Teztlaff Concert Review. Ouch

April 15, 2014 at 01:07 PM · From the New York Classical Review: The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra wrapped up their 41st season on Saturday at Carnegie Hall. After more than four decades, their conductorless experiment is as vibrant as ever, as they showed in an all-Hungarian program. On Saturday, they might have been better off without a soloist, as well.

The second half of their program was a rarity, Joseph Joachim’s Violin Concerto No. 2, “In the Hungarian Style.” Aside from being the dedicatee of Brahms’ Violin Concerto, Joachim is mostly remembered for rescuing the Beethoven Violin Concerto from oblivion and restoring it to its rightful place in the musical pantheon. Tetzlaff performed no such feat with Joachim’s Second.

The concerto is closer in spirit to the concerti of Joachim’s fellow violinist-composers Wieniawski and Paganini than it is to those of Beethoven and Brahms. Lacking in musical depth, it relies on its extreme degree of difficulty to dazzle audiences—When the technical component is a mess, there’s not much left to enjoy.

Tetzlaff has had a few rough-and-tumble performances in New York in the last few years, and Saturday unfortunately did not mark a return to form. After landing flat on the second note of his entrance, the German violinist showed intensity of tone and musical sensitivity in his opening phrases. From there, everything was downhill.

His burnished tone evaporated and gave way to a scratchy, pressed sound. It was impossible to concentrate on what he was doing musically, because his myriad technical problems were extremely distracting—Extraneous noises and shoddy intonation were constants, and a number of passages were faked outright. Orpheus had an awful time following him, not so much because he was being metrically adventurous, but because it was difficult to tell where he was.

The second movement Romanze was likewise out of tune despite its slower tempo. Tetzlaff’s swooping phrasing smothered the lyricism in seasick ups and downs. The finale, “alla Zingara,” begins with a perpetual motion feel, and in Tetzlaff’s rendition it sounded perpetually on the brink of disaster. He seemed to be laboring just to get to the end, much less make musical sense of the piece. The leisurely dance sections that break up the scramble, written with puckish charm, were choked by Tetzlaff’s crunching sound.

Tetzlaff’s encore, Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No. 19—with orchestral accompaniment—provided no relief—pecky, out of tune, and out of sync.


April 15, 2014 at 04:28 PM · First I was about to say to you Ray that I don't agree with the placement of Joachim together with Wieniawski. But then I realized that this isn't your review, is it?

April 15, 2014 at 05:18 PM · Not sure what the purpose of copying a negative review is here - to say that an outstanding soloist (whether or not you like his style) had a bad night? Why pick on this one? Want to spill some blood and start a feeding frenzy?

Not with me you won't.

April 15, 2014 at 06:42 PM · He is an amazing player and musician, and human as well.

April 15, 2014 at 07:08 PM · There's this new article going around social media (I'm sure many on hear have read it) where Tetzlaff says he does not usually practice more than 45 minutes a day. You know what? I believe him after hearing some of his performances.


April 15, 2014 at 08:29 PM · I'll side with Jose, based on my own ears at the recent concert in Orchestra hall, Chicago. This review was quite positive....


April 15, 2014 at 11:17 PM · Some people, including reviewers, think the knee bends, calf raises, and eyebrow lifts translate into passionate, musical playing. If you listen carefully he really does not play in tune or in time at a high enough level, compared to some of the other artists out there in the field, who play in some of the same venues.

I've heard many students at top music schools play this Mendelssohn Concerto (as seen here in this clip), at a higher level:

April 15, 2014 at 11:19 PM · It's pretty hard to imagine maintaining top-level chops on 45 minutes a day. On the other hand, what's up with this critic? Must a negative review be so tiresome?

There's something I've often wondered about these supposedly great soloists. If that's a top professional orchestra, then the violinists in the first couple of stands are damned good violinists too, right? They all went to Curtis or Julliard or wherever, and I guarantee they worked up the Mendelssohn Concerto to a high polish in their student days. I often wonder what they're thinking when the soloist strolls onto the stage:

(1) That soloist is a whole hell of a lot better than me. I could never play that concerto like he does. His tone/intonation/control is just so much better.

(2) That soloist is marginally better, but marginally makes all the difference in our business, and I didn't quite make it to his level, so I'm happy to be where I am, playing in an orchestra and maybe teaching a little.

(3) I'm just as good as the soloist but I really just did not want that kind of career for reasons that are personal to me.

(4) I'm just as good as the soloist and it's just dumb luck that he's up there receiving the flowers because of the competitions he won, or because he's charismatic, or whatever.

April 15, 2014 at 11:33 PM · The reviewer was a bit blunt. Although I don't find anything offensive really about what he said in the review. He did not make any ad hominem attacks on Tetzlaff, although some people in the arts I've noticed, consider objective criticism to be of that nature.

April 16, 2014 at 01:42 AM · This is a bit off topic- but looking at the video I didn't see even one women in the orchestra.

I don't think that is the case in any symphony orchestra in the United States. Is Anna Sophie Mutter the only good German violinist? I don't think so.

April 16, 2014 at 02:35 AM · I saw an Asian lady violist at 0:31-0:33, and another one in 2nd violin at 1:45 (or overhead view from 2:00). I looked at the Berliner Philharmoniker's web site -- out of 126 musicians 19 are women, which is 15%.

April 16, 2014 at 02:59 AM · In response to Charles, yes, that's the Berlin Philharmonic, and they do have women in the orchestra. 1 other well known German violinist that comes to mind right away (that I mentioned earlier) is Frank Peter Zimmerman.

April 16, 2014 at 04:55 AM · Fischer, Hadelich

April 16, 2014 at 05:28 AM · To the OP:

First start with quoting a name correctly. You typed it twice, and twice wrong. That shows lacking respect, apart from all that's following (and still wondering what's the purpose of such a posting at all)

April 16, 2014 at 05:44 AM · Purpose? Maybe to motivate Tetzlaff to practice 46 minutes a day?

April 16, 2014 at 07:17 AM · Greetings,

although it isn`t usually apprpriate to enter into this kind of discussion I can`T personally see it as a taboo subject if the issues are discussed in a constructive and respectful way. One of the first questions that springs to mind is the veracity of the review. if there were people at the concert who thought it wa sa great evening and think the reviewer was just spouting rubbish then it would be great if they said so on this forum.

If he just had a bad night in comparison with constant rave reviews and nobody had any thoughts or heard anything about his practicing the discussion would be pointless and destructive.

If he is only practicing 45 minutes a day and is the source for this information then that is of some interest for more than one reason. I have also read something to the effect (form his mouth) about how little he practices and how quickly he masters stupendously difficult works. That is certainly worthy of admiration and respect.

However, respect is a two way street and if someone is letting things slide for whatever reason and people are paying hard earned money for the concert that is also a subject for discussion in my opinion. I have not seen enough evidence to this effect to have an opinion either way except to agree with Nate that the Mendelssohn clip is technically quite deficient and it does correlate with the suggestion that 45 minutes simply isn`t enough work to stay shape for your audiences.

I don`t think a lot of top players do an awful lot more practice than this from a time perspective. I have heard the figure averaging around 1 and half hours from a Gringolts interview if I remember correctly. However, from a qualitative perspective that it a very big difference. Last time I read a midori interview she was cramming in an average of about four hours a day although I suspect she is somebody who doesn`t need much sleep.

