It's always a pleasure to welcome a new voice to the classical blogosphere, but in the case of South Florida Classical Review, it comes at a high cost. The blog is run by Lawrence A. Johnson, a veteran journalist and critic whose writing we've all read in Gramophone,Opera News,Opera,The New York Times, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and elsewhere. The reason Johnson started SFCR, however, is because on Monday he was laid off by the Miami Herald after 18 months on the job.
Susan Elliott, in a well-reported and pointedly nuanced article on MusicalAmerica.com, noted that the Miami Herald is owned by the McClatchy Company, the nation's third-largest newspaper chain, and one still burdened with debt from its 2006 acquisition of Knight-Ridder. Johnson was hardly the first casualty of the McClatchy belt tightening: Exactly one week earlier, Paul Horsley was laid off by the Kansas City Star, a possibility he had ruefully anticipated during the Music Critics Association of North America meeting in Denver just the previous Saturday. (MusicalAmerica.com reported that story on June 20.)
Faced with laying off 17 percent of its staff, the Miami Herald was said to have made its choices on the basis of seniority. This, I suppose, should come as something of a relief if we can assume the notion of classical music being marginal didn't enter into the picture. But how disappointing that this comes at a time when classical music in Miami appears to be in especially robust shape.
The overall trend of classical music critics being terminated, sadly, shows no sign of abating; indeed, at the end of her article Susan makes dark intimations about the future of the Palm Beach Post, which is due to shed some 300 jobs presently. But if there is a silver lining to this dark cloud, it's that Lawrence Johnson, like Alan Rich before him, refused to clam up and let the art go unserved.
Welcome to the blogosphere, Mr. Johnson. Glad to have you with us.
Carcass - Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious and Heartwork (Earache)
Ralph Vaughan Williams - Symphony No. 4; Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis; Symphony No. 6* - New York Philharmonic/Dmitri Mitropoulos, Leopold Stokowski* (Sony Classical, with thanks to a special and distinguished benefactor)
Alexandre Lunsqui - p-Orbital; Tempi Intermedi; Spira Mondana - Argento Chamber Ensemble/Michel Galante; Glaes - Duo Nakamura-Beyer; Ligare - Due East; After Frottage - Carol McGonnell and Dave Eggar; Iris - Greg Beyer (available from www.lunsqui.com)
Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (London/Rhino Collector's Edition)
Public Image Ltd. - Plastic Box (Virgin)
Sergei Rachmaninoff - The Isle of the Dead; "Youth" Symphony; Symphony No. 1 - BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda (Chandos)
Johanna Beyer - Suite for Clarinet I & Ib; String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2; Three Songs for Soprano and Clarinet; Bees; The Federal Music Project; Movement for Two Pianos; Ballad of the Star-Eater; Movement for Double Bass and Piano; Three Pieces for Choir; Sonatina in C - Astra Chamber Music Society/John McCaughey (New World)
Jason Cady - Post Madonna Prima Donna (Peacock)
Z-Trip vs. MSTRKRFT - Soundclash of the Titans (promotional CD)
Billy Idol - Idolize Yourself: The Very Best of Billy Idol (Capitol)
Franz Joseph Haydn - Violin Concertos in C, A & G - Augustin Hadelich, Cologne Chamber Orchestra/Helmut Müller-Brühl (Naxos)
I promised on Monday that I wouldn't subject you to a tirade regarding the horrible compromise that the current version of the FISA bill, passed by the House and now under Senate consideration, represents, and I won't.
I will, however, urge anyone interested in this critical piece of legislation, and the genuine threat to civil liberties that it represents, to read the text of the speech that Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd delivered yesterday. The stakes have seldom been spelled out so clearly, or so eloquently.
One brief excerpt:
Because of this legislation, none of the questions
will be answered, Mr. President. Because of this so-called
“compromise,” the judge’s hands will be tied, and the outcome of these
cases will be predetermined. Because of this compromise, retroactive
immunity will be granted and that, as they say, will be that. Case
will rule on the legality of the telecommunications companies
activities in participating in the president’s warrantless wiretapping
program. None of our fellow Americans will have their day in court. What they will have is a government that has sanctioned lawlessness.
