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New Left Review I/225, September-October 1997


Andrew Bowie

Confessions of a ‘New Aesthete’: A Response to the ‘New Philistines’

Pausing to allow the waves of sound of the last movement of Mahler’s Third Symphony to ebb away, I return to the delights of my glass of Californian Chardonnay and reflect on the way Dimitri Mitropoulos’s interpretation of the symphony steers the vital course between long-term structure, sudden transitions, irony, and contrapuntal balance. The wine slowly numbs the tension of the day in a mixture of fragrant fruit and firm alcohol. Or something like that. I did listen to Mahler and I did have a glass or three of Chardonnay. As for the appropriate description, well, Mitropoulos really does conduct the best performance I have heard: for once the slow final movement avoids too much sentimentality while retaining its expressive intensity. But what is life as a ‘new aesthete’ actually like? I am told I ought to know: hence my opening attempt to give a taste of it.

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