Posted by Eileen on June 29th, 2011
I was thinking it was a while since we had a Brendan puzzle, so I was very pleased to see his name on this one. Unusually, his last offering told us, ‘There is no theme in this crossword’ but I don’t think I am giving too much away at this point if I say that there are several ‘themes’ in this one!
One thing I love about Brendan’s puzzles is the way in which the layers of the theme emerge gradually – at least for me. In this one, my last entries were the four four-letter answers, 24ac and dn and 10ac and 2dn – and then everything fell harmoniously into place. This is a beautifully – crafted puzzle, I think, with many fine clues, almost all with musical references. [After an even more careful look, I realise I should have omitted the 'almost'.] Many thanks, Brendan, for a really absorbing solve.
I’m off out for the day soon, so will have to deal with any errors or omissions much later on – but I hope someone answers my queries at 25ac and 3dn before I go!
8 SAVANNAH: A V ['variation's start'] + A N[ew] N[ote] in SAH ['has turned']
9 ERATO: hidden in opERA TOsca: the Muse of lyric poetry and the lyre
10 GOLD: GO[u]LD: Brendan has adopted the American spelling of ‘disc’ in this sense, a gold replica of a record achieving sales of [in the UK] over 100,000 copies; Glenn Gould, the Canadian pianist, was a leading exponent of Bach, the answer to 24dn.
11 GAME THEORY: the first appearance of the word THEME [anagram] in GORY [gruesome]
12 UTOPIA: cleverly hidden in martinU TO PIAnist: the book by Sir Thomas More : I have seen UTOPIA clued as ‘More work’ before but it’s blended very skilfully into the theme here.
14 ROENTGEN: ROENT [anagram of TENOR] + GEN [information]
15 ASPIRIN: anagram of AIRS round P[iano] + IN [at home]
17 ADDICTS: DDI [anagram of DID] in ACTS [performances]
20 ANTHEMED: AND with THEME [again] inside: I’ve never come across ‘anthem’ as a verb before but ‘hymn’ is used that way, so why not?
22 BRAHMS: BRAHM[in]S dropping ‘in': I only knew Brahmin as the highest or priestly Hindu caste and not this US slang usage: ‘a highly cultured or socially snobbish person, especially of the Boston upper class’ [Chambers]
23 PROMETHEUS: PRO [for] + anagram of THEME + US
24 BERG: double definition: a South African word for a hill or mountain and the Austrian composer Alban Berg [or, alternatively, the Danish composer Gunnar Berg]
25 ELGAR: I’m missing something here, which I hoped would come to me as I wrote the blog. Sir Edward Elgar played the piano and violin as a child and later ‘scored’ as a composer but what about ‘in game, for example’? Is there another ‘player’ with that name? Edit: thank you, Duncan, Comment 1: ‘there’s none so blind …!‘
26 DEDICATE: DATE [1812 for example] around reversal of [El] CID, the Spanish hero Edit: I accidentally omitted E [uropean] from the wordplay – thanks, NeilW!
1 GAVOTTES: GAV[e] [performed] + reversal of SET-TO [argument]
2 BAND: B[ach] + AND [together with]: a reference to Bach, Beethoven and Brahms being known as ‘The three Bs’. [It's a pity there's no place in the puzzle for Beethoven - unless he's cunningly hidden and something else I've missed!] Edit: I would really like to delete that idiotic last remark but that wouldn’t be cricket: please see my comment 38 for my best attempt at an ‘excuse’ for my oversight!
3 ENIGMA: I think this is a double / cryptic [!] definition, referring to the Variations written by Elgar [25ac] and the cipher used by the Germans in World War II but I’m sure I haven’t quite got it all: does ‘below’ simply mean lower in the grid – and why ‘finishing?’ Edit: please see Andrew’s [thanks!] comment 12.
5 MEATHEAD: anagram of A THEME and A[ntonin] D[vorak]: it took me a minute or two to realise that that second A came from the composer’s first initial.
6 PALESTRINA: PALE [feeble] + STRING [violin part] wth the G [note] changed to A
7 SOURCE: anagram of COURSE [of course!]
13 PAID HOMAGE: P[ressure] + anagram of ADAGIO HE around M[aiden]
16 IMMATURE: IMMURE [shut up] about A T [theme's opening]
18 TEMERITY: T[h]EME [melody, not H[ard]] + anagram of I TRY
19 ADDENDA: DEN [study] in ADDA [middle of bAD DAy]
21 NERVES: N [9th letter of Beethoven] + anagram of VERSE
22,4 BESIDE THE MARK: anagram of THEME – yet again – in anagram of BARE DISK: I gather this means the same as ‘beside the point’ but I hadn’t heard it before.
24 BACH: double definition: abbreviation of Bachelor [but not really when meaning a single person!] and the composer of the GOLD BERG [10ac + 24ac] Variations - and here, to finish, is Glenn Gould playing them.