Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"Dinner with Lenny" by Jonathan Cott

"Dinner with Lenny," leans toward the connoisseur and away from the classical music neophyte.

This book boils down 12 hours of conversation it's author, Jonathan Cott, had with composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein not too long before the classical music magician's death.

Here is a lion in winter, yet expansive and intellectually alert, settling old scores (pun intended), delving into decisions made, adventures in music endured, holding forth on the state of culture, politics and society, though mostly on music.

In particular, and naturally, classical music is on parade and it would help if you knew, for example, something about Gustav Mahler's work. For the connoisseur, these discussions will shed light and add layers of understanding to the composer's opus.

For the neophyte, the mention of a piece's title and a little background point in the direction of future learning with a head-start from a master.

In short, there's a lot of musical knowledge here, the kind that will enhance those who know more than those who know less.

"Dinner with Lenny" is an easy and cultured read. Its adjectives run from "ravishing" to "exquisite" and its tone is drawn from the rarefied air of society's upper echelons.

It is short (165 pages), does not ask much of the reader, but, as any conversation with the great and consecrated should do, gives back more.

No comments:

Post a Comment