After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance by ProQuest

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									306                                                                Notes, December 2008

religious content. Bertagnolli dismisses the         Readers with a specific interest in any of
“eerie critical silence on the irreligious con-   the pieces under discussion will perhaps
tent of the scenes” as a “studied avoidance       benefit most from consulting Bertagnolli’s
of the libretto’s controversies” (p. 276).        book. Likewise, readers with a general in-
This may indeed be the case, but the expla-       terest in the topic of music and myth will
nation seems a bit far-fetched. One is left       take much from Bertagnolli’s introductory
wondering if Parry’s contemporaries inter-        chapter, in which he offers an overview of
preted the work in the terms suggested by         the history of the Prometheus legend in
Bertagnolli’s analysis. If they didn’t, the im-   Western literature and music from the
plications for the work’s “radical” content       eighth century BCE through the nine-
in its own day are greatly minimized.             teenth century.
   Bertagnolli’s prose style throughout the          The entire volume ends rather flatly,
volume is inconsistent. In providing histori-     with a final chapter on concert overtures by
cal and contextual background for each of         Bargiel and Goldmark. Having been pulled
the pieces under discussion, the writing is       in so many different directions throughout
efficient and often elegant. In his extended       the volume, one feels the need for a sepa-
analyses, the language adopts a more delib-       rate, concluding chapter to offer a sum-
erate pace. This is, perhaps, a somewhat          mary assessment of connections between
unavoidable trait of such writing, but, even      the music explored in the preceding pages.
allowing for this, Bertagnolli’s prose analy-     One is left instead with the scattered pieces
ses make for labored reading. Compelled           of an intricate puzzle—chapters seem more
by an apparent desire for comprehensive-          like a series of related essays as opposed to
ness, his analyses often adopt the tone of a      a tightly integrated whole. Passing refer-
blow-by-blow account of musical events—           ences in the text suggest broader connec-
even those that are not directly related to       tions between the individual works and set
his broader interpretive goals. The efficacy       up an expectation for the end of the book
of Bertagnolli’s analyses might have been         that is not fulfilled. At times having under-
helped by including more annotated score          estimated the synthetic abilities of his
examples in the text. Lengthy musical ex-         reader, Bertagnolli ultimately leaves his au-
cerpts abound, but without any annota-            dience needing something more.
tions, one is left scurrying back to the prose                           Richard Giarusso
discussion (often several pages removed                             Peabody Conservatory of Music
from the example) to uncover the relevant
point. A number of tables and charts help
to summarize some of the analytical con-          After the Golden Age: Romantic
tent, and one wishes that Bertagnolli might       Pianism and Modern Performance. By
have had more faith in the ability of these       Kenneth Hamilton. New York: Oxford
visual aids to convey the information that is     University Press, 2008. [x, 304 p. ISBN-
more tiresomely duplicated in prose.              10:        0195178262;         ISBN-13:
   For the amount of theoretical knowledge        9780195178265. $29.95.] Music exam-
that Bertagnolli’s analyses presuppose of         ples, illustrations, bibliographic refer-
his audience, other parts of his discussion       ences, bibliography, index.
seem to give the reader remarkably little
credit—hammering home observations                   In After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism
with unnecessary repetition or offering           and Modern Performance, Kenneth Hamilton
elaborate comments that illustrate an all-        challenges the monopoly of modern per-
too-obvious point. Do we really need to be        formance practice on romantic repertory.
told
								
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