Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to see me list Kaija Saariaho as one of my four favorite living composers. I've been listening to and reading about her music for nearly ten years now. I've been very gratified to see the major play she's gotten since the turn of the century and especially this summer.

It was disconcerting, then, to read this opening, from the highly respected Martin Bernheimer's review of Ms Saariaho's La Passion de Simone:

Katja [sic] Saariaho must resemble the flavour of the month among composers. Her music - emphatically progressive, generally complex yet hardly forbidding - tries valiantly, often with success, to fuse tradition with adventure. She treads a precarious line between the cerebral and the emotional, and sometimes sustains the delicate balance.

The review is on the negative side--I haven't heard the piece, and that's beside the point--but I found the "flavour of the month" thing passive-aggressive and belittling to the composer's overall achievement and stature. I think Mr. Bernheimer shows a little consciousness of guilt when he includes the weasel words "must resemble" in front of the phrase. The rest of the review was defensible, this bit just seemed a little insecure to me.

(h/t to Lisa Hirsch for pointing me to Mr. Bernheimer's piece)

1 comment:

  1. Any composer can become a flavor of the month, we shouldn't hold it against them - it isn't, generally, the composer's fault that the attention span of the classical music press is short.

    It's more an indictment of the people who write about classical music, that the people who write it..