Critics' Corner

A few scribblings – amusing and heartening - collected from my concert travels in Scotland. And a critical word, or two, on Mary Garden…

Plumbing the depths...

‘Mozart’s Requiem… a work of genius regardless of the particular conduit through which it comes to us. But who was at the other end of the conduit putting it in?’ [a regional newspaper]

A sad end…

‘The concert concluded with two morose songs by Sibelius…’ At last, the reason poor Sibelius took early retirement! [another regional newspaper]

Crumbs of comfort...

The crucial test – and some ‘crumbs’ of comfort. From an audience survey of the Cappuccino Concerts series I devised and directed (2004-05) to showcase Scotland’s renowned Wighton Collection of early printed and manuscript music:

‘It has been a delight and a privilege to attend!’ • ‘The concerts have been excellent - the performers and choice of programmes have attracted me to concerts that I might not ordinarily attend’ • ‘Very high standard of musicianship’ • ‘More Handel please’ • ‘Excellent addition to the music scene’ • ‘Really excellent – many thanks’ • ‘Programmes have been interesting, informative and stimulating - congratulations to all involved’ • ‘Establish the tradition and build on this excellent venture’ • ‘Delighted. We’ll be back’ • ‘A wonderful start to the weekend - keep the concerts coming’

And my favourite!

‘Wonderful series – but get more biscuits!’

A personal thank you to all.


garden-pressNever lost for words… American critic and author James Gibbons Huneker on Aberdeen-born Mary Garden

‘… on the palette of her art there is the entire gamut of tones, from passionate purple to iridescent delicacies of iris-grey’

Huneker’s ‘extraordinary Mary of Aberdeen’

A condor, an eagle, a peacock, a nightingale, a panther, a society dame, a gallery of moving-pictures, a siren, an indomitable fighter, a human woman with a heart as big as a house, a lover of sport, an electric personality, and a canny Scotch lassie who can force from an operatic manager wails of anguish because of her close bargaining over a contract; in a word, a Superwoman’.

garden-melisande2‘I have been asked whether Mary Garden believes that she is the wonderful artiste I believe her to be. I really don’t know. But I feel assured that if she discovers she does not measure up to all the qualities ascribed to her she will promptly develop them; such is the plastic, involutionary force of this extraordinary woman’.

‘… this extraordinary Mary of Aberdeen’

[From Bedouins (1920)]