anatomizes the mechanisms of Nazi propaganda

Book Review: Deepwater Horizon

September 13th, 2016
deepwater-horizon

The explosion, fire, sinking, and oil spill of the Deepwater Horizon back in 2010 gets a definitive scholarly analysis.

Book Review: If Venice Dies

September 12th, 2016
if-venice-dies

The tourist magnet of Venice faces an uncertain future on many fronts – but Salvatore Settis has many possible solutions in mind …

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

September 9th, 2016
8-660398

Michael Nyman’s rare and underappreciated chamber opera, based on a book by Oliver Sacks, finally gets a rare new recording.

Book Review: Where Song Began

September 8th, 2016
where-song-began

The overflowing diversity of Australian bird life is the subject of Tim Low’s captivating new book

Book Review: Why Birds Matter

September 8th, 2016
why-birds-matter

Who can measure the worth of a nightingale’s song? Why scientists can, you silly thing!

Book Review: Red Right Hand

September 5th, 2016
red right hand

A young woman’s life is turned upside-down when she encounters a strange man with a molten red hand.

Book Review: Red Right Hand

September 5th, 2016
nexus strikes

The hitman who kills hitmen is contracted by a semi-rogue FBI agent to take on a particularly delicate – and dangerous – side-mission

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Ustvolskaya, Silverstrov, Kancheli

September 2nd, 2016
GP678

The late Soviet system created damaging monopolies in the arts as much as they did in state industry. The three lesser-known composers in this intriguing album each tackled the hegemony from a different aspect.

Book Review: ADHD Nation

August 31st, 2016
adhd nation

A hard-hitting new book exposes the widespread misdiagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Book Review: August 1914

August 29th, 2016
august 1914

Before the famous epic battles of the First World War, there were lesser-known but equally ferocious clashes that are often lost in the larger narrative. A short, powerful book seeks to redress that imbalance.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Elgar Remastered

August 26th, 2016
Elgar

The last decade and a half of Elgar’s musical life was focused on leaving a legacy in the form of composer-approved recordings. A remastered 4-CD set collects the brilliant results.

Book Review: The World of Poldark

August 25th, 2016
Book Review: The World of Poldark

The companion book to the 2015 production of “Poldark” turns out to be more than just a pretty face

Book Review: Angelinetum and Other Poems

August 24th, 2016
marrasio

Doctor and poet Giovanni Marrasio’s verses receive an expert new edition from the Harvard’s I Tatti Library series

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Martinu’s Ariane

August 19th, 2016
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I am beginning to wonder if posterity will ever place Bohuslav Martinu where he justly belongs, as one who’s sound world is at once distinctive and entirely approachable, the mark of a great composer.

Book Review: America’s Snake

August 19th, 2016
cuddly

Snake expert Ted Levin argues in his captivating new book that the American rattlesnake is as misunderstood as it is miraculous.

Book Review: The Accidental Life

August 15th, 2016
accidental life

Veteran editor Terry McDonell writes a ribald memoir that’s half storytelling and half tips of the trade

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Schubert Leider

August 12th, 2016
DCD34170

It’s always a good sign when a pianist is named as the editorial force behind a lieder recital, giving the enterprise both objective distance and intellectual rigour, as it does in these Schubert leider.

Book Review: The Fifty-Year Mission

August 11th, 2016
star trek lives

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Star Trek gets a definitive oral history.

Book Review: Marked for Death

August 10th, 2016
marked for death

A gritty and gripping new history tells the story of the dawn of aerial warfare.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

August 9th, 2016
vasily stepanov

A crippled young man in a forgotten hospital has armored himself against the rotten hand he’s drawn in life – until he falls in love with a new patient.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bruno Walter chamber music

August 5th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bruno Walter chamber music

Like many other conductors, Bruno Walter tried his hand at composing. He was a famously reserved person, but does his music give anything away?

Book Review: Ghost Talkers

August 4th, 2016
ghosttalkers

The heroine of Mary Robinette Kowal’s enchanting new novel is doing her part for the WWI war effort – by debriefing the spirits of soldiers killed on the battlefield

Book Review: The Nix

August 4th, 2016
the nix

The life of the main character in Nathan Hill’s stunning debut novel is turned upside-down when the madwoman on the nightly news turns out to be his mother.

Book Review: Dawn of the Dog

August 4th, 2016
dawn of the dog

A new book takes a revisionist look at the evolutionary history of the dog.

