Classical Music

Are horrible men the price we pay for great music? – SlippediscSlippedisc

norman lebrecht

January 05, 2023

The question is posed by Richard Bratby in a Spectator assessment this week of the troubling aspects of Cate Blanchett’s new movie, Tar.

Is that just the price we pay for great music-making? (We’re talking here about artists whose behaviour, though detestable, is not actually criminal.) For sure, there’s a species of music-lover who really does get off on the idea of the maestro as fascist. They lurk in the comments sections of blogs, withering in their dismissal of any conductor who lacks grey hair and a Y chromosome. But what about the rest of us? John Wilson – a one-man proof that you can be a decent human being and still inspire some of the most breathtaking orchestral playing of this or any era – admires the recordings of the famously nasty George Szell. The ear is amoral. I can’t deny that hairs stand on end when I hear Reiner and his dazzling, terrified Chicago band slamming into the ‘Recognition Scene’ from Elektra, or that the finest modern recording of my favourite operetta is conducted by a man who has treated my friends and colleagues like excrement.

Brilliant paragraph, every word drawn from life.

Read on here.


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