The Week in Reviews, Op. 247: Tai Murray; Jennifer Koh; Julian Rachlin; Richard Tognetti

November 21, 2018, 10:00 AM · In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Tai Murray performed in recital at the Phillips Collection.

Tai Murray
Tai Murray. Photo by Marco Borggreve.

Jennifer Koh performed Gyorgy Ligeti’s Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Julian Rachlin and Sarah McElravy performed Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante and the Bach Double with the Naples Philharmonic.

Richard Tognetti performed and conducted the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Renaud Capucon performed the Korngold Violin Concerto with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Roger Wilkie performed the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Long Beach Symphony.

Mayu Kishima performed Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Richard Lin performed the Korngold Concerto with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Please support music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

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November 21, 2018 at 06:26 PM · That Tai Murray review is really condescending.

November 21, 2018 at 06:56 PM · It sounds like Tai hit it out of the park but the reviewer was just not in the mood for virtuoso works.

November 21, 2018 at 09:50 PM · I mean, the reviewer didn't actually talk about how she played, just that double-stops (abstractly) can cause intonation issues, and that The Last Rose of Summer was not gratifying to listen to, but doesn't make it explicit that Murray's playing didn't do the piece justice or detail any particular issues with her playing, so you end up not understanding whether the reviewer likes the piece and Murray didn't play well, or that the reviewer just doesn't like the piece and that Murray is presumably at fault for her choice of programming.

I mean, I'm all for calling out a bad performance, and I respect that people have different opinions on how a program should be laid out, but the "review" is a baroquely inept piece of writing.

The following tweet would convey the same thing:

"Tai Murray played a bunch of pieces for solo violin and I didn't enjoy myself"

Or why not just tell the truth and write:

"I sat down in a room and picked lint out of my belly button for an hour"

Which at least relates back to the human condition. Sometimes I wonder if classical music reviewers even show up to the concerts that they write about, or if at this point, newspapers just figure that any gray-haired person who has watched an episode of Frasier should be reviewing concerts.

November 21, 2018 at 10:51 PM · No, she is an expert and a good writer, and she was probably being as honest as she could be. (Rest assured, there are plenty of reviewers out there that have no business doing what they do, but IMO that does not apply to her.) But the nature of writing a lot of reviews really is just a difficult situation. Not everything is going to be what you want to hear, or what you want to hear at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night in November, even if you might have enjoyed it at 2 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon in July. I find it to be some of the most difficult writing that I ever do; it always takes me four times as long as I think it's going to take, even for a pretty short review. And I have the benefit of being able to take a pass; if I feel like there was much to appreciate but I just can't authentically appreciate it, I can just not write the review. I don't think she has that luxury. That said, it would be interesting to hear what others felt about Tai's recital. There was enough in that review to assure me that there was plenty of impressive violin playing!

November 22, 2018 at 12:56 AM · Well, "The Last Rose of Summer" sometimes sounds like more effort than it's worth when played by the biggest stars. It sounds to me like the reviewer was disappointed to attend a truly solo violin recital without any Bach.

It's a hard war for the performer to win, though. If you play all-solo, you have to choose your program SO carefully, and maybe Bach is too obvious. Then again, if you perform with a pianist, then the critics expect two hard-core sonatas PLUS an encore or two.

By the way, if you're over your limit for WaPo articles, the trick is to press the "X" (stop download) button on your browser before the pop-ups appear. Takes a bit of practice, but as violinists, we're used to that, right?

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