Review of a review

August 20, 2007

Yesterday, we went to a north Indian classical concert, sponsored by a city newspaper. Two artistes, an instrumentalist and a vocalist, were featured.

The program started about 20 minutes late.

The instrumentalist presented a polished, superb performance. At the audience’s request, he played another piece which was just as good.

The vocalist was eagerly awaited, but the ten-minute break took 30 minutes, and then the vocalist spent another 15 minutes tuning up the surbahar, which north Indian vocalists strum while singing.

The vocalist was the one who inspired my last post about artistes who should realize when they are past their prime. Amazingly–because north Indian music rarely goes off key– the vocalist went off key several times, the voice was trembling and lacked melody and timbre.. several members of the audience, including ourselves, walked out as the music grated on our ears.

So….this morning I opened the newspaper…and saw the review.

The vocalist was praised in such fulsome terms that it was staggering. How could the reviewer not know when the pitch had strayed? “There was not a flat note in the entire concert”, the review said. Opinions can differ..but a false note is an objective thing…surely, the newspaper sponsoring the concert could not change the facts?

But still, on that issue, I felt that perhaps the reviewer and I had different opinions, which each of us were entitled to. The shocking thing was..that the instrumentalist, one of the two artistes featured in the program…was not mentioned AT ALL.

And even in that laudatory review, the name of one of the disciples of the vocalist was given wrongly.

How can a reviewer, a journalist, do such a thing?

My opinion of the newspaper, and its reporting, has gone down a (further) notch…

This is also because of the editorial today, and that’s another post…and it will also be a letter to the newspaper.