Mystery score

Mystery score

Friday, March 21, 2008

Even the Lazy

Bernard Holland reviews the Brentano Quartet in today's Times - well, no, actually he doesn't. The quartet is allowed only 97 of the 307 words in the review. The other 210 are ruminations on the matter of late style in Brahms, Shostakovich, and Mendelssohn, and those 97 words tell me only that the Brentano is young and energetic. Holland closes with this gem:
One awaits the Brentano’s late period. As excess energy wears off with the years, I think it will settle into the possibility that music making, like life, is more than trying hard; it also incorporates the easygoing, the calm, the gently ironic — even the lazy.

11 comments:

Michael Walsh said...

Good Lord, it's been some time since I've read someone who so clearly hates his job.

Someone should have him switch with the food critic for a few months.

Lisa Hirsch said...

When Steve Smith posted at Night After Night that he would have big news soon, I was hoping it would be "Holland retired, I got his job/Anne Midgette got his job/Vivien Schweitzer got his job."

No such luck - the big news was his trip to North Korea with the NY Phil.

Elaine Fine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elaine Fine said...

Perhaps Holland was talking about his own late period when he wrote, "lives have been lived and are gradually closing down."

Lisa Hirsch said...

Mmm-hmm.

brent reidy said...

i've begun to read bernard holland more as a satire-comedy section than real criticism. it makes it not only palatable, but actually enjoyable.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I bet! But I think the Times is paying him to write real criticism. If they're willing to settle for satire-comedy, they can hire me me me to write the real thing.

Henry Holland said...

I don't think he does it out of laziness, but Mark Swed in my local bird cage liner, the Los Angeles Times, has about the same ratio as Bernard Holland (not related).

He'll spend a full review nattering on about the piece, if it's an opera the production and then dispatch what he thought of the singers and the conducting in 3 sentences. It's all so.....pre-written that it doesn't feel like a review, more a program note with a slip of paper added to cover the singers.

Lisa Hirsch said...

That's a weird pattern, especially for standard repertory pieces. Anthony Tommasini is guilty of poor descriptions of singing, in general; it's like he needs more adjectives or more sympathy for what singers are doing, or something.

(Henry, would you email me so I have your email address?)

calimac said...

Well, if you only have 300 words, it's harder to be balanced in your coverage of various aspects.

On the other hand, if you're writing for a major paper, you ought to be good enough to choose those 300 words carefully. Why does he waste a whole sentence (eleven words) on a composer who wasn't even on the program?

Lisa Hirsch said...

He could spend a lot less time discussing the notion of late style and talk about the performances, instead.