Barenboim’s Beethoven

Some interesting examples of quasi-religious language creeping into some of the discussions of the recent Barenboim Beethoven sonata cycle. A Guardian reviewer thought that ‘something akin to a canonisation’ was taking place (Erica Jeal, 8th Feb.); Martin Kettle has asserted a ‘moral and even religious element to the ritual’ (Prospect, February 2008), and the performances have been accompanied by debates on the ‘Artist as Leader’ (see Anthony Holden in the Guardian, 3rd Feb). It’s not clear what this means (religiously), but Kettle has enlarged on his view of the enduring worth of the music elsewhere (Guardian 16th Feb)