IN: News & Features

The Review That Wasn’t There Again Today


Readers have things to say about our removal of a review by the husband of a well-known violinist which lambasted one of her rivals on the basis hearing only the first work on the concert; he then departed.  After fewer than 24 hours and some editorial conferencing, we decided it did not meet our standards. We debated whether to allude to our decision. Some readers think we should have. No posted comments were removed.

I can also hope that some of our readers will feel more like supporting us by buying our book rather than holding us to an impossible standard. [comments here]



20 Comments [leave a civil comment (others will be removed) and please disclose relevant affiliations]

  1. Mr Eiseman,
    What happened to the Johnny Gandelsmaman review which occupied this space? It is evident that journalistic integrity is superceded by political correctness in the pages of BMint, thus neutering its relevance.

    Comment by Philip Johnson — November 2, 2015 at 4:32 pm

  2. We decided that the fact that the reviewer only heard one piece made his review un-publishable. Dunno what politics has to do with it.

    Sorry to hear you find us irrelevant now.

    Comment by Lee Eiseman — November 2, 2015 at 4:33 pm

  3. Thanks for the response. In addition to the fact that the reviewer didn’t hear the whole concert, I would add the fact that this was a scathing piece, and hastily removed after publication, indicating either discomfiture or lax editing at best. Reviews are useful for musicians to harvest comments about their performances for publicity purposes. Probably to that extent BMint, or any other review outlet, has any real relevance.

    Comment by Philip Johnson — November 2, 2015 at 4:33 pm

  4. Reviews as blood support can be fun to write and to read, but then the publisher has to set boundaries. We are very sensible of the fact the BMInt’s reviews are often the only ones for for many concerts. In those cases especially, we need exercise care.

    Comment by Lee Eiseman — November 2, 2015 at 4:33 pm

  5. Understood – thanks for that.

    Comment by Philip Johnson — November 2, 2015 at 4:34 pm

  6. Philip Johnson, of course you may impugn us how you like, but it was posted for some time, actually, not hastily removed, causing considerable discussion, and ultimately a reversed decision. Some might even judge that that was a thoughtful process. It’s always fun for a volunteer organization of record (sort of, as much as we can do) to be accused of laxness, lacking integrity, lack of real relevance, all that good stuff.

    Comment by David Moran — November 2, 2015 at 4:34 pm

  7. Now that the discussion has moved beyond the actual concert, and even the actual review, into the theory and practice of publishing reviews, maybe I can make bold to say I’m a little surprised and a little disappointed that there was no review of last week’s BSO concert with Pinchas Zukerman. It would have been interesting to see if the potential BMInt reviewer’s thoughts corresponded with mine and the Globe reviewer’s, and it would have been fun to be able to toss in my own acid comments, esspecially about Maestro Zukerman’s shocking appeal for more applause at the end on Thursday. Ah, well. But then the music actually was all pleasant enough to these untrained ears.

    Comment by Joe Whipple — November 2, 2015 at 4:34 pm

  8. Sure, I meant to add to our list of shortcomings inability to cover everything.

    Comment by David Moran — November 2, 2015 at 4:34 pm

  9. Lee, I like your use of the term “blood support,” replacing and perhaps improving on “blood sport.” We musicians could, in general, use more of the former.

    Comment by Joel Cohen — November 2, 2015 at 4:41 pm

  10. I’m sorry I missed it…

    Comment by Johnny Gandelsman — November 2, 2015 at 11:40 pm

  11. Of course I’m curious about the identity of the writer. I’m also quite surprised to learn that I might he considered a rival by someone. That’s a first for me…

    Comment by Johnny Gandelsman — November 3, 2015 at 12:05 am

  12. As someone lucky enough to have attended both of Mr. Gandelsman’s MIT performances this year, can I briefly counterbalance the negativeness of the pulled review? These were stunningly good performances. The counterpoint, especially in the three fugues, was clear, with the voices all having distinct characters. The dances would have had me up and dancing, had that not been inappropriate. The fantasias conveyed exactly the right tone of thoughtful improvisation. Just an all around joy to have heard.

    Comment by Aaron Keyt — November 5, 2015 at 1:59 pm

  13. David Moran: sarcasm is not becoming. You had an opportunity to educate readers about how this publishing enterprise operates and to call for more voluntary contributions.

