Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

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lennygoran
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Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by lennygoran » Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:12 pm

Music Resists the Word: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic

By ANTHONY TOMMASINI SEPT. 24, 2017

Some big issues — with implications for the prosperity of the performing arts in New York City and the overall health of classical music — hovered over the programs that the Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden led recently to open the season of the New York Philharmonic.

On the most immediate level, of course, my job as the chief classical music critic of The Times was to give my take on the performances. The Philharmonic boasts a roster of exceptional musicians. What did Mr. van Zweden, its music director designate, bring out of them? How did the orchestra sound playing for him? What does Mr. van Zweden’s interpretive approach to Mahler’s formidable Fifth Symphony tell us about his musical temperament and artistic values?

Yet, a review can also be an occasion to grapple with larger questions. Is Mr. van Zweden the best choice as the next leader of America’s oldest orchestra? Does he have a vision for keeping classical music relevant and for enticing new audiences?

Describing performances, whether the New York debut of an exciting young Finnish pianist or a boldly radical production of “The Magic Flute,” is the core of the reviewing art. And when practiced at its best, criticism really is an art. Here, though, is where classical music presents particular challenges.

Music, especially purely instrumental music, resists being described in language. It’s very hard to convey sounds through words. Perhaps that’s what we most love about music: that it’s beyond description, deeper than words. Yet the poor music critic has to try. Musicians can use a precise terminology to describe music. But I have to assume that these complex terms — chromatic harmony, canon, tone row — will baffle the majority of readers, even amateur music lovers who go to concerts all the time.


Our task is to try and describe music in accessible language and everyday images, which is always hard. Reviewing a performance of Sibelius’s wondrously strange Fourth Symphony, I wrote that the second movement “sounds like a fractured dance in which the broken parts have been reassembled, but in the wrong way.” Of course, I write for musically-trained readers as well, so I do use terms like counterpoint and such. But if possible I try to avoid jargon. One time, describing a Leonard Bernstein performance of Stravinsky’s still-shocking “The Rite of Spring,” I wrote that the haunting, unearthly solo melody in the high bassoon that opens the piece “slowly instigated a restless tangle of squirrelly lines that became a needling, nasal-toned free-for-all.”

I’ve found over the years that readers are intrigued by the practical matters of being a music critic. What’s the workload like? How much preparation is involved?

These days I go to, on average, three performances a week; sometimes less, sometimes quite a bit more. I just returned from Opera Philadelphia’s new festival, where over 72 hours I took in five operas, including three world premieres. (I find reviewing opera the easiest, since I become part theater critic. I can describe the story, acting, sets, costumes, all of which lend themselves readily to words, as opposed to trying to convey what a new symphonic work sounds like.)

My preparation, truly, has been a lifelong immersion in music. I grew up studying the piano, going to Bernstein’s concerts with the Philharmonic, hearing greats like Birgit Nilsson and Jon Vickers at the Metropolitan Opera. I studied music in college and graduate school, played lots of concerts and taught music at a college in Boston. I was in my mid-30s when I started writing reviews as a freelancer for the Boston Globe. (I joined the staff at The Times in 1997.)

The most exciting, if challenging, aspect of the job involves reviewing a new piece. That’s when a music critic can really matter, if a first performance is going to lead to a second, a third and a future for the piece. My inclination is to be as open-minded as possible in hearing a premiere, since it’s new. Maybe if I heard it again, and again, I’d have a different take. Yet, if I really don’t like it, I’ll say so. And if history proves me wrong (and all you have to do to see how off critics can be is read the disparaging critical coverage of Beethoven’s Seventh and Brahms Second when these symphonies were new) so be it. At least my review will be a fresh, immediate reaction.

I never cease being grateful for the access to music and artists that my job provides. When I was in high school, I heard the great soprano Renata Tebaldi in several performances at the Met. In 1995, having been absent from American for nearly 20 years, Tebaldi, then 73, returned to New York for some public appearances. I was privileged to interview her for the Times. In 2004 I wrote her obituary. Back in the days when I had a standing room ticket to hear Tebaldi at the Met as Desdemona in Verdi’s “Otello” I could never have dreamt of how our paths would cross decades later.



https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/insi ... ction&_r=0

Ricordanza
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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by Ricordanza » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:56 am

Music, especially purely instrumental music, resists being described in language. It’s very hard to convey sounds through words. Perhaps that’s what we most love about music: that it’s beyond description, deeper than words.... Our task is to try and describe music in accessible language and everyday images, which is always hard.
Very true. This is the essential obstacle for those of us who attempt to describe a concert performance. While I am not even close to Tommasini's league in musical background and language mastery, I can identify with the challenges he describes as a reviewer. Will I continue to confront this challenge and write concert reviews? The first concert of the season is on my calendar in about three weeks. We'll see if I feel inspired to post some impressions.

