Who are YOU? American Big Five (NY-Sun)

(Originally written on February 5, 2007) 

Dear New York Folks,

This is Jiwon.

Story 6: Who Are YOU?

I remember.

When the Chicago Tribune wrote his Barenboim-article for me, Mr. von Rhein was stricken by furious forumites. I found it later, and it was my first discovery from the Google-Group. It was fun to know that John became impotent, and it still seems that they no more appreciate his opinion. I still wonder if they know the exact stories in those days. About who was who and why was why; starting from the day when a photo of Clevenger’s filthy affair with his Alice decorated the cover page of the CSO brochure. Whose idea was it? Funnier that none of the CSO subscribers seemed to read the brochure. How much did they pay for that?

Years have passed, and I found this:

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.music.classical.recordings/browse_frm/thread/764fff1495b9efe9/6da76bb2445ca1d2?lnk=st&q=Rattle+BPO&rnum=2&hl=en#6da76bb2445ca1d2 (May 25, 2006) German Critics attack Simon Rattle

Forumite-A: [Manuel Brug, a leading German critic…] – Who says so?

Forumite-B: [Who says so?] – Herr Brug, of course. As usual the article is highly selective and obscure to useless in meaning.

Forumite-C: [Who says so?] – Why, he says so himself. And who should know better?

Forumite-D: http://morgenpost.berlin1.de/z/dieredaktion/index.html?art_id=88 : Maybe he told the Guardian so. You can ask him. He won an award, so I see. I still don’t know what a “leading critic” is though.

Forumite-E: A critic who tells all the other critics what to think. There has to be one willing to do this, or none of them would know what to write.

Forumite-F: But why should they think? It’s enough when they write what the leading critic thinks. So a leading critic is a critic who thinks (that other critics will write what he writes).

Forumite-G: The surprise here is that it took them four years to reach these conclusions. The Emperor had no clothes from the beginning.

Forumite-H: I presume Kozena has not made the same criticism of Sir Simon.

Forumite-I: I was going to observe the same but I’m sort of glad you observed it first:):)

Forumites: bla-bla-bla


Whether or not my resurrection caused Bashkirova’s German supporter to write this article, it was certainly such a hilarious response to this dumb critic. I know it’s none of my business whenever I find their supporting “Bashkirova & Friends, Inc.,” but I still have a pity on Barenboim, who should answer his dumber questions during the dumbest interview, which is “highly selective and obscure to useless in meaning.” The moment I found this, I really, really wanted to show it to YOU, but their subject was not Barenboim. So, I’d better ignore the rest of their debate. The only thing I know about the BPO is that if they held the RE-Audition, they could make a real good ensemble. Then, they would have to find a MAESTRO. So, I say. Whoever he is, the young conductor was / is / will be the best choice for this headache orchestra, which consists of top-rate soloists and never know how to miss the notes. Watching the young BPO made me realize what would happen to the limited talents when they only thought of coloration, rather than music itself. Had they only think of sex and its hot posture, they’d better created more persuasive sound. In Schubert and Tango, at least. Then, more profound interpretation will be followed. Watching them is a real headache, anyway. I prefer to watch the porno, where the performers treat their ensemble partners in a natural way.

Then again,

I found out that when ANTHONY TOMMASINI introduced himself as a chief critic of the New York Times, this news stirred the Forum’s blood. You’d better check it out. <G>

It is very true.

How many years have passed since my farewell to Mr. von Rhein? What would have happened to both of him and me if Henry Fogel didn’t in the saddle of Barenboim’s CSO? I had to start this work, which was the only way for me to prove my sanity. True that my only job was to defeat YOU, but could I have survived without YOU? Even when I was in the darkest depth of despair, I felt alive when I turned on the computer at midnight and found YOU. If I ever want to go to New York, it’s not because the city of New York has an orchestra to run, but because, unlike other cities, so many music critics are working there and I want to knock all of them out.

Then, I am thinking again. WHY?

What is my reason and what is YOUR reason?