If a kind of consensus is sort of made public that a talent is being wasted there isn`t really that much left to say. whoever they are and however famous they are, everyone has to make their own choices. But the public does come first.

Perhaps its like the story Heifetz recounts of the critic who pulled him up for slacking when everybody else was turning in rave reviews. Heifetz often talked about that and the debt of gratitude he owed that man. Who knows....



April 16, 2014 at 09:42 AM · I don't think we can always blame the 45 minutes - Kreisler practised a lot less. One can surely keep in tune on 45 minutes a day.

What I wonder is: Is the guy in the early stages of a degenerative disease or addicted to something? He may need to get himself checked, if so I hope something can be done - Your turn, Elise.

April 16, 2014 at 09:49 AM · Oh, I was concerned enough to forget to quote The Book of Heroic Failures on the shortest critique: Alexander Woolcott claimed that this was his review of "Bang!" ("Ouch!"). However, a review of "A Good Time" ("No") was shorter.

April 16, 2014 at 12:14 PM · Wow! I haven't heard Tetzlaff enough to comment. But 45 minutes a day? I spend more than that on scales and exercises! And even some of Kreisler's greatest admirers took him to task for poor playing early in a recital, as he did not even deign to warm up back stage. And his disinclination to practice caught up with him more and more in later years.

But re the "Hungarian Concerto", for those who don't know it and wish to hear a wonderful rendition, get the Aaron Rosand recording.

OK my own practicing beckons...but first, breakfast!

April 16, 2014 at 12:45 PM · Wasn't he injured? Perhaps that explains the light practice schedule.

But regardless, the performer in the video is clearly Sean Penn and not Tetzlaff.

Actually, I'm not sure what purpose it serves to slam our fellow performers. We all know what it takes to get up on stage and do it.

Perhaps violinist.com should have a new posting category called "schadenfreude"....

April 16, 2014 at 03:04 PM · I must say, to be fair, that I just sampled some of his work on TouTube - performances, master classes, etc. - and I find him to be really quite good, even where I'm not in agreement with him. Maybe he just had a horribly off night. Or maybe he's had some recent health issues.

April 16, 2014 at 03:16 PM · Like they say, "The only thing worse than not getting a review when performing in New York is getting a review."

April 16, 2014 at 03:29 PM · Scott, as my earlier post obliquely alludes, I wonder how much schadenfreude is more Traubensaure (with apologies to anyone who speaks German for my silly neologism).

April 16, 2014 at 03:58 PM · Paul, I forgot what vinegar was in German, but I googled it - it's der essig. You can google too!

April 16, 2014 at 04:25 PM · I don’t normally respond to these kinds of rather negative threads, but this one left me quite concerned, from the perspective of a performer. I have to say that I am rather questioning of what would possibly motivate someone to repost such a review.

However, to shed some light on this particular review, there were two reviews of that concert, and the other review from the New York Times was quite good actually and a stark contrast to the one posted here which raises some questions. If someone wants to read the review from the Times, here is the link:


The reviewer cited in the original post however seems to write quite a bit of rather negative reviews, so much so that I recall reading comments/editorials as to his purpose and whether or not he was just looking for the possibility to relish in successfully destroying someone’s career, or something of that nature. So, perhaps a grain of salt is in order?

As for what goes through people’s minds to respond to your question Paul, everyone is different, but most everyone that I know is not looking to put oneself above the other or put people down, or rejoice at another's misfortune if someone is having a bad night. Most anyone who has done concertos and led an orchestra when someone else was doing them that I know, knows how demanding it is to stand up there and do it and usually aims to make the experience and performance the best and easiest that it can be, and be the best most supportive colleague that they can be.

April 16, 2014 at 04:36 PM · It just occurs to me: It's clear from the review that the reviewer is claiming to have been present for the whole performance. When it's at the standard that he claims it's at? And stayed for the encore? Pull the other one!

April 16, 2014 at 06:10 PM · If people are upset at me for posting a negative review than you are living in a Pollyannish dream world where all reviews and articles must be positive. As in "I didn't win but I get a trophy anyway."

I also posted the review because this musician says that 45 minutes of practicing is more than enough for him. As a friend who is a Navy seal says: "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."

April 16, 2014 at 06:44 PM · I'm with you Ray. As I mentioned before, a lot of people in the arts get very sensitive with a little objective criticism and make it seem like it was an ad hominem attack.

I agree with Christian Vachon too. We should be supportive towards one another in the field. I have a lot of respect for some current day fabulous violinists. At the same time though, should we encourage someone who bills presenters and orchestras probably in the ballpark of $30,000-$40,000 a concert, who plays with basic technical deficiencies, and brags openly about hardly practicing for his performances?


April 16, 2014 at 07:25 PM · Very well put, Christian Vachon! I think such nasty review as Mr Simpsom did only speaks more about the reviewer than Tetzlaff, a genius of our time may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Those who choose to dislike him that is within their right but the loss won’t be Teztlaff's.

April 16, 2014 at 07:28 PM · I think it can be tough for string players. We're constantly on the vigil for any minor flaws in our own playing, and that's difficult to turn off when listening to someone else's. It's a worthwhile skill to develop.

Most of the audience comes with the intent to enjoy the music and can filter out a certain degree of imperfection. (Human beings aren't perfect?) Naturally priorities will differ from person to person, but most people in the audience aren't sitting there actively looking for flaws the way we do in our own playing.

Many musicians with a few technical deficiencies (and not always minor ones!) have kept a following for musical reasons. As for Tetzlaff, I suspect his technique is still quite adequate for most concertgoers.

There's no denying 45 minutes of practice daily is light and troubling if it leads to more than an occasional off-night when performing with such fine ensembles. Still, I found myself in strongest agreement with the points outlined in Christian Vachon's post above.

April 16, 2014 at 07:40 PM · Art is long, and critics are the insects of a day.

-Randall Jerrel 

April 16, 2014 at 07:48 PM · "Traubensaur"

Is that the one with huge teeth and tiny little arms?

April 16, 2014 at 08:15 PM · As the post previous to yours suggested, critics come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I'm not sure off hand which one Traubensaur is.

April 16, 2014 at 08:19 PM · Venomous serpents who take delight in hissing.

-- W.B. Daniel

(Gotta love Odd Thomas and Dean Koontz!)

April 16, 2014 at 08:50 PM · [Yixi, Christian: you may want to also read my comment at the beginning of this topic. This poster would never have drawn attention to a positive review and, as you rightly say, its more a reflection on him... Sadly, however, the resident harpies jumped on the topic - even those that I would have thought would have maintained a respect for their comrades in arms... ]

April 16, 2014 at 09:01 PM · Given bad review? So what. Critics are not here to praise, they are here to analyze and provide feedback. If they are not doing that because they think (or are asked by their editors-in chief to write like that) that certain performers are beyond criticism then as critics they are useless.

As a concertgoer who is asked to pay professional price ticket I may tolerate a mistake or two but not 45 minutes of them, if I am asked for that I may as well go to a school concert; technical mistakes do disturb the listening but at school concert they are expected.

