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Norman Lebrecht is out of control.*


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He's always snarky, but damn. This was 80% just plain mean. I want to hear this album more now, so thanks for the recommendation dude.

https://myscena.org/norman-lebrecht/the-lebrecht-weekly-hilary-hahn-paris-deutsche-grammophon/

Also, I definitely tune in to public intellectuals and critics just like you all do, maybe less considering the crowd, but more than average. My point is, you all know that most don't do this, even when they hate something. Could her album be that bad? No way. 

(*Everyone gets an opinion, even me.)

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I find it hard to get worked up about NL.  He's just a person.

The word neurotypical was strange in context, I think he would've been better off being more descriptive.

My main criticism is that it's not very entertaining to read.  If you're going to give something only 1-star, at least have the decency to complain in a dramatic fashion so we can all enjoy it.  This was just weak.

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I had to look up "neurotypical"

"Hahn’s playing in the Chausson Poème lacks colour, passion and seduction. In terms of traditional interpretation, it is not neurotypical"

So it's newspeak for "normal" i.e. non autistic. And the newspeak for autistic is "neurodiverse".

So he's saying her playing on this piece is autistic. That's not a review so much as pretentious twaddle.

What's newspeak for Pseudointellectual?

Edited by sospiri
Correction
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I figured that because she didn't play in some gooey romantic way that he was trying to cut her down for having a different idea or interpretation of Poeme. So she's veering towards autistic on the basis of her unfeeling interpretation, he says, and that's complete BS. It's probably an overdone piece but I definitely want to hear what she did with it if it's so different...

I don't always like the pieces that Hillary Hahn chooses either. I feel like she needs a better agent to help her sometimes. One star though... Kind of rough I think.

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It's perfectly okay to "not" like something. :rolleyes:

Plus, whether one likes/dislikes a particular critic, it's their job to criticize. Who wants to read only banal happy poof pieces? How far does "it was another lovely effort by Performer X, a good time was had by all" take us?

...and...if we make "mean" comments about a critic's mean comments, how are we any different than the the critic? 

 

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32 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

"Norman Lebrecht"?  :ph34r::lol:

Like.

Let's put it in our own urban dictionary. What a load of Norman  Lebrecht

 

56 minutes ago, Rue said:

It's perfectly okay to "not" like something. :rolleyes:

So why bother reviewing it just to be mean?

56 minutes ago, Rue said:

Plus, whether one likes/dislikes a particular critic, it's their job to criticize. Who wants to read only banal happy poof pieces? How far does "it was another lovely effort by Performer X, a good time was had by all" take us?

Isn't he just being grouchy? Where's the value in that? 

56 minutes ago, Rue said:

...and...if we make "mean" comments about a critic's mean comments, how are we any different than the the critic? 

Well hopefully he's reading our reviews of his review? Although he probably says " I never read reviews of my own work, it's just someone's opinion."?

 

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

It's perfectly okay to "not" like something. :rolleyes:

Plus, whether one likes/dislikes a particular critic, it's their job to criticize. Who wants to read only banal happy poof pieces? How far does "it was another lovely effort by Performer X, a good time was had by all" take us?

...and...if we make "mean" comments about a critic's mean comments, how are we any different than the the critic? 

 

Well I guess I'm with Steven Fine. If it's going to be a one-star review be a little more evocative about the hideousness that you're bearing witness to. What he did was give Hilary Hahn an open-faced s*** sandwich on honeyed brioche (because he had to say something nice first). It's still a s*** sandwich, but he made sure to say that he loves her too.  I just don't think he really committed to having any opinion at all. But then, he did. "I'm not sure if I would want to hear more" is not the "Dear God, why? Please make it stop" feeling of one star.

One star? Now I'm just wondering if he's mad with power or if he found glass shards in his Cheerios the day he wrote this, or what...

I've been a critic. You never write one star reviews. When I started writing my little reviews I tried to do a one star because, essentially, I personally believed the author was a selfish narcissist. My editor told me about myself. If you do this you don't make it personal (as in, "I believe you made bad choices, so your memoir is therefore terrible" or...in this case..."I didn't like your playlist or interpretation, so you must have had no vision"). Objectivity is impossible, but try it. And if you do this (one star), you also make damn sure there's nothing positive in the review that would be quotable, and he didn't even manage that.

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Hah.

