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Classical Gas 

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Dear Reader;

I have read the lame classical reviews in the Reader for years and never commented, but this week's review of Tristan und Isolde [February 18] has prompted me to respond. There have been naive statements such as the reviewer a few years ago (in all fairness, not Lee Sandlin, I think) who wondered if there were enough musicians in Chicago for the CSO to mount Die Meistersinger during Lyric's season to simply rude comments like the review of CSO's Elektra in which the reviewer questioned the safety of orchestra members while a very large Alessanda Marc moved above them on a raised platform in Orchestra Hall.

Now there is Lee Sandlin's review of this week in which it is stated, "[Wagner] was barely even a composer in the traditional sense, because every note of his music was calculated for its immediate dramatic impact" and Sandlin questions Wagner's sincerity, "because for a man whose creative energies are wholly expressed through showbiz effects, what exactly does sincerity look like?" Later in the review we have yet another discussion regarding the size of the two principals, Jane Eaglen and Ben Heppner.

In a publication which boasts some of the most insightful, informed film reviews I've read (i.e., Jonathan Rosenbaum), why must the classical music reviews be so uninformed and full of intermission gossip? Lee Sandlin has little or nothing to contribute to the experience of Tristan und Isolde about which there has been a vast body of challenging, thought-provoking literature written. What exectly does sincerity look like, Lee Sandlin?

Jon Johnson

W. Belmont


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