On the Length of CD Reviews

8

December
2010

Is it just me or are online reviews of classical music recordings getting shorter?

I’ve noticed what some might consider to be a positive trend in several prominent places, including the Guardian, Telegraph, and Lebrecht Report. The reviews tell the reader in minimalist fashion whether or not they think it’s worth buying the recording in question.

Which brings up another issue.

Do we really need that much more than a “like” or “hate” response? Certainly, it can be nice to read about what the writer finds of value, but maybe an entire disquisition is unnecessary.

These new and improved reviews with added(?) brevity might be just what readers are now leaning towards (further confirming the slow demise of the American attention span), ultimately leaving us to listen to sound samples on a different site.

The most interesting short reviews I’ve come across are by a handful of pseudonymous writers over at the Vice, where you’ll find a refreshingly pop irreverence given to classical music that can’t be had anywhere else, all done in minimalist style. Here’s one by Sheppard Shanks, who covered Sequentia’s “Canticles of Ecstasy” (RCA).

This is a smart little recording from the lady who brought you the Rupertsberg convent. If you’re not familiar with monophony or Marian antiphons, this might be a little disorienting, but stick with it. Hildy’s worth the effort. Back in the 12th century, music was the IM service between humans and God, and all these pieces are belted out in God’s own language, Latin (all except “Instramentalstuck,” the LP’s lone, unwelcome “TV Party” moment). Hopefully the Sequentia Ensemble did their homework. It’d be a real bummer if a mistranslation summoned up some Evil Dead-type scenario.

See what I mean? For good measure, each Vice review is preceded by one of two icons, either a doe-eyed smiley face or one throwing-up. I don’t think it gets clearer than that.

Read more: Classical Music Reviews in Viceland

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