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Everyone's a Critic

The Observer's culture blog

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

SELF-CRITICISM, by Sandor Slomovits

While the full house at Hill Auditorium roared its appreciation and approval after every piece during Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble's concerts last month, one music lover clearly didn't feel she was getting her money's worth. Throughout the second half of the Saturday night program, employing a very narrow range of adjectives, mostly restricted to "stupid," she muttered disparaging commentary on the uncommon genres of music played, in many cases, on unfamiliar instruments.

Her neighbors, probably concluding that it would create more disturbance to ask her to keep her asinine assessments to herself, focused on the magnificent music and mostly managed to tune her out. But a couple of trenchant remarks were unavoidably noted. Her response to "Paths of Parables", five classic Sufi tales accompanied by complex and evocative modern music was, "These are stupid stories." Finally, when she dismissed Chinese virtuoso, Wu Tong's reed wind instrument, the Sheng, as "that stupid mouth organ," the critique seemed right on the money-of the critic.

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