Posted by HolyGhost on March 20th, 2013
A first time out for Anax in the Inquisitor series.
Twelve answers, each clued without a definition, are of a kind. Their characters fall into two groups (as indicated in their clues); the members of the two groups are similar, but “?” is missing from the second group. We need to identify “?”; the (definitionless) 4d might be helpful.
I tend to skip over the non-standard clues the first time through in this type of puzzle. I thought I was in for a rough ride on this one, as on the first pass I solved only two (the last two) of the across clues. I did better with the down clues, especially in the lower half, which also gave me HAYDN at 24d and then SOUSA at 26a. Things were looking up. The whole of the lower half became filled quite soon and I had about half of the composers, then the top right was completed. The top left took a little longer to yield, but in a relatively short time all (!) I had left to do was sit back and contemplate the rubric. Classical music is not one of my strong points, and it is only WEILL whose works I am at all familiar with, and he seemed to me to be a bit of an outlier here.
OK: group 1 comprises CLEMENTI, HAYDN, HUMMEL, RAVEL, ROSSINI, SOUSA, WEBER and for group 2 we have MAHLER, MESSIAEN, SCHUBERT, VERDI, WEILL. A consideration of dates, styles, compositions, etc., was going nowhere, so it was time to think about a more literal reading of the rubric – “characters” not as individual people, but as the letters that make up their names …
group 1: AAABCDEEEEEEHHIIILLLMMMNNNOORRRSSSSTUUVWY
group 2: AA_BCDEEEEEEHHIIILLLMM_N____RRRSSS_TU_VW_
This means that group 2 is currently lacking AMNNOOSUY, which (with the help of 4d, RAVEL = entangle/disentangle) becomes ANONYMOUS.
For me, the endgame was more “phew” (relief) than “wow” (wonder), but, even so, there has to be some admiration of Anax’s ingenuity to work 12 composers (nearly a third of the entries) into the grid, and satisfy the workings of the puzzle.