I'm fan of Rosen since the first time I came to read the spanish translation of "The Classic Style". Ever since them I have read whatever he has written, I have gone to his courses and conferences in Spain whenever he came... So probably this is not a very objetive review. "Freedom and the Arts" is a recopilation of Rosen's writings, mainly in The New York Review of Books. He speaks mainly about music, with some three or four chapters dedicated to Literature. Of course, I'm more interested in the music chapters. We find a lot of distint topics, all trated with great insight, as ever. Some ideas are reelaborations of old ideas by Rosen, some ideas are new. I find his style a bit more angry than other times, but maybe that's just an impression. Rosen has never been fan of the Early Music movement, but here his critics seem to me somehow bitter and not always justified (though I still think that he is very right when he deplores the fashion of the piano playing continuo in the introductions of Mozart's concertos). One of the articles is dedicated to a polemic between Charles Rosen and James Hepokoski about the concept of "Structural disonance" in the Sonata Form. Since I love also Hepokoski's (and Darcy's) book on Sonata Theory, I was eager to read this article. I think that in it Rosen is more convincing defending his concept of structural disonance than when he speaks dislikingly of Hepokoski's method for analizing sonatas, and, for instance, he is quite unjust in his little apreciation of the concept of Maedial Caesura. Maybe that's becouse he speaks about another article by Hepokoski and not about his book with Darcy. As ever, the anecdotes about himself or people he has met are very welcomed and most of the time very funny. I partuculary liked the one about Glenn Gould in the last article of the book. (I apologize for my english... is easier to read than to write!)
Having had the joy and excitement of performing with Charles Rosen as the conductor with his playing Mozart and Beethoven (eight concerti) I always look forward to the next book that he spews out of that huge and extraordinary brain of his.
This book, which includes some old and some new, is truly wonderful to read. It is refreshing to read someone who is so honest and has no hesitation it saying exactly what he thinks.
It is one of those books which doesn't require you to agree with him, but in many ways dares you not to.
I loved every word, including those which I did not understand.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I didn't want it to end. The chapters covered a wide variety of topics, mostly musical. I particularly liked the anecdotes about Josef Hofmann and other pianists Rosen has heard over his lifetime. I also really enjoyed the chapter on Mendelssohn which nicely complemented the chapter on Mendelssohn in Rosen's The Romantic Generation.