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:23 am

Possibly irrelevantly, I once heard the season opening concert of the NY Philharmonic, and apparently they have the custom of starting with the national anthem. I was in a state of shock. This is not a baseball game. I can't even remember the rest of the program. It is a classic case of once you do a pseudo-patriotic exercise, you have to keep doing it or risk appearing anti-American. John F or others may know better, but I doubt that any other orchestra in the world starts the season that way. Certainly they don't play Deutschland über alles (which is still the national anthem of Germany, though they only use the lovely third verse) when the Berlin Philharmonic season starts.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

lennygoran
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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by lennygoran » Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:16 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:23 am
I once heard the season opening concert of the NY Philharmonic, and apparently they have the custom of starting with the national anthem.
Didn't know that-if it's still the practice will any of them kneel down as they play-what would the conductor say! Regards, Len [fleeing]

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by Ricordanza » Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:37 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:23 am
John F or others may know better, but I doubt that any other orchestra in the world starts the season that way.
The Philadelphia Orchestra starts its season with the national anthem. I have no problem with this, nor have I ever heard any objections from audience members or musicians.

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by John F » Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:08 am

lennygoran wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:16 am
jbuck919 wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:23 am
I once heard the season opening concert of the NY Philharmonic, and apparently they have the custom of starting with the national anthem.
Didn't know that-if it's still the practice will any of them kneel down as they play-what would the conductor say! Regards, Len [fleeing]
You'd better flee! :mrgreen: But the players do stand while playing the anthem.
John Francis

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:51 am

Ricordanza wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:37 am
jbuck919 wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:23 am
John F or others may know better, but I doubt that any other orchestra in the world starts the season that way.
The Philadelphia Orchestra starts its season with the national anthem. I have no problem with this, nor have I ever heard any objections from audience members or musicians.
Of course you are not going to hear any objections, except from me semi-privately. (It's a good thing that we don't yet have the Internet Police in place to come and arrest me as if we were in some version of 1984.) It's over in a moment, it's done with, but it is still completely inappropriate. Better to keep quiet if you object, you know, like the first time Jews were deported to concentration camps. I realize that I am exaggerating, but I abhor forced patriotic exercises and always have hated them. It is everything I can do to get through the Pledge of Allegiance every morning when I substitute teach. Patriotism is a natural emotion. In the modern so-called free world only Americans are expected to give lip service to it over and over and over again to keep themselves from suspicion. That was a rant, I know, and I do not apologize for it.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jserraglio » Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:18 pm

jbuck919 wrote: I was in a state of shock. This is not a baseball game.
How about football? Definitely irrelevant and thoughtless, I once showed up to a Severance Hall concert wearing a Cleveland Browns sweatshirt under a fire-engine-red Ohio State University starter jacket and heard many muttered imprecations from the glitterati perched orchestra front and center. Donald Rosenberg, the town's distinguished classical music critic, gave me a big friendly smile as I ran the gauntlet so I felt better. The Plain Dealer demoted Rosenberg shortly thereafter—not for smiling but for daring to call out the music director for the routinier he is.
Last edited by jserraglio on Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:47 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:18 pm
jbuck919 wrote: I was in a state of shock. This is not a baseball game.
Definitely irrelevant and thoughtless, I once showed up to a Severance Hall concert wearing a Cleveland Browns sweatshirt under a fire-engine-red Ohio State University starter jacket and heard many muttered imprecations from the glitterati perched orchestra front and center. Donald Rosenberg, the town's distinguished classical music critic, gave me a big friendly smile as I ran the gauntlet so I felt better. The Plain Dealer fired him shortly thereafter—for dissing the music director.
It is gantlet, not gauntlet. A gantlet is a ritual line of punishment, a gauntlet is a type of glove. What is irrelevant is the way you were dressed. Ralph Stein also attended the NY Philharmonic in the most informal of wear and almost bragged about it. I still object to having the national anthem for faux patriotic reasons at a symphony performance in the US, not that there's much to be done.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jserraglio » Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:04 pm

jbuck wrote:It is gantlet, not gauntlet. A gantlet is a ritual line of punishment, a gauntlet is a type of glove. What is irrelevant is the way you were dressed.
I thought I had stated that I was being definitely irrelevant and thoughtless. But no matter: looking past the misjudged pedantry, being scolded in that tone has been a bracing experience. I trust I will profit from it.
run the gauntlet

to be criticized or attacked by a lot of people, especially a group of people that you have to walk through.
Some of the witnesses had to run the gauntlet of television cameras and reporters.

