A review in the NY Times by Vivien Schweitzer has gotten some discussion on Facebook. She's not a fan of Morton Feldman's music, but got sent to review a performance of the composer's monumental, six-hour String Quartet No. 2. She didn't enjoy it, no surprise, and doesn't hear the virtues of the piece (and other Feldman works) that others hear.
I've been trying to figure out why this review bugged me so much. Is it any different from my own feelings about the Tchaikowsky symphonies, or Joshua Kosman's about just about everything by Saint-Saens?
It's just inevitable that critics will be sent to review works and composers they don't luv. It's especially inevitable in San Francisco, where the Chronicle and Mercury News have one classical music critic each. I understand a reviewer accepting a review in hopes of an epiphany, considering how Herbert Blomstedt turned me around on that Schubert symphony a few week ago. I believe that I've done a fair job with my own reviews of various works by Philip Glass, a composer of whom I have a highly mixed opinion. (There's a lot of dross surrounding the gold, briefly.) I am in the position of being able to turn down any review I don't want to write - and there's a list of works I won't touch, too.
In this case, though...Feldman is such an idiosyncratic composer that were I an assignments editor, I'd very likely send someone with more sympathy toward the composer than Schweitzer. And if I were writing a review of a major work by a composer I don't like, I would try to focus on reviewing the performance, with fewer sideswipes at the composer.
But I am not such an editor and I didn't write the review. I'm curious about anyone else's thoughts on this subject, since my own thinking looks a little muddled to me.