BBC Music Magazine review

23rd November 2014 | Books, Reviews | 0 comments

I’m very happy to hear that my new book ‘Sleeping in Temples’ is the Books Choice in the Christmas 2014 issue of BBC Music.  ‘Rare insight. Susan Tomes illuminates at the piano and on the page.’

‘Susan Tomes compares her first encounter with chamber music as akin to Dorothy’s flight from her black-and-white homestead to the Technicolor land of the Munchkins. One could extend the analogy to this book, where she plays Dorothy, unmasking not the Wizard of Oz but the hard-to-talk-about myths, conventions and fictions of the classical music world…. Her penetrating intelligence is refreshing in a discourse often reduced to cliché and lazy generalisation. Her thoughts on musical memory and interpretation draw us into a largely hidden world and she asks the hard questions: what is a performer actually doing? How do you play ‘the contents, not the container’ of music? The concept of ‘listening in’ to a score is illuminating, capturing the complex relationship between a performer’s imaginative understanding and a composer’s attempt to codify their work. And I love the idea of the musician as ‘hermeneut’, like Hermes, mediating between Gods and mortals.

‘… Has this colossal commitment been worth it? One has only to think of Tomes’s exceptional playing to understand why her faith still burns bright.’

Thank you, the readers who take the trouble to alert me to these reviews. It’s hard to keep up with the press, especially when many journals have subscriber-only websites, so please keep telling me about things I might otherwise miss.


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