Talvi bemoans the acoustics of Benaroya Hall: "As we got our first audience in, a strange phenomenon was discovered: The hall had a lot presence but in [the] opposite direction. Any sound from the audience could be heard onstage in great clarity, may that be a dropped program or people coughing." And the strange, icky events surrounding his and his wife's abrupt termination from the Symphony--a returned donation, a visit from the police, and hints of a restraining order--read more like the outline for a screenplay than actual occurrences.
Yet Talvi reserves the juiciest jabs for conductor/Music Director Gerard Schwarz: "Then there are the control freaks who manage to stifle every musician in the band. Micromanaging is often at its extreme. Players sense a hostility from the podium and respond in kind. Most don't even want to have eye contact with the conductor and write DLU (for Don't Look Up) in their parts in frustration."
Whether or not these comments ring true (some Symphony musicians tell me they love Schwarz while others express disdain), Talvi's pertinent comments on performance (especially the entry "Vibratissimo"), charmingly crotchety complaints about composers over-notating their scores, and instructive anecdotes make this blog a must-read. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI
Peruse Ilkka Talvi's blog at schmaltzuberalles.blogspot.com, though start at the beginning by clicking on the March 2005 link under "Archives."