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.
Elliott Sharp - Errata; SyndaKit; Larynx; Rheo-Umbra; Re:Iterations (Neos)
Miley Cyrus - Meet Miley Cyrus (Disney/Hollywood)
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)
Leon Kirchner - String Quartets Nos. 1-4 - Orion String Quartet (Albany)
Franz Berwald - Symphonies Nos. 1-4; Memory of the Norwegian Alps; Play of the Elves - Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Dausgaard (Brilliant Classics)