Not playing on the top is also damaging the other performers in the ensemble who give their best but their efforts are wasted.

April 16, 2014 at 09:06 PM · Elise,

I think your comment is regrettable in a number of ways. First of all -any- topic should be open to discussion as long as it is done in a thoughtful and constructive way. To other wise is anti the spirit of this site and intellectual inquiry in general.

Second, your response in itself was inflammatory since you choose to use the word ' jumped' on. So when you like a topic we discuss it, but when you don't we apparently 'jump 'on it?

also you are extremely vague about who you are aiming the emotive and offensive term 'harpie' at. Just because you think you can decided what does and does not constitute a topic does not mean name calling is ok. It was fairly well avoided up until this point.

Personally I tried to put all sides of the argument and that includes the negative possibilities that have been raised both in terms of doing the best job one can and the practice issue. I sincerely hope I want included under the 'harpie' epithet.

In the end , trying to get to the heart of the matters which seems to have had something to do with a n arrogant critic is much more useful than discussing nothing.



April 16, 2014 at 10:04 PM · Elise and Buri, I agree with you both. I ran away from China to enjoy free speech so I’d be the last person against open discussion. How you discuss about someone says more about you than the person you talk about. I can be blunt and even mean when it comes to express my strong opinions and I’m not proud of that, but you two are quite funny and are never mean. What bothers some of us here I guess is the small-mindedness one can detect in some of the persistent criticism and it is unhealthy.

By the way, I’ve been listening to Tetzlaff’s CDs on Rdio for some time and liked a lot. Now this bad review just made me want to buy all his CDs from ArkivMusic.

April 16, 2014 at 10:31 PM · nonsense.

I am -very- funny and mean on occasion. The latter is always to be regretted. Elise is almost as funny as me and doesn't seem to be mean although she may decide to prove us wrong at a later date.



and harpies are female....

April 16, 2014 at 10:32 PM · ps

given how often his name is mispelled I suppose titzlaff has a great sense of humor....

April 16, 2014 at 11:27 PM · Yeah, I'm sure he's laughing up a storm reading this thread.

April 17, 2014 at 01:49 AM · He has neurodermatitis.

www.christiantetzlaff.com/media/presse/12.0827 The New Yorker Digital Edition.pdf

April 17, 2014 at 02:40 AM · Howzabout critics? Do they ever have an "off" night?

And about open exchange, that's why we keep coming to this site. We disagree, we argue, we kvetch, but at the end of the day we'd all enjoy a bourbon or two together.

So far, nothing about whether Tetzlaff's shoulder rest is the source of his problems...

April 17, 2014 at 08:05 AM · Yes Buri, he should certainly get the last laff.

Anne, thank you for clarifying the issue of his health. It does mean that engaging him or buying a ticket to go and hear him will, until treatment for his condition improves, be a bit of a gamble, and I guess many of us take worse gambles than that. At least, it is to be hoped, he will not emulate Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

April 17, 2014 at 11:38 AM · "If people are upset at me for posting a negative review than you are living in a Pollyannish dream world where all reviews and articles must be positive.."

It wasn't so much the negative review, but the manner of presentation. Just look at the headline the OP chose:

"Ouch...Teztaff's review not very good. Bet he wishes for a do-over..."

It was this commentary that seemed a little too mocking to me.

April 17, 2014 at 12:18 PM · well, that wasnt much better then a sharp stick in the eye...critics, ugh

April 17, 2014 at 12:54 PM · neurodermatitis is an old (or German?) term for eczema.

Tetzlaff should be commended for his frankness about the time he spends daily on practising.

If we all knew the exact time the great violinists of our day and the last centuries spent practising we might have some jaw dropping moments.

One can imagine during a concert tour there is a lot of time spent traveling,then rehearsing with the orchestra. I read about one violinist who gave 200 performances in a year at one time.

Is he/she going to practise 2 -3 hours or more per day every day?

Some people are phenomenally dextrous and gifted.

I can't remember which quartet it was but apparently one violinist could sight read fairly difficult material close to performance level.

(Steinhardt or someone in the Guarneri quartet?)

Tiredness and lapses in concentration can be as much or more of a factor in a so-so performance

than lack of practise.

Some people don't travel well and have difficulty adjusting to different time zones.

The spots of somewhat clumsy playing in the Mendelssohn video could well be from tiredness.

April 17, 2014 at 01:32 PM · Buri, I try to never to be mean - I am, however, likely to be scathing. The difference is in intent: 'meanness' is to pick on flaws with at least a partial intent to harm the person; scathing is to contradict someone's ideas or actions in a blunt, even savage way - but no harm is meant to the person themselves.

The difference is illustrated nicely in this topic: I think its mean (spirited) for a second party to highlight one bad review - it invites a general attack on the individual (as happened). OTHO it was totally legit for the original reviewer to be scathing with respect to the performance (if that was their honest impression).

April 17, 2014 at 02:15 PM · When a soloist spends x hours (or minutes) a day practising, the usual understanding is that "x" is the time spent at the instrument. What is almost never mentioned is the additional time spent in studying and researching the music, not just the solo part but the orchestral score or the accompanist's part, time essential to a proper performance.

April 17, 2014 at 03:58 PM · I have tickets to see Christian Tetzlaff perform all of Bach’s unaccompanied sonatas and partitas May 11 in San Francisco. I think I will ignore this review and go with a clear and open mind. I’ve been looking forward to this for months.

April 17, 2014 at 04:04 PM · For those who give that much importance to numbers and critics, it looks like he doesn´t need that extra minute:


April 17, 2014 at 09:16 PM · Trevor, Kreisler did spend quite a lot of time looking at the music, on his lap if I remember rightly.

John, of course it's worth going to hear him play the partitas, etc., and if he gives a poor performance give him another try. Of course you COULD get three poor performances in a row, but that would be extremely bad luck.

It's like that in laboratory medicine; often when a doctor decides from a report that the test result is abnormal and the patient needs a particular treatment, there could be up to a 5% chance that the doctor is wrong. If they waited until everything was proved, no one would get the treatment they needed.

April 17, 2014 at 09:21 PM · Trevor, Kreisler did spend quite a lot of time looking at the music, on his lap if I remember rightly.

John, of course it's worth going to hear him play Bach Unaccompanied, and if he gives a poor performance give him another try. Of course you COULD get three poor performances in a row, but that would be an extremely bad throw of the dice.

It's like that in laboratory medicine; often when a doctor decides from a report that the test result is abnormal and the patient needs a particular treatment, there could be up to a 5% chance that the doctor is wrong. If they waited until everything was proved, nothing would get done at all.

April 18, 2014 at 04:12 AM · Greetings,

the time spent on scores etc. is extremely relevant. since ASM says she learns pieces at the piano rather than on the violin she may be doing even less practice.....

It's still not enough to get a clear overview but I did listen to a couple of things on you tube. The unaccompanied Bach was nice but so quiet it was inaudible at some points. frustrating.

