Words in the Form of a Maze

Little logic + underdeveloped thesis + missing dictionary + zero proof reading + dead editor =

Pianist Dubravka Tomsic performs with old-world passion

To a fault, maybe, the Detritus Review finds problems with most criticisms. But, there are often reviews that we like; if they’re not spoken about here, they’re passably good. Also, sometimes, we like to haze our favorites (vis à vis tough love), especially when they say awkward stuff like:

Visually, the English soprano Kate Royal comes on like an elegantly appointed milkmaid...

Today, however, we have found an unusually shoddy collection of pseudo-thoughts, in word form, that somehow found their way into the usually good Kansas City Star.

Lets just dive right in, without too much commentary, because there’s a lot going on and I might become a little lost, myself.


Despite the Kansas City classical music audiences’ overtly generous supply of standing ovations,

For those with dictionaries handy, a standing ovation, by its very standing-ness (by definition), is overt and, more than likely, generous. This, “overtly,” superfluous.

...master pianist Dubravka Tomsic deserved such a rouse after she concluded the Friends of Chamber Master Pianist Series Saturday night with omnipotent keyboard virtuosity...

If you like hyperbole, “omnipotent” is for you. But you can’t do this: qualify omnipotence.

...anointed with true-to-the-soul “old-world” passion.

To be omnipotent is to have unlimited ability; someone omnipotent already possesses true-to-the-soul, “old-world” passion. Thus, it can’t be anointed, with anything.

By the way, why is “old-world” surrounded by quotation marks here, but not in the title? Also, comma after "true-to-the-soul."

Regardless of its sheer yuck, the sentence tries to pose a thesis, as did the title: Tomsic performs with “old-world” passion (or is it old-world?), which is true-to-the-soul. Let’s see how this thesis is developed.

Even with last minute program changes, some may find Tomsic’s concert selection somewhat off the rack [sic], but her interpretive sensitivity is, by far, haute couture.

Off-the-rack (hyphens).

Retranslation: Tomsic’s program is generic, but her interpretation is of fine quality.

Retranslation continued backwards: Tomsic’s program is generic, but her interpretation is of fine quality, because she possesses omniscient technical ability, for which the audience gave generous standing ovations, overtly, despite her ability, which has true-to-the-soul, “old-world” passion.


Opening with such a nobly impassioned work as Mozart’s Adagio in B Minor, the Slovenian pianist dove straight to the depth of emotion.

“Driving straight to the emotion” sounds like Swed, colorful but meaningless.

Its quiet and contemplative message offered something for everyone.

So, it’s generic. It’s generic, off-the-rack [not sic], for everyone, remember? Certainly, it has little depth if it’s generic.

Withholding any need or temptation for rubato, a credit to her respect for stricter classical boundaries, she chose to speak to us through more anguished tones.

Are anguished tones equated with “true-to-the-soul” and “old-world” passion?

Tomsic took a 30-year hiatus from the American stage. Just as her career was rebounding, civil war broke out in Yugoslavia, and her family home in Dubrovnik was bombed to the ground.

Oh. I see. She’s qualified to speak in more anguished tones.

Tomsic took upon the essence of a troubled soul, and judging from the long silence after the works’ conclusion, she exposed a truth the audience seemed to measure within themselves.

Hear that, composers? Silence exposes truth that audiences measure within themselves, but only if you’ve had terribly frightening experiences, “old-world” experiences, if you will. Silence is omnipotent technique.

A set of Scarlatti Sonatas served to further liberate the legendary pianist’s technical agility.

Again, if she’s already omnipotent, her technique doesn’t need liberation.

Sonata in C Major, K.159 brought a lively change from the opening somber work. K.125 and 29 showed sprite character playing with fleeting repeated notes, tricky subtle turns, trills and perilous leaps of crossed hands.


Mad Lib:

Sonata in C Major, K.159 brought a ______change from the opening ______ work. K.125 and 29 showed ______ character playing with ______ repeated notes, ______ ______ turns, trills and ______ leaps of crossed hands.


A seemingly effortless task for the only protégé of the legendary Artur Rubinstein, the quick surface playing almost cost her in the last Sonata.

“Seemingly effortless?” I thought her technique was omnipotent. “Almost cost her?” “Surface playing?”

With a sparingly suitable amount of pedal, a rendition of Prokofiev Sonata No. 3 was never overly romanticized, refreshingly stark and dry,

This does not sound “old-world.” “Stark” and “dry” doesn’t sound true-to-the-soul, either.

...like a great fume Blanc.

Dictionary time! Fumé Blanc.

*Just so you readers don’t think that I’m being unfair, see “protégé” above; it was diacritically correct.

Certain things have changed since the late 19th century but not the human spirit.

!...Wait. No... ?

Should the evening’s program reflect a lifetime, the three Brahms Intermezzo’s from Opus 118 could reflect the fulfillment of true love, pure desire and joy of having.

Huh? Is this a correlate of non-human-spirit-changing?

“Joy of having?” “Should the evening’s program reflect a lifetime?” Aren’t there four Intermezzi? So, she only played three?

[Omnipotent voice] Yes. There are four.

This is the Tomsic we love to love; rapturous, vulnerable, suspended, and hypnotically impassioned.

“Suspended?” Cirque d’Soleil? Old-world?

Of the nearly two and a half hour performance, three encores, including two Bach Preludes transcribed by Siloti, brought to closure an event grandly conceived, grandly carried out.

Is it just me, or wasn’t the event “off-the-rack,” thus, not grandly conceived?

And it goes without saying that it was “grandly carried out,” since she had omnipotent technique.


Sorry. I lost my way. What happened, again?


Oh yeah! “Old-world” passion was never explained or elaborated upon. And along the way we found all kind of errata and uncomfortable conjecture. I remember now. All-in-all a model of imperfection. Glad Tomsic didn't play any new music; we might have been here a lot longer!

Unfortunately, I’m done, like an elegantly appointed milkmaid after tugging hazy thread.


Sator Arepo said...

1) "Intermezzo's"? : apostraphe's [sic] do not denote plurals. You missed that one. Heh.

2) Fume' Blanc was derived (by Mondavi, as your link says) from the racy, smoky, flinty Sauvignon Blancs from the appellation of Pouilly Fume' (think Sancerre's neighbor) from the upper Loire valley. He [Mondavi] was trying to steal a French appellative name without actually, you know, doing so.

But still, strange metaphor by your author.

missmarple said...

Also, the Macedonian dances mentioned in the review are not dances of the 'northernmost Greek province' - they are folk dances of Macedonia, the former Yugoslavian republic ;)

Kind regards from Slovenia, ajda.

Empiricus said...

Honestly, that's why we love comments. Thanks, missmarple!