    Mr. Whipple’s perfectly civil comment deserved better.

    Comment by Raymond — November 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm

  14. Yet another shortcoming of ours (mine, anyway) is ungraciousness to gratuitous shots, in this case at failings we can do nothing about. What education is needed? It’s a volunteer outfit. Contribute away. Preliminary info can be read here:

    So when may we expect your samples? Whipple wrote he was ‘disappointed’ we didn’t cover something. There’s an easy fix. We’re not space-limited.

    Comment by David Moran — November 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm

  15. I concur wholeheartedly with Aaron Keyt. Gandelsman’s musicality was astounding.

    A few people, many with children in tow, left after the Chaconne, which ended after 10 p.m.

    The vast majority of the almost-full house stayed to the end and gave a prolonged and richly deserved standing ovation.

    Comment by perry41 — November 5, 2015 at 11:24 pm

  16. After the rough opening measures, this sounds (to my ear) creditable, not anything to necessarily run from:

    Comment by David Moran — November 6, 2015 at 1:26 am

  17. A “gratuitous shot” and “a failing you can do nothing about” are two very different animals. Whipple wrote as an enthusiastic fan of music and of this site. He did not take a shot. There was nothing gratuitous in his post.

    Not everyone is (or feels) qualified to write for this site. I do not. So the lack of a review is not all that easily fixed.

    Civility will win you more readers and contributors.

    Comment by Raymond — November 6, 2015 at 6:14 am

  18. I suggest that commenters in this string follow the example of Johnny Gandelsman and lighten up.
    My assumption is that we please our many thousands of readers much more than we annoy them. So let’s avoid invidious generalizations from one unfortunate episode.

    The publisher.

    Comment by Lee Eiseman — November 6, 2015 at 9:40 am

  19. Speaking as someone who really enjoys and admires the work of the Intelligencer, and understanding the practical limitations of a volunteer-driven enterprise, I would still contend both that the publication of the review was an unfortunate misstep (which has been properly acknowledged), and that the editorial handling of its removal is disappointing. It seems to me that if you’re going to publish, even for only 24 hours, something so poisonous, it’s appropriate not simply to make it go away, but also to clarify where/how the review fell short and to issue an apology to the performer.

    I’d say it was much more than just a problem of only reviewing part of the recital. There needs to be some truly substantive support for how [the reviewer’s negative] conclusions were reached (e.g. link to an online video [there are many] and give a specific example or two of substandard playing). This was essentially a kind of musical character assassination. I don’t have any connection to the performer, and I did not attend the concert, but as Mr. Moran observes above, it’s quite easy to find lots of video evidence that the reviewer’s claims were exaggerated distortions at best.

    As far as a I can tell, the vitriol stems from a disconnect with how the rest of the audience responded, and while anyone is absolutely free to have such an opinion and we all wish more people would see/hear things our way, it’s not as if this was the Celebrity Series presenting a woefully unprepared soloist on the grandest stage, and it’s not as if the reviewer was trying to counter some misguided public/critical consensus. I have trouble comprehending what the review was meant to accomplish.

    What’s striking is that the Intelligencer was happy to publish a truly gratuitous, cheap-shot review of a serious, hard-working performer, and yet genuine expressions of concern from readers (much less harsh than what the reviewer wrote) are met dismissively. I’m pleased the the editors made the decision to remove the review, and am confident the experience will help inform future decisions about content. Perhaps your readers are expecting too much, but I think that stems mostly from genuine admiration for what this site is at its best.

    [This comment was edited to remove citations from the pulled review. If the reader is so concerned, why did he republish this material? We concluded that that the review did not meet our standrads for civility- therefore citations from it do not either.]

    Comment by Michael Monroe — November 6, 2015 at 9:58 am

  20. Sorry, Lee, I only say your plea to “lighten up” after I’d hit SEND. I admit I had to look up invidious, and now regret that I didn’t know it before as it’s a perfect word to describe the review in question! But I agree that Mr. Gandelsman handled this with class and dignity. Maybe there really is no such thing as bad publicity. Cheers to all.

    Comment by Michael Monroe — November 6, 2015 at 10:09 am

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