Then I listened to Mozart concerto no4. with norrington conducting. I really liked that. from an interpretive point of view it is close to my ideal. refined, intelligent and thought provoking! apart from a tendency to rush through sixteenth passages. but then Norrinton always wants to catch the first train home anyway....what interested me was a somewhat higher degree of negative commentating by very knowledgeable players. I did have to reluctantly agree with what was said about his intonation which is based on what I have seen so far nowhere near as precise as Hahn, Gringolts et al. and I do suspect this the result of doing minimal practice. (as a counter example, Fischer tells of rehearsing the Beethoven with Oistrakh in the morning and the great man staying on stage for two hours practicing slow scales to get in tip top shape). I could imagine that on a bad day this might result in something sub par like the quoted mendelssohn.

However, at this level I could not really agree that it was anything like bad enough to detract frm the other excellent aspects of what he was doing., I would definitely go and hear him if he was in town and fully expect to enjoy his very thoughtful approach. I think one should listen for pleasure first and with the laser intensity of a nit picking teacher second....

Finally I would note that the telegraph article was heavily edited to be fun for the laymen. what teszlaff says according to them is not open to precise interpretation . for examples, I don't think it precludes a gifted child practicing for three hours a day which is certainly enough and would not constitute throwing away ones childhood by any means. in fact his comments, which I thInk were basically aimed at the 8 hour a day children of over ambitious parents are all extremely pertinent.



ps as far as sight reading stuff close to performance level us concerned that is not at all rare. it was actually one of heifetzs criteria for talent and I witnessed it myself at college on ocassion. the trouble is that although this is ok from an audience perspective every now and again it is not even close to the finished end product the musician in question will offer after much consideration. in that sense it does note in my opinions constitute giving value girl money.

I like this last I-typo so I will leave it in......

April 18, 2014 at 12:32 PM · Poor Tetzlaff. I have heard him play live 3 times (Sibelius, Beethoven X2). On each occasion he played very well and the audience asked for encores.

Some years ago Ilya Gringolts describes Tetzlaff on Violinist.com as the best violinist on the circuit.

I guess we all have our moments. I remember going to a concert if Janine Jansen who played Tchaik. It was fantastic but the reviewer savaged her for some reason.

April 18, 2014 at 02:36 PM · How I would love to hear Tetzlaff play all the Bach Sonatas and Partitas!, live!

Speaking generally, I think critics certainly DO have off days; days when they just don't happen to be receptive to the concert at hand. I daresay it's irresponsible to even write on those days, but of course, a writer must write, when on assignment.

I'm not a huge fan of venomous nitpicking (amusing as it can be). I think it can be self-indulgent and show a lack of restraint on the part of a reviewer, who might fall in love with his own words without regard to their effect, or possibly even to their overall accuracy. My ideal of an arts journalist is a person who respects and understands the art that he/she is covering and who also feels some responsibility to write for his/her audience. A reviewer should make a good-faith effort to put whatever he/she says in context and justify anything that is purely opinion.

And yes, certainly call out the emperor who is wearing no clothes. But to call out the emperor who has one thread hanging out on an otherwise gorgeous garment? To me that lacks wisdom, maturity and overall knowledge.

April 19, 2014 at 01:03 AM · Very well put, Laurie.

April 19, 2014 at 02:34 AM · Greetings,

it is well worth taking a look at the Tetzlaff youtube clip of him teaching part of Brahms sonata. The Ss in question is , in my opinion, one of the best examples I have ever seen of such profound internal emoting that virtually nothing of the music is being expressed. rather than shooting himself on stage Tetzlaff rather hesitantly begins making suggestions about basic things in the score and musical suggestions which become increasingly more focused. By continually referring to both piano and violin he manages to improve a performance that he himself describes as `stuck` at one point.

It`s very good teaching.

Is not tucking shirts in the fashion when playing for famous people these days? I must be getting even older than I thought.



April 19, 2014 at 12:25 PM · Very interesting discussion! The review wasn't so nice, but I think there can be some truth in it... At the end, I think it would be interesting to know how good the guy really is/was. It's maybe good to know a little of the background: After WWII, young German violinists weren't exactly the "mercancy" the world were crying for: People like Edith Peinemann, Lukas David or Ulf Hoelscher had very big problems starting or mantaining their careers, albeit being good violinists and "worth it" IMO. All changed with the advent of the CD and Anne-Sophie Mutter, starting a real "boom". Since Zimmermann, the "next one", was also a sales success, Europe-oriented record companies were desperately seeking for young German violinists and willing to invest in them. So did VIRGIN with Tetzlaff, and it was a real surprise... And they created this "Kremer-like" image of "great intelectual interpreter", in my opinion to "sell" the rather dry, cold and not sensuous tone as "qualities"... So maybe now, since nobody earns much recording and selling classical music, it's time to have a look at the "Emperor's dresses"?

April 20, 2014 at 12:37 AM · It's not just what you say, but how you say it. It's easier to try to be witty and clever when being negative than positive. If as a critic, you genuinely feel that this that and other thing was awry, you really have an obligation to say so. But why be nasty?

When Eric C. Simpson (the critic in question) begins "After more than four decades, their conductorless experiment is as vibrant as ever, as they showed in an all-Hungarian program. On Saturday, they might have been better off without a soloist, as well." - that was uncalled for. Not that he doesn't have much worse precedent. One rather pithy review of a pianist, as I recall, began "Mr. X gave a recital at Carnegie Hall last night. Why?"

I just saw the old film "Laura" again on t.v. One of the characters is a fastidious critic - and worse, but I won't give away the story. When the title character, whom he eventually becomes close with, tries to induce him to endorse a certain brand of pen that her company represents, he sniffs "I never use a pen. I use a feather quill - dipped in venom."

April 20, 2014 at 07:52 AM · Review good or bad, right or wrong... I don't know, since I wasn't there... But, dear Buri,please don't say Titzlaff again, it's the "core" of a very, very bad ( albeit funny... ) German pun ( yes, they exist! ) if I remember correctly...

April 20, 2014 at 03:52 PM · ",please don't say Titzlaff again, it's the "core" of a very, very bad ( albeit funny... ) German pun ( yes, they exist! ) if I remember correctly..."

Please try to explain - I've got no clue what you are talking about.

I also like the idea that there is no humor in Germany.

(When I was a kid, we had a visitor from Mexico. When he talked about his country, the schoolfriend of my sister interrupted him: "Oh, are there really cows in Mexico?")

April 20, 2014 at 04:32 PM · Claudio: "... But, dear Buri,please don't say Titzlaff again, it's the "core" of a very, very bad ( albeit funny... ) German pun ( yes, they exist! ) if I remember correctly..."

Its worse than the pun in English?

April 20, 2014 at 05:49 PM · To those who are throwing me under the bus for posting this review I don't care. I posted this to start a discussion on a bad review and nothing more. Period.

Don't go looking for hidden agendas in this post, there aren't any. He can play circles around me on a bad day, I couldn't even come close. However, someone who brags about his minimal practice habits deserves to have that discussed when he plays below par.

As to the typos, tough. I have an eye infection which is finally under control and can barely see. My right third finger is in a large splint from a tendon ripped off the bone, it's healing. The splint makes typing difficult.

I promise to rite gooder when I'm all bedder.

Now I'm going to go practice for 46 minutes.

I've got very thick skin, attack me all you want, but that won't contribute towards the discussion. As I said, I have no hidden reasons for posting the review other than a civilized discussion.