Book Review: The Story of Egypt

August 3rd, 2016
Book Review: The Story of Egypt

A new book tells the history of ancient Egypt, from the mists of pre-history to the familiar tale of Cleopatra

Book Review: The Year’s Best Science Fiction

August 1st, 2016
year’s best sf 16

The latest entry in the epic “Year’s Best Science Fiction” series by editor Gardner Dozois features everything from Venusian monsters to telepathic food – with stops along the way for planetary warfare, quantum piracy, and the end of the world as we know it.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Sibelius Symphonies

July 30th, 2016
sibelius367

The Minnesota Orchestra’s partnership with the Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä is a treasure of our times, especially when they play music of the frozen north.

Book Review: The Castle of Kings

July 28th, 2016
the castle of kings

A strong-willed young woman and a visionary young man navigate a 16th-century Germany in chaos in order to find their destiny

Book Review: Pound for Pound

July 27th, 2016
sticker

An emotionally and physically damaged young woman finds healing by helping some of the most unlucky dogs on Earth in Shannon Kopp’s touching new book

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – F.X. Mozart & Clementi piano concertos

July 22nd, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – F.X. Mozart & Clementi piano concertos

They’re not great (in fact they’re often mild and unoriginal), but the concertos of Muzio Clementi and Mozart’s son, Frances Xaver, are nonetheless worth your time.

Book Review: Frederick Barbarossa

July 20th, 2016
frederick barbarossa

The legendary life of the great Frederick Barbarossa is grounded in facts and records in a deeply impressive new biography

Book Review: Franz Liszt

July 18th, 2016
l

A new single-volume biography captures the oversized life of legendary composer and pianist Franz Liszt

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Polish Violin Concertos

July 16th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Polish Violin Concertos

There used to be a truth, universally acknowledged across the record industry, that you could put out unfamiliar music with a famous artist or popular music with an unheralded performer but never attempt what Donald Rumsfeld might have called the unknown unknowns.

Book Review: Legible Religion

July 16th, 2016
l religion

How do you manage to have religion without scripture? As a fascinating new book demonstrates, inn this as in so many other seemingly impossible paradoxes, the ancient Romans found a way.

Book Review: Hitler’s Compromises

July 11th, 2016
hitler’s compromises

A brilliant new book explores the alternatives to brute force the Nazi regime often employed to get its way

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Songs without Words

July 8th, 2016
sww

They may grate in other instances, but period instruments are well suited to Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words, as this new recording demonstrates.

Book Review: Hitler’s Soldiers

July 6th, 2016
hitler’s soldiers

A big new history of the German Army during World War II takes a complex and multifaceted look at the men who fought for the Reich

Book Review: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

July 5th, 2016
perry1

A new dual biography of poet and translator accompanies a new illustrated edition of the famous Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Glazunov and Khachaturian violin concertos

July 1st, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Glazunov and Khachaturian violin concertos

Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto towers over all other Russian efforts in the genre, but these two by Glazunov and Khachaturian deserve a wider audience.

Book Review: Russia’s Path Toward Enlightenment

July 1st, 2016
russia’s path

Long before Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, Russian thinkers and writers were haltingly, passionately fashioning their own peculiar brand of Enlightment

Book Review: Melville in Love

June 27th, 2016
melville in love

Did an unconventional Berkshires beauty provide the inspiration for Herman Melville to write his great masterpiece? A new book thinks it would be lovely to think so.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lucas Debargue

June 24th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lucas Debargue

In an era replete with talented young competition winners, Lucas Debargue, who placed fourth in the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition, stands out.

Book Review: Louis XVI

June 23rd, 2016
louisxvi

The glittering Bourbon king who lost his head to the Revolution gets a sumptuous newly-expanded biography

Book Review: Toward Democracy

June 22nd, 2016
toward dem

The long and constantly-unfinished process of democracy is given a sprawling examination in James Kloppenberg’s new book.

Book Review: The Cavendon Luck

June 19th, 2016
thecavendon luck

The Second World War closes in on the two families bravely struggling to keep Cavendon Hall alive.

Book Review: Commander in Chief

June 18th, 2016
commander in chief

In 1943, American President Franklin Roosevelt faced the strong-willed rivalry of his own nominal ally, Winston Churchill

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich chamber music

June 17th, 2016
4789382

These three Shostakovich chamber works span the composer’s whole career, and together they constitute a musical self-portrait with few equals.

