A Minor Snag

A very important part of being a conductor is the necessity of forming one’s own conviction in as many aspects as possible about exactly how a piece should be performed.

This, almost inevitably, results in one’s not liking—or stronger: not being even remotely able to countenance—other conductors’ interpretations, however legitimate one intellectually knows them to be. This gets worse the stronger one’s own opinions are.

And so one is faced with a real problem on every level of one’s activity. It is difficult not to become one of those conductors who can speak only ill of others, giving the wrong impression of being envious and/or conceited.

The conducting blogger, too, is faced with the same problem. So much of his thinking has to do with reasoning why exactly he does not like this or that aspect of an interpretation that he has to avoid calling (often famous) colleagues names.

So I resolve to not mention the conductor’s names when criticizing them, giving them their due only in the case of praise.

An example.

Yesterday I heard part of a performance of Bruckner’s 7th symphony on the radio. Whereas I’m generally suspicious of judging performances on mere radio broadcasts, they are a very good way of forming a fair opinion, especially if one does not hear the beginning and thus does not even know who the performers are. In this case I liked the attempt at calmness very much, but I found the overall orchestral sound reedy, the strings inhomogeneous because of too much and unsynchronized vibrato, the brass section tinny and (which could not be attributed to the radio) much important phrasing simply not happening.

Is it necessary to mention the—as it turned out: very famous—conductor’s name? I do not think so.