Writing something is good. Writing something valuable is better. Earning money with your favorite work is best. Then what? For what?

Do you really enjoy your work? Criticizing poor performers is your only favorite, yet when did you fix the problems in our music society? Your only contribution has been to discourage perhaps-talented youngsters with your harsh words, and then professional musicians, who I think really need your advice, have never been reading YOU. Did you just do this for fear of losing your monthly salary? As far as I concern, criticism should come up with the better solution.

You know… I was not the only one.

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.music.classical/browse_thread/thread/12aef70ff3051ef3/9c81430cbd5f5de4?lnk=st&q=barenboim&rnum=9&hl=en#9c81430cbd5f5de4 (January 3, 2007) NY Sun: New York Drops Off the List Of Big Five’ Orchestras

JIWON: In the Google-Group, their debate was not about Barenboim. So, I found one opinion to show YOU.

Forumite: Since we had this discussion over the same article a few weeks ago, not much has changed. The Big 5 was a dubious concept 50 years ago and still is. There is a grain of truth behind it, of course. Some orchestras are more prestigious jobs than others, so if, say a principal player finds the NY Phil a step up over the Cincinnati Symphony (as happened recently), or Philadelphia over Minnesota, as happened recently, who’s to dispute that the former is a better job than the latter? It is really hard to argue with money, over the long term. Better money means better players means better orchestras, basically. Not definitively, but basically. In the meantime, though, check out the broadcasts if you don’t have access to the concerts. The NY Phil plays extraordinarily well–they are not mediocre by any standard. Minnesota and Pittsburgh and Atlanta and San Francisco and Los Angeles and….they’re practically as impressive, and maybe they do some things better than NYPO simply because their respective conductors have various strengths. So there’s just no point in ranking them because unless you hear them week in, week out, you’ll have no firm basis for a categorical judgement.

JIWON: http://www.nysun.com/article/44570 : So, I directly went to the reader comments on this article. Again, I have to avoid showing you part of their debate, which is more than Barenboim or the general America. There are opinions that compare the NYP’s maestros or the Cleveland’s. Though very interesting, I can’t show it to you. Too many conductors have joined Bashkirova & Friends, Inc., and they did their best to destroy orchestras elsewhere. Wherever you go, there are orchestra members, who prefer to work with a dancer, not with a maestro. Even the VPO.

Forumite-A: Although the big five is an outdated concept, these orchestras still hold more prestige over any of the orchestras mentioned, which is sad because I do agree that LA has as the most exciting orchestra and programming. Los Angeles has become the benchmark for programming…

Forumite-B: Do you realize you’ve just criticized some of the greatest musicians in the world? The New York Philharmonic comments in particular seem unnecessary. And, in case you’ve forgotten…the musicians that make up these orchestras are in fact human! I guess mistakes are unacceptable? Ah, to be as perfect as you; must be nice. Do you know anything about brass playing??? These players are the finest of the finest. I absolutely hate to hear negative “reviews” about musicians. This article could’ve been written minus the personal blows. It still would’ve been absolutely pointless, but then it would’ve spared those musicians mentioned from having to read this crap. I have to assume that you have no basis to judge anything about which you addressed in the article…..unless of course you’ve played an instrument….conducted an orchestra…..(at a high level, of course).. Oh wait, you’ve attended concerts; my mistake. How did they compare with your music appreciation class? Get a clue. I would hate myself if my job consisted of putting people down and arrogantly laying down my “holier-than-thou” opinions on paper. Don’t you think life is enough of a struggle without critics butting in? Classical music should be nurtured at this point. Not judged. These musicians did not devote years of their lives’ to a meaningless cause. I question your cause? Maybe in the next article you can spend more time thinking of a story….talk about a lack of passion!

Forumite-C: Subjective appraisals are really of value only to the ones making them. (…) This may seem like an obvious caveat, but how many broadway plays have closed after one night because of a poor review without the public being able to make up it’s own mind?

