Commentary Magazine


Post-Pavarotti

 

To the Editor:

Terry Teachout’s article on Luciano Pavarotti confirms my own disdain for a singer whose career has played a key role in the decline of musical expression [“After Pavarotti,” December 2004]. I have done my best to shut out Pavarotti from my listening, and Mr. Teachout’s description of his “pointed” (read “pointy”) tone and “uncomplicated” (read “uncultivated”) musicality reminds me why.

In performances by Pavarotti or the “Three Tenors,” virtuosity replaced the soul of music; subtlety was confused with adjusting dials in recording labs to produce louder and softer sounds; and microphones were placed so close to the mouths of singers that the effort of making the sound could be heard clearly. Thanks to the likes of Pavarotti and his handlers, genuine intimacy in music was confused with a kind of aural pornography. True, they also caused more classical music to be heard by the public, but with little expression beneath the surface.

Today we enjoy a proliferation of great historical performances available on recording, but there is a lack of great contemporary performances—and with that a loss of faith in music’s powers of expression. I am glad these recordings exist to carry forward the possibility of musical revitalization in a post-Pavarotti age.

Larry W. Josefovitz

Beachwood, Ohio

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