How does a genuine music critic, that rapidly disappearing breed, report that a concert with big-name talent was a resounding, same-old-same-old bore, even a bit silly, while at the same time remain gentlemanly and not unduly nasty about it, and fulfill a genuine critic’s obligation to make his review interesting, informative, and educational reading for his readers? One writes a review like this review by Bernard Holland for The New York Times reporting on a Schubert song recital at Carnegie Hall.
But in our contemporary American culture — a culture grown coarse due the ravages of popular culture and as a consequence rendered largely insensitive to nuance and subtlety — one runs a risk in writing such a review which, by its very nature, is dependent on its readers’ sensitivity to both nuance and subtlety to make its point. One need only read these two responses to Mr. Holland’s review, here and here, to see just how great that risk.
O tempora! O mores!