Friday, April 15, 2011

Is your bias showing?

I noticed this review in the Washington Post of Simone Dinnerstein's concert last weekend:


I wonder how many reviews of men would contain lines like these:

. . . she saunters onstage in a sensible black pantsuit . . . 

Dinnerstein’s Cinderella story — a virtual washout at age 30 who set the world on fire with her self-financed CD of the “Goldberg Variations” — is well-known by now.

 In Goethe’s final line from “Faust,” “The eternal feminine draws us upward.” Dinnerstein seems to commune equally with higher spiritual realms and deep maternal instincts.

I also disagreed with the following statement:
In Schumann’s “Traumes Wirren,” the fingers certainly had fleetness but lacked the last ounce of power and clarity.
I've heard a good cross-section of pianists on the performing circuit in the past few years (including some of the biggest names in the business), and I can't recall any who had more power -- and fire -- than Dinnerstein displayed at the concert I heard last week (though many had less).

I suppose you could argue that, well, she is a woman, and men and women are different. But somehow this hit me the wrong way. This particular reviewer probably didn't think there was anything objectionable in taking this slant -- and he did say,

She is unquestionably an artist of true expressive force, striking a near-ideal balance of objectivity (accurately rendering what is on the page, even when technically awkward) and fantasy (searching for what lies behind the notes). This was one of the best recitals I’ve heard this season.
And then, it's his right to say whatever he wants to convey his reaction to the concert. If everyone were all namby-pamby PC about everything, what a boring world it would be. But on the other hand, when someone is at that high a level of achievement, summing up their artistic vision as " 'The eternal feminine' "being connected with "higher maternal instincts" seems, I don't know, condescending? What say you?

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