[Dixielandjazz] A Critic's view of Critics.

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Sep 8 12:12:33 PDT 2006

Not OKOM, but it relates to the thread we had on Critics a short time ago.
Like what if a guy can't sing/play yet the audience obviously likes his

Interesting parallels. Note paragraph 6 where I put *** in front and behind.
Something "beyond music" draws the public to him? Hmmmmm.

Steve Barbone

Spectator-Friendly, and Critic-Proof in a Sea of Approval

NY TINES - By BERNARD HOLLAND - September 8, 2006

How nice it would be to write as a spectator and not as a music critic about
Andrea Bocelli. This Italian tenor and recording star is here for four
concerts with the New York Philharmonic, all sold out. That means well over
10,000 people paying homage to one of the music scene¹s beloved figures and
one of its more successful generators of revenue.

Mr. Bocelli¹s involvement in Wednesday¹s program was taxing neither in
length nor in vocal challenge. Luciano Berio¹s treatments of Verdi songs
called ³Eight Romances for Tenor and Orchestra² were split in half, with
four before intermission and four after. Elsewhere, Asher Fisch conducted
familiar Verdi, Puccini and Mascagni numbers. There was room left for

The critic¹s duty is to report that Mr. Bocelli is not a very good singer.
The tone is rasping, thin and, in general, poorly supported. Even the most
modest upward movement thins it even more, signaling what appears to be the
onset of strangulation.

To his credit, Mr. Bocelli sings mostly in tune. But his phrasing tends
toward carelessness and rhythmic jumble, and the little barks and husky
vocal expletives that are the mother¹s milk of Italian tenordom sound faded
and unconvincing. The diction is not clear.

But this is a music critic speaking, and music critics had no business at
Avery Fisher Hall on Wednesday. Mr. Bocelli¹s every gesture invited warm,
resounding approval. Accusing audiences of being gullible won¹t wash. The
music public can be conned for only a short time, and Mr. Bocelli¹s success
is of reasonably long standing.

*** It also won¹t do to complain that good singers languish, while deeply
fallible ones like this one get rich. There is something physical or
metaphysical ‹ something beyond music ‹ that must draw people to Andrea
Bocelli. That is a talent in itself. ***

The recordings help, made as they are in environments in which assets can be
electronically enhanced and blemishes minimized. It makes putting Mr.
Bocelli in front of a full orchestra unamplified (or so the Philharmonic
assured me) a risky business. His managers might do better to leave him to
the cosseting of the recording studio rather than resist further exposure,
even with unthreatening repertory like this.

They might ponder in this regard the case of Paul Badura-Skoda, a pianist
who in the first days of the LP made a series of successful recordings but
was then unwise enough to tour this country in person. His mediocrity
revealed, Mr. Badura-Skoda returned to Vienna, where he lives on in relative

Mr. Fisch proved a heart-on-sleeve conductor dedicated to the milking of the
moment. He wanted the Overture to Verdi¹s ³Forza del Destino² loud, and the
Philharmonic does loud as well as anybody.

Mascagni¹s Intermezzo from ³Cavalleria Rusticana² emoted beautifully;
splendid solo work marked Puccini¹s Prelude to Act III of ³Manon Lescaut.²

More Puccini arrived with the ³Preludio Sinfonico,² a product of a young man
with a lyrical ear and Wagner sounding in his head.

Andrea Bocelli sings tonight and tomorrow night at 8at Avery Fisher Hall,
Lincoln Center; (212)875-5030.

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