What a surprise!
Don Rosenberg's reviews of Franz's concerts going way back when he was a
guest conductor have been generally negative, and, since FW-M has become
music director, contrary to many other reviewers in the U.S. and Europe.
Don is a very astute, knowledgeable, and intelligent critic, as well as
being a really nice guy, but he did seem to have this one blind spot. And
within the past few years, his reviews have become the story rather than
Franz, so much so that they didn't seem to have much impact on attendance
Previously, Don had been sent on the European tours with the Orchestra, but
he did not go on the Salzburg/Lucerne trip this past August, a tour which
resulted in a landslide of very effusive reviews from the European press
. . . including several accounts which compared the Vienna Philharmonic
unfavorably with Cleveland. Oddly, there wasn't a word in the Cleveland
Plain Dealer until late in the tour; then they printed a short summary of
some of the reviews.
[Note: Don did provide daily and accurate summaries and translations of the overseas reviews of the tour on the CPD website -- Why these were not in the paper I do not know -- aP]
Now his not going on the tour probably stemmed from
the overall financial downsizing of the PD, due to the problems all
newspapers are facing these days.
Given that usually I personally have not agreed with much of Don's
Orchestra criticism, and while his other reviews are mostly spot-on, I am
still uncomfortable with this violation of press freedom.
I know that the PD did receive at least one visit from Orchestra management and many letters from concert goers. Perhaps, the paper has bowed to the pressure. On the other hand, the paper may have seen that the positive reaction of the European press was at great odds with Don's views, and this called into question his opinions.
This is somewhat like if the late Chicago Tribune critic Claudia Cassidy
had been fired because of her vitriolic reviews of Chicago Symphony
performances, especially those of Rafael Kubelik, whom she ran out of town.
She would have never been fired because then journalists had more prestige
and power than now.
President:WCLV and Cleveland Orchestra Broadcast Service
Host: Weekend Radio