Saturday, April 22, 2006

Recognized as ...

One of the most promising/talented/inspiring/capable guitarists of his/her/our time.

This and other variations on this theme shows up a lot in liner notes and press releases for classical guitarists. A person could be forgiven for thinking that if a classical guitarist has even recorded a CD that he or she is one of the most acclaimed guitarists of their own generation! Perhaps every guitarist who plays classical repertoire has their own generation? It could explain why I come across liner notes describing a guitarist I've never heard of before as one of the most accomplished artists of his/her generation.

Speaking of which ... it would sure help me know which generation these people are talking about if the notes would say something about when the guitarist was actually born. We're liable to see notes about where a guitarist studied and who he/she studied with but of exactly which generation we're being told about we have to settle for the assumption that every guitarist who records a CD is also like Melchizedek! Let the reader understand. :)

Now I'm joking here, partly, but it DOES seem to happen often enough that this sort of hyperbole gets bandied about talking or writing about guitarists. Things will be written about how the guitarist has concertized all ove4r the world and has studied with this or that prestigious guitarist you may or may not have heard of. Barrueco? Yeah, I've heard of him and he's good. Segovia? Of course we've all heard of him and yet I don't particularly care for his taste in music. It may have been Segovia who got all the plaudits the world over but it was Julian Bream who was commissioning the pieces I actually want to listen to, no offense meant to Segovia fans.

Monday, April 17, 2006

bits lying around

A few years ago I tried writing a few essays, some of which appeared on a now retired website and after I do some scrounging around I'll try to post some of those eessays here. There's one in particular called "The Composer in the Evil Empire" that I wrote in consideration of Shostakovich, whose centennial happens to be this year.

Shostakovich is an interesting dude. His music varies widly in quality. If Hindemith or Bartok have a bad day composing their music is simply dull but when Shostakovich has a bad day composing his music is nothing less than infuriating. There's no small difference between blandly forgettable and infuriatingly memorable. I still regret the hours I spent trying to slog through symphonies 2 and 3 by Shostakvoich. But his string quartets are all fantastic. Anyway, since this is the year to wax whatever about Shostakovich, for or against, I'll try to scrounge up an essay later.