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Music Appreciation

May 21, 1988

In reply to Ray Goldstone (Saturday Letters, May 7), I would like to express some long-overdue appreciation to Martin Bernheimer for his never-ending battle to maintain critical standards in this city.

I admire his courage in refusing to succumb to the pressures of the musical audience here, which so often applauds wildly for poor or routine performances by name musicians, either out of musical ignorance, or for fear of alienating the artist in question.

The Vladimir Feltsman concert is a perfect example. I would suggest that if anything, Bernheimer was too kind ("Feltsman Makes a Modest Debut at Pavilion," April 27): He omitted criticism of the first half of the concert, which when repeated in New York was described in the New York Times as "bland" and "all wrong."

The point needs to be made that Los Angeles cannot be a cultural backwater with fawning critics and undemanding audiences as it was in my youth.

It has a right to expect a level of performance equal to that of New York, Chicago, London, Vienna or Berlin. It had a right to expect Giulini to conduct as well as he did in London or Chicago and it has a right to expect Previn to conduct as he did in London, instead of the bland, academic run-throughs we get now.

Maybe those upset with a Bernheimer review would find it more productive and valuable to spend further time listening to additional performances of the works in question than blaming the messenger for the message.


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