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Indivisible by Four:
Chamber-music lovers will rejoice in this story of the formation, nurturing, and maturing of the Guarneri String Quartet. First violinist Arnold Steinhardt has written a delightful memoir that radiates the love of music and sense of mutual respect and affection that have kept the Guarneri's players together since the ensemble was founded in 1964. How a famous, extremely busy musician learned to write so well is a mystery, but Steinhardt's style is as engaging and captivating as his playing. After sketching his own and his colleagues' pre-quartet careers, he describes how they choose and rehearse their repertoire and how they resolve their inevitable disagreements--and he even throws light on the inexplicable magic that happens in performance. Steinhardt recounts the pleasures and hardships of traveling and the group's partnership with illustrious guests (notably pianist Artur Rubinstein); he tells musical and personal anecdotes, wryly poking fun at himself and others, but never saying a malicious or derogatory word about anyone. Most remarkably, his discussions of a score are illuminating without becoming too technical. Steinhardt describes the emotional impact of music with a strikingly felicitous, often poetic touch, yet his characterizations resonate with his own experience and avoid the overblown or extravagant. Though it helps to know the music he feels so strongly about, this is a book anyone can enjoy. --Edith Eisler [via]