Friday Quickie: Critic Attempts Humor

At first I thought Timothy Mangan, of the Orange County Register, was about to savage some poor orchestra, but he seems to play it a little safer and turns in a somewhat amusing meta-review.

Check it out here:

Music critic injured during Rachmaninoff performance

A music critic for the Orange County Register in California felt the life being sucked out of him during a concert last week but was able to continue working to the end of the event.

Gustav is a fan of the third person. But, seriously, Gustav's totally been there. And for some reason, this idea of the life-sucking concert reminds him of this quote from Stravinsky:

"Why is it that whenever I hear a piece of music I don't like, it's always by Villa-Lobos?"


Timothy Mangan, the newspaper’s music critic since the latter part of the 20th century, sensed that he was “losing his will to live” during a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances by the local orchestra on Thursday.

Rachmaninoff will do that to you.

figure sergei: Rachmaninoff will sure haunt Gustav's dreams tonight, and, quite possibly, suck his will to live.


Rachmaninoff has long been a weak part of Mangan’s game. In 2006 he was accused of falling asleep during a performance of the composer’s Second Symphony.

Gustav's pretty sure falling asleep is the desired effect.

In 2001, he sent a freelance writer to review a concert that included Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto. He walked out of the movie “Shine.”

Shine did suck, didn't it?

But, frankly, these are impressive credentials you're tossing around. That kind of antipathy for such a beloved composer is just a rare trait for a critic nowadays.

But he has usually been able to write around the weakness using sparkling verbiage and sarcasm.

Of course, you are a music critic.

Some worried that the Symphonic Dances incident, coming so late in the season, would put him out for the rest of the schedule.

Just be glad it wasn't the Bruch Violin Concerto, some Strauss waltzes, or even worse, a Bruckner symphony. If all three of those ever end up on the same concert, Gustav can't even begin to imagine the carnage.

“No, I’m all right, I’m getting treatment. My doctors gave me a box set of Stravinsky. 22 CDs. I’m supposed to listen to a disc a day. So far, it’s working.”

Stravinsky does cure what ails you...at least where music and quotes about Villa-Lobos are concerned.


I must say, it's nice when critics, like Timothy Mangan has done, try something new with their writing.

However, I'm not really sure what to make of this article. It is funny...yeah, in parts. But to what extent does it even make any kind of argument...at all? Anyway, give it a read and let us know what you think. Funny? Pointless? A little of each?


Sator Arepo said...

A response, sort of:



Sator Arepo said...

And I guess I don't think it was quite pointless, as I'm a fan of critics not being afraid to call out middlebrow schlock [i.e. some of Rachmaninoff's popular orchestral music] for what it is.

If I never have to hear the Barber Violin Concerto again I'll die happy.

Anonymous said...

A little context: recently, LA Phil conductor Gustavo Dudamel was injured during a performance (the cause was either a surfeit of youthful enthusiasm or excessive apprehension about his pending tour and the bad reviews that were sure to come; who can be sure?) Mangan was playing off that headline -- rather cleverly, I think.

Gustav said...

Thanks, Anon, for the context. I should say I assumed there was a back story to this article, and while I searched briefly, I couldn't find anything.

Also, to Mangan, and his response -- I still enjoyed the article, it's just that the first couple of sentences were amazing, and then I felt kind of let down, since I was hoping you'd just loose it on the orchestra, or Rachmaninoff, or even better, both.

Tim said...

I was sort of trying to parody a wire arts story, which often don't contain much critical content. Also, all those stories on sports injuries that are told in breathless tones. As if we care. (Though I read them all the time.) But that's probably way more than you need to know.

Sator Arepo said...

No, Tim, not at all more than we need to know. Because that's exactly it, actually. And: thanks.

Ah, it's days (and comment threads) like this that make me love this job.

Oh, right; it's not a job. Fuck.

Tim said...

In that case, one more thing. My squib didn't appear in print. It was just a blog entry for a quiet Saturday morning.

Dmitri Karamazov said...

Tim hopes to be reviewing either Carmina Burana, Susan Boyle or Andrea Bocelli VERY soon!

Danny Liss said...

I'm always a fan of the mock-sports-injury article. Unfortunately, in the past few seasons, such articles about James Levine have been way too plentiful. (Leading to this spring's set of articles about whether it's possible to trade Levine for prospects, and if so how much of his contract the BSO/Met would have to pick up.)

In any case, is there really anything productive to say about Rach? Let him make his point towards the orchestral leadership loud and clear: when you play bad music, puppies die.

Kitchen Benchtops said...

A music critic should not only be a good writer but should also be a good communicator, interviewer, Be fair, honest and impartial in your opinions.