Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Hope and Hype

So much cheering at the Coliseum London for Weinberg's The Passenger, and fair enough. The production was striking, and the performers well motivated. But as music, and as drama? Weinberg is a man you want to respect because of who he was, but he wasn't necessarily a great composer. About 10 years ago there was a Weinberg bubble when recordings of his symphonies were released. Some people genuinely listened, but there were many more who leapt on the bandwagon because it was fashionable and pretended to know.That's the way the soundbite mentality of the internet works. Instant status counts a lot more than reasoned analysis. In principle, there's nothing wrong with hype. As human beings, we're hard wired to trust and follow. What is wrong is when alternative opinions are damned and denigrated. Fortunately, none of that so far with Weinberg, because he hasn't yet reached the kind of audience that thinks as a mob. God forbid, the irony! There are lots of reasons for catching the ENO Weinberg Passenger, because it's an event. But separate the context from the music and it's another story.  Having heard some of the symphonies, and the Opera North The Portrait, I was hoping against hope that I'd like The Passenger because it's a worthy cause. So please read Rupert Christensen in the Telegraph and Edward Seckerson in the Independent. That's a good critic's job, to analyse, even if it doesn't make you "popular". After the Jackboots Damnation of Faust, someone told me that I shouldn't take the Holocaust so seriously. Well, if we don't, we won't learn.

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