Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sometimes the good [record] wins

I'm still doing a sub-par job keeping TPW updated, but blogging during property seems like a great way to do not-so-great on the final.

In any event, I was pleased to see Hilary Hahn's Schoenberg/Sibelius disc walk away with a Grammy. Given the fact that Coldplay's ersatz-U2 disc, Viva la Vida, took home some serious loot (thank God, though, for Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and the stopper of the year), it is a refreshing tonic indeed to see an intelligent record get an award.

Of course, paying attention to awards shows like the Grammys or the Oscars is a great way to realize that, while great products of mainstream (and slightly off-mainstream) culture are still being made, the "industry" rewards itself as much as it rewards anyone else. The galling thing is, of course, the self-congratulatory tone that everyone gets when a slightly nontrivial choice is made – as though letting Little Miss Sunshine get Best Original Screenplay makes up for the tripe usually rewarded.

That having been said, it would be nice to see somewhat more coverage of the classical music awards. It might get people interested on something beyond Vivaldi and the first movement of Beethoven's 5th. Pop music is something like a vast wasteland these days, pace Chairman Newton Minow, and it isn't getting better. For every record like Byrne and Eno's Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, you get a Katy Perry or whatever. While those who appreciate serious art music can, will, and do argue over performances, stagings, and the like, they agree on this (for the central canon): the notes on the page are good. Beethoven's 7th is good. Wagner's Meistersinger is good. A lot of music today is crap.

You do the math.


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