Friday, December 27, 2013

2103: The crème de la crème in book covers & music

"Best of 2013" lists are popping up like crocuses in spring, so I thought I'd bring you a few highlights relating to books and music. Left and below are my favorite book cover designs spotlighted by the New York Times and the bookish blogs casualoptimist and bookpage (the Donna Tartt and Eleanor Catton covers appeared on multiple lists).
This brilliant design was among creativebloq's "10 Inspiring Magazine Covers of 2013." The shoes are all ones worn by marathoners.
Last year Van Cliburn died, and the 22-year-old Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, who acknowledges him as an inspiration, looks to be one of his musical heirs. In a discussion of the "best and worst classical music of 2013" on the website of New York's WQXR, critic Anne Midgett called him “a pianist whom I find totally exciting. I hear a lot of great concerts in the course of a year but I find that Trifonov has something really special and is a really interesting artist and somebody I look forward to hearing again and again.” Here's Trifonov performing Chopin's 12 Etudes, Op. 25. (And if you haven't seen it, we are carrying Legendary Van Cliburn: The Complete Album Collection.)
The WQXR discussion also turned to the dearth of women conductors, as reflected in the following exchange.
“Classical music has proven to have a particularly thick glass ceiling. People are looking at the situation and saying, ‘It’s been years people, why do we still not have very many female conductors on the podium? And when we do, why is it such a big deal?’ There’s still that funny ambivalence about how far we should look at this as a phenomenon and how far we should pretend we’ve all been equal all along.”
Justin: The lack of women on major podiums is a sign of the difficulty that the whole establishment has in adapting at all. What happens is these institutions are very rigid and brittle and when they come up against an obstacle they know that they’re going to splinter and so they avoid the obstacles. It’s a very inflexible set of relationships…
Heidi: “The New York Philharmonic seems to be about 50 percent women these days – so why not on the podium?”
Perhaps prejudice endures because conductors can't be auditioned blind, as in orchestras? In any event, we're big fans of the Baltimore Symphony's Marin Alsop, as well as JoAnn Falletta (left).
Turning the dial over to NPR and its attendant blogs, we were pleased to see that we had chosen to feature three of its Top 10 Folk and Americana Albums of 2013: Guy Clark's My Favorite Picture of You; Jason Isbell's Southeastern; and Patty Griffin's American Kid.
I'll close with a few nice freebies. To sample the new Digital Concert Hall you can watch a full-length concert video of Sir Simon Rattle conducting Mahler's 1st and Beethoven's 4th Symphonies. And if you're not surfeited with holiday music, here's an off-the-beaten-track selection, opera star Angela Gheorghiu in a selection from her new album of Romanian Christmas carols.

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