Forumite-D: I’m not sure how any of your so-called top five orchestras would fare if they had world orchestra parading past them week in and week out, showing their best at Carengie Hall and Lincoln Center. Go to an ordinary week in LA or Chicago or Cincinnati, and you might feel differently.

Forumite-E: What a silly exercise. There are so many really fine orchestras in this country why should anyone want to rate them. And you can find them where you might least expect…

Forumite-F: The only quibble I have is replacing Cleveland with Los Angeles. LA presents interesting programming and a lively sound, but has nowhere near the depth of Cleveland (string sound, ensemble) in the standard repertoire. While these kind of lists are somewhat shallow and over-generalized, they do serve the purpose of pointing the spotlight on underrecognized orchestras while asking “where are the king’s clothes?” about such venerable ensembles as NY Phil and Philly Orch, both of whom are currently wallowing and presenting less-than-inspiring performances on an all too frequent basis…

Forumite-G: Mr. K is so consistantly different in his opinions than the majority, that it makes me wonder. There is no doubt, what some listeners love, others will hate. Therefore, I look for trends and overall opinions rather than put stock in one specific reviewer. (…) Besides, there’s a bigger picture to look at here too. And for arguments sake, let’s say the Pittsburgh is a better orchestra. They still don’t play as many concerts and don’t have as many world-class soloists perform there in any given season as the New York or Boston orchestra’s. Budgets, programming, and artists also come into play here in determining what a so-called “top 5” orchestra is. (…) I listen to 15-20 concerts a season by this orchestra. I listen to many other orchestras as well. As I’m quite sure the orchestra here is equal or better than the ones in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Cleveland – but I’m not ignorant enough to publish this without more first hand experience and knowledge.

Forumite-H: If he hates music so much, why does he bother showing up?

Forumite-I: …In defense of Maestro Lorin Maazel…

Forumite-J: […In defense of Maestro Lorin Maazel…] – Of course this article is an opinion–that much should be obvious. I agree with the bulk of your defense or Maazel, though my exposure has been demographically limited to recordings. You acknowledge most accurately that when Maazel is on, he is on, and that can be said of all conductors and orchestras. However, your contention that “orchestras at the very top had little room for improvement in the overall scheme of things” is completely ludicrous. New York and Chicago have the opportunity on an annual basis to see orchestras from Berlin, Vienna, and Amsterdam perform in their towns. Most other cities can see them sporadically at least. It is hardly a matter of opinion that these orchestras far out-class their American counterparts. There is a lack of commitment, a lack of pride in this county’s top-paid orchestras, and it is painfully obvious when any elite European orchestra comes to town. I already have my tickets to hear all three concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic, but the NY Phil hasn’t earned my money. In this, Mr. K is dead-on.

Forumite-I: Well, you seem to ignore the qualifier to my statement that the top orchestras had little room to improve, that qualifier being “in the general scheme of things.” Everyone can improve. My point was that America’s second- and third-tier orchestras used to trail the Big 5 in quality by quite a gap and that gap has closed. As far as European orchestras being superior to American orchestras (“It is hardly a matter of opinion that these orchestras far out-class their American counterparts”), that’s an opinion. All orchestras have their off days and their incredible days. I heard Karajan and the Berliners in Mahler 9 at Carnegie. It was an outstanding performance, but it was surpassed later in that year by the Clevelanders under Maazel, also at Carnegie. I was at the opening night of Tristan at Salzburg in 2000, Maazel on the podium and the Vienna Phil in the pit. They played like dogs on the opening night. By the second performance, it was glorious. The European orchestras yield to the Americans in technical proficiency, especially in the brass. The Americans have a less-distinctive sound from group to group. Both have their good qualities. I’ll put it to you this way: when I attend a concert with an American orchestra, I can be assured that every note will be played, that there will be no flubs (or only rarely) and that I will have a satisfying experience. On a great night with a great conductor, I will hear an inspired performance. With the European bands, it’s much more hit and miss in the technical execution end of things, but when it all comes together it is a truly unique experience. It’s the hit-and-miss quality that can lead to displeasure with a European orchestra more often than with an American band. All generalized statements above, to be sure.

