Fast Eddie Reappears!

Fast Eddie owns the now-accredited School of Music Criticism somewhere in Queens, where he has been able to shape the minds of those who shape ours about classical music. I recently had a chance to sit down with the famed and elusive grammarian for a brief interview. We discussed one former student in particular.

Empiricus: Thanks for taking the time to talk to the Detritus Review, Eddie.

Fast Eddie: Yeah. Make it quick. I don’t like stayin put for too long. Know what I’m sayin?

E: One of your former students, who now writes for the Seattle Times, wrote this on Friday:

Nothing can shiver the timbers of Benaroya Hall quite like the “Organ Symphony” of Saint-Saens, who combined the “king of instruments” with full orchestra to thrilling effect.

FE: Now that’s got pizzazz! It sets the tone right away, see—shiver the timbers, king of instruments, thrilling effect? Just vague enough, yet excitin enough to keep ya interested.

E: I see.

FE: Ya gots t’understand. When ya got a deadline, ya gotta get it out quick, see? Ya gotta leave something out, then give it to em, right away. Fills in the words quick, and doesn’t make a point. Now, I haven’t read this review of which you speaked, but I’ll bet the favorite that the next sentence goes somethin like this: This performance was thrilling, cause the performers played this piece. Am I right? Or am I right?

E: Pretty close. In fact this is what was written:

Thrilling, at least, when the performance is as satisfying as was the Seattle Symphony’s on Thursday evening, with guest maestro Jun Markl rushing about on the podium.

FE: Can I teach good or what? There’s even some extra bang in there—satisfying, maestro (gotta keep the upper-class thing going, see? Gotta make it sound expensive and luxuriant.)—and rushin about. That’s damn catchy, a splendid counterpoint, if I may gratitude myself.

E: You mentioned that the idea is to fill in the words without making a point?

FE: Yeah. Ya got better things ta do than write a review, right? I always say, “just type until ya finish fillin the space.” Now, if this review’s worth its salt, it it’ll go on about the conductor, kind of stream-of-conscious-like.

E: Again, sir, you’re right.

The 48-year-old German-born conductor has always made a good impression in his visits to Seattle, and the current program is no exception; his crisp energy, spot-on cueing and precise baton drew an unusually pointed performance from the orchestra.

To me this one sounds a little more compact, with the semi-colon.

FE: Well we can’t all be perfect, see. But it’s still good. If ya break it down, ya still got nothin.

E: What do you mean?

FE: It coulda said, “the conductor made a good impression, again.” See? By addin the “48-year-old,” the “always made a good impression,” and the “current program is no exception,” the reviewer extended the thought from 7 words to 25. But it got even better and longer. Am I right? The semi-colon thought that followed that one said nothing. See? It’s more bang, more snap. I mean, no one knows what “crisp energy” is. Nobody worth conductin a symphony could do it without “spot-on cueing and precise baton.” See? Combine em and ya get what? An “unusually pointed performance?” What the fuck? Right? Coulda just said that they all played good. But it paints a picture. It keeps ya readin.

E: I see your point. Nobody reading this would say, “Hey, look! ‘Crisp energy.’ I want to go to this concert!”

FE: Zing! Ya got it!

E: So when the reviewer said this,

Joseph Adam was the organist, and in the finale—when the mighty chords poured out of the hall’s Watjen Concert Organ with the rumble of a departing jet—he delivered perfectly judged thunderbolts of sound.

the reviewer didn’t intend that the chords that “poured” and rumbled like a departing jet to be correlated with thunderbolts (because thunderbolts are quick and sharp, right?) Instead, the reviewer just paints a picture. And it doesn’t matter how convoluted the picture becomes, it’s merely to make the performance seem evocative.

FE: Now you’re on to it! Might I suggest a particular school to go to, for only $1,500 a semester?

E: Well, I don’t think....

(somebody knocks at the door)

FE: What else ya got? I’m on borrowed time, if ya know what I mean?

E: I’ll try to be fast. So this also goes for a statement like this?

Among the many fine solo passages were those of Susan Carroll, whose horn solos were exemplary.

FE: Coulda said, “Susan Carroll’s horn solos were good.” See?

E: And what about this?

The opener, Liszt's Symphonic Poem No. 5 ("Prometheus"), is the sort of work that makes one wish Liszt had stuck to the piano. But that didn't matter, because up next was the evening's featured soloist: pianist Horacio GutiƩrrez, always one of those artists you look forward to with pleasure. GutiƩrrez, who returned to the stage earlier this year after several months' absence (while he underwent treatment for primary gastric lymphoma), is definitely in top form. He played one of the great warhorses of the repertoire, the Tchaikovsky First, with the grand romantic style for which he is known, but also with a poetic sensibility to go along with the big-moment technical prowess.

FE: Does as little as Derek Jeter at short. But it’s flashy. “Great warhorses” is in my textbook, which ya could buy right now for a modest fee of 65 big ones. You’ll get numerous others, like “romantic arc,” “romantic arch” and “accelerating like a Porsche.”

E: No thanks, I’ll...

(knocking at door grows louder)

...make this my last question. How about the ending?

FE: What about it? Like the beginning, ya gotta give em some zing! Down on the pedal, I gotta go.

E: Like this ending?

If you think you're bored with the Tchaikovsky, here is an artist to show you otherwise.

FE: Yeah. Ya got another exit?

E: Down the hall to the left.

*at this point Fast Eddie collects his leather jacket, fedora, and numerous miscellany and rushes out the back exit.


Empiricus said...

"The writing does as little as Derek Jeter does at shortstop." That's incredibly funny, cuties.

Empiricus said...

Because Yankee fans hold on to bypassed dreams. He-he. Derek Jeter. And Arod. And Damon. And Giambi. And any Russian composer ever.