that very little dissenting opinion isnallowed in print or on the airwaves.nIn the end, John Taft remains andisillusioned liberal. Like his ultraliberals,nhe sees the years of America’snpeak strength as “not a halcyon era ofneconomic growth and the preservationnof liberty — on the contrary they are anbizarre period of harsh, warmongeringnrigidity engendered by World War II,nKorea and Vietnam.”nWilliam R. Hawkins is researchndirector for The South Foundationnand lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.nGradus AdnParnassumnbyJ.O. TatenThe Art of the Piano:nIts Performers, Literature,nand Recordingsnby David DubainNew York: Summit Books;n477 pp., $40.00nHow neglectful of David Dubai notnto write the great book on thenpiano, especially considering what anfine position he was in to do so! So let’snget the unpleasantness out of the waynfirst, before reviewing the merits of hisnstudy.nThe Art of the Piano is internallyndivided against itself in more than onenway. It’s halved between “The Pianists”nand “The Piano Literature WithnLists of Exceptional Recordings,”nwhile the second half is itself halved byna subdivision that segregates majornfrom minor composers. In addition,nthe halves aren’t attuned to each othern— or perhaps I should say that toonoften the right hand doesn’t know whatnthe left hand is doing. When Grieg’snConcerto in A minor is cited, thenrecording by Leon Fleisher and thenCleveland Orchestra, George Szellnconducting, is mentioned, as it mustnbe. But the flip side of that disc — anneven better reading of the SchumannnConcerto in the same key by the samenartists — doesn’t show up as it unquestionablynshould under “Schumann.”nNeither is one of Alfred Cortot’s recordingsnof Schumann’s concerto cited,nthough back in the first half we findn40/CHRONICLESn(under “Cortot”) four versions as wellnas three different Carnavals, none citednback again in the second half undern”Schumann.”nThis sort of thing happens too often.nEdwin Fischer’s recording of Bach’snChromatic Fantasy and Fugue is rightlynsingled out for praise under thatnpianist’s name, but when we look at thenentry for that piece under “Bach,”nFischer isn’t there. Similarly, Dubainsees Wilhelm Backhaus in the rightnperspective: “his readings of the SchumannnFantasy, the Brahms PaganininVariations, and history’s first set of thenChopin Twenty-four Etudes, peerlessnin execution, were ‘musts’ in any collection.”nThey still are. But they aren’tnlisted where they belong in the secondnhalf of Dubai’s encyclopedia.nThough David Dubai has thenknowledge and authority necessary fornthe task he undertook, he has notndelivered the finished work he is capablenof doing. The decision to combinenhis survey of pianism with a survey ofnthe piano literature was a bad one, anrefusal to choose, and the decision tongive the book the form of three runsnthrough the alphabet was disastrous,nthe result too often seeming to be a jognthrough Dubai’s card file. In the end,ndependence on the arbitrariness of thenalphabet appears to equate the mediocrenwith the magnificent, the livingnwith the dead, the documented withnthe legendary, and the satyr with Hyperion.nOne sentence on Hans Grafnlives next door to five pages on GlennnGould; two sentences on HelennHopekirk are juxtaposed with ninenpages on Vladimir Horowitz.nIn other words, The Art of the Pianondoesn’t eclipse Harold G. Schonberg’snThe Great Pianists, though it couldnhave — and, I think, should have. Yetnhaving come to bury Dubai, I willnremain to praise him. His book on thenpiano, in spite of some shaky writing,nsays some essential things about thengreat players of the instrument, and,neven more, it communicates much ofnthe love, the passion, the joy that greatnperformances can bring the listener.nDubai cares. He knows what he’s talkingnabout, and when he gets woundnup, he doesn’t hold back.nLet’s get down to cases: Dubai’sntreatment of Wilhelm Backhaus is atnleast fair—compare to it Schonberg’snneglect of that major artist. Dubai isnnnright about Simon Barere; for himnGlenn Gould is, as an artist, no problematicalnfigure; his account of GlaudionArrau is just; he makes fine and validndistinctions about Rudolf Serkin. Incan’t argue with what he says aboutnLazar Berman, or William Masselos,nor Vladimir de Pachman, or JosefnLhevinne, or Mischa Levitzki, or EarinWild—but why did he omit RaoulnKoczalski altogether?nA fine pianist himself, Dubai likesnpianists and he understands their problems.nHe reacts strongly to strong personalities,nand vividly to colorful andnstylish execution. The best thing aboutnhis book is its kinetic quality — henmakes you want to buy tickets tonrecitals and copies of great recordings.nAgain and again, he cites the greatnrecording, the essential interpretation,nthe great name, the one to have —nlegally if possible, you understand.nWhat Dubai has to say about IgnaznFriedman’s magnificent Chopin Mazurkasnand his uncanny rendition ofnthe Chopin Nocturne in E-flat, Op.n55, No. 2 is a testimony not only tonFriedman but also, to Dubai’s ownnsensibility and apprehension. His reservationsnabout Josef Hofmann — notnones I share — say perhaps as muchnabout Dubai’s interior conflicts as theyndo about Hofmann. Dubai’s stricturesnon Hofmann are his most controversialnjudgments and show a deep ambivalencentoward his subject. With Dubai,nHofmann touches a nerve.nMy favorite pages here, though, arenthe ones devoted to Alfred Cortot andnhis recorded legacy. Not only the recordingsnDubai glosses but recent remasteringsnof Cortot’s early Victorsnand later EMI test pressings must convincenthe listener of Cortot’s greatness.nDavid Dubai’s impassioned responsesnto the music left by Alfred Cortot donjustice to the artist, and well becomenthe author. His accounts of the art ofnArtur Schnabel, Artur Rubinstein, andnVladimir Horowitz also demonstratenwhy music lovers and piano buffs willnwant to consult this book often. In spitenof structural flaws and some overripenphrases, David Dubai’s The Art of thenPiano is a book for piano-lovers in largenpart because the author loves the piano.nJ.O. Tate is a professor of English atnDowling College on Long Island.n