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February 07, 1957 - Image 12

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Page T w ee THE MICHIGAN DAILY Thursday, February 7, 1957
IN .
THE USIC REVIEWER
A Listing of Criteria A Reviewer Should Use in Criticism
ly BRENDAN LIDDELL at least one which will fill a cry- ceived ideas or opinions about own aesthetic attitudes, and will He must have an elementary
Daily Music Reviewer ing need. either the work or the performer, not be swayed to one view or an- grounding in musical form, such
yF ALL the printed word on the Of primary concern is the ques- or both. An instance of this would other just because of these. He as sonata, fugue, and variation.
vv editorial page, probably none tion, what constitutes a good re- be to approach a Milstein concert realizes their purely subjective He must be acute enough to dis-
view? This is a very difficult query with the feeling, "O, Milstein is value for himself, but their per- tinguish individual factors in dif-
are read by so few, but have such
to answer. An easier beginning is the greatest! He can do no haps contrary value for others. ferent performances. He must rea-
effect, as the music review! Com- achieved by considering what wrong!" This critic will obviously They will aid or obstruct his own lize what is allowable to an in-
ments range from the mildly ag- faults cause a bad review. Al- fail to do Milstein justice, because personal enjoyment of music, but terpretation, and what is intol-
gressive to the superbly ferocious, though their absence will not of the preconceived opinion, do not help him in an objective erable to musical integrity. The
And almost without a doubt there guarantee a good review, the It is almost axiomatic to say criticism. This point is stressed list could be extended for pages,
is only one consensus, "This re- latter will definitely not have these that we do have some already because of its wide-spread viola- but what has been said suffices
view stinks!" The critic is abused drawbacks, formed opinions on everything- tion to indicate the rather tremendous
for his ignorance, lack of imagi- First (although the order is ar- but they are not adamantine to store of criteria needed for valid
nation, friidity; for his "vicious, bitrary), the critic may neglect Use abjectise critic This latter HAVING CLEARED the way of comparison.
vitriolic, and vituperative" words, the performance in favor of the will not hesitate to say, "Milstein lesser, but important consid-
for his Communistic, anti-cultural music. Iis review becomes a re- was poor tonight," if Milstein was erations, we can now consider A FEW illustiations will not be
attitude. Were it not for the Re- hash of program notes. Such an poor tonight. Nor, on the other what technical knowledge is req- out of place. In a performance
gent By-laws against lynching error would be an analysis of Bee- hand, will he express great sur- uisite for valid criticism. Or in of Poulenc's Mass in G, which is
said critics w~ould be burned in thoven's Ninth Symphony, with prise if a usually poor performer another way, what minimum com- entirely vocal, the critic' has to
their own copy. only a mention, as an after- gives a r'ally good showing. Esrh mand of musical knowledge is note the balance of voices, the
Now, obviously, this is an ex- thousIit, of the ability and ae- concert, all things considered, necessary for a music critic? As ability of the various "choirs" (as
aggeration, but not too much. As conplishments of the chorus. This must be judged on its own merits. may be commonplace, few critics soprano, alto), whether the high
anyone knows. or should know is a dangerous temptation, and Finally, and of-the four points are graduate musicologists, Musi- notes are smooth or schreechy,
the purpose of any art critieismn a what is the whether the low notes are clear
not only music' is four fold: to comethe mtificult ks er-n or muddled. Is the tempo appro-
ott i ttirlond knowledge. e does not have the priate for the scored instructions?
tood and corret ithe bad The las - itosledgaH tessat ave the Does the choir follow the director?
"ree items ve actually '1by ishml eisI, tken t and p All this demands a speaking
titi iristltsintl ' ,cliolo ite bit } rotitd to wsriite a
of the fit the jutmed ievttw. Ustitt tin or this acquaintance with Poulenc's Mass,
When we say Rubinstein slays is found in the reviewer who uses an appreciation 0f chsora diffi-
tell, tie are telling othrs of Rub -oids like 'ce' "'ood," and culties, and an objective view of
rdss eei ve t t "vriii- " Basitally le doesn't m interpretative possibilities,
forminv. And were yubinstem t, knew haw to judge a concert or i.Again, in reviewing a quartet
rea . thAis he would be encoura piece of music go d or bad, and r concert, other questions arise. Aie
ed to continue playin" well. On ' the reader suffers the performers technically quali-
the other hand, it we told him ht fied for ensemble playing? Do they
played badly, we should be ty-a OWEVER, before we delve into perform as a group, or merely as
ing o crret, n' prfo~tnno-. 'four soloists? Do they respect the
tug 10 ttr rcct i icis the technical background nec- composer's wishes (as far as these
Furthermore. it someone iris essary to a valid music criticism, can be known), or do they strive
himselt up as oue tlho should ? x perhaps it would be wise to elab- - for effect to the detriment of the
know, and said, Rubinstein, orate our point above on precon- score? A review which judges an
playing faulty, i that .. .", an(' ceived opinions--which we may - ensemble as a gathering of solo-
another, at his reader. did not refer to as aesthetic attitudes. A ists, that is, which overlooks the
areg t him tune could be 01 "ood review is objective, or should t iensemble aspects in favor of in-
leatt thiet reasons cwhy they so be. But since it is indeed one per- dividual playing ability, is miss-
disagree: at sither mitht be "- son's judgment, this objectivity is ist the essential point. St lake'
norant of lie proper criteria of highly shadowed by the writer's NATHAN MILSTEIN an acute sense of discrimination
good playin": hi tt-lwir slbjcetive, ART R RLBINS'EIN individual, subjective inclinations, to know when to mention one
aesthetic attitudes could differ: . . might be encouraged Avoided, the review is objective. . no preconceptions above the other.
e the arit wild to be exlici the critic oughtBut t criti avoid them, must cologists themselves may deplore The foregoing shows clearly that
enough as to 'hy le said ihit le th cit ourse, one often justi- be aware of them this fact, and with some good rea- a review is far more than an
aid. There may be more, but these liably analyzs the iisic itscll, And just what are aesthetic at- son, but theis position is not ab- essay entitled, "Why I liked the
as it the case of new or seldom titudes? Like any other more in- solute, for not all musicologists concert." The examples given are
heard compositions; but even here timate feelings, as in ethfcs or make good critics sketchy, and could not be other-
T' IS APtiOtiOS. befiire proceed- the performance should never be religious experience, they are But lest we cause a revolution wise. Each performance demands
ing fwl he, to point out the releiated to a minor role. For the easier to illustrate than describe. by this statement, let it be hastily its own criteria. But given this
purpose of his essy It it tlimedit cineit. the two are in'eparable, and Still a workable meanig might be added that by and large, the critic background and technical know-
more dlirectly at the readi r, many w hen the music is familiar to the given. however rough, for our pur- must be at least an amateur musi- ledge, the critic must be bold