55 minutes ago, Rue said:

...and...if we make "mean" comments about a critic's mean comments, how are we any different than the the critic? 

The problem wasn't their meanness, it was their inaneness.

While plenty of great musicians are neurotypical, plenty are on the spectrum as well.  Good critics manage specificity of language.  It sounds like he didn't enjoy something about her whole approach, but rather than trying to describe it to us, he chose a word the revealed more about himself than about Hahn's musical choices.

I'm a little bit confused about why he would be writing criticism.  Isn't his blog basically a so-so gossip column for classical musicians?  I don't think I've ever thought about him as a writer.

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19 minutes ago, sospiri said:

Like.

Let's put it in our own urban dictionary. What a load of Norman  Lebrecht

 

So why bother reviewing it just to be mean?

Isn't he just being grouchy? Where's the value in that? 

Well hopefully he's reading our reviews of his review? Although he probably says " I never read reviews of my own work, it's just someone's opinion."?

 

I'm not bothering to dig up the thread, but IIRC he had the bad sense to show up here several years ago (when he was still a columnist with the Evening Standard) to dispute something, and he got the classic MN "bum's rush" with all the trimmings.  :lol:

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The famous Viennese music critic, Eduard Hanslick became immortal with his review of the first peformance of the Tschaikowski violin concerto by writing that the new workbringt uns zum erstenmal auf die schauerliche Idee, ob es nicht auch Musikstücke geben könne, die man stinken hört“, so Lebrecht seems hopelessly out of his depth

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*giggle*

Whatever one thinks...he's got us talking. Er, not that that's hard to do. :ph34r:

And he got Hilary more publicity, and at least one more sale (if not telling actually buys the album).

So, ultimately, win-win. ^_^

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15 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

The famous Viennese music critic, Eduard Hanslick became immortal with his review of the first peformance of the Tschaikowski violin concerto by writing that the new workbringt uns zum erstenmal auf die schauerliche Idee, ob es nicht auch Musikstücke geben könne, die man stinken hört“, so Lebrecht seems hopelessly out of his depth

IMHO, Lebrecht's persistently scathing reviews of certain habitually underdressed female soloists has probably done more to further their careers than anything else has.   :lol:

He seems to use his pen as a blunt instrument.  :D

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52 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

IMHO, Lebrecht's persistently scathing reviews of certain habitually underdressed female soloists has probably done more to further their careers than anything else has.   :lol:

He seems to use his pen as a blunt instrument.  :D

Agreed. I wasn't going to say it because nothing causes an uproar on mn like suggesting that the culture of classical music allows men to do some pretty awful things to women. 

I suspect that what he actually has a problem with is her edgy assertiveness and possibly, a related grievance is that he didn't feel seduced either. How dare she? And how dare she not?

I don't think he means to be of any help to anyone with his one star review.

I don't know if anyone remembers when he got all snippish about how much money Anne-Sophie Mutter makes, but it was pretty telling then and I think it kind of shows what's going on now. He's just annoyed that there are persistently successful women in classical music. Show me I'm wrong. 

 

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There are other examples.

https://slippedisc.com/2019/08/pathetique-for-a-woman-conductor/

 

Of course he's not universally horrible to women but I still think he is transparent about his bias. I think he's a bit more likely to call a man a virtuoso, and a little more likely to call a woman's playing or singing "hot". Which he has, because he's good at using his words.

No, I don't think he's sexist just because he gave Hillary Hahn a rude review.

 

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2 hours ago, not telling said:

There are other examples.

https://slippedisc.com/2019/08/pathetique-for-a-woman-conductor/

 

Of course he's not universally horrible to women but I still think he is transparent about his bias. I think he's a bit more likely to call a man a virtuoso, and a little more likely to call a woman's playing or singing "hot". Which he has, because he's good at using his words.

No, I don't think he's sexist just because he gave Hillary Hahn a rude review.

 

On second thought, I'm taking my own advice below, and deleting my comment.

Why don't you try not posting about him?  That'll hurt.   :lol:

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22 hours ago, not telling said:

He's always snarky, but damn. This was 80% just plain mean. I want to hear this album more now, so thanks for the recommendation dude.

https://myscena.org/norman-lebrecht/the-lebrecht-weekly-hilary-hahn-paris-deutsche-grammophon/

Also, I definitely tune in to public intellectuals and critics just like you all do, maybe less considering the crowd, but more than average. My point is, you all know that most don't do this, even when they hate something. Could her album be that bad? No way. 