Book Review: MacArthur at War

June 13th, 2016
macarthur at war

The mercurial, often infuriating Pacific Theater commander Douglas MacArthur is the subject of Walter Borneman’s terrific new book

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – All you need is Bach

June 10th, 2016
index

Cameron Carpenter is virtuosic, effervescent, totally in command of his pipes and sometimes quirky enough to make you rethink the piece from core principles. But does that approach work in Bach?

Book Review: The Bitter Taste of Victory

June 10th, 2016
the bitter taste of victory

Lara Feigel’s new book delves into the landscape of the apocalypse: Germany in the immediate wake of Allied victory.

Book Review: In Gratitude

June 7th, 2016
in gratitude

Novelist and essayist Jenny Diski faithfully chronicled her own dying from cancer. A new book collects her last and greatest literary work.

Book Review: Anatomy of Malice

June 5th, 2016
anatomy of malice

A gripping new book looks at a quartet of the worst Nazi war criminals to stand trial.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – piano pieces by Feldman and Crumb

June 3rd, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – piano pieces by Feldman and Crumb

Steven Osborne takes on unexpected repertoire: the ascetic Morton Feldman and the extreme George Crumb.

Book Review: The Gene

June 3rd, 2016
the gene

A generous new book describes the history – and the momentous potential – of genetic research

Book Review: The Summer Dragon

June 1st, 2016
the summer dragon

In fantasy illustrator Todd Lockwood’s debut novel, a young woman from a family of dragon-breeders faces an ancient evil

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Anonymous Concertos

May 27th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Anonymous Concertos

These six early-classical concertos are close to the best music of their time and yet the composers of these six concertos are unknown.

Book Review: Bach’s Major Vocal Works

May 27th, 2016
bach’s major vocal works

Some of Johann Sebastian Bach’s most glorious music is also some of the most intimidating to modern audiences; a new book introduces readers to the masses and oratorios of the master.

Book Review: The Risen

May 26th, 2016
the risen

The familiar story of the Spartacus rebellion gets a lavish new telling

Book Review: The Next Pandemic

May 25th, 2016
the next pandemic

A lively account of life on the front lines in the fight against the world’s worst diseases.

In Paperback: Manhattan Night

May 24th, 2016
manhattan nocturne

A terrific ten-year-old noir novel is given a new paperback edition on the occasion of its translation to the Hollywood screen.

Book Review: Otto Binder

May 23rd, 2016
otto binder

He helped to create some of the staple characters of the comic book world, and yet he’s unknown outside the industry. A spirited biography tells the story of Otto Binder.

Book Review: The Loney

May 22nd, 2016
loney

A violent, desolate stretch of the English coastline forms the setting for Andrew Michael Hurley’s much-heralded debut novel

An Interview with Whit Stillman

May 21st, 2016
l_f

Locke Peterseim talks with Whit Stillman, director of the critically acclaimed new Jane Austen movie “Love & Friendship”

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Vaughan Williams Symphonies

May 20th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Vaughan Williams Symphonies

Vaughn Williams’ symphonies are too little played, and too rarely played well. The first disc of an exciting new cycle aims to change that.

Book Review: The Summer Guest

May 18th, 2016
the summer guest

A young woman’s diary of her friendship with Anton Chekhov raises the tantalizing possibility of a long-lost work by the master.

Book Review: Ice Station Nautilus

May 17th, 2016
ice station nautilus

Rick Campbell’s new novel features a fight to the death deep under the Arctic ice

Absent Friends: Darwyn Cooke

May 17th, 2016
newfront2

Editor Zach Rabiroff revisits the great masterpiece of the late Darwyn Cooke

Book Review: The Fireman

May 15th, 2016
the fireman

In Joe Hill’s new novel, a plague of spontaneous combustion is sweeping the world …

Darwyn Cooke

May 14th, 2016
cookesuperman

Darwyn Cooke

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Haydn: Violin Concertos

May 13th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Haydn: Violin Concertos

A new release of an old recording prompts the question: Why are orchestra chiefs still afraid of Joseph Haydn?

Book Review: Saladin

May 13th, 2016
saladin

A lean and fast-paced new biography tells the story of the legendary sultan who took Jerusalem from the Crusaders

Book Review: The Genius of Birds

May 12th, 2016
the genius of birds

A stirring, eloquent new book makes a wide-ranging case for the brainpower of birds

Book Review: The Faith of Christopher Hitchens

May 11th, 2016
RNS-HITCHENS-QANDA a

A provocative new book sets out to study the faith of one of the country’s most famous atheists

Book Review: The End of Karma

May 8th, 2016
the end of karma

A clear-eyed look at the disaffected youth of India

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Beethoven: symphonies 4 and 5

May 6th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Beethoven: symphonies 4 and 5

Just months before his death, Nikolaus Harnoncourt made his final attempt to faithfully render Beethoven’s scores into music. Norman Lebrecht assesses his valediction.

