Book Review: Why Mahler? - How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World, by Norman Lebrecht
This has had mixed reviews on Amazon, and I also had mixed feelings about Lebrecht's novel The Song of Names which I read a few years ago, but I decided this was worth a try.
I'm pleased I did. Although I did find Lebrecht's persistent use of the present tense mildly irritating, on the whole I enjoyed the book. I found it about right in terms of how seriously it took its subject - there is a bit of frivolity here and there, but for the most part it's educational without being too austere. For the most part I could have done without the quite lengthy section on Lebrecht's views on the available discography, although I am interested to discover there is (another) version of the Tenth Symphony, completed by Rudolf Barshai, which should be worth listening to. Certainly the book gives a picture of Mahler as a more rounded human being than the icon of tragedy he is often cast as.