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December 15, 2008

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Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

I went on a search for Kaplan's version at the Causeway Bay HIV Records I mean HMV ha ha, and although they had a wide selection of versions, Kaplan's was not available. Perhaps it is direct marketed by way of infomercials as a gag or novelty gift, like Elizabeth "Showgirls" Berkley's workout tapes.

"Just listen, folks, to the beatiful music of Gustav Mahler as played by a real mensch, not an airy-fairy representative of the establishment! Imagine the envy of your neighbors!"

"Until now, people who wanted to hear the wonderful message of this symphony had to hear it 'mediated' by foreigners but now, it is played by a man who has a lot of money and doesn't know too much, allowing you, Mr. and Mrs. Listener, to hear the real thing unaccompanied by tics and quirks and idiosyncracies."

Carl

It seems that the over-sized egos here are a perfect demonstration of what has killed classical music in this country.

I agree that if the musicians were so appalled by the conductor, they should have refused to play and refused the paychecks, thus demonstrating their low-minded ego state; otherwise, don't denigrate people who try to bring fine music which they love to the public.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

Refusing to play as Carl so foolishly and treacherously recommends is a wildcat strike and as such would violate the musician's collective bargaining agreement. These people have FAMILIES and RESPONSIBILITIES. To so call upon them to violate the law (Taft Hartley) and their agreement is a good example of the sort of childish reasoning that concludes that we should just let Kaplan make his mess.

The musicians produce the notes. They bring the music to the public. The impresarios and the fund raisers don't, especially when they turn a symphonic performance into a circus.

Many audience members come for respite and surcease from a great deal of emotional pain from failed relationships and soured careers, which interact with each other to create the toxic loneliness that's so common as to be naturalized, and to create, in America, a huge industry of self-help books, most of which advise the downsized and doomed to Accept whatever s**t they've been dealt.

Mahler's music happens in many ways to take their side and sing their song. The protagonist of *Revelge* from Das Knaben Wunderhorn cries from the pile of wounded and dead, "ach Bruder, ach Bruder": but there's no rescue for him. The starving little girl cries Mutter in Erdisch Leiben and dies.

To have even one of these works conducted by a clown who (despite his millions and the consequent opportunity for leisure that that implies) could not be troubled, as many people so trouble in midlife, to get some real musical qualifications is an obscenity.

It's an obscenity because it makes invisible people who work for a living and makes them fools. The result over the past thirty years has been that people who work for a living have tried to bring attention to the dangers of financial speculation based on their hard-earned technical knowledge, only to be told by ignorant CEOs, essentially waving their arms in front of corporate orchestra, to shut the f**k up.

Kaplan didn't bring the music to the public and the oversized ego is his. Don't you DARE, don't you DARE, to advise the musicians of the NYPO to act other than they've acted, which is as serious and educated professionals who are mocked by ignorant and thuggish jet setters who couldn't tell a tonic from a dominant from a gin and tonic!

aloysiusmiller

I grant you every word you said about Mr. Kaplan. I am sure you are correct. But don't feel too put upon. I go to work every day and do brilliant things and I do ho-hum moronic things and very frequently take direction from idiots. I feel your pain.

Meanwhile I do often go home and listen to Willem Mengelberg conduct the great NYPhil in Strauss's Ein Heldenleben and I recognize that no one in that great orchestra is on stage today and no one on stage today can reach up to the shoe laces of those great players. Humility is always in order.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

Thanks for your comments.

But I don't believe a concert should be a scene of humility and false reconciliation. Humility is not "humility" unless it's an end state, not if it's "in order" to get something else.

Actual reconciliation with society, even in the sense of anudder day anodder dollar, is beautiful but it's not a one-way street. Too many people I have known including employees of Roger McNamee, a Kaplan consigliere, have been up the one way street too long.

I took one such employee on a date to one of New York's first Ethiopian restaurants. When McNamee heard of this, he expressed no curiosity, for in the behavioral sink that is New York, palaces of culture and all, curiosity is a vulnerability.

Instead, he said, "dump that guy: didja ever see a dog outside an Ethiopian restaurant".

This crude comment shows that the big contributors and impresarios in NYC don't really care about culture, of any sort.