April 20, 2014 at 06:16 PM · When people say they practice 5 hours a day, it's likely to often be an exaggeration (just like the amount they exercise, the calories they eat, how "busy" they are, how much they weigh, etc.). So it's easy to imagine that when someone says they only practice 45 minutes a day, it can be taken with the same grain of salt.

April 20, 2014 at 08:21 PM · Omg...I came back here after 4 years of silence, and I am leaving right now... Christian is a great artist... he never played perfectly, because he is a great musician, just not a violinist or simply a mere virtuoso. I never regreted my posts here on Heifetz ( I love him , but never thought he was a great musician like Arthur Grumiaux ) and believe there are great artists, past or present that have more to offer just more than the typical technical individual show we are now, sadly, accustomed too nowadays. How many of you have achieved the quarter of that exceptional artist??? Critics usually do not play an instrument, compose, or conduct an orchestra... I am sure that who ever that critic is, he praised many other famous players that give the big show as usual, but minimum comprehension about music... By the way, if you watch Repin on youtube, he as well has some bad nights, or even Vengerov, not to mention Perlman and Stern... Even Heifetz had these, like all others...

April 20, 2014 at 08:45 PM · And there's that nonsense about "10,000 hours of practice" (however that is defined!) necessary to achieve Perfection, that's been doing the rounds for several years, thereby leading countless innocents down time-wasting paths. All we can say is that it generally takes about 10 years from start to achieve a top standard in almost any activity that's worth doing - and that includes most professions, as well as music and the other arts (and sports, for that matter). How those 10 years are filled, or how they could be spread out over a longer period, depends on the individual, their circumstances, and the nature of the activity.

April 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM · Hi Marc!!! Lovely to see you here again - don't give up because of this lousy topic - take heart instead from the number of people here who have said the same thing.

April 21, 2014 at 05:38 AM · In fact it is interesting to both criticize critics and dissect the performance that led to such criticism. Though the critic may have a penchant for vituperitive verbiage, the question is - is that prose completely unfounded? The greatest violinists have an off night, but what caused that off night? A drafty or poor rehearsal? An ill-tempered conductor? Or an ill-tuned piano? In this case, lack of rehearsal? Most of us find this interesting. If someone's performance is available publicly, even if they have graced these pages, it's fair game. And if you listen to Kreisler's recordings, he still sounded great in spite of his dislike of practice. He would review the notes mentally, as one noted here. I wish I could play like Kreisler, and practice like him, too. And the OP appears to have no agenda, so why have we become so sensitive that criticism is forbidden? Just because some performers may lurk here? (Not that I don't appreciate their great and reasoned (if not always correct) contributions to these pages.)

BTW, the criticism of one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century by a poster who was too yopung to have heard him live is off the wall. Heifetz played while standing like a statue, not enamored of the emoting and swaying and chin bobbing so popular now. That is not to say that his musical interpretation was devoid of any emotion and interpretation. Try listening to Heifetz while driving - no you tube - just with your ears. The obvious difference between him and current popular soloists - maybe who have been interviewed here - like Akiko-Meyers, Bell, even Titzliff(:-)), or Midori is astounding. In concert, Akiko-Meyers used her del Gesu like Gillespie would use his trumpet. It is completely distracting, and raising and lowering the violin does not improve projection. His interpretations of the same piece are so much more faithful to the composer's intentions, and doesn't gloss over the technical details - you can hear every note. When he taught, he emphasized not detracting from the music by extraneous movements. Now, you can't win a contest without all sorts of interpretive dancing.

This fourum isn't facebook, and we don't have to "like" every comment, or comment about others' comments so that we become the new comment champion. Shouting (lots of extra !!!) is unnecessary. Perhaps though, a similar mechanism might be added here for a popularity contest following each comment, so at least some of us can avoid running up the comment count? Thank G-d, no ribbons awarded for most comments yet.

April 21, 2014 at 06:11 AM · Dave: One man's meat and all that. Some people like dance motions some don't: where this is most evident really is not with a soloist but with quartets with some sitting stoically and others waving like giant kelp in the tide! I can't help but note that your suggestion we should appraise Heifetz by listening and not looking would seem to imply that his lack of expression detracts from his musicality.... Thus, perhaps you feel - as many have expressed before - that he's too expressionless? Of course it raises questions as to what is violin performance? Is it the musical output or the whole package? [Seems to me that its becoming more the latter for current performers but more the former for the classics ...]

What you say about content here is correct - everything is open and this is not FB. I think anyone would agree that the negative review was legitimate - and interesting - material for discussion. [I guess it was, look at us!] However, there are ways and there are ways. If the OP had put this into context - and frankly, respect, for a seasoned and accomplished performer (like him or not) then the topic would have gone its merry way like any other. Please see Laurie's post above - the point is very well put there.

April 21, 2014 at 09:15 AM · > And there's that nonsense about "10,000 hours of practice"

It's not nonsense.

It comes from from Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers: The Story of Success," a non-fiction book that examines some of the factors that contribute to high levels of success. While it is oversimplifying a bit, it is not unreasonable to expect that a person would commit ten thousand hours of training to reach expert-level ability in a field. That's only roughly twenty hours a week for ten years. It also reflects discipline, commitment, and a goal-based approach to learning rather than rote head-pounding.

As a number, it is helpful to illustrate just how much time a person must invest doing things correctly to become a relative expert in a specific field. There are far too many people out there that still believe that playing the violin well is entirely dependent on talent and not on hard work. Furthermore, it acknowledges that some people accomplish the equivalent of ten thousand hours of work in much less time...and that's where talent, aptitude, and maybe a bit of genius come into play.

April 21, 2014 at 10:20 AM · Violinists and critics are both entertainers. Whether one is selling concert tickets or newspaper an audiences interest is peaked by drama. A critic is an artists facilitator in a sense. I think a review that is entitled Epic Fail is bound to cause a sensation as evidenced by the response to this post. Ray Randall should be praised for bringing this to everyone's attention. It has precipitated stimulating discussion. Personally I find credible that Tetzlaff might not be on top of his game. After listening to the Mendelssohn that was posted it sounded that there was a lack of effort in preparation not a lack of ability. I don't think any of you should feel bad for Tetzlaff. There is no doubt that he has the talent to regain his previous form once he decides to spend some more time in the practice room.

April 21, 2014 at 11:27 AM · Lovely to see you as well Elise... and missed you all... I do appreciate many comments here and agree with Laurie's post above and some other's... Artists with youtube, and sometimes bad sound live recordings put there are to musch exposed to scrunity... When you read some comments, ah , she or he made a mistake, there, laps of memory at 5.10, and this and that instead of focusing on musicality, originality, expression, beauty of tone... I have seen such comments even on a youtube live performance of David Oistrach... Artists are human, and should not play like machines... I emphasize more on the emotional level when I listen to a great performer, the interpretation, the deep comprehension of music, the interaction with the pianist or the musicians of the orchestra... I am surprised that the critic above mentionned only focused on mistakes or faulty intonation... Because usually, Christian is above this with his outstanding musicality... and no word about that from the critic... By the way, I once asked to James Ehnes who were in his view the most interesting musicians and violinists : he first point out Christian Telztaff!!! Wish you all a very nice day!!!

