Melvyn Krauss is a professional economist who often writes about music. He has published on music in the Wall Street Journal, Harper's, and Opera News. In his early years, he mostly spent his time in opera houses. But with the decline of great singers and production values, Mr. Krauss abandoned the opera house in favor of the concert hall where he found the standard of performing to be on a much higher level. He resides in Portola Valley, California with his wife Irene, two Irish setters, and two cats. He considers himself to be a New Yorker-in-exile.  
Speak Up Midori

Speak Up Midori

Violinist Midori

Violinist Midori

There was an almost sell-out crowd for last Sunday’s joint recital of the violinist Midori and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet at Davies Hall in San Francisco.

And therein lays the problem!

Midori has been one of the best violinists on the scene for many years now. She is a great virtuoso.

Yet I find one problem with her playing is that she produces a rather small sound. Last evening I was sitting in the middle of the 2743-seat hall and I could not hear her in several soft and pizzicato passages. Thibaudet did the best he could to keep it down but imbalances between the two players nonetheless developed.

pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet

pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet

This recital should have been in a much smaller hall like the 892-seat Herbst Theatre down the street but when you prove you can fill the seats of a big hall, you don’t play in small one. Music, after all, is a business.

My advice for Midori recitals is this: She is a great player and well worth hearing. But get tickets in the first 10 rows or stay home and listen to her records. What good is a great player if you can’t hear them?

In fairness to Davies Hall, it must be pointed out that Thibaudet did another joint recital at Davies earlier in the season with the cellist Gautier Capucon. The French cellist has a big sound and there were absolutely no hearing problems of the sort encountered in the Midori-Thibaudet recital.

Cellist, Gautier Capucon

Cellist, Gautier Capucon

The trick is putting the right people in the right hall. Big halls are fine so long as you have musicians that can fill them with unforced sound.

Of course, Midori’s response to me might well be: GET A HEARING AID!



Revelling in Ravel

Revelling in Ravel

New Century Brings Hope to the Bay Area

New Century Brings Hope to the Bay Area