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Music Lovers

May 28, 1988

Christopher Mankiewicz would have us believe that Martin Bernheimer and the New York Times music critics know more about musical performance practice and standards than the "name musicians" appearing before the public (Saturday Letters, May 21).

Mankiewicz also seems to feel that concert audiences are so ignorant (at least L.A. audiences) that they cannot discriminate between a good performance and a bad one, at least not without the guidance of the all-knowing music critic!

There is no doubt that Bernheimer and his colleagues are knowledgeable musicological scholars who frequently illuminate important musical events. However, when the critic presumes to tell the conductor how to conduct, the pianist how to play the piano and the audience how to listen and react, we must consider the critic to have overstepped his boundaries.

It is the job of the critic to educate, to enhance the experience of the listener, not to instigate inflammatory negativism regarding the qualifications or capabilities of established, respected artists and their audiences.

Critical commentary that incites nit-picking does not benefit art and does nothing to enhance the credibility of the critic.

As a member of the unenlightened masses, I attended the Vladimir Feltsman concert in question. The Rachmaninoff concerto as played by Feltsman became, at last, a moving musical experience rather than an overblown fireworks display for a budding virtuoso. . . . Previn provided an appropriately thoughtful, understated accompaniment.

It was a fine concert.

But don't take my word for it . . . I'm a music lover, not a critic.



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