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Letters to the Editor

Sat., March 17, 2012, midnight

Details matter in reviews

Regarding the new classical music reviewers at the Spokesman: I’m grateful for their fresh perspectives and their eagerness. They are clearly preparing by doing a lot of listening and research.

One could argue about what the proper role of a critic is, but I would like to caution them both about being too specific and too personal when making strongly negative comments, because some dangers lie therein.

For instance one recent review mentioned the symphony flutist not attending to the markings in Petrouchka. The 1947 version used in that concert has no such markings. Another recent review lectured us about improper conducting technique. Conducting technique varies widely, and in any case mattered more 75 years ago, when players had several weeks of rehearsal for each concert. Players then could watch a conductor more closely than they can now, when each concert has only three to five rehearsals.

A good conductor in 2012 is measured by his ability to work intensely and efficiently, with careful attention to important interpretive details during very limited rehearsal periods. If the orchestra sounds good by concert time (good ensemble, with appropriate tempos, dynamics, balance and articulations), the conductor has done his job competently, his appearance on stage notwithstanding.

Greg Presley


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