Thursday, September 10, 2009

Come in, Burton Rothleder, your time is up

Wow. I know the Fanfare Critics' Corner can be a rough-and-tumble place but in the couple of years I've been reading it, I haven't seen anything like Richard A. Kaplan's assault on Burton Rothleder.
It all started innocuously enough a couple of issues ago when Rothleder presented a discussion of some aspects of Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" sonata, to which Kaplan now responds with "his premise is flawed, his argument ill-conceived and specious, and, not least, his analysis of the Adagio third movement is a hopeless muddle". OK, I don't have the musical knowledge to judge these things, but... "it represents a demonstration, indeed a celebration of musical ignorance so breathtaking in its scope that I believe it should not be allowed to stand unchallenged". Yikes! Kaplan then gives several pages of analysis of Rothleder's comments, and goes on to take a brief look at some of his other reviews: "Rothleder consistently misidentifies keys... He relies heavily on pseudo-analytical discourse... He is uninformed regarding performance practice... He has little grasp of the history of recording... He has a relatively small number of recordings, mostly predating the CD era, that he uses as comparisons".
Here comes the karate-chop to the throat: "Rothleder either doesn't know or doesn't care that he displays his ignorance in virtually every review he writes... The question for Mr. Rothleder is what area of expertise does he bring to the magazine? Until that question is satisfactorily answered, I can't think of a good reason to read his contributions".
I'm hoping this will end like that scene in Shaun of the Dead, where they use LPs as weapons...
Please, Gramophone, can you get your reviewers to fight like this? Bryce Morrison still hasn't received the kicking he earned over the Joyce Hatto hoax.

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