To some of us time seems frozen if Israel can again respond disproportionally, if people with connections can make fortunes while destroying society, and if arts organizations such as the New York City opera must always be on life support...

...when a single guided missile cruiser would pay for a season of the opera.

Pau (Pablo) Casals refused to return to Spain after the Civil War, but today, such a gesture would be considered otiose since its equivalent would damage the all-important fund raising.

Along with Cortot and Thibaud he plays the opening Allegro Moderato of Beethovens B-flat major trio. Why should this music fill us with religious feelings, especially those religious feelings of members of the chorus, and organists, which merely reassure the impresario that the religious can be trusted to worship them?

I've just read Richard Yates' book Revolutionary Road on which the Kate Winslet and Leonard diCaprio film was based. The doomed, Bovary-like couple, contrary to our image of Fifties people, have all the irony and unseriousness of today, but aren't healed by the truth.

But: I took a young lady, who later became my former wife, many years ago to a performance by Yehudi and Hepizibah Menuhin, and then we went out to dinner with my parents, and told them about the concerts: my Mom and Dad were working as always at my Dad's medical office on North Michigan. My parents were thrilled merely by the recount.

Now, based on reading my gloomy pal Adorno, this is a story that takes place out of the actual development of the actual bourgeois, since we've gone down the tubes.

Yates would say, you messed up and he's right: Winslet dooms herself because she's capable of so much more than telling a guy that she loves him when he's nice. Telling a guy you love him because he's nice is unserious music, and in my direct, personal experience, you always pay for untruth.

I prefer the label "serious" as applied to music to the label "classical" because it puts things into perspective, and allows for non-Western "classical" music.

But in the light of serious music it's better to have "loved and lost" and to have actually heard Menuhin.

I don't think you could say this about Kaplan. "Gee we went to da symphony and da conductor was a rich guy widdout any trainin', Maw."

Jack Reilly

Most courageous blog re- GK, the "impostor".
I played under the baton of Paul Lavalle with the Radio City Orchestra.(Molti anni fa!). He was worse than Kaplan. Once he turned to cue the brass/woodwinds when he should have looked left to the strings. Half the orchestra broke up. He wound up blaming me , the piano player, center stage, for his lack of musicianship. He told the orchestra's manager, who ordered me to apologize; I spoke to LaValle but I refused to apologize; Instead, I confronted him and told him he was a fraud and suggested that he have a conducting duel with Boulez! LaValle ramped and raved and ordered me fired! Rather than be demeaned any longer by this "fake" I quit on the spot!

Sadly the Phil members are not in the same position as I was 60 years ago; but at least they should refuse to play rehearsals for these impostors, especially the leader of the pack, KAPLAN. Maybe play a lot of "mistakes"! You know half steps off, 16th note late entries!!

I'm glad I followed the lonely but genuine musical road 60 years ago. I'm happy and healthy at 77. We all have decisions and choices and whether we know it or not, we all live life by our choices and decisions.

It takes more courage to quit than to complain in a blog about Kaplan and money. I do like your blog David. It's very important you speak the truth. It takes valor on your part and I'm proud of you and all the commentators. God bless you all.

I really feel/empathize with you in these situations!

JACK REILLY

MNeligan

So Kaplan is "plebeian", is he? And you and your fellow professionals are what? Patrician, perhaps? He might not be able to bring Mahler's "schizophrenia" to the surface but he certainly succeeded with your paranoia.

symphonic

A question for David F. and other members of NYPO - are you going to play at "Mahler for AIDS" event? Enough rehearsals? Conductor good enough for NYPO standards? Artistic vision allright? Beating fine? ;-)
[Sorry, could not resist, my mailbox is full of invitations to this "concert" - as Mr.Nilges would surely call it...]

John

Great photography website, David. Have you thought of applying to Magnum?! Or are you too busy being a professional musician to let your visual talents roam beyond the bounds of a self-published amateur site? Oh, will I ever stop laughing at the irony of it all?

John

Great photography website, David. Have you thought of applying to Magnum?! Or are you too busy being a professional musician to let your visual talents roam beyond the bounds of a self-published amateur site? Oh, will I ever stop laughing at the irony of it all?

