Sunday, April 15, 2007

What a bum note, Norman

It's Critics 2 Creatives 0 in today's Observer. First English National Opera's production of Philip Glass's Satyagraha concedes an early goal to Anthony Holden:

"Oh, do get on with it ~ As music, extremely well performed, it is interesting for 10 minutes, pleasant for another 10, then insufferably monotonous for the ensuing three hours-plus. Some will emerge believing they have seen an inspirational affirmation of the human spirit, others a non-violent attempt to bore the oppressor into submission."

But that's nothing to Norman Lebrecht's defeat by Adams Mars-Jones:

"What a bum note, Norman ~ The strange fascination of reading the book lies in seeing how an unstable emulsion of attitudes breaks down into its components. The style is desperately uncomfortable, full of high-impact, low-logic phrasemaking: 'He was on a vertical curve'; 'Prolific? He invented the word'; 'Vladimir Horowitz had more comebacks than Lucifer.' If this is a serious book on an important subject, it should look to its own standards."

Which is precisely what many of us have been saying for some time. Just glad the critics didn't review Peter Maxwell Davies' speech to the Incorporated Society of Musicians. Its style suggests that Max has been reading too much Norman Lebrecht.
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