Sunday, November 2, 2014

Erasing History?

Dejan Lazic is a pianist that according to Washington Post music critic Anne Midgette, has all sparks but no flame. One December 6th, 2010, Anne Midgette wrote a less than favorable review on Lazic’s performance at the Washington Performing Arts Society’s Hayes Piano Series at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre.

“His recital of Chopin and Schubert on Saturday was unfortunately on the same spectrum. The selection of those two composers is usually a way to demonstrate a pianist's sensitivity as well as his virtuosity. This performance, though, kept one eye fixed on monumentality. Some of the pieces, such as Chopin's Scherzo No. 2, sounded less like light solo piano works than an attempt to rival the volume of a concerto with full orchestra. This scherzo became cartoon-like in its lurches from minutely small to very, very large.”

As of Friday, October 31st, 2014, the Washington Post has published an article stating that Lazic has requested the removal of this concert review under the European Union’s Right to be Forgotten ruling. 

When I was a marketing intern for a music venue on the North Shore of MA, one of my jobs was to search the internet for concert reviews. I had only come across one bad review out of my three summers with the company. Something that came across my mind when finding these articles was how can one person judge a concert so much that he or she can write a two page review on the performance. I still don’t understand how writers can do that. Most of the time, these articles are written with what seems like a lot of opinions. I guess that I’m more perplexed about what criteria that critics base their reviews on. In defense of these critics, it is easy to tell a good performance from a bad performance after a concert leaves you less than satisified.

I think that Dejan Lazic’s request is interesting. He obviously thought that the review was unjust. It seems as though that the critique still bothers him four years later. Lazic feels that he performed better than what Anne Midgette had thought. It’s a matter of opinion vs. opinion. How can anyone find a conclusion in a case such as that? 

 The Right to be Forgotten ruling allows for individuals to have control of their personal internet search results. Certain links can be removed from the search results if the search contains inadequate information. If a performer has one bad review and fifty good reviews from critics, then it seems as though the one bad concert is inadequate since it is not a good representation of the artist’s entire career.

Lazic read Midgette’s review and took great offense to it, believing the review to be “Defamatory, mean-spirited, opinionated, one-sided, offensive…” 

Midgette replied with, “I tried to make it very clear in my review that I thought this was a pianist of significant ability, and for that I thought he could do better than he did,” Midgette said. From the review:

The pianist was received with reasonably warm applause, but it didn't last long enough to draw an encore - which ought to get his attention. He's a pianist of prodigious gifts, and he's too good not to do better, to move beyond the music's challenges and into the realm of its soul."

If the review is taken down, would it be like rewriting history? I think that bad reviews might be an essential part of being a musician. It’s not as if bad reviews are a rare commodity. Beethoven was subject to many bad reviews in his lifetime along with Franz Liszt and Debussy. 

 “M. Debussy wrote three tonal pictures under the general title of TheSea… It is safe to say that few understood what they heard and few heard anything they understood… There are no themes distinct and strong enough to be called themes. There is nothing in the way of even a brief motif that can be grasped securely enough by the ear and brain to serve as a guiding line through the tonal maze. There is no end of queer and unusual effects in orchestration, no end of harmonic combinations and progressions that are so unusual that they sound hideously ugly.”
—W.L. Hubbard, Chicago Tribune, January 30, 1909

“Beethoven’s Second Symphony is a crass monster, a hideously writhing wounded dragon, that refuses to expire, and though bleeding in the Finale, furiously beats about with its tail erect.”
Zeitung für die Elegente Welt, Vienna, May 1804

“Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz is a hideous, incomprehensible jargon of noise, cacophony and eccentricity, musically valueless, and only interesting to ears that prefer confusion to meaning… It had about as much propriety on the program with Schumann and Handel as a wild boar would have in a drawing room.”
Boston Gazette, November 20, 1887

No comments: