Apropos our closing comments in this recent post of ours, longtime LA Weekly classical music critic Alan Rich, a card-carrying member of the Old School of classical music critics (he's now about 84 years of age and worked previously as classical music critic for periodicals such as The New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, New York magazine, Newsweek, and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner), had this to say at the close of a review for the Weekly of 6 September 2006 (all square bracketed remarks are Rich's):
In last Thursday’s Times, I learned from the words of one Adam Baer that Martin Chalifour “remained keenly aware of how to perform as a team player” and shared “rhythmic landings [!] with Zhang while drawing rich-sounding [nonexistent] arpeggios from his instrument.” The slow movement, our man in Box 830 seems to have noticed, was “sung lyrically, with a touch of speed [huh?],” which sounds to me like some kind of disagreement in tempo. No, it sounds like somebody using words for no real reason.
Look around, as many do nowadays, at the news of classical music’s sad decline in popularity, at the box office and at the now-disappearing record store; sooner or later, some of the blame descends upon the pall of ignorance that envelops the consuming public. Who’s around these days to write to the 12,000 people who heard Chalifour’s moving and beautiful version of the Brahms Concerto and the Prokofiev ballet music on a balmy night — or to the nearly 7,000 who heard this marvelous young Argentine pianist (“ending long phrases not with a bang but with a Mozartean rounding-off”) and our own superb young conductor doing great Beethoven and Shostakovich — and come back in the city’s one and only culturally responsive newspaper to help them put a value on what they heard and why? The jilted listeners find, instead, the gibberish of an Adam Baer or a Chris Pasles, or a couple of other preening dilettantes of comparable brainpower who throw a lot of artsy words around at the cultural life of this growing community, and nobody cares about stuffing a rag into their word processors.
I am a member of an endangered species. Encountering dangerous members of the species makes me frightened or sick, especially at 82. I happen to think that I am better than a lot of them, on the strength of having studied with superior teachers and stayed awake in their classrooms. (The best of them, Joseph Kerman, wrote a book whose title I stole for this article. I also dedicated my own recent book to him.) The best of the active critics are Mark Swed, Alex Ross and, I guess, myself. All three of us have four-letter names. But so does Adam Baer, so this proves nothing.
As of yesterday, Alan Rich was let go by the LA Weekly as their classical music critic.
(Thanks to constant reader George M. Wallace of A Fool In The Forest for the heads-up concerning Mr. Rich's termination.)