Book Review: Karl Doenitz and the Last Days of the Third Reich

May 6th, 2016
karl d

A new book looks at the little-known figure of Hitler’s chosen successor

Book Review: Prisoners of Hope

May 4th, 2016
prisoners of hope

A generation ago, President Johnson enacted a stunning array of social legislation, the full audacity of which has often been overshadowed by the other aspects of LBJ’s presidency. A new book shines a light on the Great Society.

Book Review: The First Nazi

May 3rd, 2016
first nazi cover

How much of the evil of Adolf Hitler can be traced to an infamous general of the First World War?

Discussion: Middlemarch for Book Clubs

May 2nd, 2016
lucyreadseliot

Open Letters Senior Editor Rohan Maitzen discusses her new ebook, Middlemarch for Book Clubs

The 70th Annual Edgar Awards

May 1st, 2016
The 70th Annual Edgar Awards

Crime columnist Irma Heldman attends the 2016 Edgar Awards, and reports on the winners and highlights

Book Review: Valiant Ambition

May 1st, 2016
valiant ambition

The infamous treachery of Benedict Arnold gets a vigorous and richly detailed new retelling by the bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mahler: 3rd symphony

April 29th, 2016
Mahler 3 cover 400 x 400

Mahler’s Third is a challenge of both organization and interpretation. Does Jaap van Zweeden’s new live recording deserve a place among the greats?

Book Review: Running with Rhinos

April 28th, 2016
running with rhinos

The heroic efforts to save the lives of the black rhinos of Zimbabwe are at the heart of a thrilling new book

Jenny Diski

April 28th, 2016
Jenny

Jenny Diski

Book Review: The Habsburg Empire: A New History

April 25th, 2016
the habsburg empire

A new history takes a thought-provokingly centralist look at the oft-chronicled Habsburg Empire

Book Review: Dear Princess Grace, Dear Betty

April 24th, 2016
dear princess grace

A noted feminist social critic looks back on her long friendship with the great Betty Friedan.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – DG: The Mono Era

April 22nd, 2016
4795516

The DG represented in this massive box of rarities is a label under post-War reconstruction, fascinating in its rigour and frugality.

Book Review: The President’s Book of Secrets

April 21st, 2016
president’s book of secrets

A fascinating new book presents readers with a bounty of stories surrounding the daily intelligence-services briefing given to US Presidents

Book Review: History and Presence

April 20th, 2016
history and presence

An invigorating new study of the real presence of the divine in the mundane workings of organized religion

Book Review: Waiting for the Past

April 19th, 2016
waiting for the past

The latest volume from deceptively erudite Australian poet Les Murray

Book Review: Selected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay

April 17th, 2016
selected millay

America’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay gets an elegant new Selected Poems volume

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Argerich and Barenboim

April 16th, 2016
cover170x170

Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim, born a year apart in Buenos Aires to Jewish mothers of Russian extraction, have left it until their mid-seventies to discover common ground.

Book Review: The Empire That Would Not Die

April 15th, 2016
empire that woudln’t die

Abandoned by the West and battered by the Islamic caliphate, the eastern Roman Empire shrank and withdrew but did not fall – a new history asks why

Book Review: The Fever of 1721

April 13th, 2016
the fever

When smallpox struck the city of Boston in 1721, battle lines were drawn over how to deal with it – and strange alliances formed

Book Review: Tales from the Long Twelfth Century

April 11th, 2016
tales from the long 12th

At the center of a lively, personality-driven new book about the twelfth century is the contentious family of King Henry II

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lutoslawski: Concerto for Orchestra

April 8th, 2016
ALPHA232

Unlike most composers, Lutoslawski’s star has risen since his death. A new pairing of pairing of orchestral works shows why.