Go through an intimidating or dangerous crowd or experience in order to reach a goal.
She had to run the gauntlet of male autograph seekers.

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:30 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:04 pm
jbuck wrote:It is gantlet, not gauntlet. A gantlet is a ritual line of punishment, a gauntlet is a type of glove. What is irrelevant is the way you were dressed.
I thought I had stated that I was being definitely irrelevant and thoughtless. But no matter: looking past the misjudged pedantry, being scolded in that tone has been a bracing experience. I trust I will profit from it.
run the gauntlet

to be criticized or attacked by a lot of people, especially a group of people that you have to walk through.
Some of the witnesses had to run the gauntlet of television cameras and reporters.

Go through an intimidating or dangerous crowd or experience in order to reach a goal.
She had to run the gauntlet of male autograph seekers.
I have looked this up because of your comment and I will not exactly say that it is incorrect no matter how many people get it wrong, but if it is a fair spelling, it belongs with a large number of language changes that are now accepted. (It should still be pronounced "gantlet" and not "gauntlet," for which curiously I can cite a couple of relatively literate TV scripts.) For instance, "rhyme" was originally "rime" and got spelled the other way because it was confused with "rhythm." Good heavens, I've even read that it is now OK to pronounce asterisk as though it were asteriks because so many people were getting it wrong. (Asteryx is a comic-book character representing a Roman soldier, and I'm afraid I will never stop saying "ouch" at the confusion.")

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

barney
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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by barney » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:57 am

All Australian orchestras play the (US) national anthem at every concert. Well, they play all the notes in it.

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by barney » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:59 am

I'd never heard of gantlet, so there you go. I have used the expression many a time. But, of course, by contemporary logic, if I haven't heard of it it doesn't exist and can't be important. Just ask the President.

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:41 am

barney wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:59 am
I'd never heard of gantlet, so there you go. I have used the expression many a time. But, of course, by contemporary logic, if I haven't heard of it it doesn't exist and can't be important. Just ask the President.
I haven't researched the linguistic origins, but "running the gantlet" originally referred to a custom of some American Indian tribes (I am 1/8 American Indian so am allowed not to spend half a day figuring out the politically correct term) whereby someone was tested by walking down a double column of warriors who would strike him with severe blows to test his stamina for survival and worthiness.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jserraglio » Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:18 am

jbuck wrote:It should still be pronounced "gantlet", and not "gauntlet"
https://youtu.be/DFiMTk7_GSM


jbuck wrote:I will not exactly say that it ["gauntlet"] is incorrect no matter how many people get it wrong, but if it is a fair spelling, it belongs with a large number of language changes that are now accepted.
The OED cites several instances of "gauntlet," referring to literally or figuratively "running the gauntlet," from its first appearance in a book by the American Puritan preacher Increase Mather (1676). The form "gantlet" (1661) existed alongside it as an alternate way of spelling the same word. From the beginning then, both forms were printed willy-nilly, and neither one was "incorrect".

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:04 pm

You say gauntlet, and I say gantlet. Let's call the whole thing off. (Unless that is it is your intention to throw down the gauntlet.) ;)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jserraglio » Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:31 pm

You bet. Peace.

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by lennygoran » Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:22 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:04 pm
You say gauntlet, and I say gantlet. Let's call the whole thing off. (Unless that is it is your intention to throw down the gauntlet.) ;)
How about switching to pestles? Regards, Len :lol:


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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by Belle » Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:35 pm

Oh, this is absolutely priceless! Thanks for a good laugh, Len. What's even funnier is Danny Kaye being the love interest in any film. :roll:

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:13 pm

Belle wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:35 pm
Oh, this is absolutely priceless! Thanks for a good laugh, Len. What's even funnier is Danny Kaye being the love interest in any film. :roll:
You said it. Although I myself have posted twice about Danny Kaye very recently, the truth is that I can't stand the ham, and was never able to watch a movie of his past the first ten minutes. I think of him as a precursor to Robin Williams, whom I also could not stand.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by Belle » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:21 am

I very much liked Robin Williams and think he was a fine and sensitive actor; his best role was as the English teacher, Mr. Keating, in "Dead Poet's Society" in 1989. His schtick became a bit tiresome on interview programs, but he really could act convincingly when required to do so. And he was highly intelligent as can be seen in his role as Dr. Oliver Sacks in "Awakenings" (a very disturbing film!).

