Monday, January 21, 2008

Getting It Wrong

Marcus Maroney called a Bernard Holland opinion piece - for lack of a better term, since it's obviously not a review - to my attention a couple of weeks ago. The piece opens with this paragraph:
Schubert died at 31. How much music did his early death deprive us of? Not a lot.
Really? And how can you tell? Gosh, I wish I had a crystal ball.

The whole article is a muddle, though he does get that we'd have lost quite a lot if Carter had died young or if Verdi had died at 78, and that Mozart had more to say. Schubert, too, I'm willing to bet.


The Omniscient Mussel said...

Of course no one can say for certain what would or would not have happened in a given circumstance, however in this case I do see Mr Holland's point. I had similar thoughts on Beethoven last summer.

Marcus said...

I don't see Holland's point at all. Who knows what which composer would have done and, more importantly, who cares? SURELY the New York Times can think of something more worthy to print than a flaccid piece of "op-ed" like that.

The Omniscient Mussel said...

I use the same set of justifications for my side of the argument! Funny how that works sometimes.

I do, however, agree with you wholeheartedly that the NYTimes should be able to put together something a little more interesting or at least fully explore the point the article is trying to make instead of quitting after the intro.

If you really want to get up in arms about quality standards....check this one out. It's real winner but I don't think it could rightly be described as flaccid.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I think that your Beethoven posting is really good, OM, and that because Schubert died soooo young, even vis-a-vis the middle-aged LvB, their cases are somewhat different. Holland doesn't even talk about the unfinished symphony Schubert had drafted not long before his death. It is especially tantalizing because it sounds like nothing so much as Mahler. (I heard a tape of an orchestration of it very long ago; I believe there is now a commercial recording of a different attempt at realizing the piece.)

OM, I'm totally with you on the egregious drooling over Netrebko.

Anonymous said...

Bernard Holland often gets it wrong. Most recently he wrote, peculiarly, of the scherzo from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (how many movements does he believe there are?), just one of his many boners. A few weeks ago he boasted that he doesn't prepare for concerts before reviewing them, believes it shouldn't be expected of him. I'm afraid it often shows.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I vaguely remember reading a Times critic saying years ago that he only owned 300 LPs and didn't see any problem with it. A friend pointed out that living in NYC, the critic, whomever it was, had all the access he needed to scores and recordings. True, but it looked to me like a tiny number and indicative of a disturbing lack of curiosity.

The Omniscient Mussel said...

Thanks for your kind words, Lisa. I don't know that much about Schubert to be honest, so I don't know what he wrote when but I'll take you word for it.

Re critics unpreparedness: I don't prepare much for my reviews either and I probably only own 100 CDS, mostly due to moving overseas.

We don't get a lot of premieres in this corner of the universe, so I can always find a CD if I need one but even then, I quite like the idea of recording my impressions relative to the moment I'm listening, if that makes sense.

Of course, I'm still an infant in criticland, so it is likely that I'll change my methods as I get older, as one does.

What sort of prep do other people do?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, boy. The answer is that it varies a lot and depends on the program. I wrote an article about critic prep for SFCV a couple of years back. It's here.

Dan Johnson said...

My New Year's resolution was to stop blogging this guy (against whom I already had a total grudge), on account of his ending 2007 with a trifecta of stupid—this Schubert piece and two others. My head exploded.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, LOL, great stuff there, Dan. Thank you. And why am I not reading you all the time??

A.C. Douglas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A.C. Douglas said...

OM, I'm totally with you on the egregious drooling over Netrebko.

Are you now. Curious. I don't see either of you trouncing Opera Chic for her egregious and adolescent drooling over opera-singer hunks and their "packages."

Wonder why.


Anonymous said...

I have to say that I would hope critics to at least review the music score if one is available. But it is understandable if not done.

ONe day I took out Ligeti's Ramifications' score and compared the performance of the LaSalle Quartet and ASKO ensemble. For felicity to the score and technical brilliance, ASKO won. However, after an intial disappointment, I found I enjoyed the LaSalle's less accurate rendition --- they provided a wonderful "improvisation" upon the score and an important lesson that new works NEED repeated playings to be "understood" both by PERFORMERS and LISTENERS. And that scores should be more readily

Lisa Hirsch said...

Holland more or less boasts about his lack of interest in reviewing scores before performances. Thanks for those comments about the LaSalle and ASKO; very interesting!