I have a great appreciation for all types of music, but as my inability to comprehend entire swaths of this thorough and thoughtful obituary of former Met Opera maestro, James Levine illustrates, I have no feel for it. To be clear, I am about as non-musical as they come; well, except for my dad, for whom I have no memory of him ever listening to music.
Of Levine, Tommasini writes:
“His performances were clearheaded, rhythmically incisive without being hard-driven, and cogently structured, while still allowing melodic lines ample room to breathe.”
My thoughts exactly. No seriously, someone enlighten me, what on earth does that even mean? I may be clueless, but I know how to “borrow” from Tommasini to pretend to know way more than I actually do. Very shortly, when I return to the party circuit post-pan, I intend on asking this cogently structured question of other party goers, “Why, oh why do so many contemporary composers routinely suffocate melodic lines?” Of course, I’ll need you to throw me a life preserver as soon as any of my conversational partners reply.
With respect to this descriptive sentence, if I only was more familiar with Wagner (I deserve partial credit for at least knowing how to pronounce ‘Vaagnr’ correctly) and Mahler, meaning a little, I could follow Tommasini:
“Above all, Mr. Levine valued naturalness, with nothing sounding forced, whether a stormy outburst in a Wagner opera or a ruminative passage of a Mahler symphony.”
Here is faux-sophisticated music party line #2 I’m filing away. “I like how Levine valued naturalness, with nothing sounding forced, whether a stormy outburst in a Wagner opera or a ruminative passage of a Mahler symphony.”
I just hope my convo partners haven’t read, or don’t remember, Tommasini’s obit.