Only effing Norman Lebrecht could describe Elliott carter's Cello Concerto as "phlegmatic." In his review of Alisa Weilerstein's recording, he plays the old saw that the performer is solely responsible for breathing life into a lifeless work — as if anyone could. Idiot. Charles Rosen liked to tell the story about the time he played "Night Fantasies" in Toronto. A critic who reviewed the performance hated the piece, Rosen said, and said any emotion in the piece was the result of the way Rosen played it. Rosen's comment on the episode is that one cannot put emotion into a work if it isn't there.
Why do we bother?
This morning I listened to Marvin Rosen's last broadcast of "Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde," which only made me realize how much I'm going to miss it. Interestingly, he played nothing that I would call atonal, which is what I think of when I think of avant-garde. There was nothing from the Carter-Boulez-Babbitt school of composition, if it can be called a school — which is fine, I guess. As I've said, I don't need Marvin to get my fix of that sort of stuff, and he did widen my outlook a bit, even in his final moments on the air. Best pieces, from my point of view, were by Crumb, Cage, Takemitsu, and Terterian, who turned out to be the discovery of the day. I had not heard of him before. Marvin also programmed a 38-second waltz for guitar that Frank Zappa wrote when he was about sixteen. It was a student piece, with none of the brash creativity he became famous for.
And I have decided I can live without John Zorn. Clever, but what's the point?