Technique vs. emotion? Another classical myth shot to hell.
Following up on yesterday's crucial, essential, you-really-should-drop-what-you're-doing-and-read-it-right-away blog entry, I've got another classical myth to puncture today: the old canard that in music, technical skill is at odds with emotion. We dealt with this one last year, when the press release accompanying the CD of Paul McCartney's ballet Ocean's Kingdom contained the following whopper:
Though the work is Paul's first ballet, he approached the project in the same way he writes all other music, driven by his heart rather than with his head and inspired by feeling rather than specific technical knowledge.
You can imagine how my well-schooled , technically adept composer friends enjoyed that one — which of course was easy for Sir Paul to say, since he can afford to hire arrangers and orchestrators with such specific technical knowledge as, like, knowing how to read and write music. As for the emotional content of McCartney's ballet, let's just say it fell a few teardrops short of Swan Lake or Romeo and Juliet. You know, by those cold fish Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev.
Well, clearly having missed my blog on McCartney, the publicists for the new "crossover" (e.g, Andrea Bocelli, Il Divo) tenor Nathan Pacheco try to pull another fast one on us with this statement from their release on his new CD:
Having mastered the technique of singing long ago, Nathan Pacheco could go toe-to-toe with the finest operatic tenors. But for Nathan, technique is, well, just a technicality, a tool for conveying emotion.
Oh it is, is it? Well, brava, bravissima to Washington Post critic Anne Midgette for toasting this one to a crisp in today's paper. And like me, Ms. Midgette likes her toast dry. So please take her listening test, in which Mr. Pacheco goes up against one of those emotionally stunted "finest operatic tenors." Then tell me which one not only exhibits finer technique, but makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand and applaud. And then tell me which, by contrast, is but a pimple on his rival's behind. We report, you decide. Oh wait...that slogan's taken.