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Orfeo
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2015 Book Discussions > Orfeo - Comment As You Read (December 2015)

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Caroline (cedickie) | 384 comments Mod
Here is a comment as you read thread for readers who aren't through the whole thing yet and don't want to encounter spoilers in the general thread. You may post spoilers cautiously - please use spoiler tags so any spoilers are hidden.

For those of you who are partway through the book, what do you think so far? Do you like the structure of jumping back and forward through Peter's life? It took me a bit to adjust to but I eventually got the hang of it and found it moved things along pretty well.


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments I don't mind the structure, but I am finding Peter's history with music a lot more interesting than the current day plot so far (about 40% or so). The book reminds me a bit of Body and Soul in its fascination with the nature of music.


message 3: by Portia (last edited Dec 05, 2015 09:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Portia I'm finding Peter's relationship with Fidelio touching. Old people and their old dogs.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 2590 comments Mod
I started the first 40 pages or so last night and have been enjoying most of it so far, particularly when Powers talks about real music (he makes me guilty about being such a desultory and occasional listener of classical/serious music). No problems with the narrative jumps.


Jessica Izaguirre (sweetji) | 120 comments I'm 60% into the book and I'm really enjoying it. I started slowly but I feel more involved with the book right now. I love the descriptions of different music compositions, which led me to create a playlist with all the references so that I could be in the same mood as the book, I've been trying to listen to it while reading it as well.
I also really like the depiction of Peter Els, I feel we get a nice understanding of who he is as a character through the different passages about his life.
At first, the lack of chapters really bothered me, I felt a little disoriented, but I got used to it now and I can stop and figure out where in time I am after the breaks Powers makes.


message 6: by Casceil (new) - added it

Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
I got side-tracked for a bit, reading other books. I'm still at 28%. But my husband just finished it, and gave it five stars (something he doesn't do very often), so I've gone back to it. I am enjoying the discussions of music. It makes me glad that I listened to so much of the Great Courses lectures on "How to listen to and understand great music." That makes some of the discussion more meaningful. And without it, I would not have known what "opera bufo" was (I've probably spelled it wrong) and I would have missed a joke about the two guys from Homeland Security.


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments Jessica wrote: "I love the descriptions of different music compositions, which led me to create a playlist with all the references so that I could be in the same mood as the book, I've been trying to listen to it while reading it as well."

There's a "Recommend Listening" appendix at the back of the book, which includes not only music but recommended recordings.


Jessica Izaguirre (sweetji) | 120 comments Peter, thanks for information, but I can't see this appendix in the book I have. I am reading the hardcover version, which one do you have? Would you be able to share this appendix with us, I am really interested in checking it out now.


message 9: by Peter (last edited Dec 11, 2015 09:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments I read the Kindle edition. Let's see if I can copy from Kindle for PC:

The Music of ORFEO

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Peter Lieberson, Neruda Songs
RECOMMENDED RECORDING: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sings Peter Lieberson Neruda Songs (Trumpet Swan, 2006)

Cage / Harrison / Partch / Young, Barstow
RECOMMENDED RECORDING: John Schneider with Amy Shulman (Bridge, 1993)

Gustav Mahler, Songs on the Death of Children
RECOMMENDED RECORDING: Janet Baker sings Mahler (EMI Classics, 1999)

Steve Reich, Proverb (Nonesuch, 2005)

Olivier Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time
RECOMMENDED RECORDING: Tashi Quartet (RCA, 1989)

Dmitri Shostakovich, Fifth Symphony
RECOMMENDED RECORDING: Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink (Decca, 2000)

There is a also an 8 and a 1/2 page interview at the back of the Kindle edition, but that, fortunately, can also be found here: http://www.powells.com/post/interviews/richard-powerss-narrative-impulse.

And it turns out, there are YouTube and Spotify playlists for the book (with more entries) here: http://www.richardpowers.net/links-to-the-music-of-orfeo/.


Portia Wow, Peter, thanks! I have the hardcover as well and it doesn't provide all the extra info that you have.

Casceil, I hope you'll share the joke. While I really enjoy music, I am fairly ignorant, which brings up the fact that this book can be appreciated by someone who isn't well-versed (sorry!). I have many pages of notes on the story and Powers' ability with language. Pp 330 and following (hardcover), or the last 30 pages of the book generally, I thought were exquisite.


Jessica Izaguirre (sweetji) | 120 comments Peter, thanks so much!! I was trying to make my own playlist, but these Spotify playlists work out great! I will read the interview later. Thanks!


Caroline (cedickie) | 384 comments Mod
Thanks for sharing those links - I may head over to Spotify and give his playlist a listen. While reading the book, I'd thought it would have been nice to have heard some of the pieces he was referencing but was working through it too quickly to bother looking for playlists!


message 13: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2590 comments Mod
I'm two thirds of the way through and enjoying it a lot - Powers love for the music is infectious.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2305 comments Peter, thanks for the link. And, good questions you ided. I think they capture what's going on.


message 15: by Tom (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tom Thanks, Peter, for the great links!

I'm a little over halfway through but feel like it's losing a bit of momentum. The descriptions of the musical pieces strongly remind me of a few electronic music courses I took in college, good and bad (building synthesizers and manipulating waveforms is great but count me among the fans of Boulez the conductor, not Boulez the composer).

For those who have finished, are the remaining 160 pages a worthwhile investment?


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2305 comments Tom wrote: "For those who have finished, are the remaining 160 pages a worthwhile investment?"

From my perspective, you should definitely finish!


message 17: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2590 comments Mod
Tom wrote: "Thanks, Peter, for the great links!

I'm a little over halfway through but feel like it's losing a bit of momentum. The descriptions of the musical pieces strongly remind me of a few electronic mus..."

I can only speak for myself, but I would say yes, it is worth persevering


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments Tom wrote: "For those who have finished, are the remaining 160 pages a worthwhile investment?"
I certainly found it so, but it's hard to say if that would apply to anyone else. I really kept reading for the discussions of music, not the erstwhile plot.


message 19: by Tom (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tom Wow, thanks for the encouragement! I will power through it this weekend.

Peter, I too think the descriptions of the music are excellent. Powers' ability to write about what is going on in the piece reminds me of writings by Alex Ross - I'd rather read either of their descriptions of a Stockhausen piece than listen to the music, but that's just my own quirk and not a dig at the composer.


Caroline (cedickie) | 384 comments Mod
I'd agree that it's worth finishing - though the plot picks up quite a bit and takes some odd turns. Let us know what you think of the rest!


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