This review is insightful and enjoyable to read. Midgette captures the attention of her audience with a brief, general observation in her first sentence, before progressing to Levit’s performance (Midgette, ‘Sound Worlds,’ 2017).
Instead of confining herself to listing the works played, Midgette gives her readers information about Levit’s origins and career. She contextualizes this performance by mentioning that Levit is known for his recording of the Diabelli variations, and that he has previously recorded one of Rzewski’s works as well (Midgette, ‘Sound Worlds,’ 2017). Midgette shows her readers the inspirations behind Rzewski’s ‘Dreams, Part II’ and explains how the work, dedicated to Levit, is especially suited to his skills and performance style (Midgette, ‘Sound Worlds,’ 2017).
Rather than merely describing technical details, Midgette shows her readers why this performance was significant. She praises Levit’s ‘heartfelt directness,’ describing his music as ‘burned free of worldly concerns’ (Midgette, ‘Sound Worlds,’ 2017). She portrays Levit as a musician who communicates with his audience on a personal level.
Midgette uses thoughtful, imaginative language, comparing Levit to a ‘Dostoevsky hero’ and describing the ‘inner fanaticism’ of his playing (Midgette, ‘Sound Worlds,’ 2017). This helps her readers to form a mental picture of the event. She makes her review personal by stating which piece she most enjoyed, and how she perceived the recital: it ‘flew by more rapidly than many recitals half as long’ (Midgette, ‘Sound Worlds,’ 2017).
Without intimidating her audience, Midgette states her opinions clearly and assertively. This seems characteristic of her writing. For instance, in another article, she states that Cornelius Meister ‘is the real deal, and someone to watch’ (Midgette, ‘Young Conductor,’ 2017). The confidence of her statements—along with her previously mentioned background knowledge—encourages the reader to trust her judgment about Levit. Midgette does not describe her qualifications within the review. However, given the brevity of this review, the two-sentence biography following it seems sufficient.
Midgette’s praise for Levit is warm and unmixed. Her statement that she ‘may never hear a better performance of the Diabelli Variations’ led me to wonder if she was exaggerating Levit’s power (Midgette, ‘Sound Worlds,’ 2017). However, after reading her evaluation of Joshua Bell, I realized that Midgette is capable of recognizing a performer’s flaws (Midgette, ‘Joshua Bell,’ 2017). I decided that her praise of Levit was probably well deserved.
Midgette’s review appears suitable for its audience, neither condescending to non-musicians nor overwhelming them with technical information. However, I believe that it could have been more thought-provoking. It left me with an appreciation for Levit, but with few unanswered questions.
- Midgette, Anne. “How a Young Conductor and Stunning Violinist Brought an NSO Program to Life.” The Washington Post, February 16, 2017. Accessed February 28, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/how-a-young-conductor-and-stunning-violinist-brought-an-nso-program-to-life/2017/02/16/28b3d1d4-f4c3-11e6-b9c9-e83fce42fb61_story.html?utm_term=.605ebec609d4.
- Midgette, Anne. “Sound Worlds Spinning From a Single Keyboard.” The Washington Post, February 12, 2017. Accessed February 28, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/sound-worlds-spinning-from-a-single-keyboard/2017/02/12/a13083c0-f142-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html?utm_term=.e5e03b005654.
- Midgette, Anne. “Washington’s Week With Joshua Bell Revealed Little That We Didn’t Already Know.” The Washington Post, February 13, 2017. Accessed February 28, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/washingtons-week-with-joshua-bell-revealed-little-that-we-didnt-already-know/2017/02/13/708c80f8-f213-11e6-8873-a962f11835fb_story.html?utm_term=.06fa5ba08a39.
Note: Photograph by Lauren Giddy.