Yesterday, I spent perhaps forty minutes leafing through David Hurwitz’s Shostakovich Symphonies and Concertos - An Owner’s Manual at the School Street Borders. As the spirit of the title promises (and, to be sure, as one expects from Hurwitz), this is a book oriented not to experienced musicians, but to the amateur trying to make sense of It All. It really isn’t bad, all in all; though there is the odd attitude, and the occasional trotting out of an idée reçue which prompts one, not to want to strangle Hurwitz (which would be distastefully extreme), but to leisurely bung some rotten fruit at him. Against that, he’s made some earnest attempt at illustrating the form and musical content of many of the works, which is a matter entirely different to the shallow rantage customary in many of his recordings reviews. In some respects, really an interesting read, though from this senator’s standpoint, a book I might browse at the bookstore, but not one I need on the shelf at home.
Of course, that was a time when there was yet a Borders on School Street.