This is the Musical Pyre, where deserving examples of bad music journalism are singled
out to be destroyed, obliterated, sown with salt, burned to ashes and rocketed to the sun
Maybe we're lucky that so many inept comments are made about classical music. Otherwise, future generations of listeners couldn't enjoy the risibly inane writings of professional observers (see Nicolas Slonimsky's Lexicon of Musical Invective). So from time to time, I'll be scaning the music reviews and features in the local press for howling exaggerations, shop-worn anecdotes that defy the point of a newspaper, and language florid and fertile enough to sprout fresh growth next spring. I'm sure my colleagues won't disappoint me.
Long Beach (California) Press-Telegram, 3/25/2000:
The way of the modern musical world is that living composers are rarely heard from. Local musical groups will commission a new work, give it a premiere performance, and then the work and the composer are forgotten, buried under mounds of Beethoven and Bach and Brahms. Behzad Ranjbaran is an exception to that rule.
Los Angeles Times, 4/09/2000:
Twenty years ago, a pair of twentysomething brothers named Assad traveled from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Bratislava, Slovakia, unpacked their handmade instruments and won a competition. They were virtual unknowns on the world music scene before that, and the prize launched their careers....Somehow, it's hard to believe that the Assads have been at it for so long, partly because of their relatively ageless countenances...
Los Angeles Times, 4/10/2000:
This was an auspicious debut for the handsome, competition-winning singer,who, assisted by his splendid pianistic partner, Victoria Kirsch, put together a beguiling, unconventional program that began with four spirituals -- two of them unaccompanied -- ended with an engrossing Rachmaninoff group in Russian, and included five persuasively sung Duparc melodies and an intriguing cabaret showcase anchored by eight provocative songs by William Bolcom.
Los Angeles Times, 4/12/2000:
In the sense that it offered Romantic blandishments from familiar composers, the Peabody Piano Trio's program Monday might be considered conservative. In terms of interpretive and technical risk, however, it was an act of almost foolhardy daring.
Los Angeles Times, 4/22/2000:
One proven virtue of the UC Santa Barabara annual New Music Festival over the last decade has been the window it opens on rarely heard contemporary music of other cultures. Intriguing sounds from Mexico, Asia, Britain and even from the rich world of film music have, thankfully, passed through these hallowed halls.
In concerts Wednesday and Thrusday, the flexible group of a dozen players [Esbjerg Ensemble] displayed virtuosity, a casual precision, and, not incidentally, measured musical poetry.
A finely tuned sense of timbre and color was the prevailing theme Wednesday, opening with Susanne Giraud's alluring trio "Episode en forme d-oubi." Nigel Osborne, like Giraud, has worked within the electro-digital realm and brings a certain analytical scrutiny to timbre in his "Zone," working with hushed, coiled energies.
In Rolf Wallin's "Solve et Coagula," ephemeral waves of activity breeze across the ranks, as if blown by a fickle wind, and Henri Dutilleux's "Citations" relies on painterly deployment of ensemble color and balance.
Music of the younger Danish composers Anders Nordentoft and Per Norgaard also impressed, conveying, in respective ways, an essential muscularity and dreaminess within their abstract designs. Yet the works that dazzled most and touched deepest were Bent Sorensen's. Wednesday's performance of his wind quintet "Maddelin" evinced a memorable, striking palette.
Sorensen's "Desert Churchyards" is another small wonder, impressionistic on its own terms, and beholden to no particular school. Skittering piano/vibraphone lines brush past smeary washes of string and winds, to a somehow pictorial end. Music like this, played with such cool bravura, is enough to make one a fan of Danish way.
Los Angeles Times, 8/03/2000:
[Guest conductor Thomas Dausgaard] plucked Franck's muddy old Romantic-era vehicle, the D-minor Symphony, from the bottom of the hit list, put it through the carwash (Armor All on the tires, spray wax, the works) and then proudly displayed it... Putting Franck's long, heavy, serious, self-important and sometimes turgid symphony at the beginning of a [Hollywood] Bowl program looked, on paper, like the dumbest idea of the season.... Dausgaard didn't quite achieve the impossible, but he came close enough, often enough, in a committed, exciting performance to lift underrehearsed orchestra, fidgety audience and incredulous critic alike out of midsummer doldrums. People paid attention, players came to life, and Franck sounded downright impressive.
Long Beach Press-Telegram, 1/12/2001:
The first thing that "Figaro" requires, of course, is a singing actor capable of carrying the title role, one of the best-known in opera.