Carlos Kleiber admired the conducting of Danny Kaye when he saw his spoof with the NY Philharmonic, and wrote to that effect to Charles Barber in their correspondence!! In his typically self deprecating fashion, Carlos commented that conducting was really quite easy once you knew how!! And even 'your Aunt Sally' could learn a score by heart so that one was not needed on the podium for a performance.

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:40 am

Belle wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:21 am
I very much liked Robin Williams and think he was a fine and sensitive actor; his best role was as the English teacher, Mr. Keating, in "Dead Poet's Society" in 1989. His schtick became a bit tiresome on interview programs, but he really could act convincingly when required to do so. And he was highly intelligent as can be seen in his role as Dr. Oliver Sacks in "Awakenings" (a very disturbing film!).

Carlos Kleiber admired the conducting of Danny Kaye when he saw his spoof with the NY Philharmonic, and wrote to that effect to Charles Barber in their correspondence!! In his typically self deprecating fashion, Carlos commented that conducting was really quite easy once you knew how!! And even 'your Aunt Sally' could learn a score by heart so that one was not needed on the podium for a performance.
Good points. However, Kaye did not learn an orchestral score by heart, which remains a towering feat beyond the ability of most ordinary mortals. He did everything by ear and instinct, plus the cooperation of orchestras who respected him enough not intentionally to play wrong notes to see if he could detect them. I have already posted that he was impressive in the few pieces he conducted on his charity tours.

I did not see Awakenings, but you should read Oliver Sacks's autobiography if you have not. It is very surprising.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jserraglio » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:45 am

Every time I saw Robin Williams perform a comic routine I thought of his great mentor, Jonathan Winters, who talked of nothing like no other man.

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by lennygoran » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:40 am

Belle wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:35 pm
Oh, this is absolutely priceless! Thanks for a good laugh, Len. What's even funnier is Danny Kaye being the love interest in any film. :roll:
Belle back in the 1980's one night when we had orchestra seats to the Met on Saturday nights I was returning to my seat as an intermission was nearing its end and ran straight into him-he was gracious enough to shake hands with me and I told him how much I liked listening to him on late night radio shows where he discussed cooking-apparently he was quite a cook! The famous CIA cooking school in Hyde Park has an auditorium named after him that we've checked out. Regards, Len

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by Belle » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:43 am

Lovely story, Len, about meeting up with Danny Kaye. And I didn't know he was an excellent cook which is a creative art every bit as worthy as one who paints or sculpts. My eldest son is a successful winemaker with his own label and that's one part creativity, one part chemistry and another part damn hard work (though he has a full time winemaker working for him now)!! The final part is risk; putting everything on the line for something which could fail at any time.

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by lennygoran » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:51 am

Belle wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:43 am
My eldest son is a successful winemaker with his own label and that's one part creativity, one part chemistry and another part damn hard work (though he has a full time winemaker working for him now)!!
Belle is that wine available in the US-you may have mentioned it before but I confess I don't remember the name if you gave it to me. Regards, Len

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by Belle » Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:07 am

No, some of it is becoming available in the UK fairly soon through Naked Wines. He did tell me 2 nights ago about the tonnage he'll be crushing but it went over my head, I'm afraid. And he has 2 women from California coming over for vintage in January to work as cellar hands. He had lots of applications from here and overseas and said he culled them by looking on social media at their profiles and what they said about themselves; most went into the bin!! People just don't realize that this is what potential employers are doing now. One of the woman he invited had written on her Facebook page, "can't wait to get into the vineyards and wineries". Smart girl.

Meantime, we're all praying for rain - which most winemakers and viticulturists say will arrive "the day or week of the actual harvest"!!!!

