The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Review

I have nothing but angry, rage-filled, contemptuous, derogatory words for this pile of ignorance and self-righteousness, this loathsome, pea-brained, and (yes) uneducated attempt to...

...Whoa there!! Calm down, Empiricus.

(deep breath) You’re right. I was about to lose it. Thanks.

Don’t mention it.


Let’s start over. But this time, try to say something nice every time David Hurwitz makes you mad.

Sure, I’ll try to say something nice every time David Hurwitz pisses me off to the point where I very nearly jump up, run out to the shed and fire up the chainsaw so I can...

...Cool it, you!

(deep breath) Thanks again, Empiricus.

Let’s give this a try, shall we?


Schoenberg's 12-tone music...

Good work, so far, David!

Oh, now you’re just being silly. Just try to be nice. Okay?


Schoenberg's 12-tone music has the undeserved reputation of being unusually difficult, at least to the extent that his tonal music is, if anything, just as knotty and uncompromising.

(pauses, thinks) Such things have been said before. (takes deep breath) Whether or not they're true...well. Good start, anyway.

Not bad, Empiricus. Keep going.

Even so...

That is synonymous with, “despite that fact.”

See, Empiricus? I haven’t said anything bad.

Good work.

I know. I'm cool like that.

Even so, the Violin Concerto is notorious for standing among the ugliest pieces of music ever conceived by the human mind...

(stares in disbelief) David has...(deep breath)...a right to...say things. (looks for stress ball)

Very good, Empiricus. Go on.

...but below the surface there's a lot of brilliant and (yes) expressive invention going on.

I might say that they’re also on the surface. Either way, that’s a kind of compliment, David.

How’d I do, Empiricus?

You’re doing well. Let’s see if you can keep it up!

I’ll try.

The only question is how hard you, the listener, feel like working, and how much the performance rewards your time and effort.

(Deep breath. Deep breath. Deep Breath)

Stay focused, Empiricus.

(Deep breath)

Let’s just move on. Shall we?

(Deep breath)

The first recording that "did it" for me was the Craft/Schulte version on Koch; but this one is even finer...

I’m glad you...liked the recording...?

...and not just because it knocks about four minutes off the overall timing of the piece.


Hold it right there partner! Let’s take a breather. Go have a smoke.

Yeah. I need a smoke.


(5 minutes later)

If you're just taking the plunge, start with the finale.

Oh, come on you can’t seriously...

(sternly) Empiricus!

(sarcastically) I hope David tells us why we should start in the middle of the piece. I-am-all-ears.

That’s more like it, buster!

It contains several memorable tunes and motives that recur with relative frequency, in a clear march rhythm.

From what I have read of your stuff before, David (deep breath), these are things that make for good pieces. Thanks for clearing that up. I’ll (gulp) go straight to the final movement.

I’m impressed, Empiricus!

I’m still trying, anyway.

It's not just that Hahn has mastered the work technically, but she also uses her command of the notes to create feeling.

"She created feeling” sounds like...(rolls eyes)...a good assessment.

Calm. Remember to stay calm.


Thus, Schoenberg marks the opening of the slow movement "grazioso"...

Wait a goddamned minute! "Thus!" Thus! How on Earth does Schoenberg’s marking follow Hilary Hahn’s playing!

Time out, mister! Go have another smoke.

(pouts, mutters to self)


(5 minutes later)

Ready to try this again?

(pouting) Yes.

Thus, Schoenberg marks the opening of the slow movement "grazioso", and at first you think he must be kidding...

(long pause) Grazioso means “gracefully.”

...but Hahn and Salonen [the conductor] deliver the expressive goods.

(rolls eyes) I am glad they expressed feelings. (deep breath) That's a sign of a quality recording.

Very good, Empiricus. You’re making me proud.

I’m doing my very best.

I hesitated before giving this disc a top recommendation, if only because no matter how fine the performances are...

What the f...


(deep breath) David, I’m sure you had a good reason to ignore your mandate. I can’t wait to hear it.

That’s not entirely nice, Empiricus.

It’s not entirely mean, either, Empiricus. Just calling it like I see it.

I hesitated before giving this disc a top recommendation, if only because no matter how fine the performances are, I don't want to give the misleading impression that on hearing the Schoenberg those resistant to the idiom will suddenly have some sort of 12-tone epiphany.

That’s fucking stupid ass-backw!!!

No! No! No! Stop! We’re done here. Go to your room.

Nothing more to see, folks. Good night! Go read this, instead. You'll enjoy yourself more.


Danny said...

When I heard that CD, my reaction was, "Good, now everyone will finally understand how gorgeous 12-ton music can be if you actually give it a chance."

I guess people really want to hang on to their prejudices, though.

Empiricus said...

I'm not the biggest fan of Hahn, but wow! It's a gorgeous interpretation, in my opinion. You nailed it, danny. The fact that dodecophony can still elicit this kind of blind hatred, though, is stupefying.

AnthonyS said...

I think this is the first Hurwitz post you've done without mentioning the Review Policy. You should go through one of his reviews and take out everything that doesn't fit with the Review Policy and see what you are left with. From my cursory glancing, it sure as hell wouldn't be much.

Empiricus said...

...is...but...sounds...Hawaii in the springtime...for...a...twelve-tone...

Well, that's what it would look like. Yeah, humor!

AnthonyS said...

Awesome, just awesome.