April 21, 2014 at 11:34 AM · Some years ago I read in a copy of the Strad, which copy I unfortunately no longer have, an interview with a solo cellist who had just finished an intensive concert tour of Europe (concerts, recitals, radio/TV studios - the works). He realised that his playing was getting decidedly ragged as a result of this activity and that he needed a few weeks in the practice room to bring his technique back up to its former level.

I expect that has been the experience of many a solo performer over the years.

April 21, 2014 at 11:45 AM · Gene wrote: "> And there's that nonsense about "10,000 hours of practice"

It's not nonsense."

And (as 'topicked' before) I'm putting it to the test (sample of one, meaning very little at all) by keeping a record of all my practise/playing time. I'm nearly at 200,000 minutes. That's ~3,3K almost exactly a third of the way. In that time I've gone from simple tunes in first and some third position (but sounding very beginner) reasonably comfortable with 6th position and actually performed (OK it was mediocre but I played all the notes except one!) a solo with a real orchestra (Beethoven romance in F). I'd say I'm an advanced intermediate level player. Right now I'm going through a stage of restructuring my setup - basically dumping the SR and becoming comfortable and have gone back to basic exercises.

Am I on track? I'd say I'm behind but who knows what the next 6.6K will bring. I'll start a topic on it when I reach the 20K milestone and you can hear where I am.

Even if its optimistic its helped set me a truly reachable goal - as long as I live that long!!

April 21, 2014 at 12:09 PM · Here is another review from the New-York times ( excerpt) totally different about the very same concert... A very good review!!!!

"While Liszt was inaugurating the concept of the bravura solo piano recital in the 19th century, the Hungarian-born virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim took a different approach, pioneering the format of concerts dedicated to string quartets and taking a more ascetic approach to music making.

As a composer, however, Joachim didn’t skimp on daring pyrotechnics, which unfold in a blaze of colorful effects in his rarely performed Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor “In the Hungarian Style.” The superb German violinist Christian Tetzlaff joined Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for Joachim’s concerto on Saturday evening at Carnegie Hall, part of a program exploring Hungary’s musical heritage.

The technical challenges of obscure works are often cited to explain their neglect. Fifty years ago, that might have been the case, but given the tremendous virtuosity of the current generation of touring musicians, few scores remain unplayable.

Joachim’s concerto, about 50 minutes long, isn’t as structurally cohesive as the Brahms and Bruch concertos. (He performed both of their premieres.) But it is full of dark-hued melodies and richly scored orchestral interludes, played with bristling fervor by the excellent Orpheus musicians. Mr. Tetzlaff proved charismatic, imbuing his part with a burnished sound and soulful allure and deftly navigating the whirlwind passagework of the “Gypsy” finale."

Review by Vivian Schweitzer,March 31 2014

April 21, 2014 at 01:00 PM · I stopped reading and trusting critics- good or bad- long time ago, after all they are just someone's opinion who most of the time knows little or nothing about the playing difficulties of a piece and his opinion and taste about interpretation don't have to be the same as mine. I have also taken part in many performances where part of the orchestra (string players) thought the soloist was great while others thought he/she was bad, and I am talking about professional players' opinions. Why should we believe everything critics say? There seems to be already a contradiction about this particular performance, according to these two different critics so...is he a great player or not? Does he need to practice 46 min or can he keep the 45? I don't really care for the answers, he will still be a great player and artist.

April 21, 2014 at 02:00 PM · Yes Jose, he will always be a great artist.

I hope Laurie, and all others, will read the fascinating article on Tetzlaff and his family that appeared in the N.Y. Times 8/27/12 - posted by Anne.

www.christiantetzlaff.com/media/presse/12.0827 Charles

April 21, 2014 at 02:51 PM · Well said Jose!

Charles, the one in The New Yorker was a well written and thoughtful article I enjoyed reading in the magazine back in 2012 and enjoy even more when I re-read today after all the rubbish we've seen lately. As for Tetzlaff, as we say in Chinese, "Pure gold does not afraid of fire." As for critics, well, some are so shamelessly poor in knowledge, judgment and taste that should be given no attention rather than more than it deserves.

April 21, 2014 at 04:37 PM · That is the reason I posted the critic of the NY Times... I do not read critics usually... But just wanted to show that for the NY times, he is CHARISMATIC!!!... And by the way, The Mendelssohn except above is absolutely amazing: this is a true original entrance, very inspiring... and if so many students can play better than HE, well we have many little Menuhins in the making now...

April 21, 2014 at 05:24 PM · I see a lot of harsh critiques of critics on this thread. I'm not talking about a critics writing technique as far as grammatical errors or sentence structure. It has gone way over the top with accusations of gross incompetence and being shameless. No one said Tetzlaff was shameless or incompetent. Why is it all right to pan a journalist and not a musician? What's with all the double standards? What about musicians makes them all gold? What is it about journalists that makes them such a scourge, especially when we don't agree with them.

April 21, 2014 at 05:43 PM · Jack, because we violinists know how hard is to play well at all time and how easy is to talk trash. We also have clear comparison here of quality journalism (The New Yorker review Anne sited and Laurie's numerous reviews, I highly recommend you read them) and the shoddy one (not in grammar or spelling, which belong to elementary school and ELS program) that is sited on this thread. If anyone can show us the comparison in any other violin preformance between Tetzlaff and another that can demonstrate your point, I'm sure many of us will be most impressed.

For you ease of reference, here is the one by The New Yorker: http://www.christiantetzlaff.com/media/presse/12.0827%20The%20New%20Yorker%20Digital%20Edition.pdf

April 21, 2014 at 05:48 PM · Well, a musician has worked hard for many years before he can step onto a stage.

In contrast, every dude that can handle a pencil can destroy or harm the career/reputation of an artist.

A journalist simply has not the right to do this. He's not in the least sense qualified like a trained artist, but he's allowed to judge him.

So there's a great responsiblity that not every critic can or is willing to handle.

Take this as an invitation to think about it.

April 21, 2014 at 06:30 PM · I remember here in Montreal a critic continuously bashing Martha Argerich each time she appeared in a recital, or with orchestra during the 70,s and 80,s... The public went wild each time she performed...He destroyed her every time she played...The critic could not simply believe a woman could be as good as Horowitz... She played Chopin in a very different way than her predecessors, in a more masculine and decisive manner... She played Listz B minor sonata like no one before her, Scarbo of Ravel, Rach 3 unsurpassed... She is still being outstanding now at 70... There are many kinds of violinists... the typical classical one, which is ok, the super virtuoso, the musicians like Oistrach or Grumiaux... Kremer was quite different than others and played a very interesting repertoire... It is quite interesting to see how a musician like Christian Telztaff is so different than others, while still being into the classical field... Someone mentionned here his masterclass of the Brahms sonata... Indeed, it is very interesting to watch him, and even when he gives suggestions to the pianist. Truly inspiring... Many excellent violinists go study with him... I am thinking of Benjamin Beilman... Earlier, I spoke about James Ehnes who admires him so much... Sorry for my English writing...

April 21, 2014 at 07:57 PM · "In contrast, every dude that can handle a pencil can destroy or harm the career/reputation of an artist."

"A journalist simply has not the right to do this. He's not in the least sense qualified like a trained artist, but he's allowed to judge him."

