A couple days ago, Kyle Gann posted an entry on Paul Griffiths' comments on Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, which led to a lively exchange in the comment section. (By lively, I mean ill-humored and bare-knuckled, which is nice to see in the normally sober classical world, but nauseating to me, as well.) A few people, Hucbald and an anonymous "Chris," complained about the existence of critics who aren't composers (or musicians, as "Chris" later amended his opinion). I wrote that it was mighty convenient that a critic like Kyle kept a blog they could bemoan critics' existences on. "Chris" wrote back that I should check out my local paper for the level of musical discourse. The dailies' coverage of classical music in Chicago isn't perfect, as I've written previously, but that doesn't mean that the idea of someone writing about music is immediately suspect. Duh. You'd think this would be a simple, easily understood idea.
Thankfully, not everyone is willing to throw out the advantages of having the music written about in general-interest publications, as can be read in this entry from the blog of the estimable pianist and fine blogger Jeremy Denk. Denk was teaching in Bloomington while I was there, and I remember one of his recitals as having the most breathtaking voicings in a Bach partita that I'd heard, and...yup, a recent memory check concludes that they're still the most breathtaking I've heard. (To those reading between the lines, I only heard one recital of his, so there were no lackluster recitals I'm neglecting to mention.)
Denk's right that artists like Richard Goode shouldn't be condescended to, and that critics should be more open to artists taking risks. So Mr. Denk, if you read this, remember that I'm on the artist's side, even though I'm not a professional musician. I know what it's like to spend hours alone practicing, and hours alone studying scores. I still study scores on a regular basis, and wish there were more hours to spend behind the trumpet. And lord knows that my relationship with Amy Dissanayake has clued me in even more to how much pianists in particular need to practice. Time is always in such short supply. I'll stop now before I start gushing.