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Counterpoint Reviews

Counterpoint by Philip Kennicott


A Memoir of Bach and Mourning

Philip Kennicott

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Publication date: 18 Feb 2020
ISBN: 9780393635362

A Pulitzer Prize-winning critic reflects on the meaning and emotional impact of a Bach masterwork.

4 stars out of 5
14 Mar 2020

"a deeply serious and often affecting book"

Writing about music is a difficult thing, saying in words that which words can never say. Reliance on musicological vocabulary can alienate some readers; dogged explanation of technical terms can irritate others. Kennicott gets it exactly right, refusing to swerve technical necessities but in such a way that his prose seems to take on some of the virtuosity of the music it describes. His deft elucidations are born from deep and intricate knowledge, and from lightly worn research. (It is the non-musical vocabulary that may have readers groping for a dictionary: ‘ensorcelling’, ‘phlogiston’, ‘necrotic’.)