This, a brief lapse of memory, from R.M. Campbell of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

They played with fervor and refinement, poise and accuracy, despite the occasional slipping of pitch.

The meaningful thing to take away from that is that the pitches slipped. A couple of sentences later:

It would be hard to imagine a more riveting or illuminating reading.

Um, well...


Anonymous said...

Illuminating? What does that mean? What was illuminated? That the performers can't play in tune, or that they had sweaty fingers?

And I know that the word is used correctly, but "riveting" is just such an odd word. This music was so great it just made me feel like pounding large metal bolts into steel girders 12 stories above the ground.

Tom Strini said...

Oh come on, Gustav. You know good and well what Campbell is getting at. But just in case you're really flummoxed:

"Illuminating" is shorthand for "This performance helped me hear or perhaps more fully comprehend aspects of the music that had been closed to me. Thanks to this performance, I now I see them in full light." "Illuminate" is a lovely word. But maybe not so lovely as "flummoxed."

"Riveting" here is a metaphor, in which the writer compares the prosaic and noisy process of metal fastening to the performer's irresistible securing of the listener's attention.

You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Strini. That clarifies everything ;-).

Certainly, I know what he meant by "illuminating" -- it's an empty compliment that Mr. Campbell does nothing to explain. We are all often guilty of this in our own musical opinions, and short reviews don't leave room for verbose justifications.

But your explanation goes even further to my point. "...more fully comprehend aspects of the music...". Which aspects would those be? Please illuminate your reader as well. I can't even really wager a guess to what Mr. Campbell learned about the piece -- that viola played nothing but off-beats? That Brahms is the greatest composer ever? That dark matter is just a ridiculous precept forged by insecure physicists more concerned with publishing than any serious discussion of the mathematical evidence?

Again, I realize that its pedantic to take issue with word choices, but if you tell me a piece of music gave you greater insight into the universe, it'd be nice if you'd share that news with the rest of us schlubs.