Odds and ends 5/26/15

An assortment of small things that have been accumulating: a memorable fact, two mishearings, and some notable critical venom.

1. A memorable fact about languages. Ian Frazier, “Lack of Center”, on Paolo Javier, the poet laureate of Queens (New Yorker “Talk of the Town”, 5/25/15):

Only two boroughs have poets laureate: Brooklyn is the other. More languages are spoken in Queens than in any place of comparable size on earth

So I hear from NYC linguists.

2. Mishearing #1. Heard in a tv pitch for the Humane Society:

I can’t stand the idea of one more comedian seal hunt.

What was said: “Canadian seal hunt”.

3. Mishearing #2. Heard in a tv pitch for the vaccination of young adults for meningococcal meningitis:

I thought I was finished raping my baby.

What was said: “raising my baby”.

4. Critical venom. From Alfred Brendel, “Some Winter Wonders”, review of Ian Bostridge, Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession, NYRB 6/6/15, p. 28 (zinger in boldface):

[Richard] Tauber’s recordings of a selection from Winterreise mark the lowest point of Schubert performance. This is a singing style that may be appropriate to Franz Lehar’s operettas, of which Tauber had become such a shining exponent. But even Lehar would have protested against such careless musical approximation. In “Gute Nacht” (Good Night) and “Der Wegweiser” (The Signpost), whole chunks of music are left out. “Der Lindenbaum” (The Linden Tree) is performed without its piano prelude, interlude, and postlude. To make things worse, Tauber’s accompanist, Mischa Spoliansky, plays with a cynical casualness that would embarrass the owner of any self-respecting nightclub.

2 Responses to “Odds and ends 5/26/15”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Just out of curiosity, why was a critique of Tauber’s performance part of the review of Bostridge’s book?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I think it was just Alfred Brendel venting his spleen. Though one of his points was that Schubert’s works were very badly served, by critics and performers, until long after Schubert’s death.

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