Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Moving Music

The video above is by now infamous, but is fairly entertaining and representative of the new breed of extremely emotive piano playing, of which Lang Lang is the most reviled proponent.

This new column from Bernard Holland of the New York Times is worth a read. The television program he refers to, full of ridiculous flailing by young pianists, encouraged by an eminent conductor, would seem to be the PBS broadcast of the Van Cliburn Competition, hosted by Michael Tilson Thomas of the San Francisco Symphony. Having seen the video, Holland has certainly got a point.

However, I'm not so sure that young audiences are turned off by all this emoting, as he suggests. We've come to expect it, and I suspect that many of my peers would hardly be able to sit through a performance that didn't include the visual interest of a wild conductor or soloist. We are a visual generation. We like our music in 3 minute chunks, preferably with video accompaniment. These musicians are responding to demand for entertainment for the eyes as well as the ears. Blame the youth, Mr. Holland, not the conservatories!

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