Honest reviewing - a fine example!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by James Yelland, May 21, 2004.

  1. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    There's been some debate in one or two threads here recently about the fairness of reviews of CDs and concerts. There is certainly a need for more honesty in reviews - I for one am heartily tired of reading the "a most pleasing concert" sort of review, which manages to avoid the mildest criticism, even when the performance is dreadful.

    So savage reviews, when they come, shine out like a beacon of truth. A recent example was 4BarsRest's review of that European Gala concert in which Maurice Andre made a dog's breakfast of the Hummel concerto. And, to brighten up the end of the week, here are some extracts from an older and very entertaining review which was brutally honest.

    To add some intrigue, I have made a few slight changes to the text and replaced names with letters of the alphabet which would give away what the event was and who the artistes were. I shall let you guess for a bit, then reveal all!

    For reference, A and D are performers, E is a composer and B, C and F are pieces of music.

    I have sat through some tedious concerts, but this one has to take the biscuit for outstanding awfulness. If its organisers had lined up at the foot of the (stage) to express their regrets and hand back ticket money, and then to cover themselves in wet ashes - really, it wouldn't have been enough.

    The evening began inauspiciously with an untidy fanfare.......thereafter the conductors swept on and off ... in a series of pieces memorable only for the added degrees of numbing boredom that they imposed.

    In the first half, (the music) rapidly induced a desire for an early night; a lady (next to me) slept soundly until the interval. Only the soprano cornet solo played by A encouraged thoughts of soldiering on into Part 2.

    Nor can anything polite be said about the lack-lustre suite B that ground relentlessly to half-time. Just say that it should never have been put on the programme.........

    ....the finale C gave the enthusiast-crowd something to clap, and they made the most of it. So much so, at the end of the concert, that there could have been a danger of the organisers interpreting it as a generous approval of the evening as a whole - a possibility that needs firm rejection.

    In between, we were treated to some very ragged playing (whatever the trombones were doing, they shouldn't have been snoozing like the rest of us), and an interlude by D that I feel sure the great man will wish quickly to forget.

    Again, it was a 'first performance' (a signal, in many a band programme, to anticipate something of monumental dreadfulness), D being invited to make something listenable out of a thing by E called F.

    I imagine that many people have by now told E that this is a fine addition to the repertoire. I should like to be an exception and confirm to him that it is a load of codswallop that is unlikely ever to be played again and which left D in the embarassing situation of being a performer who received more applause before he played that after. Sad. Why should anyone want to hear a superb musician spit and squirt his way through an inconsequential number that could equally be sent on its way to oblivion by any principal in any National Finals band?

    Sorry if all this sounds frightfully bad-tempered. Thing is, my seat was free, and I left it feeling disappointed and let down. Hundreds more, like the lady who slept, had to pay.
  2. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    Class :lol:
  3. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I remember reading of a recital given by one of Yehudi Menuhin's pupils, with Yehudi at the piano and no lesser person than Enescu (I think) turning the pages. The reviewer closed by pointing out that it would have been much better to have had Menuhin playing the violin, Enescu the piano and the lad turning the pages :oops: :wink:
  4. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Now to reveal all:

    It will not come as a great surprise that this was a review of a National Finals Gala Concert - the 1980 one. It appeared in Sounding Brass and was written a chap called Anthony Peagam, who was a Salvation Army bod, I think.

    The soprano cornet player A was Derek Ruffell; the piece B which should never have been on the programme was Denis Wright's arrangement of Massenet's Le Cid; the half-decent finale C was pieces from Howarth's Pictures at an Exhibition; and it was Don Lusher (D) who was trying to make something out of Gareth Wood's (E) Dance Sequence (F).

    So the reviewer wasn't quite right when he said the last-mentioned piece was unlikely ever to be heard again, as it's been recorded at least twice to my knowledge. He was probably right about the rest of the concert though.......
  5. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    If I remember rightly, Anthony Peagam has been the editor of Sounding Brass, TV Times, AA Publications, chairman of (the now defunct) First City Brass Band, and a former 1st trombone player in Chalk Farm Band. (Ages ago he helped my band out on Tbn. on a few occasions, for which I was grateful.) But that review was certainly strong stuff!

    However, he could also be very charming. Way back I enjoyed a meal at his home along with Frank Renton after we'd all attended an Enfield Band concert, which I believe was Frank's first exposure to SA bands. I've long since lost track of Tony.
  6. Ummm.... I do believe that is a "derogotary comment" :shock:
  7. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    It would be if he'd written "dog's dinner". As it is, the only meaning for "dog's breakfast" that I can think of is a hodge-podge of various unrelated things...

    Anyway, there's a difference between being personally nasty and repeating an unpalatable truth that many others have said before...
  8. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    I don't own a dog, but I wasn't aware that there was much difference in what dogs ate at breakfast and dinner! But point taken.

    But as Dave said, all I was doing was repeating what I had read in reviews. Even Brass Band World, a publication which frequently publishes the unhelpful sort of 'a very pleasing evening of music'- type review, struggled to find much to praise in Andre's performance.

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