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Listen to This

– tekijä: Alex Ross

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
4731139,200 (3.79)10
This collection of essays showcases the best of Ross's writing from more than a decade at" The New Yorker." Whether his subject is Mozart or Bob Dylan, Ross shows how music expresses the full complexity of the human condition. Witty, passionate, and brimming with insight, "Listen to This" teaches us how to listen.… (lisätietoja)
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 11) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
I'm a big fan of music, which is hardly unusual, but I'm also a big fan of music criticism, which is a little less common. I've always been fascinated by how difficult it is to translate the mental impressions created by listening to music into words. It takes real talent to avoid either ascending to the impenetrable heights of formal theory analysis (tritones, parallel fifths, the Locrian mode, etc), diverting the aesthetic reactions into an emotional referendum on the songwriter or target audience (extremely common when a reviewer is discussing something from a personally disliked genre or artist), or descending to completely meaningless word salad ("I had never even seen a shooting star before."). Adam Ross manages to avoid those traps quite neatly in this excellent collection of updated essays from his day job as a music critic for The New Yorker, producing a collection of criticism that's just as enjoyable as his other major work, the magisterial The Rest Is Noise. Our shared childhood appreciation for classical music inclines me to rate this book perhaps more highly than someone more unfamiliar with the genre might, since it's dominated by classical music discussion, but since Ross has an open mind for new sounds, an educated ear, an eye for nuance, the gift of description, and most importantly, passion for the music, it should appeal to anyone who's interested in any music to a greater degree than "I just know what I like".

The essays are not neatly divided by date, style, or subject, the profiles running from historical classical composers, to contemporary composers, to conductors, to singers, to performers, to pop artists. If The Rest Is Noise had a flaw, it was that it covered classical music only in the 20th century, reaching backwards only very reluctantly. From that perspective, Ross partially remedies that deficiency by providing some insight on well-known historical titans such as Mozart, Schubert, and Brahms. Classical music fans are prone to lapses into prolixity when discussing their favorite works and Ross is no exception, as his florid closing discussion of the final movement of Brahms' 4th symphony shows, but overall he strikes just the right balance between providing technical insight into what techniques those guys used when creating their masterpieces, and discussing their emotional impact. Something that seems to come up frequently when I talk about classical music with my friends who didn't grow up listening to it is that the music can be very ambiguous - non-initiates know that SOMETHING is happening in the middle of a Beethoven work, but can't really tell what it is or put it into words since the musical vocabulary seems so different than that of contemporary music. Ross is superb not only at describing what a composer is getting at with the various diminuendos and intervals and so forth, but also at connecting those to the reactions felt by the listener.

This same facility is on display when he's discussing more modern figures like Radiohead, Björk, or Bob Dylan. From time to time a pop music critic will complain that most album reviews are entirely uninsightful and hard to distinguish from either press releases or lifestyle criticisms; this sets off predictably indignant responses, but frequently it's inarguably difficult to tell what Rolling Stone or Pitchfork' description of an album is supposed to convey to the reader. Ross is predictably a little lighter on the chords-and-staves lingo when discussing someone like Bob Dylan than with Brahms, yet he's still able to provide more insight into just why Dylan's songs stand out from so much other folk music that's seemingly very similar, or how Björk synthesizes her influences with her own creativity to come up with her music. It's an admirable display of musical ecumenicism that reinforces the unity of sentiment behind the sounds, even if the expression varies in different times and different artistic periods. That impression of worldliness is deepened further when he discusses musical gatherings like the Marlboro Retreat, or the impact of dynamic conductors like Esa-Pekka Salonen, or the vocal talents of singers like Marian Anderson or Lorraine Hunt Lieberson - every part of the music is important, and seeing how the pieces fit together can be extremely enlightening. And, while I probably won't ever get the same sense of wonder out of John Cage's experimental works that I do out of a Mahler symphony, I respect Ross for trying his best to convey something about the man's intentions. At some point, it's possible that the composer has done his job, the critic has done his, and the burden of a failure to connect with the piece ultimately lies with the listener.

At its best, music criticism can be revelatory, casting a formerly unappreciated work in a new light or turning the listener on to entirely new sounds. By those criteria Ross succeeds handily: I found myself mentally revising my opinions many times and adding more and more works to my to-listen list the further I got through the book. Best of all, much like with his previous book he has a listen-along guide on his website so it's possible to hear much of what he talks about rather than having to buy dozens of CDs (though he does provide a buyer's guide as well in an appendix). Highly recommended for classical music fans, and still recommended for those with an open musical mind. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
I can't get enough of this dude!!! Tickled to read about the author's experience seeing BLATZ at 924 Gilman. Like "The Rest is Noise": fluent, dexterous, informative, but "Listen to This" is also personal, affecting, and funny, and reading Ross as he writes outside of his comfort zone is as interesting as any of his classical writing. He is able to distill narratives and themes across all genres in a really incredible way that makes me want to listen more/play more/read more. ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
Today I finished reading Listen to This, or as much of it as I am going to. I have been reading the essays out of order. I knew it was time to quit when three page into an essay on Mozart I suddenly realized I'd already read it. These are stylish, diverting pieces--Ross is knowledgeable and an elegant writer--but they lack heft. Some of these essays began as reviews for The New Yorker and The Nation, and they retain a magazine feel, lightly skimming the glossy surface of profound subjects. One of the most engaging essays, the discussion of the sacralization of music, began life as a review of books by William Weber and Kenneth Hamilton, and naturally you'll learn much more about the origins of 20th century classical concert culture and its weird fetishes from these guys (and Larry Levine, James H. Johnson, etc.) than you will here. As an inducement to further reading, it's recommendable. ( )
  middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
Si, questo libro è davvero una gioia. Non tanto perche' unisce gli appassionati di classica e pop - come spesso si e'. Nessun serio melomane potra' prendere in considerazione l'idea di ascoltarsi i Radiohead, ne' nessun ragazzotto che si prende sul serio potra' decidersi di provare l'ebbrezza del Don Giovanni diretto da Giulini. Io, che non sono ne' (solo) melomane ne' (solo) ragazzotto, ho con grande piacere scoperto John Luther Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Lorrain Hunt Lieberson. Sono scivolato via dal saggio su Dylan e sulla musica cinese, ho letto con grande interesse tutto il resto, velocizzando sulle parti strettamente tecniche. Un libro che potrebbe spaventare per la mole, ma si legge con grande velocita'. Poi rimane il dispiacere di scoprire autori bellissimi e brani profondissimi con cosi' grande ritardo. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 11) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
The triumph of “Listen to This” is that Ross dusts off music that’s centuries old to reveal the passion and brilliance that’s too often hidden from a contemporary audience. It’s a joy for a pop fan or a classical aficionado.
 
Running through every piece is a spirit of adventure, common sense, joy and, ultimately, engagement. As when he suggests this approach to classical music: "The best kind of classical performance is not a retreat into the past but an intensification of the present."
 
There's a huge amount to admire in this collection of essays about music, but not quite enough to love. Alex Ross -- the widely honored author of "The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century" -- writes for the New Yorker, and sometimes it shows. All the pieces are marvels of research and reporting, but at least half of them feel a little solemn, over-edited and just mildly pedantic.
 

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Strick, CharlotteKannen suunnittelijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
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s/b "Listen To This" | Alex Ross
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This collection of essays showcases the best of Ross's writing from more than a decade at" The New Yorker." Whether his subject is Mozart or Bob Dylan, Ross shows how music expresses the full complexity of the human condition. Witty, passionate, and brimming with insight, "Listen to This" teaches us how to listen.

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