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by lennygoran » Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:03 am

Belle wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:07 am
No, some of it is becoming available in the UK fairly soon through Naked Wines. ...Meantime, we're all praying for rain
Belle thanks-I found this website:
https://us.nakedwines.com/full_site

We too need some rain-all summer we had enough but now there's been a long hot dry spell suddenly. Regards, Len :(

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by Belle » Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:06 pm

And speaking of Tommasini as music critic, here in Australia we have very powerful wine critics you'd better not fall foul of!!! They can eventually make or break a winemaker, just as a critic in the musical world can destroy a particular artist's performance. Why do we invest critics with such power? Does it suggest the public doesn't know anything and, therefore, outsources advice on what's good or not good? How much notice should we take of critics in the subjective areas of taste and talent? Clearly, we would all recognize a bad performance - that's much easier - but I've seen performances in films or theatre which have horrified critics but about which I'm pretty happy. Who amongst us is capable of standing up to an authoritative critic and saying, 'no; you're wrong'?

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by lennygoran » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:23 pm

Belle wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:06 pm
Who amongst us is capable of standing up to an authoritative critic and saying, 'no; you're wrong'?
Belle over the years I've become much less timid-I sort of know what I enjoy whether it be opera, much hyped restaurants, wine, etc-I admit these critics have much more experience and knowledge than me but I think I have an idea of what suits me best. Regards, Len

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by Belle » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:53 pm

I've got my grandson (7) and grand-daughter (5) here today and I just showed him the Pestle skit with Danny Kaye. He laughed aloud when he watched it and I explained all about 'tongue twisters'!! Our little man has just done a national test through school and found himself in the top percentile for Mathematics and English!! And he has a wonderful sense of humour, so if you've got any more funny skits.....

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by lennygoran » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:56 pm

Belle wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:53 pm
I just showed him the Pestle skit with Danny Kaye. He laughed aloud when he watched it and I explained all about 'tongue twisters'!! Our little man has just done a national test through school and found himself in the top percentile for Mathematics and English!!
Belle how wonderful-you must be so proud! Regards, Len

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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:29 pm

lennygoran wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:56 pm
Belle wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:53 pm
I just showed him the Pestle skit with Danny Kaye. He laughed aloud when he watched it and I explained all about 'tongue twisters'!! Our little man has just done a national test through school and found himself in the top percentile for Mathematics and English!!
Belle how wonderful-you must be so proud! Regards, Len
Yes, congratulations. For those who do not know, the "top percentile" means that he scored better than 99% of everyone else taking the test.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Belle
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Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:45 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by Belle » Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:02 pm

It's hard keeping him from getting bored; he's chomping his way through the children's section of the local library at a rate of knots. I give him comprehension exercises, rebus puzzles, crosswords and he's learning new words. No screens or TV for this child!! And his parents are going through a divorce so it's quite an achievement that he's not hindered by this academically.

A lot of this comes down to how you speak to children and what you expect of them. His sister (5) said today in the car, "it was a completely random thing" (when I asked her why she had unlocked her seat belt)!! I'm having the kids watch ballet (the usual ones which appeal to kids) and some of the pieces from the Vienna Phil New Year's concerts. They love this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwnasjF_Poo

I'd love to take them to the Musikverein in a few years, but one has to keep up the stamina as the years progress!! In 2011 I actually started talking to an American woman (from NYC) who had brought her grandchildren over to the Wiener Konzerthaus and they were both in their early teens. It was very impressive; they both sat with her at the side of the stage not far from the piano (it was a recital) and didn't move or talk during the entire proceedings!!

Today we watched the news and I asked Johann (yes, named after Bach) to identify The Donald - and he knew immediately both the President's name and his role. Similarly when I ask who our Prime Minister is he knew that too. His father discusses politics and contemporary issues with him!!!

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
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Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:00 am

Johann? How interesting. Just for the record, Bach would never have been called that. In his time and milieu, the first name was a formality. Anyone familiar enough with him to use a given name would have called him some variation of Sebastian. Similarly, Mozart's first name of record was Johannes, but he would have been called familiarly by some variation of Wolfgang. (His parents called him the almost unpronounceable diminutive Wölferl.) Except by his Italian friends, of course, who couldn't manage any of that, and called him Amadeo.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Belle
Posts: 638
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:45 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Being The Times’s Classical Music Critic TOMMASINI

Post by Belle » Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:31 am

Sebastian is a favourite name of mine too!! Actually, the school bus driver commented earlier in the year when he was letting our grandson off the bus..."Johann Sebastian Bach". We were flabbergasted!!

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