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Anderszewski's mission, Richter's breast issues, and the brainwashed babies problem

July 27, 2006
anderszewski200.jpgNorman Lebrecht has an interesting  piece in La Scena Musicale on pianist  Piotr Anderszewski, who he calls " a quizzical soul with a sense of mission."

Agreed that Anderszeweski is a formidable player -- and I like Lebrecht's skepticism about Lang Lang (he calls him "Bang Bang"), Yundi Li ("Bandy Legs") and the rest of the current constellation of stars.

"The attraction of Anderszewski is the impression he gives of being unfulfilled, far from the finished star, devoid of greed and vanity, still searching for meaning in his music," writes a smitten Lebrecht. "His success, popular and critical, cuts against the grain of marketing gimmicks, restoring an integrity to modern pianism that is as much moral as it is musical."

Take a look at Anderszewski's website if you have a chance -- it's full of interesting anecdotes, like this encounter with Sviatoslav Richter:

"Richter was like a god to me. I met him in Warsaw in 1991. Because I wanted to watch him rehearsing, I literally lay on the floor behind the stage.... The next day I got a phone call. They needed someone to turn pages for him. In fact a young girl had been chosen to do it, but when Richter knew that he said he couldn't play with a woman beside him because he would find her breasts too inhibiting!"

babies.jpgFreelance violinist Philippa Ibbotson has a heartfelt rant in The Guardian today, involving much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth over the "pernicious commercialism" of classical music.

Ibbotson's complaint?  Those horrid little men at the London Symphony Orchestra have recorded a soundtrack for a DVD put out by a company called "Baby IQ" --  designed, the company's website says, "to entertain babies and youngsters."

Uh-oh.  That's bad.  That's really crossing the line.

And it's downright shocking that the LSO would engage in "something akin to baby brainwashing", in Ibbotson's memorable phrase.  

But on second thought -- maybe those babies neeed a little brainwashing.  The way they applaud between movements when you take 'em to the symphony?  And always confusing "bravo" and "brava"?  Annoying as hell.

It reminded me, though, of the nice babies-'n-music line in Alex Ross' piece in The New Yorker last week on Mozart.  The dark depths of "Don Giovanni", he writes, put "a stake through the heart of the chocolate-box Mozart, the car-radio Mozart, the Mozart-makes-you-smarter Mozart."

Keep that opera away from the crib, he cautions: "It would probably cause perversion in infants."

Posted on Thursday, July 27, 2006 at 12:59PM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | Comments1 Comment

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Reader Comments (1)

In his "Art of the Piano", David Dubal says that there are many young pianists today who shudder at the fuss that Lang Lang has created. Re Alex Ross' essay on Mozart and above list of summer reading, I'd like to find a copy of the essay collection, "The Don Giovanni Moment", which Ross recommends. William Murray's "Fortissimo", about opera and voice students, has been good reading also.
July 31, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterClayton

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