When criticism cuts both ways
This interview with Jordi Savall in La Stampa Cultura has been causing something of a furore. Forgive me if I don't have the story quite right, but the article is in Catalan and behind a paywall. But it appears Jordi's harsh comments about the state of Western classical music - formulaic, self-serving and lacking creativity - have been greeted with social media ripostes from within Spain that people in glass houses should not throw stones.
Readers will know that over the years I have been one of Jordi's biggest fans, so it saddens me to say that I have sympathy for some of the views expressed by his critics. In recent years I have been uncomfortable with certain aspects of Jordi's work. For instance, his puzzling criticism of the Spanish government's arts policy when he was taken funding from the ethically compromised Abu Dhabi regime, the difficulty of reconciling his humanitarian stance with his concerts in China, and the lacklustre book and CD projects which have repeated the same formula too often and sometimes are patched together from concert recordings made at different venues with varying acoustics. Then there are those audible mastering glitches in the SACD layer of his War & Peace CDs which are still uncorrected, and the unacceptable level of ambient noise and compromised sound on his recently released concert recording of Libre Vermell de Montserrat which is generally inferior to his 1979 EMI Reflexe account.
I treasure many of Jordi's CDs, have wonderful memories from his concerts and look forward to his future successes. But there is no smoke without a fire, and I respectfully suggest that he spends a little more time reflecting on the criticism sparked by his interview, and a little less time mimicking other celebrity musicians by flying around the world telephoning in his performances, churning out boilerplate new releases and making Barenboim-like pronouncements about the sad state of the world. Of course a musician must earn a living. But at the age of 76 I believe it is time for Jordi Savall to find a little more of the inner peace that he has so persuasively advocated. Clarification and comment from my Catalan readers would be appreciated.
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