Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Somehow indicative of the times


Drew80 has left a new comment on your post "Here comes ovation inflation":

You are always essential reading, Pliable.

Observing the Dudamel phenomenon has been highly amusing. I have no idea whether Dudamel will turn into a fine conductor—only time will tell—but he certainly attracts the lunatics. Otherwise sane people have gone berserk, praising 250 youth musicians sawing away at “The Rite Of Spring”, a composition that turns into sludge when performed by such a vast number of players.

A conspicuous example of the widespread Dudamel foolishness is a photograph I saw on some website of two goofy-looking concert-goers proudly wearing to a Dudamel concert yellow Venezuelan jackets plastered with Venezuelan flags. Need I add that the goofy-looking concert-goers were not Venezuelan?

It was, at once, cringe-inducing, idiotic, frightening and bizarre—yet somehow indicative of the times.
Another indication of the times here. But more importantly, where is your pie?

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8 comments:

Nick said...

In essence I think your views on "ovation inflation" are quite correct however I do not get the "Dudamel foolishness" you repeatedly refer to.

As a professional player of now nearly 30 years I had several discussions with colleagues after the Proms appearance last year and we were all of one accord that it was truly remarkable. Forget the hype, forget the ill-informed burbling this was a stunning PERFORMANCE. As someone who has spent many years in various orchestras surrounded by an air of indifferent disengagement from players conductors and orchestras it was a joy to see that level of intercommunication. Whether you like his interpretations or not Dudamel was absolutely ontop of the scores and HIS vision of the music. Players delight in conductors engaging with them in performance - the little nods of appreciation and smiles of approval were heart warming. Add to that the context of where these players come from and it is little short of miraculous. To sniffily deride concert goers for wearing a jacket is pure musical snobbery. OK I would not choose to but what does it matter if others do - go to a football match and eliminate all the team shirts in the stands if you can. Not a totally valid comparison I know but not without some worth either. Don't forget this was not dumbed down music - Shostakovich 10 or the Rite of Spring don't make it too far up the Classic FM easy-listening chart. Give them the respect they richly deserve for bringing joy back to the symphonic concert hall. To say they "saw away" at the Stravinsky is both ill-informed and patronising. The level of technical excellence in that orchestra is remarkable you should choose your put-downs with a little more informed care. History is littered with large-scale performances of a multitude of repertoire. The piece can stand it. Hooray for Dudamel and the Systema!!

Pliable said...

Nick, fair comment and I will forgive you the anonymous profile this time. Different views expressed in a civilised manner are always welcome here, although it should be noted it was a reader who was writing about the Rite, not me.

In his comment Drew also says -

'I have no idea whether Dudamel will turn into a fine conductor—only time will tell.

Elsewhere, in a review of a Dudamel concert I attended, I wrote -

Aspects of Dudamel Inc still leave me uneasy ... But all this was far outweighed by the outstanding playing which Dudamel drew from his orchestra.

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2008/08/classical-music-moves-on.html

Aspects of Dudamel Inc continue to disturb me. Which is why I featured Drew's comment as an article.

One particular aspect of Dudamel and also the BBC Proms disturbs me. That is the widespread view that writing anything other than outlandish praise for these two classical music phenomena is considered to be a punch 'below the belt'. Both have been promoted by the media to the category of beyond criticism. Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian for instance has elevated Dudamel to the status of a cult.

There is much good about Dudamel, the Systema, and the BBC Proms. But there are also disturbing aspects that need to be highlighted. On An Overgrown Path will continue to present both sides of the argument.

Gavin Plumley said...

As someone who goes to his fair share of concerts throughout the UK and beyond, I can honestly say that, although they aren't the best players ever for urtext precision (nor do I approve of the "vast number"), the Dudamel/Venezuelan performances at the RFH back in April were thrilling and happy-making. There was a sincerity about them, which is so often lacking elsewhere.

As I wrote back in April (about Tchaikovsky 4):

While Dudamel goes for occasionally outrageous tempi, the members of the Orchestra never appear like circus performers. So tight are the fast passages in the strings, so chamber-like the dialogue in the winds, that you can do nothing but sit back in amazement at what has been achieved. More than the musical performances, however, last night's concert (and I have no doubt the performance of The Rite of Spring on Saturday will replicate) is the most fun anyone has had in the Festival Hall.

And for that reason alone, rather than the hype, I am thrilled to admit to being on the "goofy-looking concert-goers" in that photo. No it isn't the same as hearing peerless lieder, the Leipzig forces in Mendelssohn or Richter playing late Schubert, but it has a joie de vivre, which Drew80 seems sadly reluctant to let into his life. Extreme elation can be irritating, but being a kill-joy is the road to nowhere.

Pliable said...

Gavin, that precisely confirms my point.

Writing anything other than outlandish praise for Dudamel Inc makes one a "killjoy".

JMW said...

You cannot imagine the pressure among high profile recording prize-giving juries to give Dudamel an award, as if that will vindicate the strangeness of it all.

Gavin Plumley said...

I don't read outlandish praise in my criticism of tempi, just praise for the joy that was imparted on that occasion. His Mahler 5 is wanting in several departments...

Pliable said...

Gavin, can amicably agree to differ on this one?

Gavin's excellent blog can be found here -

http://entartetemusik.blogspot.com/

Gavin Plumley said...

Of course we can... each of us naturally has very different experiences.