2/10/08

Wherein the Same Article is Criticized by the Other Blogger

As an exercise in style, I decided to analyze the same article Empiricus studied in the previous post.

Seattle Symphony: An evening of sweet (and sour) selections

When a conductor picks up a microphone to address the audience about the music they're going to hear, the audience can be pretty sure of one thing: They aren't expected to like the piece.

What? Really?! That’s your topic statement? I guess you’ve never been to a “new music”concert. And: What kind of maniac would program such tripe? And what kind of an editor would assign an ignorant reviewer to review a program such as this? Also: Varèse is hardly new. This is a very, very famous piece. You’ve never heard it? Why are you qualified to write about music, again?

By the time guest conductor Michael Stern had finished telling Thursday's Seattle Symphony audience about Varèse's "Intégrales,"

Oh, it’s Varèse. I love Varèse. That is an awesome fucking piece. A monumental piece. A difficult piece? Sure, yes, indeed. But historically influential and completely rad. Superlative. Groundbreaking. Unique. Your problem is that…?

it's a wonder they weren't fleeing the hall en masse.

People hate modernism? Oh, wait. They may or may not, but you are here to ensure that they do hate modernism. What is all that random noise? Oh, it’s modernism. Highly influentual, respected, studied modernism. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

With Stern's every phrase ("A certain weird clarity," "An assault on the senses"), the impending work loomed more ominously.

Weird things are scary? Every movie made recently isn’t an assult on the senses? I almost had to turn off “Gladiator” the first time I saw it because there’s an edit every .7 seconds.

When the downbeat finally came, and the small wind ensemble plus a whole armory of percussion began to play Varèse's chaotic motifs and random-sounding outbursts, no one could say we weren't warned.

What are you saying? You were warned, but refused to leave because…you love modernism? You’re masochistic? You…are too dumb too leave after de facto being told to by the conductor? You have no tolerance for what was considered new 70 years ago. You have no business writing about music. You are, basically, an idiot.

The evening's main attraction was the cellist Lynn Harrell (who has for decades been one of the leading soloists on his instrument), playing a relative novelty: the Victor Herbert Cello Concerto No. 2. Deeply romantic and quaintly charming, the seldom-heard work lacks the musical depth of the best cello concertos, but the repertoire is not so extensive that cellists can afford to ignore the more minor gems. Certainly Harrell gave the piece a tremendous run, lavishing on it his great tonal range — from the assertive passages of the allegro movements to the velvety, soft-focus tone with which he played the slow, dreamy middle movement.

Crap. That is crappy neo-romantic schlock. Fine. That is fine, if people want to write/listen to that music. Okay. It has nothing to say. You would rather listen to 1840 rehashed as 1940 than music that addresses issues relevant to the time in which it was composed. That’s super. Classical music is stuck in 1840, and you’re okay with that. In fact, that is not the case, and you wish it was. Ugh.

Stern, who is music director of the Kansas City Symphony, proved an able accompanist in the concerto, but he made most of his musical points in the program finale, the Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 3. This is a work he clearly loves, and he urged the Symphony forward in the swoony romantic melodies and the chirruping little figures that seem to be the hallmark of most Rachmaninoff works. Balances were not always ideal (the orchestra section with the melody didn't always emerge from the neighboring sections), but most of the solo work was very nicely done,

The Rachmaninoff was good. Great! You didn’t waste your evening, I guess.

and the Rachmaninoff proved a sweet dessert after the acerbic opener.

You don’t get it. That’s fine. Varèse is “acerbic”. Wow. Rachmaninoff is “dessert”. You are a first-class wordsmith. You hate [read: have no idea about] modernism. You are paid to write, professionally, about music. As a job! Wow.

What’s a sufficiently old-time-y way to kill myself?

2 comments:

Aaron said...

With the "dessert"-y Rachmaninoff, I think you need to slap a "food metaphor" tag on this baby.

Sator Arepo said...

I can't believe I didn't think of that!