13.1.05

All-_________

The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra comes to town for a concert Sunday evening, and your humble correspondent will be reviewing the performance. The program is an all-Tchaikovsky evening: Capriccio Italien, the Violin Concerto, and the Fifth Symphony. This concert is being seen as the biggest musical event to hit town since Jim Morrison's arrest.

I'm not a big fan of Tchaikovsky, but I like him more than I used to (Bill Hibbard said to me "If you don't like Tchaikovsky, you are a snob"). I'm also not a big fan of one composer/one medium concerts, though there are exceptions--I heard the Guarneri Quartet traverse the Bartok Quartets over two evenings in Iowa City in 1981, for one glorious example.

At any rate, I have a few questions: Should I mention these reservations in my review? How do you all feel about Tchaikovsky? About one composer/one medium concerts?

11 comments:

  1. If it is a review, rather than a critique, I wouldn't mention the biases. Tell your readers what you have heard.

    I like the T-man.

    I don't mind one/one concerts. I know what I'm getting into beforehand, and either I like that composer or medium enough to spend money and time, or I don't, and leave the seat for another fan.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your Tchaikovskyphobia is a personal taste, so be careful how you mention it in your review. But more than one person has noticed he gets a bit sticky at times. Three cinnamon rolls are not a well-balanced meal.

    Which brings me to your next question. One composer concerts are usually a mistake. The conductor must know that, and must have a reason why he thinks he can make an exception. It seems to me that trying to understand the conductor's thinking is all part of your job as a reviewer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks. Those are both very helpful comments.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Why are one composer concerts a mistake? Most recordings are one composer. Operas are one composer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  6. EDITED for typo.

    I wouldn't call an all-_____________ concert a "mistake"; it's just not my preference. I think they are different from recordings (where you aren't expected to necessarily listen to the whole thing at one sitting) or an opera (which is just one piece, as is a Mahler symphony, which I expected as a counter-example).

    I'm not likely to hear the Moscow Phil again, and I would like to have heard more of their range. Their publicity material says they play a good bit of American music, which is intriquing to me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think the all-_____ concerts are a sign of box office insecurity. The venues are businesses and there is a certain amount of guaranteed ticket sales when the composer or medium (and traveling orchestra) is/are a very known entity.

    Personally, I tend to think "it's all good" when it comes to live professional performances. But then I'm only a casual listener, not a critic.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love Tchaikovsky and don't really mind all-____ concerts as long as they're somewhat imaginatively conceieved. The one you're attending took no thought at all - the least they could have done is scrapped the Capriccio Italien and played one of the lesser known (and better, in my opinion) late symphonic poems (The Storm, Fate, and The Voyevoda - Opp. 76-78). I posted about the Nutcracker and how 'fresh' it seemed after an avoidance of it for a while. He can certainly become syruppy in the wrong hands, but he has some amazing, pretty unknown works. The single extant movement of the 3rd concerto is phenomenal when done well, as is the Queen of Spades, and Souvenir de Florence should have even more popularity than it already has, ditto his quartets. I'm not a huge fan of the 5th symphony (the least satisfactory of the last three) but I love 4 and 6. In light of all his big tunes most seem to overlook his innovations, orchestration- and rhythm-wise especially. It will be great to hear an echt-Russian orchestra play his music though, if you never have live - it makes quite a difference. Have fun and I look forward to your review!

    ReplyDelete
  9. More good comments. Thanks.

    I guess there aren't many people who are lukewarm to Tchaikovsky--most of us either really like him or really dislike him. I used to be in the intense dislike camp, but have moved to the middle. Maybe this concert will effect that.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Go ahead and mention your reservations, both about the composer and the programming. Readers of the review can calibrate somewhat based on your mentioning those things. I myself have both complained about programming I regard as poorly-conceived and complimented programming I thought especially good.

    I'm fine with all________ concerts if they're interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I agree that an important part of my job as a local newspaper critic is to probe the programming itself. I think that applies more to ongoing concerns, such as the local orchestra and university, than to one-off concerts like the Moscow band. On the other hand, a comment about how I would like to have heard some of the groups other strengths would not be out-of-place, either.

    ReplyDelete