Book Review: Thoreau’s Wildflowers

April 8th, 2016
moser2

A lovely new volume offers a selection of Henry David Thoreau’s heartfelt writings about flowers

Book Review: The Whole Harmonium

April 6th, 2016
Book Review: The Whole Harmonium

A sympathetic new biography of the poet Wallace Stevens

Book Review: Dante – The Story of His Life

April 3rd, 2016
dante

A thorough new biography explores the life of the great Florentine poet in detail

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Pasternak and Scriabin

April 1st, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Pasternak and Scriabin

Out of Russia’s close-knit musical world, Ludmila Berlinskaya brings us Scriabin–and works from his son and the son of a man who painted him.

Imre Kertesz

March 31st, 2016
imre

Imre Kertesz

Book Review: Eruption

March 30th, 2016
eruption

Nearly 40 years ago, Washington State’s Mount St. Helens volcano erupted, killing 57 people and spewing hundreds of tons of molten ash into the atmosphere. A gripping new book tells the story.

Book Review: Pollination Power

March 27th, 2016
pollination power

Birds, bees, mice, bats – a wide array of animals are crucial to the pollination of the plants of the world. A stunning new book shows us their world.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Beethoven, Britten, Haydn: British songs

March 26th, 2016
900131

Beethoven and Haydn scored Scottish and Welsh ballads for easy money; Britten set folk songs for tours of the front during World War II. Yet the results belie the music’s incidental origins.

Book Review: Baby Birds

March 25th, 2016
Book Review: Baby Birds

An enterprising bird-artist takes readers inside the nests of a dozen species

Book Review: Louisa

March 22nd, 2016
louisa

A smart and lively new biography of the wife of President John Quincy Adams

Book Review: John Quincy Adams – Militant Spirit

March 20th, 2016
jqa militant spirit

A smart and appealingly complex new biography of America’s contentious sixth president

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Debussy, Elgar &c: violin sonatas

March 18th, 2016
880040415923

A new album of rare quality features four works for violin and piano, all composed during World War I, all played flawlessly.

Book Review: The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe

March 18th, 2016
jwh

A new biography of Julia Ward Howe shows how much more there was to her story than the writing of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Anita Brookner

March 15th, 2016
PD*279426

Anita Brookner

Book Review: Everyday Renaissances

March 15th, 2016
everyday renaissances

An eye-opening new history sheds light on the book-lovers and book-collectors of Renaissance Venice

Book Review: Benjamin Franklin in London

March 14th, 2016
benfranklininlondon

A gripping new book chronicles the years and years iconic Founding Father Ben Franklin spent in the heart of the British Empire

Book Review: The Brazen Age

March 13th, 2016
the brazen age

A boisterous new history of New York City and America in the wake of the Second World War

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – British Clarinet Concertos Vol. 2

March 11th, 2016
CHAN 10891

Confiscated by US Customs during World War II, a reconstructed Britten concerto caps a disc of rare British music.

Book Review: High Dive

March 9th, 2016
high dive

A 1984 assassination attempt on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher forms the unlikely backdrop for Jonathan Lee’s US debut novel

Book Review: The Swimmer

March 8th, 2016
.

A preoccupation with endings characterizes the tenth collection from poet John Koethe

Book Review: The Rise of a Prairie Statesman

March 7th, 2016
rise of a prairie statesman

The first of a projected two-volume biography of Senator and Democratic Party standard-bearer George McGovern

Book Review: The Year of the Runaways

March 5th, 2016
yera of the runaways

A complex and moving novel about a trio of young men who leave their native India in search of work

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mahler

March 4th, 2016
900143

Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Mahler 1st is unlike any other – but does this young man’s Mahler miss the point? Norman Lebrecht investigates.

Book Review: The King’s Bed

March 2nd, 2016
the king’s bed

A lively new book gives readers a mistress-by-mistress recounting of the reign of Charles II

Book Review: Battle of the Atlantic

March 1st, 2016
battle atlantic

Atlantic shipping was the lifeline of Great Britain during the Second World War, and the Nazis knew it just as well as the Allies did. A thrilling new book recounts the sprawling, war-long Battle of the Atlantic

Book Review: Into the Heart of Our World

February 28th, 2016
into the heart of our world

A new book offers a fascinating look at a complex and turbulent alien world – the one beneath our feet

Book Review: The Vatican Princess

February 27th, 2016
vatican princess

A new historical novel joins the ranks of those trying to rehabilitate the reputation of poor Lucrezia Borgia

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Stephan and Magnard

February 26th, 2016
Magnard Stephan

A new album features two composers joined by tragic deaths on opposite sides of the First World War.

Book Review: The Boiling River

February 24th, 2016
the boiling river

A young explorer enters the Amazon in search of a legendary river that boils as it flows.

