I’ve read my share of interesting reviews. I’ve read some that astonish me because they are so accurate. I’ve read some that confuse me because they are so off, or make statements that aren’t true. But since this blog is mine and about yours truly … I’ve also been mentioned in some when I’ve 1) had a sub in my place 2) not played the solo for which I was mentioned because the solo was on a different instrument (really!) and 3) not been on stage—or even in the building—when I’ve been favorably reviewed and there was no English horn on the work for which I got kudos. (Those are fun to clip.)

I find #1 to be understandable. Most symphonies do not put subs names in programs, and leave the regular members listed. It’s just the way things are done. Of course I would think that reviewers would start to recognize our faces, but I suppose it’s not as clear from the audience as I might think (although I can sometimes spot the reviewers. Some time ago I used to watch one leave after the first half of a concert and not return, although the review would cover the second half of hte concert). I wouldn’t mind if someone from the symphony alerted reviewers to changes; I think my replacement deserves a good mention if he or she has done well, and I’m embarrassed to be mentioned when I’m not there.

Numbers 2 and 3 are troubling, though. I’ve always wondered how one can mistake a different instrument for the sound of an English horn. The time I was mentioned when the solo was by a baritone horn was especially confusing! And to hear English horn when there is no English horn in the entire work is the most baffling of all. But it happens.

I never correct reviewers when they make these mistakes. Having this blog is, I suspect, enough to alienate some who write reviews, and I realize that I may never get a mention because this site here might be off-putting to some people. Correcting a reviewer is just not something I’ll ever do … would a reviewer only comment on me unfavorably if I did that? I wonder. And I’m not willing to see what might happen! Ah well. I like getting mentioned as much as anyone when I do a good job. (And I hurt as much as anyone else when I get bad mentions.) But I can deal without seeing my name in a paper; I don’t slit wrists over reviews.

I also wonder about reviewers who talk, in advance, to musicians, and get some sort of inside scoop on a conductor or work. Will the reviewer hear with different ears then? Will he or she see the conductor differently, looking for, perhaps, something a musician compalined about? I think that I would.

Just pondering … because I do have time to do that right now! I’m not complaining about reviewers. They are just doing their job. I suspect it’s not all that easy of a job, either. I do complain about readers, though, when they act as if a reviewer is writing Truth. Reviewers are writing what they believe to be true. Go to the concert. Make up your own mind. You might disagree, you know? (I write this because I’ve had people come up to me and say, “I heard you really had a bad concert last weekend,” when I’ve felt the concert was good. Just because one reviewer says it was bad doesn’t necessarily make it so. It might, but you won’t know unless you hear the concert yourself!)

Okay … ramble over and out. And no, I’m not going to tell you where, this week, I read a review that mentioned me on a work I didn’t play … but it happened. (I think I might be the lone reader of the article, so it’s not a big deal. But it sure did puzzle me.)

Great News!
I’ll be seeing San Francisco Opera’s production of Tristan and Isolde next Tuesday. WOO HOO! (Thanks, Debbie!) I’m looking forward to this, although I’ll need to prepare; it’s a lone one! (And please, if you don’t like Wagner, just accept that I do. I honestly don’t need negative comments here. Really. Truly. Okay?)

Now it’s time to do a little reed work. While I have some time off it’s good to get extra reeds wound, and do a bit ‘o carving on them.

PS My name is Patty or Patricia, for any who have wondered. I am not Pat. I will never be Pat. I promise. 8-)

5 Comments

  1. Katarina Eriksson

    My mother-in-law (who was a cellist) once brought a neighbour to a performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and the neighbour was delighted all the way home. The day after she read a bad review of the concert and phoned my mother – in-law saying “Well, well, I suppose it wasn’t so good after all”…

    Reviewers can really influence people….

    Congratulations on the Tristan – it’s an absolute favourite of mine, I have lived with that work and that
    solo the past three years. We even recorded it – it was terrible playing the Tristan solo in a concert hall, no atmosphere at all…
    But, the result wasn’t too bad I suppose!

    Now, in the middle of our new Ring I miss Tristan all the time…

    Today it’s the Walküre though – my favourite Ring-opera even though it isn’t Tristan!

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    Yes, people believe whatever reviewers say. And yet reviewers make such major mistakes. One just gave me a good review for playing English horn in Tchaikovksy’s Second Symphony. Hmmm. I’m not sure what he heard, but it sure wasn’t an English horn! I wasn’t even on stage at that point. Weird.

    Ah … you are on a recording of Tristan? VERY cool. I’d love to hear it. Is the recording available for purchase? Do tell!

    Hope you enjoy the Ring! I’m envious … although that’s a lot of work. :-)

  3. Katarina Eriksson

    Oh yes, it’s available – it’s a Naxos recording, I think the cataloguenumber is 8.660152-54, but they probably only have one complete Tristan. Check it out on www.naxos.com if you are interested!

    The Ring is definitely a mixed blessing – Walküre went well yesterday, but you really get extremely tired working
    for 5 hours in a pit. We had an american Brünnhilde who sang the role with very short notice since both the original one and her cover were sick. Can’t remember her name, but she was great!

  4. Patricia Mitchell

    I’ll have to check out that recording! I did see it on emusic.com. Fun!

    Our opera company uses young singers, so the only Wagner we’ve done is Flying Dutchman. I’m really looking forward to tonight!

  5. Katarina Eriksson

    Hope you enjoy Tristan!
    I just came back from playing our second Walküre, and it was  brilliant!
    The american Brünnhilde is Caroline Whisnant (I think I got her last ´name right..) by the way!