(*Everyone gets an opinion, even me.)

My only problem is that it’s too short. I wish he had gone into a little bit more detail as to Why he felt as he did, but he’s negative comments are not necessarily invalid. The problem is that he is attempting to be witty and failing.

SHAW was witty. Lebrecht Just comes across as annoying.

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7 hours ago, not telling said:

Agreed. I wasn't going to say it because nothing causes an uproar on mn like suggesting that the culture of classical music allows men to do some pretty awful things to women. 

I suspect that what he actually has a problem with is her edgy assertiveness and possibly, a related grievance is that he didn't feel seduced either. How dare she? And how dare she not?

I don't think he means to be of any help to anyone with his one star review.

I don't know if anyone remembers when he got all snippish about how much money Anne-Sophie Mutter makes, but it was pretty telling then and I think it kind of shows what's going on now. He's just annoyed that there are persistently successful women in classical music. Show me I'm wrong. 

 

Oh brother. Is not a very well written review. Whether it is accurate or not requires listening to the performance and making your own judgment, but there’s absolutely no reason to think that it is sexist in anyway. Are we really going to go down this rabbit hole again? He has expressed an opinion, he expressed it poorly and clumsily, and any competent writer can write a better review, But, and here’s that word again, to suggest that he is sexist based on what he has written here is stupid.

Hanslick was himself quite shallow, but at least he had a consistent aesthetic and knew what he liked.

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11 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Oh brother. Is not a very well written review. Whether it is accurate or not requires listening to the performance and making your own judgment, but there’s absolutely no reason to think that it is sexist in anyway. Are we really going to go down this rabbit hole again? He has expressed an opinion, he expressed it poorly and clumsily, and any competent writer can write a better review, But, and here’s that word again, to suggest that he is sexist based on what he has written here is stupid.

Hanslick was himself quite shallow, but at least he had a consistent aesthetic and knew what he liked.

I believe I clarified later that I am not concluding that he's sexist based on this one review. In fact, I didn't mention it until VdA did. 

And indeed, not only is it a bad review but it's a really *bad* review. You would think that if he's going to be so critical he would expect criticism right back and make it a little stronger. It's pithy and tried to cut deep without the critical scholarly heft to back up his words, and then with the one star. I think it's mean, even if others have a different definition. It's like he just refused to even bother with writing a real review. And it's so casually sexist too, because he is.

Imagine him giving Maxim Vengerov one star because he didn't like the program. Imagine him doing so by way of primarily insulting his personality and intelligence rather than his skills and performance, which I think is actually what he did with this. 

It would never happen. 

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33 minutes ago, not telling said:

I believe I clarified later that I am not concluding that he's sexist based on this one review. In fact, I didn't mention it until VdA did. 

And indeed, not only is it a bad review but it's a really *bad* review. You would think that if he's going to be so critical he would expect criticism right back and make it a little stronger. It's pithy and tried to cut deep without the critical heft to back up his words, and then with the one star. I think it's mean, even if others have a different definition. And casually sexist too, because he is.

Imagine him giving Maxim Vengerov one star because he didn't like the program. It would never happen.

I appreciate your clarification, thank you. I went back and read the review again. It fails on basically every level.
He claims to know Parisian music because he is half Parisian(he knows only half of the Parisian aesthetic? Which half, pray tell?) Although that itself is defensible, he doesn’t. Nor does he explain what he means by Parisian music in the first place, so the whole digression is meaningless.
He says her playing is “...not Neurotypical” Ummm, What the heck does that mean? If you’re going to use obscure terms, you either have to define them for the reader, or you risk a lot of head scratching. It’s better to use normal terms that everyone, even the musically inclined, can understand. 

His comment about the album title is not out of place. There’s hardly much connection between “Paris” and the content of the album, at least he certainly doesn’t seem to find any connection and if he did he should share it. But his comment is merely childish.

The comment about the Routavaara Is silly. She chose the piece because she wanted to. There may be a connection between that composer and Paris, but he didn’t share one, he also didn’t say that there wasn’t one, so that is another lapse on his part.

We come away from the review with no sense of the music(is the Rautavaara any good? The Chausson? We get no hint of the music itself from the review, and we should.) We also get no details about the performance, and we take away only a lingering feeling that he was in a petulant mood when he wrote it. 

Edited by PhilipKT
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