Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Absolutely on Music

Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami  325 pp.

I'm going to start this off with a warning: This is not a book for your "average" Murakami reader or even the casual lover of classical music. I would not recommend it unless you are very well versed in classical music, music conductors, and recordings of classical music. I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about classical music but the transcripts of the Murakami-Ozawa interviews frequently left me lost. I am a fan of Maestro Ozawa and have always enjoyed various television performances he conducted. He was an oddity in the music world being the only Asian conductor working in the west studying with Herbert von Karajan and later picked by Leonard Bernstein to be Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic even though he spoke little English at the time. Ozawa is one of those hard-working non-stop people who at the age of 81 is still at it even after taking a little time off for a bought of esophageal cancer. What was surprising to me is Murakami's extensive knowledge of the genre including the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in recordings of major works conducted by various of the world's greatest conductors. (The list of recordings is so extensive they were not listed in the book but are available on Murakami's website.) But it is clear that Murakami's questions for the Maestro were sincere and in the interest of gaining further knowledge. This is an excellent book for a very select audience.

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