Writing about Music Still as Awesome as Last Time I Checked

Diamond season off to brilliant start
D.S. Crafts, Albuquerque Journal, 9/2/2011

Don't bother clicking the link; the Journal is, apparently, so awesome – one hopes this is due to its expensive and, ergo, excellent staff of wordsmiths – that they don't just give their advertising-soaked content away for nothing. You can sit through an ad for a trial version if you really want to.

I find this patently fucking offensive. Let's just say I'll be getting my local arts coverage somewhere else from now on.

I guess I could take the print version, but (as a friend of mine always replies when offered a subscription to the Austin American-Statesman) I have neither a bird nor a puppy.

---Begin Digression---

A few words are in order. Yes, it has been a long time; life intervenes. Sue us. Also, the Austin-based percentage of Detritus Review writers went from 50% to 66% to 33% to 0% in the short space of a year.* Doings, as they say, are afoot.

*I was going to make a graph of this, but I didn't.

Clever readers will have already surmised that I have relocated to Albuquerque, along with Mrs Arepo and the cat. (Yes, all bloggers really do have cats. No, you cannot see a picture.) All is well and the chile is excellent and near-daily.

Figure 1: Chiles rellenos


---End Digression---

My first and only sojourn into the Albuquerque Journal's Pay-to-Read Arts Coverage was rewarded with the requisite Hacky Classical Music Review Title.

Diamond season off to brilliant start

Oh, well played, sirs. Way to not fall into the dreaded let's-at-least-use-the-second-stupid-thing-that-pops-into-our-collective-head trap.

The Santa Fe Concert Association commenced its 75th anniversary season in grand style, bringing to the stage of the Lensic Performing Arts Center soprano Susanna Phillips among others.

If I were the arts director, I'd bring her to the stage by herself — as befits the featured artist — and leave the “others” sort of in the background. What? It was just a missing comma? Oh, never mind, then, newspaper-that-thinks-I-should-pay-for-its-awesome-online-content.

Phillips, seen in August on public television’s Mozart concert, is quickly and rightfully becoming one of the most celebrated singers in the country. A veteran of three Mozart leads at the Santa Fe Opera, she sings two primary roles at the Metropolitan Opera this season.

She does and/or will?

Conducted by Joseph Illick, she opened the program with the “Four Last Songs” by Strauss.

I'm a little confused about agency here; I admit that this might be my own problem.

Figure 2: The crumbling ruins represent sentences

Somber songs about death are not exactly the most festive work to begin a gala opening concert, but from a performance of such radiant beauty there were anything but objections.

Okay; no. It's not just me. Prepositions aren't interchangeable and/or to be omitted ad libitum. The first phrase, which has a prepositional deficiency so severe it likely has scurvy, gives way to a second clause implying that the performance was so exquisite it didn't even object to itself.

With long, warm phrasing she gave heartfelt meaning to each of the poems. Illick carefully gauged the tempos of the predominantly string sonority to allow her a maximum of expression.

One notes with interest that the author of the review is himself a composer; this is a nice insight.

Phillips then returned for selections from Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2, “Lobgesang,” which includes chorus, soprano and mezzo-soprano.

Selections? They didn't play the whole symphony? You stay classy, Santa Fe Concert Association.

Here in contrast to the introspective Strauss, she let loose the full power and luster of her voice and shone brilliantly above the orchestral textures.

Still working on that “diamond” thing, eh? Was that with or without conspiring with the title-writing editor to keep up the lame, lame joke?

Linda Raney’s chorus too sang with an unbridled optimism, creating a “joyful noise” most appropriate to the occasion.

The scare quotes lead me to believe that the reviewer thinks that the chorus was awful—but enthusiastic!

Figure 3: Requisite pop culture reference

Pro Tip: Do not use fucking scare quotes in your writing.

Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton sang two small roles with the Santa Fe Opera this summer, both, unfortunately, too short to give us anything but a glimpse of her outstanding talent.

“Both” is not the same as “each.” That difficulty is overcome, however; even though each [sic] of her small roles was too short to allow an accurate assessment of her talent, said assessment is nevertheless undertaken.

Here too, frustratingly, we heard only one or two short solo passages other than the voice in duet with Phillips.

One or two? Lost count, did we? Wait; maybe I'm confused. There were two singers. What was that last bit again?

...other than the voice in duet with Phillips.

Now I'm more confused than ever. I don't know what that means. The addition or subtraction of a comma and/or preposition (if I have understood the rules of the column-game so far) won't even help.

I, for one, hope to hear more of her rich, hearty mezzo in future.

I, for one, hate clich├ęd stock phrases. I, for one, will also not be referring to the Albuquerque Journal for information about future local arts events. I, for one, will, further, not address the rest of this review.

I would, however, be remiss if I didn't mention the end of the article.

Appreciative congratulations to the SFCA in this most auspicious 75th season. 1937 had to be a good year. It heralded, as the program notes reminded, the introduction of Spam.

Points for the delightful non sequitur, even if it was cribbed from the program notes.


Empiricus said...

Duets are the new solos, haven't you heard?

Gustav said...

Why is so much of this article dedicated to a soloist that we "only heard one or two short" passages from? And more importantly, who loses count after one?

John Kurman said...

Begin commentary digression.

You will forgive me, but I mistook "chile" to mean child, as in "honey chile". There was, as a result, a moment's disorientation when you mention that the child was excellent and almost daily. As there was no mention of offspring, I had to assume you meant the cat. Excellent I can understand. The "near daily' provoked a mild alarm, as it was then I noticed the picture. But of course, the picture resolved the ambiguity, and I regained aesthetic gyroscopy, if not compass.

End digression.

P.S. These entries have been missed.

Sator Arepo said...

Your candor is hilarious as well as refreshing. Although buggering chiles stuffed with cheese can cause painful burning, at least it's not illegal.