Forumite-K: Music is art, and art should be experienced and enjoyed and discussed in a civilized manner. I can be mesmerized listening to a student orchestra playing their collective heart out in Mahler, but forgive me when I long for Cleveland, Chicago or Philadelphia when the San Francisco Symphony’s sound cannot fill up Carnegie Hall. Despite being able to secure MC as its concertmaster–formerly the assistant concertmaster in Cleveland–L.A. still has an undistinctive string sound, often a rough edge and an overwhelming brassy sound that might otherwise work in Chicago or Philadelphia. Cincinnati and Minnesota are currently experiencing heydays no doubt, but they do not have the same worldwide demand as the Big 5. (…) The New York Phil recovered from the Mehta years, and has returned to serious form under Masur and Maazel. Lorin Maazel is like Barbra Streisand, you take the bad parts with the greatness. And, as for the Chicago Symphony, they were driven to excess towards the end of the Solti era and Barenboim’s conducting was often inconsistent until the end of his tenure. It is perhaps the least flexible in terms of sound of the Big 5 (Cleveland is probably the most flexible), and the brass still remains uncontrollable at times. However, this is not the case when they play for the likes of Boulez and Haitink, who is the new principal conductor. There are reasons why Chicago seems to consistently secure the best conductors and guest artists, and will soon appear in Carnegie Hall with Boulez. It is not always to my taste, but it is still a great orchestra. The Big 5 all have strong lengenday histories that have served them well into the future.

JIWON: Isn’t that interesting? They wrote everything I wanted to tell YOU. Have you ever seen this kind of intelligent debate from German forumites? I never did.

http://www.amazon.com/Trading-Up-Consumers-Goods-Companies/dp/B000EPFVAU/sr=8-1/qid=1170489657/ref=sr_1_1/105-8418958-3918058?ie=UTF8&s=books Trading Up: Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods… And How Companies Create Them by Michael Silverstein

http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2007/02/02/2007020200466.html (February 2, 2007) Interview with Silverstein: The age of new luxury… middle class is a target……


His interview was very interesting to study, but I couldn’t find its English version. Trading up and trading down… For years, I was looking for these words. You see, whenever I follow the “Victoria’s Secret,” I pick up something valuable. Finally I found what I wanted to find. As a CEO in the music industry, however, we have to use it in an opposite way, or interpret it from another point of view.

Hence, what about this?

My Request No. 6 to Barenboim

Barenboim has always been someone’s toy, and forumites elsewhere used to insult Barenboim without realizing the reason of his unstable music or stupid behaviors. They always did this without realizing who was behind the scene. No matter what, Barenboim was a workaholic. He is a workaholic and he will be a workaholic. Then why don’t we make this naïve workaholic musician a beloved toy of real music lovers, who are still longing for the CLASSICAL music and pick up the dead recordings of dead maestros such as from A to Z?

To be continued…

P.S.: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/living/articles/2007/02/02/voigt_revels_in_her_new_profile/ (February 2, 2007) Voigt revels in her new profile:

JIWON: As usual, she is honest. I doubt if her favorite hair style and fashion is working for her. I’ve never thought about this when she was HUGE…, and now I have to ask my eyes again and again. In my case, my physical shape is not same as years ago. I mean… it always changed since my graduation from university. But there was something basic that used to hole my physical shape in the same way; it was still same while I was working as a member of Korean professional ensemble and while I was surviving my further study in Chicago. Even though I have many things to achieve more, my body is different now. As a result, all my old fashion doesn’t work for me, and I still don’t know which hair style or which clothes fits me best. So, I never went to the beauty shop nor I bought new clothes. Korean royal fashion hasn’t worked for me, so it was OK that I was penniless. Now, I feel that her case is similar to mine. Unlike me, her job is to appear in public, then she knows who she should hire for the best result. So, I say, “Good Luck!” 

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