Sparks but no flame: the case of the aggrieved pianist

In 2010, Washington Post classical writer (extraordinaire, imho) Anne Midgette attended a recital by pianist Dejan Lazic. Later, Midgette took Lazic apart in her review of the show, titled “Sparks but no flame: Pianist Dejan Lazic at Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater.” Here are a few of Midgette’s lines:

Grandiloquence is an occupational hazard for a solo musician. There you are, alone onstage, playing works that are acknowledged to be monumentally great with breathtaking ability. It can be hard to avoid assuming the trappings of greatness. Exhibit A is Dejan Lazic.

Not too salty, but there’s this…

The selection of [Chopin and Schubert] is usually a way to demonstrate a pianist’s sensitivity as well as his virtuosity. This performance, though, kept one eye fixed on monumentality. Some of the pieces (…) sounded less like light solo piano works than an attempt to rival the volume of a concerto with full orchestra. This scherzo became cartoon-like in its lurches from minutely small to very, very large.

Okay, don’t let Lazic read this:

[He used] a host of concert-pianist playacting gestures: head flung back at the end of a phrase; left hand conducting the right hand; or a whole ballet of fingers hovering over keys and picking out their targets before an opening note was even struck. (…) There were fine moments, but they stubbornly refused to add up to anything more than a self-conscious display of Fine Moments.

Midgette went in. Pen > sword. Continue reading Sparks but no flame: the case of the aggrieved pianist

Do you know what beef is? The fiddler versus the good doctor

Mark O’Connor does not like Shin’ichi Suzuki.

For those who don’t know, Shin’ichi Suzuki is the originator of the Suzuki Method. Suzuki’s method teaches ear-training and musical technique to very young music students. The Suzuki instructor introduces increasingly complex pieces in sequential books. Everybody in the Suzuki Cult learns the same material and wears the same robes.

This systematized approach has led to thousands (more likely millions) of musicians learning all the Suzuki repertoire. I’d bet four out of five people in a given pro orchestra could still play Suzuki tunes from memory. I sure can.

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1434/1454919712_77b51d2704.jpg
An example of a child playing a violin. Maybe s/he played in the Suzuki Method, or maybe not. We’ll never know. THE ENIGMA OF PHOTOGRAPHS. Credit http://tpianostudio.com/work/

Continue reading Do you know what beef is? The fiddler versus the good doctor

How to promote your album when you’re not U2

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday I noticed an unfamiliar album in the slop bin that is my iTunes library — Songs of Innocence by a little Irish collective called U2.

The album was made available to half a billion iTunes users fo’ free, just for keeping it real with Apple. Public response was tepid. Actually, icy. First, it’s not very good. Second, users couldn’t remove it from their cherished iPhone 6-Pluses if they wanted to.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen music bundled with a new product. Remember when Samsung bought a million copies of Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail to give away to customers? Continue reading How to promote your album when you’re not U2

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