Inflammable Means Flammable?

Figure 1: Calm down, sir, you're going to give yourself skin failure.

Kalmar channels wit and anger of Shostakovich
Bryant Manning, Chicago Sun-Times, 8/5/2010

Is the Shostakovich transitive? That is: is just the anger his, or the wit as well?

After a month of excellent guest conductors having seized the riches of the Grant Park Orchestra, principal conductor Carlos Kalmar returned in top form to the Pritzker pavilion Wednesday night.

After a month of...having seized? Man, the tense wars in Chicago must be worse than they say! The guest conductors siezed the riches...for a month, but now that's over? Where are the riches now? Do the erstwhile guest artists still have them? Will they ever give them back?

But this isn't about that.

The Uruguay-Austrian maestro was back for one of the season's most impressive concerts, which, at least during this summer season, might as well be repeated over and over again.

What? Why? Saying "might as well" makes it sound like you're grudgingly resigned to the possibility.

This isn't about that, either.

Yet Wednesday's offering truly showed the municipally funded, free outdoor concert at its best,

I am in favor of such endeavors; I hold them in esteem.

...where festival administrators paid tribute to Millennium Park's founders with a first-class program featuring the incomparable violinist Christian Tetzlaff.


[but soon...]

While Tetzlaff is not the most lyrical violinist around, his playing can sing and serenade without the usual slick array of pretty notes.


First, I don't know what that means. He didn't play any notes? Or just not any pretty ones? Perhaps it suggests that he played them, but not in the "usual array"? Did he, I don't know, change their order at random?

Second...well, look.

This "incomparable" performer isn't "the most lyrical violinist around"?

Even if "incomparable" means something metaphrorical, less like "not able to be compared to anything" and more like "benchmark by which all others are compared," how is he not the most anything?

Anything good, anyway. I suppose he could be both "incomparable" and "not the shittiest violinist around."

I am forced, then, to conclude one of two things:

Either Mr. Manning is not a fan of flashy, over-emotive performance styles, preferring instead an intellectual (and/or, apparently, quasi-improvisatory) approach; or "incomparable" doesn't mean what he thinks it means.

Figure 2: Thinly disguised oblique meta-reference


Gustav said...

Pretty notes are a crutch of comparable musicians.

Gustav said...

Also, later in the review, Manning writes: "Aren't ninth symphonies, after all, supposed to be the cornerstone of every great composer's canon?"

Damn straight it is! Sorry Brahms, you're obviously not a great composer. Nor you Tchaikovsky, or Mendelssohn, or Stravinksy, Schumann, Wagner, Sibelius, Rachmaninoff!

Frankly, by that brilliant rubric, I'm pretty sure that only Beethoven is a great composer. Because as good as the ninth symphonies are by Bruckner and Mahler, I'd hardly call them "cornerstones" of their canons.

Oh, and Giovanni Battista Sammartini, he's brilliant too...his ninth (of 68) symphony is surely best of his output as well!

Sator Arepo said...

Now, G, that's unfair. Surely you rank both Haydn's and Mozart's 9ths to be among their best works.

Not to mention freaking Hovhaness.