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CLASSICAL  January 2009

CLASSICAL January 2009

Subject:

Re: Perlman - Applause Mandatory

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 09:15:04 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (116 lines)

Ravi Narsimhan:

> The question of the dialogue among artists, critics, and audiences is
> a hot topic these days with artsjournal.com and aldaily.com linking to
> pieces about it at least weekly.  It seems to me that 'dialogue' in this
> context means the artists and/or critics get to talk at the audience,
> which is supposed to take its medicine and be grateful.

Actually, that is the absolute contrary of my experience: the artist
chooses "sure-thing" pieces so that the audience buys tickets and doesn't
boo.

> Both Florida critics said Perlman's playing isn't what it was.  We felt
> the same way in Los Angeles when he played and conducted here last season.
> Everyone cuts him slack because of what he's done musically and what he
> continues to do as an ambassador.  What are audiences to do when the
> work on offer doesn't resonate?  The presumption is that it is our fault
> and I think that's unhealthy.

The presumption that it's not our fault is just as unhealthy and (again,
in my experience) far more prevalent.

>>I am reminded of incidents like the time Slatkinspoke to the audience
>>of the National Symphony, expressing hisconcern over their apparent
>>lack of enthusiasm for exploring the repertoire.
>
> Did he listen for answers?  In the U.S., booing is not accepted although
> it may still be part of European concertgoing.  Now, not applauding is
> also being questioned and punished.  What can one do when new work is
> plugged into the programs whether one wants it or not?

The same thing one does when a warhorse appears on the program, whether
or not the performers play it any better than any number of CDs one may
have at home.  There's only so much concert real estate, after all.  A
lot of different tastes ought to be satisfied.  I myself want to hear
something I haven't heard before.  Concerts don't often satisfy my need,
but I keep going, mainly to support the community organizations that put
the concerts on.  But if I get a whiff of safe programming, I start
rethinking my support.  When an arts organization does nothing other
than duplicate my CD collection, I start to question its value to the
community.

> As a Los Angeles
> resident, I enjoy hearing the LA Phil play classical music in Disney
> Hall.  But this also means getting Salonen and his inbred circle of
> cronies as part of the ticket.  I've made the attempt, listened to the
> preconcert talks, done the research, looked at scores, listened to
> recordings, tried the new music evenings, and still don't think these
> guys are of the same cranial or musical caliber as the Old Dead Ones.

Did you understand Kant or Rilke the first time you read them?  Was
that because they were of lesser intellectual or poetic power?  Why do
you assume this should be true for music?  It took me decades before I
"got" Brahms or Sibelius -- decades, I might add, of serious, relentless
listening.  On the other hand, I got Stravinsky right away and Schoenberg
relatively quickly.  Bellini and the bel canto crowd are still not my
cup of tea.  Since I know many classical-music lovers enjoy this stuff,
I assume I'm just not connecting.  Nobody likes everything.  You're
entitled not to like Messiaen's music or the contemporary stuff Salonen
programs.  However, don't assume that your taste is somehow eternal and
universal or more deserving of program space than that of Salonen and
his crowd.  In short, I put up with the stuff that appeals to you. 
Please do me the same courtesy.

> I had to listen to glurgitudinous Part last week to get to a Brahms.

How you must have suffered!

> Tonight there's some techno-house-inspired Andriessen between Janacek
> and the Rite of Spring.  This is not a solitary opinion.  If we aren't
> clapping, what's it to anyone else - especially the artists?

You're right.  It shouldn't be.

>>Again, we have that question ofwhat is the point of art...is it just
>>entertainment.
>
> I would ask what is the point of performance.  No, it is not just
> entertainment.  It shouldn't be a scolding, either.

Again, I wasn't there, and I tend to encourage booing as a corrective
to the automatic Final Rapture.  However, I don't understand why people
treat the opportunity to learn something as an insult.

> If he [Perlman] had
> wanted to do a lecture demonstration and performance on Messiaen, he
> should have said as much and let the promoters organize it as such.

Why treat contemporary or modern music as a special case?  So people can
avoid it more easily?  As a member of Salonen's audience, you have
probably heard more contemporary music than most, and yet I doubt it
amounts to a third of the programming, or even a fourth.  I really don't
see that you have suffered to the point of breaking.  You still got your
Brahms, Janacek, and Stravinsky, after all.

> When "Announced from the stage" is a big part of the program, should
> the audience simply accept whatever may come?  The possibilities for
> abuse are endless.

Abuse?  What abuse?  Because the audience wasn't flattered by a breathlessly
grateful Perlman?

> Maybe the future is truly digital.  Concerts will be streamed to those
> who can receive them and we can pay for those pieces we want to hear.
> Until then we either stay out of the auditorium for portions of our
> paid-for concerts or carry earplugs.

Sounds like another circle of intellectual hell to me.

Steve Schwartz

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