I refuse to accept that, Mr. President. I refuse to accept the
argument that because this situation is just too delicate, too
complicated, that this body is simply going to go ahead and sanction
At least I don't have to make any excuses for not writing a post about last night's show by Rickie Lee Jones at (Le) Poisson Rouge -- it was canceled. Otherwise, though, I've let issues old (overwork) and new (spotty connectivity) prevent me from checking in for slightly more than a week -- which really bugs me.
I still need to write up my notes from Denver, obviously, and I will. Since then I've seen excellent shows here in New York by two veteran singers, Peter Hammill and Fish, both of whom deserve comment. I'll spare you a lengthy, wearisome tirade regarding the craven Dems in the House of Representatives caving in to administration demands and kowtowing to special interests last week, which is pretty much all I could think about on Friday. (I'll tip my hat once more, however, to my home district's steadfastly honorable representative, Carolyn Maloney, who voted "nay" on H.R. 6304)
I'll keep working on getting that pipeline ungunked. Meanwhile, please go visit an old friend of mine, now the newest constellation in the blogosphere: Leann Davis Alspaugh, whose Orange-Tinted Glasses is a happy arrival. Leann's got a war hero for an uncle, a Grammy-nominated record producer for a husband and a lot of strong, stylish words for literature, visual art and music on her blog. She's also a consistently snappy dresser and one of my all-time favorite people. Go say howdy.
Napalm Death - Leaders not Followers: Part 2 (Century Media)
Van der Graaf Generator - The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other, H to He Who Am the Only One, Pawn Hearts and Trisector (EMI); Real Time (Fie!)
Peter Hammill - Singularity (Fie!)
Johannes Maria Staud - Apeiron - Berlin Philharmonic/Simon Rattle; Incipit III (Esquisse Retouchée II) - Uwe Dierksen, WDR Sinfonieorchester/Lothar Zagrosek; Toward a Brighter Hue - Ernst Kovacic; Violent Incidents (Homage à Bruce Nauman) - Marcus Weiss, Windkraft Tirol/Kasper de Roo; Peras - Mario Formenti (Kairos)
Luca Francesconi - Etymo; Da Capo; A Fuoco, 4° studio sulla memoria; Animus - Barbara Hannigan, Pablo Márquez, Benny Sluchin, IRCAM, Ensemble Intercontemporain/Susanna Mälkki (Kairos)
Marillion - Clutching at Straws (Sanctuary)
Norma Winstone - Distances (ECM)
Bill Dixon - 17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur (AUM Fidelity)
Jamey Johnson - That Lonesome Song (Mercury; due August 5)
Heidi Newfield - What Am I Waiting For (Curb/Asylum; due August 5)
Rex Moroux - These Bricks Are Bleeding (333 Entertainment)
The banner in the Denver airport welcomes everyone to the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention, a gathering of presenters, artists, advocacy organizations and other interested parties from across the country. I'm specifically here to take part in the annual meeting of the Music Critics Association of North America, which I haven't been able to attend for quite a few years now. Ironically, the last time I attended was the 2004 meeting in Pittsburgh, which was also the inaugural NPAC gathering. (Among the people I met there for the first time were Marc Geelhoed and Vivien Schweitzer, both of whom have been valued colleagues and good friends ever since.)
The answer to the question in my header has nothing to do with the cruddy quality of the image -- I'd just managed to exit a plane after spending four hours wedged between a reclining seat and a bulkhead, so you'll have to forgive me -- but the time on the clock under the banner: 9:20pm.
I was originally supposed to arrive at half past noon, but United Airlines canceled my morning flight. No mingling, hobknobbing or networking for me this afternoon, then, and I also missed a performance by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. That last bit is the real disappointment: I'd been looking forward to hearing Natasha Paremski play John Corigliano's Piano Concerto, and Giya Kancheli's Styx was on the program as well.
So instead I'm sitting in my room on the 19th floor of the Comfort Inn, getting ready to do a revision on a story I filed before leaving New York this afternoon, before calling it an early night. There's going to be a lot to see and do during the next two days, so I'd better take a moment to get ready -- and to remember how to use my camera, as well.
Joel Harrison - The Wheel (Innova)
Donna Summer - Crayons (Burgundy)
Magma - Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh (Seventh)
Van der Graaf Generator - Real Time (Fie!)
Grateful Dead - Road Trips, Vol. 1, No. 2: October '77 (Grateful Dead)