of whom COnot realie Ol ra "poehr.AshtcattdsaeQ!nuhosaehihns, a-
1 1readei, thi pirloimanic dimants pate Seve. Aesthitie attitudes are cologist in his own right. He must enough to state his honest, veas-
purpose and criteria of music crit- lis '-etr ittenion. those personal attractions to cer- be able to view a work, as per- oned opinion. That is, he must
tcism It s htendi to point. out the e Secondly. a criticism has been tain aspects of art rather than formed, with an over-all approach, state his conclusions, follow what
riter. so that th reader will definei at a "ieasoited opinion " others, based not on reason or and still have the knowledge re- may.
dusts ltknd why the goit liii ii and should the critic merely state ialue, but primarily on the sen- quired to judge the particular
says ' wit he do 'hat Ns his first impression, or suos responce within each per- parts. .UBMISSIVENESS to popular
Also it may gie thr- ivould-bt tisuail opinion or his capricious son The touchiest point in all the acclaim has no place in a
citic a ciMe to compare otie itt linations he does his reader It is because of this that one discussion is this minimum tech- critical approach. If a performance
ansd prlips conslt lr this ati tiitliv i justice. Of coiu;se a critic is person prefers romantic music, nical knowledge. In general, the is bad, be it by Toscanini himself,
interestin ;,o)( ret-ii ding enoi opiionated- anyone who likes or with its extended melodies, to the critic must be well versed (note, it should be so stated. If a new
to prinit hin to wn it e i(ets iiislikes anything is opinionated. more rhythmic, harsher modern. not expert) in all fields of music. work lacks inspiration a more dif-
himselif Aid fially, it will tii' lut being "reasonably" opinion- Or the absolute historically ac- That is, he must be familiar 'sith ficult judgment to make, surely),
the poor critic a basis, although iited is another matter It would curate interpretation to any in- choral, symhonic, ensemble, and even if by a latter-day Bach, it
somewhat rudimentary for better be unreasonable to say that Stra- novations of approach isuch as solo musical literature; - he must should be so judged. It goes with-
citicism. vinsky's music is dissonant, there- Bach Suites with muted strings!). know the elementary aspects of out saying that the critic needs
It 'sill attempt this by xamin- fore bad. Or that Tebaldi sang Why is this? We cannot positively Baroque, Classic, Romantic and the support of his paper, or at
ation of the attributes of a good faster than another, therefore she say. Background, association, edu- Modern musical periodsl he must least a free hand in writing his re-
critic particularly thie good music sang poorly. This point will be cation-all have their own in- know generally the requirements view.
nf hoth vocal and instrumental So far we have only hinted at

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