Eschenbach vs. Dobrin♦
Re "Eschenbach bows out," by Steve Cohen ()Oct. 23, 2006)—
I, too, as anyone who’s been reading my pieces knows, will miss Eschenbach’s interpretations. But beyond that, this is a public relations disaster for the Philadelphia Orchestra. So much of the Orchestra’s advertising depends on the image and persona of whoever happens to be the current maestro. How do you sell tickets for a notoriously leaderless orchestra?
Peter Dobrin of the Inquirer is getting a lot of credit for Eschenbach’s departure. I thought he over-reacted to Eschenbach’s tempos, but that’s a separate issue from Eschenbach’s unhappy relationship with his players. In the end, I’ve reluctantly concluded that Dobrin was reporting on that problem more than he was creating it, even if he did seem to take a certain vindictive glee in doing so. I don’t believe that Dobrin exercises any more influence over the Orchestra’s management than Howard Eskin wields over the Phillies front office.
October 26, 2006
Editor’s note: For a subsequent comment by Coren on this subject, see "Orchestra’s thin skin."
Thanks for a very thoughtful review of The Pillowman, Dan. It even increased my interest in the play, after working on it these past few months.
October 24, 2006
Re Lewis Whittington’s review (Oct. 17, 2006) of the Philadelphia Orchestra—
I heard Eschenbach conduct the Tchaikovsky on Friday, October 13th and thought it showed Eschenbach and the Orchestra at their best. Of course, it helps that I love the piece, which Whittington apparently does not.
It seemed to me that, contrary to Whittington’s perception, Eschenbach’s control of tempo and dynamics that night were superb; the big blocks of gorgeous static sound that take up so much of the symphony just sat there and glowed. And individual Orchestra members produced some of the most delicately beautiful pianissimos you’ll hear anywhere.
I guess there’s no accounting for taste and differences in musical perception.
October 18, 2006
Lewis Whittington replies: Just for the record, I attended the Friday matinee performance on October 6.
Nudity in art
Interesting distinctions Anne Fabbri points out about attitudes toward nudity in three pieces in the Pennsylvania Academy’s "Villa America" exhibit. ("How we got this way," Oct. 5, 2006.)
But City Hall doesn’t allow nudity in art now?! And the newspapers don’t review it? I couldn’t believe I was reading correctly. (Maybe I wasn’t?) We here in the backwoods of North Carolina have nudes a-plenty in public art spaces. I’m really surprised.
October 5, 2006
Editor’s note: The writer is the author of the novels Sister India and Revelation, among other works.
Re Lewis Whittington’s review of Nancy Wilson at Verizon Hall—
I’ve been kicking myself for having to miss that concert, especially after I had more or less promised to attend it in my article on why I cancelled my orchestra subscription.
The main attraction of the concert for me was Trudy Pitts, who was to open for Ms. Wilson on the Kimmel’s organ. What about her? She’s one of Philadelphia’s treasures; she’s a great jazz pianist in her own right, and John Coltrane got his start in her band. I’d certainly like to know Whittington’s impression of her playing.
Sept. 19, 2006
Lewis Whittington replies: Ms. Pitts is obviously a master of her instrument, but it is wasted on me because I don’t like jazz organ (or classical or rock for that matter) in any style, so I disqualified myself.
Re "I should pay for Hindemith?" by Dan Coren (April 26, 2006)—
What a pity Dan Coren is so far off appreciating Hindemith! The fact is that he wrote music, not 20th Century music. When so many others were busy writing politics or psychotherapy and calling it music, or trying desperately to be oh-so-20th Century, Hindemith was busy —very busy— writing music.
Some of us actually thrive on spinach.
October 4, 2006
Where was the Inquirer?
I have just returned from a press conference about the Barnes Foundation at which U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach reported on his plan to introduce legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would deny tax-exempt status to any institution contravening a donor’s intent: specifically, the Barnes Foundation. The Foundation’s planned move to Philadelphia goes directly against the wishes of its founder, Dr. Albert C. Barnes.
Gerlach said he planned to introduce the proposed legislation on November 14, and would reintroduce it in January when the House is back in session.
At the same meeting, Jay Raymond said that in 2001, a year before the Barnes Foundation announced its intention to move, Pennsylvania earmarked $100 million for the Barnes Foundation’s move, something about which Judge Stanley Ott, who authorized the move under certain conditions, has said he was unaware.
My point in this letter is to note that although there were several reporters present, not one was from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
For a newspaper that claims to represent the metropolitan population, such an absence is, I would have once said, unthinkable. But now I’ll say the Inquirer’s absence is both reprehensible and unforgiveable.
October 12, 2006
Editor’s comment: But it is understandable, given that the Inquirer has decimated its news force in an effort to survive.
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