Doesn't Know His Glass From His Elbow | Letters | Chicago Reader

Doesn't Know His Glass From His Elbow 

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I was appalled at Lee Sandlin's review of Akhnaten [July 28]. Philip Glass is hardly a new composer on the scene and Akhnaten is not a new opera. Sandlin himself refers to Glass's "trademark style, so familiar from movie sound tracks and TV commercials." Stores with significant classical music sections have lots of Glass recordings. Anyone going to see Akhnaten has no excuse for not knowing what's in store for him. So why should I, or anyone else, be any more interested in what Sandlin thinks of Glass's music than we are in what he thinks of Verdi's or Wagner's.

Sandlin was obviously so involved in his overwhelming distaste for Glass that he was unable to hear the music being performed. At least the performance I attended did not sound "absolutely identical" to the recording I have, or to any I can imagine being released. In the performance the rhythms were not as tight, the orchestra not as completely together, and most of all the singing was nowhere near as good. Unfortunately, Mr. Scott, who played Akhnaten, had a vibrato so wide that when he held a note it lost all sense of pitch. If for no other reason, this made some of the music unintelligible. For example, the duet near the end of the first act lost all of its subtlety and beauty.

I happen to dislike most Verdi and could easily believe that the oompah-pah accompaniment to many of his arias would sound identical in any performance. And how serious a fault are his ridiculous and sometimes incomprehensible plots? Can you imagine any critic going on about these things in a review of Il trovatore? Maybe you need to find yourself a new opera critic, or at least insist on more professionalism.

Peter Rekdahl

Chicago

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