Book Review: Skeptic

February 20th, 2016
skeptic

Popular debater and science writer Michael Shermer’s latest book collects some of the columns he’s written for Scientific American

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Ivry Gitlis

February 19th, 2016
SWR19005CD

Ivry Gitlis lives on – and he’s a legend. Norman Lebrecht reviews the violinist’s newest.

Book Review: The Lightkeepers

February 18th, 2016
lightkeepers

Many kinds of violence haunt a remote California island chain when a nature photographer takes a one-year assignment there

Book Review: Strange Gods

February 17th, 2016
strange gods

Throughout human history, people have found reasons to change their religions – Susan Jacoby’s brilliant new book examines the phenomenon of adopting strange gods

Book Review: The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome

February 15th, 2016
deep sea diver’s syndrome

Popular French science-fantasy writer Serge Brussolo gets makes his debut appearance in English with a story of men and women who treasure-hunt in the dreams of other people

Book Review: The Perfect Bet

February 14th, 2016
adam kucharski

An illuminating new book takes readers inside the calculus of gambling

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Medtner/Rachmaninov

February 12th, 2016
Sudbin

“Something clicks in the opening track of this album in a way this listener seldom experiences, in concert or on record.” Yevgeny Sudbin plays Medtner and Rachmaninov. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

Book Review: Dog Run Moon

February 10th, 2016
callan wink

The debut short story collection from a Montana fly-fishing guide

Book Review: Apostle

February 8th, 2016
apostle

An author spends years traveling to the various final resting places of the Apostles – and comes back with an unsettlingly insightful new look at the early history of Christianity

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Dvorak/Janacek

February 5th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Dvorak/Janacek

“There is nothing like a Czech string quartet.” Norman Lebrecht reviews the newest from the Wihan Quartet.

Book Review: The Annotated Lincoln

February 4th, 2016
the annotated lincoln

A big, gorgeous new anthology presents a virtual life of Abraham Lincoln as seen through his writings

Book Review: Exit Right

February 3rd, 2016
exit right

A brilliant new book takes an in-depth look at six American cultural figures who took a stand on principle – and then changed their minds

Book Review: The Good Liar

February 1st, 2016
the good liar

Nicholas Searle’s debut novel stars a canny old swindler who may or may not have found has final, perfect mark

Book Review: The Ex

January 30th, 2016
the ex

A name from a hotshot defense attorney’s past comes back to haunt her when she discovers her ex is a suspect in a triple homicide

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Manhattan Intermezzo

January 28th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Manhattan Intermezzo

This week’s CD features concertos by Neil Sedaka and Duke Ellington keyboardist Keith Emerson, and the only weak point is Rhapsody in Blue. Norman Lebrecht explains.

Book Review: Lay Down Your Weary Tune

January 27th, 2016
lay down

An out-of-work musician is hired to ghost-write the memoirs of a legendary blues singer, but the legend hides some grim new realities

Book Review: Cosmosapiens

January 26th, 2016
cosmosapiens

A sweeping new overview of the sciences has big ambitions – and some odd sticking points

Book Review: The Lost Tudor Princess

January 23rd, 2016
lost tudor princess

The little-known matriarch of modern British monarchy, the headstrong niece of King Henry VIII, is the subject of an absorbing new biography

Book Review: Bull and Other Stories

January 22nd, 2016
bull and other stories

Misfits and battered believers fill the pages of Kathy Anderson’s wise and funny debut

David Hartwell

January 21st, 2016
david hartwell

David Hartwell

George Weidenfeld

January 21st, 2016
NPG P510(43); Arthur George Weidenfeld, Baron Weidenfeld by Nick Sinclair

George Weidenfeld

Book Review: Groundless

January 20th, 2016
groundless

Rumors and dark stories flew along the rutted dirt roads of colonial America, bearing tales that had virtually no basis in reality. A new book uses rumor to understand the rumormongers.

Michel Tournier

January 18th, 2016
michel tournier

Michel Tournier

Book Review: The Butcher’s Trail

January 16th, 2016
the butcher’s trail

In the wake of the strife and collapse of Slobodan Mlosevic’s Yugoslavia, a large group of war criminals had to be hunted down and delivered for trial. A riveting new book tells the story.

Book Review: Justifying Genocide

January 15th, 2016
justifying genocide

A powerful new book looks at the ideological connections between the Armenian Genocide and the Nazi death-camps that followed twenty years later