I finally feel like a real critic…

First of all, this review has generated more Facebook “Likes” than any other I’ve written on Consequence of Sound. Cool!

Live Review: Ensemble ACJW at (Le) Poisson Rouge, NYC (6/12)

But the real kicker here is the ass clown who decided to write an essay on why I’m a bad critic in the comments section. At first I was really annoyed, angered, and pissed. Then I remembered that the interwebz are populated by pathetic trolls who are given a voice by their anonymity and the open content nature of Web 2.0. Someone has told me I’m stupid and wrong for stating my opinion – now I’m a real critic.

You can read his comment, which seems as though he likes the sound of his own typing. So here’s my bitter and therapeutic response.

Who Reviews the Reviewers?

A nice little Socratic entree into his tirade. Clearly a rhetorical question, as he is about to let me know that he feels it is his job to review the reviewers. But, please good sir, do go on…

It is unfortunate when individuals publish their opinions as facts

Hold up now what? Ummmm, isn’t that the point of criticism?? First of all, at no point did I try to make my opinions seem as though they were facts. To say that a piece “felt out of place” is not stating a fact; rather, any person with a decent command of English syntax and semantics should be able to tell that the verb “felt” indicates the way that I feel. The only facts of the performance are what was played, who played it, and in what order. Everything after that is subjective, and every single piece of criticism or review that has ever been published follows this formula.

I’m not in any way comparing myself to such a great critic, but when E.T.A. Hoffmann wrote “Beethoven’s music sets in motion the machinery of awe, of fear, of terror, of pain, and awakens that infinite yearning which is the essence of romanticism,” he was not stating a fact. He was implying that, for him as a listener, Beethoven elicits all those feelings. OK, back to Herr Doktor Kommenter:

Given his claim to be a musicologist, one wonders about his scholarship if his reviews can be this haphazard.

Now that’s just a low blow. Please. I saw a show Sunday night, I went home and beginning at around 11:30, I wrote a review. I finished it in about an hour and a half. As if my scholarship would ever be a result of such a rushed, deadline-dependent world. More to the point, musicological scholarship and writing for an online music website are two entirely different worlds. While I try my best to allow my musicological mind to inform my journalism, at the end of the day, I’ve got a deadline, it’s late, and I’m a reviewer, not a researcher, on this website. I welcome the commenter to read my actual scholarship, to see how it measures up.

[Mr. Cohen’s] carping reveals a certain lack of sophistication for what the evening presented.

Yes, yes, jolly good point, sir. I did so much carping (my review was almost entirely laudatory and overwhelmingly positive) and clearly showed a lack of sophistication. Exactly what sort of sophistication is he looking for? This is Consequence of Sound, this ain’t the New Yorker. The site’s readers are, for the most part, not well-versed in classical music. And so I try to educate a little, but mostly, I try to maintain the indie rock, pithy, and youthful with a dash of sardonicism tone that the site generally uses. On the whole, I use fewer F-bombs than some other writers.

I think most people were impressed when a member of the group stepped-up, and stepped out of the box, to sing in the Teng.

I was not impressed. That’s why I wrote that it didn’t work for me. I am entitled to my opinion just as much as he is entitled to his.

I think the general audience’s enthusiasm is probably a more accurate assessment of the evening.

I’m pretty damn sure that my review was enthusiastic, I was practically blowing rainbows out my ass at this group. Aren’t I entitled to think that there were three low points in an evening that was one of the better concerts I’ve seen this year?

The bassoonist shouldn’t have sung. Yes, brava to her for taking a bold step outside her comfort zone. But it didn’t work for me. It was an amateur vocal performance amongst extremely professional instrumental playing, and it stuck out. The Britten didn’t work for me in that concert. My table all agreed. And finally, the announcement. There were people in the group laughing at how corny that thing was. Sorry if you thought it was magical, because I almost cracked up laughing.

Bravo to Ensemble ACJW for a performance that crossed the boundaries of culture, generation, and tradition.

I wholeheartedly agree. And I think my review agrees.

Which brings me back to the commenter: what’s your agenda? More than anything, it felt like he wanted to write his own review, he thought mine was shit, and wrote a comment that was 566 words long! That’s longer than some reviews!! So start your own blog, and review shows, and remember that when you review something, you are stating your impression, your opinion, of a show. That’s what your comment was: an opinion. Lambasting me for stating my opinion while simultaneously offering your own opinion – that’s a bit of a double standard, dontcha think?



~ by Jake on June 15, 2011.

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