What a piece of nonsense. Art critics are unqualified labourers hired from the street for a couple of minutes to scribble a review? Nope, art critics writing for the newspaper with decent circulation must have a little different background, literary criticism and art criticism are fields of their own and it takes considerable time to study them.

Art critics are not allowed to publish negative reviews? What is the point of review then, just pat on the shoulder? Critics task is to analyse and provide feedback and he can use as much emotion in his writing as he feels about the subject. Political correctness has no place in the art.

April 21, 2014 at 08:29 PM · The point is not about freedom of speech...it is about honesty and limits in writing...... Have you read Pavel the New-York Times review of the very same concert mentionned in my previous post... The New-York Times praise him as being charismatic... very expressive musically speaking... nothing about false intonation, scratches, bad sound, rushing ect. ect. This is not normal... The New-York Times is a very serious newspaper... So I have doubts about the critic object of the present discussion being really honest and objective... We speak here about honesty and objectivity...

April 21, 2014 at 08:35 PM · I repost for your benefit...

"While Liszt was inaugurating the concept of the bravura solo piano recital in the 19th century, the Hungarian-born virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim took a different approach, pioneering the format of concerts dedicated to string quartets and taking a more ascetic approach to music making.

As a composer, however, Joachim didn’t skimp on daring pyrotechnics, which unfold in a blaze of colorful effects in his rarely performed Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor “In the Hungarian Style.” The superb German violinist Christian Tetzlaff joined Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for Joachim’s concerto on Saturday evening at Carnegie Hall, part of a program exploring Hungary’s musical heritage.

The technical challenges of obscure works are often cited to explain their neglect. Fifty years ago, that might have been the case, but given the tremendous virtuosity of the current generation of touring musicians, few scores remain unplayable.

Joachim’s concerto, about 50 minutes long, isn’t as structurally cohesive as the Brahms and Bruch concertos. (He performed both of their premieres.) But it is full of dark-hued melodies and richly scored orchestral interludes, played with bristling fervor by the excellent Orpheus musicians. Mr. Tetzlaff proved charismatic, imbuing his part with a burnished sound and soulful allure and deftly navigating the whirlwind passagework of the “Gypsy” finale."

Review by Vivian Schweitzer,March 31 2014

April 21, 2014 at 08:45 PM · There are two basic kinds of criticism. One goes deeply into its subject in articles and books, evaluates trends, makes comparisons, puts things into context, and basically articulates and illuminates a zeitgeist. The other, kind quickly and superficially comments on a particular performance - though the two are not mutually exclusive. Regarding the former, I've enjoyed reading a good deal of literary as well as musical criticism. For that sort of criicism, I'd highly recommend the writings of Harold C. Schonberg, deceased former chief music critic of the NY Times.

Regarding the type of journalistic criticism that most people associate with that term, no one said that any critic should sugar-coat a negative opinion. But there's no reason to be vitriolic about it. Also, many critics are in fact journalists first, and but superficially educated in their subject. The other problem is that one person's opinion in print can harm a career all out of proportion to someone else' opinion who might have been at the concert, might be far more expert on the violin or piano, etc. Also, I feel that a critic should have an ethical duty to report that most of the audience loved the performance, even if he did not. However, such a situation is more likely to anger a critic, who will now tell the reading public what's what, because he knows best. The situation is even far worse with Broadway shows that have sometimes closed after one night because of a terrible review.

For these reasons, I feel that critics should be held accountable. At many universities and colleges, students get to rate their professors. Why shouldn't readers and performers have a similar opportunity in the same publications? The difference, though, is that student ratings come after the course has been completed. The professor can't really retaliate against a student if that student takes no more courses with that professor. If a performer tries something similar in a letter to the paper, it rarely ends well for the performer. This is the critic's territory, and he usually has the last word, and will likely savage the performer much worse the next time he attends that performer's concert.

Kreisler was an exception. When he revealed, what most of his colleagues already suspected, that the many pieces that he attributed to various obscure Baroque composers were completely his own, most took it in stride. But one critic, Ernest Newman, wouldn't let it go, and lambasted Kreisler for his deception. Kreisler and Newman got into a public exchange of letters. When Newman said that any ordinary musician could have done the same kind of formulaic writing, Kreisler said that since Newman regularly told every performer how to play and every composer how to compose, he must be far more than an ordinary musician, and challenged Newman to compose even one piece as Kreisler had. For the first time there was nothing but silence from a critic!

Heifetz as a young man was severely taken to task by one WC Henderson who felt that he wasn't developing, and was content to stay in place. Heifetz was so upset as to be suicidal. But he came to realize that Henderson wished him well. He took a serious look at himself and developed a great deal more depth and a much wider reperyoire. But generally speaking, Heifetz was right when he said that nobody has ever erected a monument to a critic.

But I'll give the last word in this regard to composer Max Reger. After being roasted by one particular critic, he wrote this pithy reply: "My dear Herr...(whatever the critic's name was) I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. Your review is before me. It will soon be behind me."

April 21, 2014 at 09:32 PM · ...Well said!!!but it was Kreisler who said to a critic that no one has rise a monument in their honour... It was in Paris, replying to a critic who told him he did not play as good as the week before...

April 21, 2014 at 09:54 PM · Arts critics makes sense to me in literature, museums, even movies...but not in music since there are not two performances the same even with the same player and the same repertoire. They can provide basic information about what to expect when you go see a moovie or read a book because it will always be the same, but music is a different story. What's the purppose of writting such a bad review on Tetzlaff's performance? To warn us so we don't go listen to him because according to his opinion he could not play that piece well that particular night? To point out that he is not as great as he himself or we thought he was? To spread the good or bad reputation of the performer? I think they should be extremely cautious and respectful especially when writting negative things about artists, just in case they are simply wrong in their perception. And do we really need them? Do we always agree with the jury's decision in competitions or auditions? Why should we then trust judgement from people who sometimes are not even musicians? I don't need anyone to tell me if the food I ate, or the book I read or the moovie I saw was good or bad,if I should like it more or less. I can figure that out myself regardless if I am or not a professional cook, writter or actor; to me Art is there to be enjoyed, not criticied. I remember some video where the great Leonard Bernstein was trying to explain how Brahms second symphony actually had melodies, disagreeing with what some reputated critic from NY kept saying about his music. And was it Sibelius

who said he had seen in his life many statues of musicians but never one of a critic?... (apologies for my english and my spelling!)

April 21, 2014 at 11:16 PM · I wonder if all of the anti-critic vitriol and vocal disagreement in this thread would have been directed at the critic had he complimented the performance.

I wonder if anyone will answer truthfully. :-)

April 21, 2014 at 11:28 PM · Truthfully it depends how genuine the compliment is. If it is made in good faith but got all the facts wrong or sounded the critic lack basic concept about either the music or violin, then I would have a good chuckle and no more. Why? Simply because no harm done by this. There is a good reason defamation law exists in most civilized countries but I don't know if anyone has been taken to court for complimenting someone else :)

April 22, 2014 at 12:26 AM · I never criticized the critic, just the way the review was presented on V.com.

The thing about criticism is to first evaluate the qualifications of the critic. I didn't see any insight in the review itself so didn't take it seriously - I bet Tetzlaff did exactly the same.

