Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I was shocked to read Bernard Holland's article in today's New York Times, "When Histrionics Undermine the Music and the Pianist."

In it, he derides musicians (pianists in particular) who express any signs of feeling during their performances as being distracting to the audience. To Holland, the music itself must take precedence over any visual experience. He is appalled by any Glenn Gould-like ideosyncratic movements and suggests that young prodigies be forced to perform in robotic sublety to avoid any taint to the audience's pure experience of listening to the music.

Is this the same Bernard Holland who just a few weeks ago chastized audiences for failing to give in to their feelings and demonstrate their approval at what purists consider to be inappropriate moments during classical music concerts? I posted a link to that article, and regarded it as a breath of fresh air within a field that is so mired in archaic conventions that it has driven away many concertgoers.

I can't imagine putting manacles upon musicians any more than a gag-order upon the audience. Those seeking as pure a listening experience as might be achievable can lie in their beds in the dark and listen to their CDs on Bose Noise-Defeating headphones! Concertgoing experiences are meant to be feasts for all the senses.

Until next time...


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