An elegant sufficiency

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Satisfying read

I've had a couple of days to myself here and have read more than usual. As I finished The Concert Pianist, late last night, I thought what a rare book it is - intelligent, sensitive and beautifully written. In view of our recent encounters in the world of a classical pianist and subsequent discussions, I found it particularly thought provoking. A really good read and one to recommend.

However, in this review Ying Chang comments: "This is an admixture of ‘chick lit' with ‘classical music explained for the chattering classes.' In the strap lines with which Mr Williams will be familiar, this is Jilly Cooper meets Alain de Botton. It is a book trying to be three things – a philosophical excursus on the relation between Art and mortality, a psychodrama on the life-path of the artist, and a domestic love story. It only partially succeeds in any of these. "

Well, excuse me if I disagree here. Far too well written to be dismissed as "chick-lit", perhaps the plot is somewhat predictable in places. But "classical music explained for the chattering classes"? In my opinion, Conrad Williams manages to explore the psychological effects of such a demanding artform very well indeed, whilst maintaining an intelligent discussion around the musical works concerned. It would surely be unwise to assume any depth of musical knowledge when writing for a mainstream audience; Ying Chang's review patronises the reader far more than the novel he criticises.



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