Monday, April 30, 2007

You get weird responses to reviews sometimes. You expect to receive "you liked it, I thought it sucked" responses or the reverse as well as replies that add to the information, dispute it, what have you. You even anticipate hearing from those who are convinced you have an evil agenda, are part of a cabal determined to topple all they consider holy and good in favor of the execrable crap you like.

But sometimes I have no clue what people are going on about, why they bothered to set fingertips to keyboards. I posted a write-up of the Tilbury/Beckett disc at Bags the other day, one that I greatly enjoy. Walter Horn, who I know pretty well and who, in fact, was really the first person to convince me to write about this stuff in more than a poster capacity way back when, threw in a sarcastic line (reprinted in its entirety):

I didn't know that, in addition to reviews of movies, comic books and chocolate bars, I could also find reviews of radio plays and suchlike here at bags. Sweet. There's like nothing at all we bags guys don't know, is there?

I've no idea what to make of that. I assume he objects to the fact that I reviewed a radio play. Now, had he asked about my background knowledge in such, something I in fact alluded to in the body of the review (that is to say, not so much), fine. Were someone to post, "I've heard a dozen renditions of 'Cascando' and you might want to hear X, Y and Z before you assign such high marks to Tilbury because, in that context, he ain't no hot stuff!" again, fine. But posts like the above come across as snippy and crabby, nothing more. I happen to know that Walt, in many areas, knows his stuff very well so the remark is all the more baffling.

Then, one "A Chair" (yes, I love it when people don't have the balls to use their real names) chimes in with:

Consider that this is a Matchless recording featuring John Tilbury. Now that you mention it, if any of those guys came up with their own chocolate bars or comic books, that would be hilarious.

The second sentence is merely silly but what to make of sentence number 1? The best I can do--it would be wonderful if people were actually explicit, no?--is that it's a contention that anything on Matchless with Tilbury automatically generates a rave. Well, no. I forget if I wrote it up or not, but the first duo with Eddie Prevost (pre AMM break-up) certainly wouldn't have gotten one from me. True, there's nary a pianist I'd rather hear than Tilbury so he's more likely than not to get a positive response, but he's been involved in several things over the last few years that have left me cold, including that piano trio on Emanem especially. And, for what it's worth, the Beckett recording was something I purchased, under no obligation to review. I only did so because I thought it was very special.

Not to carp so much, it's just that the level of discourse gets a little dispiriting at times.

New arrival:

Sabine Vogel/Magda Mayas/Michael Renkel - phono phono (absinth)


Richard Pinnell said...

Brian, don't let the bastards grind you down....

To be honest I am continually surprised that you keep churning out the reviews for Bagatellen. As much as I like the people that run the site the Comments boxes that follow reviews just get silly. They either end up in a stupid argument over something irrelevant, or you just get the kind of sniping wisecracks you've seen today, which basically just laugh at the amount effort you put into writing a review in the first place.

The anonymous posting there is probably the most aggravating aspect of it all, and something that could easily be sorted.

Personally I prefer to write at a site like PTA where there is no comments function, or in my own blog where I coud control the idiotic input should it ever arrive. I'm all for freedon of speech and the right to disagree etc, but cheap oneliners in response to a well considered review are something else.

I appreciate your efforts anyway. I don't know anyone else that could shoehorn a reference to Basil Fawlty into a review of Tilbury reading Beckett...!!!

Brian Olewnick said...

The thought has occurred to me to do the reviews here, but the obvious drawback is that (I assume) I don't get near as many hits as does Bags and the creators of the music, presumably, would like to have the commentary read by as many as possible.

I like the essential idea of the comments function very much, actually. I just wish it would be populated by more intelligent comments but I suppose it's all part of the game.

Anonymous said...

Walt's the king of pointless snippy and crabby remarks, you should know that by now.

yeah, Bags is complicated. on one hand, the comments section is almost always ridiculous, people talking at cross purposes like it's the Tower of Babel. on the other hand, it is pretty high profile. I'd personally be fine with no Ersts ever being reviewed there again, as I've told you in the past.

maybe we should start a Reviews section at IHM? what do you guys think of that?

Brian Olewnick said...

Received a very nice e-mail from Mr. Tilbury this morning which included some (unpublished) thoughts of his own on Cascando. I was heartened to read that most of my suppositions on his approach were fairly on the mark.

He also agreed that it had apparently "fallen between the cracks" as far as general recognition goes, presumably due to the theater crowd not knowing him and the music crowd thinking such a project was somehow beside the point. Pity, that.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I kinda thought that "Consider that this is a Matchless recording featuring John Tilbury" was a response to Walt; a Matchless recording w/Tilbury is probably of interest to Bagatellen readers, even if it's a radio play. (Or a chocolate bar.)

I enjoy your reviews at Bagatellen and hope you'll keep doing them there; it's nice to have the different reviewers in one place.

Brian Olewnick said...

Hi Matt,

Could be I was being over-sensitive, but I picked up a snide aspect to that response. As far as I know, it's the only post by Mr. Chair (though I may have missed others) at Bags and, if so, an odd way to introduce onself unless the main purpose is snarkiness.