April 22, 2014 at 01:10 AM · Marc- I was sure I remembered Heifetz. Then I just did a little research and apparently it is actually Sibelius who is credited with first saying this! But it's the type of band wagon many are likely to jump on.

Michael - I haven't read any anti-critic vitriol here that I can remember, except maybe my Reger quotation. My point is in fact the vitriol of the critics themselves often, not the fact of their not caring for a particular performance. I'm sure that if someone gave constructive criticism of one of your violins, while it wouldn't be fun, still, that would be one thing. But if someone used that opportunity to be unnecessarily nasty and smart-a**ed, that would be another thing. At least, that's how I feel as a professional performer. BTW, I haven't had reviews from major venues as the NY Times or Strad magazine, but the few reviews I've gotten in print so far have been very nice. So maybe I should shut up and quit criticizing the critics while I'm ahead!

The most harm from nasty criticism comes to a performer who isn't hugely established. For a mega star like Perlman or Ma, people will flock to their concerts, no matter what. One little trick a performer can use in publicity materials is to be quite selective in editing the bad review for their own ends. So a review like "his recital might have been very good if it weren't marred by poor intonation, uneven rhythm and a scratchy tone" becomes "Very good"! It's not usually taken that far, but I'm wary of one or two word critical raves in publicity material.

April 22, 2014 at 02:02 AM · I don't think the critic was trying to be malicious and I know he is capable of writing glowing reviews. Here is an example. There is no need to crucify him for his attempt at honesty.


The last woman to sing Elvira in Bellini’s I Puritani at the Met was Anna Netrebko in 2007. On Thursday, in the hands of another Russian soprano, a true coloratura, the opera seemed an entirely different piece.

Olga Peretyatko’s company debut was highly anticipated, and proved highly rewarding. She possesses a spectacularly nimble voice, and displayed pinpoint coloratura. Her sound is light from low to high, her top is free and secure, and her intonation is about as close to perfect as it comes, once or twice reaching just barely shy of a high note. She threw out her staccati like darts, each one landing with a burst of light. It’s no wonder she was fearless with her ornamentation, climbing the ladder at every opportunity.

Beyond her astonishing technique, Peretyatko displayed tremendous artistry, working her wailing runs into a compelling interpretation. In her famous mad scene, “Qui la voce” started out a bit straight, almost colorless, but bloomed as it progressed, twisting and turning through the painfully sweet, arching lines. Here and in the third act she displayed jaw-dropping hairpin dynamics on top, floating a pianissimo, growing to a forte, and coming back down. The following cabaletta glittered, though it could have stood to go a hair faster.

Not to be outdone in the vocal acrobatics department, Lawrence Brownlee went for Arturo’s famous F5, and got it. It wasn’t the best he’s ever unleashed, but it was there, and really in his chest. What impressed more were his high D’s, which were full-throttle and seemingly endless. Often a singer of the stand-and-deliver variety, Brownlee seemed particularly invested in this role. He did not throw himself around the stage (though he very convincingly manhandled the Roundhead soldiers in the third act), but there was a noble intensity about him that he channeled into passionately dramatic singing.

Peretyatko, for her part, oversold her descent into madness (which, to be fair, has to happen in a dozen bars or so), but once she got there, she was completely and convincingly in her own world, working herself into a disturbing trance that lasted the entire second act.

That second act is in fact the only one in which Sandro Sequi’s 1976 production brings any interest. The cavernous staircase and faded splendor of the house make Elvira, flitting about in her white dress and veil, seem like a specter out of a Poe story. Otherwise, it seems as though the staging wasn’t completely dusted off, its costumes and sets simply offering the actors something to wear and somewhere to stand.

Michele Pertusi, truly shone as Elvira’s uncle Giorgio. He brought his usual roundness of tone, a voice at once booming and buoyant. His “Cinta di fiori,” describing his niece’s madness, was liquid gold, tenderly sung but with a clutching intensity that hinted at his terrible emotional pain.

The Belarusian baritone Maksim Aniskin made a last-minute debut stepping in for the ailing Mariusz Kwiecien as Riccardo. His voice felt a little small for the Met, and some of his ornamentation was clumsy, but given the circumstances he acquitted himself admirably, singing with an even tone and intelligent phrasing. Elizabeth Bishop brought a full, pillowy voice to the role of Enrichetta, and Eduardo Valdes rounded out the strong supporting cast as Bruno, his caramel tone spilling freely and easily into the house.

In the pit, Michele Mariotti had a slow start with a blaring overture, but quickly found his balance and thereafter led a crisp, spirited reading. The music glittered and bounced, as any good bel canto performance should, but Mariotti found much more than frivolity in the score, laying molasses-thick strings into lyrical sections. His pacing was mostly sensitive to the needs of the music, though he occasionally became sluggish, seeming to give into his singers’ tempi, most notably in the Act 2 duet “Il rival salvar tu dei.”

April 22, 2014 at 02:12 AM · Marc - That second review is not the best either. She writes "Joachim’s concerto, about 50 minutes long, isn’t as structurally cohesive as the Brahms and Bruch concertos"

Anyone with a musical background can easily see that structurally the Joachim is as solid as anything Brahms wrote and is way more traditional sonata form than the Bruch 1'st concerto.

April 22, 2014 at 02:42 AM · I'm curious if the two reviews are actually reviews of the same Tetzlaff performance, or they're from different nights (probably sequential nights) -- one an off-night, and the other a better night?

April 22, 2014 at 03:19 AM · Marc - Exclamation points, capitalization, or posting reviews that talk about the composer rather than much about the performance are all counter-productive. It doesn't match what the OP stated as goals or his concerns. Multi-posts doesn't make your viewpoint any more valid, or maybe it's the English?

Critics criticize; without that, there would be less improvement as some posited here. Just because a violin might be hard to play doesn't mean that we can't criticize a performance or a performer.

Many posters are conflating histrionics with emotion in a performance. Too much mention of You Tube, as in way too much. Whatever happened to actually listening? With ears only? This may be the same reason why Dr. Dre headphones are more popular than Stax or Audeze, or Sennheiser's higher end headphones.* All those people writing in defense of Tetzlaff may well prefer more pop (and sizzle) in the performance, never mind what may have been the composer's intent, or a few wrong notes here and there. In fact, none of us - so far - heard the performance - so the debate largely seems to be one of "I know him, or have heard him play, and it's hard, so the critic can't be correct, or even if he is, it's not something I or the critic could do, so "shut up."" (I am paraphrasing here). On the other hand, Mr. Titzlaff said he only practices x amount of time per day which we all know isn't enough? Perhaps he was only exaggerating- that he could sound that good when the rest of us need a lifetime more?

* The hoi polloi are once again voting with their dollars but they, as usual, are incorrect. (In the case of dre headphones, they have anything but a flat frequency response)

April 22, 2014 at 04:08 AM · I have the last word. Ok, it is for the love of music we all come here and we are all intelligent people knowing deep down we gain more by being constructive than being destructive, and I apologize for some strong words I uttered in the moment of heat.

Please read this article and then decide what kind of journalism we want from our critics and what kind of a musician Tatzlaff is:


Thank you all for the great fun!


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