Now, on the verge of a release of her recording of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos on Decca, the Wall Street Journal puts up a substantial piece on her, which undoubtedly has good promotional value. So why am I exasperated? Here, have a look. Just one thing about the piece really annoys me: the headline.
The Justin Bieber of Classical Piano
Sure, she is exactly like Justin Bieber, except he is a bubble-gum pop singer who just turned 19 and she is a 43-year-old Ukrainian-American pianist. It is probably the case that an editor added the headline, but really! What it is trying to say, very clumsily, is that Valentina Lisitsa is becoming popular in a way that nowadays only pop stars do. Why pick Justin Bieber as a comparison? It seems there are no corners of the mass media that are not dumbed-down when it comes to classical music, not even the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. They still have the occasional article written for people who are not absolutely ignorant of classical music, but any article intended for the general readership is dumb and dumber. Is there any way to turn this around? Well, that's what I'm trying to do with this blog. I don't know if it will actually help at all, but I don't know what else to do. By mixing in posts on classical and pop music, and by trying to be even-handed in critiquing both, I'm certainly trying to say something.
But enough of that! Let's listen to some of Lisitsa's playing. She is a very fine musician, indeed:
One thing to notice is that the first two minutes are a beautifully-paced crescendo the whole way! Excellent musicianship.