Ben Finn

There's an article about Kaplan expressing similar sentiments, and referring to this blog, in the latest issue of Private Eye (the leading UK current affairs magazine).

D and M

Somewhat predictable blogosphere views; some prolix, some tedious, some both. We think Mr Kaplan is a positive influence: he really is an asset to serious music. Don't agree? That's Ok. But we don't agree with the sour (shallow and robotic) note in a some of the postings made here. All subjective, not absolute, but no one should ever claim that Mr Kaplan has been universally criticized, hence this reply. We value his contribution, long may it continue.

Rich guy conducts excellently, and it doesn't matter that he's rich, and why should it, he's better and more talented than many so-called professionals, great news for talented amateurs who try hard over many years and deliver outstanding results. Very very well done Mr Kaplan. An inspiration. One worth following.

David A. Hollingsworth

Hello Mr. Finlayson,

I came across an interesting article of the New York Times entitled “Mahler Fan with Baton Cues Unrest in the Ranks”, which describes a rather profound discomfort among members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (NYPO) in not only Kaplan’s view of Mahler’s Second Symphony, with which he performed it on December 8th, but also with his conducting. Your blog is included in that article: a rather scathing essay attacking Kaplan, calling him, among other things, an imposter. Some may find it pernicious. But the underlying argument is that inviting a musician who is not a professionally trained conductor to direct a Mahler symphony with a first-tier orchestra is an insult to those who earned the right to do so through merits, training, sacrifice, etc (like Leonard Bernstein, Klemperer, and others). I tend to agree with that argument. But let’s consider the following.

In using that underlying argument, would the same level of objections be made if Kaplan conducted a less than first rate piece with a second or third tier orchestra, or whatever? This is important because it goes to the same status and ranking problems that irk the music world for centuries.

Secondly, Kaplan, although a trained economist and the founder of the magazine Institutional Investor, managed to conduct the Resurrection symphony with over fifty orchestras since 1982, and won praises by top critics and magazines. He knows his music, although his seemingly knowledge of it and not much else seems to suggest his one-dimensionalism as a musician (how much of a musician he is depends on who you’re asking). Nevertheless, his recordings of the Resurrection with both the Vienna Philharmonic and the London Symphony (by themselves remarkable achievements), won acclamations left and right. And although reservations and protests still linger, audience in particular still praise him: he was given a standing ovation at the end of that December 8th performance. Obviously, he does know what he’s doing, enough so that he managed to record the work with even the Vienna Philharmonic under the Deutsche Grammophon label (another remarkable achievement). And yes, although his conducting has its own limitations, how do you make of the fact that he was able to do all these things in the past twenty-eight years?

Thirdly, look at Rostropovich. He was a great musician and a great symbol for change and artistic freedom: An extraordinary cellist but an okay conductor. He himself was not a professionally-trained conductor and it shows. But made a number of very fine recordings (his Tchaikovsky symphony cycle with the London Philharmonic for instance, despite less than ideal tempo choices at places). Some will argue, though, that most of the success of his performances on the podium were attributable to the orchestras themselves (almost all of them in the front rank) and not on the interpretative skills his possessed, whether one was fully at home with them or not. And yet he conducted world class orchestras throughout his career.

So, here are the following foods for thought. Is it enough to just know the score and have a good idea of how to convey it effectively on the podium, or must the musician be fully trained (especially in techniques)? Besides, a number of composers had successes on the podium without being trained as conductors. Had standards lowered to worrisome levels that by knowing the score may be enough to direct an ensemble and performing it (like the Kaplan/Vienna Philharmonic example)? Is there too much politics to the point of distortions of merits, priorities, and common sense? Like I said, I think David Finlayson has a very valid point indeed. But with Kaplan being so largely approved by audience and critics alike, could it be that he’s just a product of his environment, the environment where, admittedly, clarity and direction are often muddled and ill-defined? Or could it be that Kaplan, however flawed and limited, merited enough of a right to perform a masterpiece with a world class ensemble? And besides, other than the Rostropovich example, how much of the Kaplan news is in fact something that was not seen in past generations?

Just a thought. Thank you.
Dave.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

David A. Hollingsworth: it's not "his" recording of the symphony. The symphony was played by the orchestra members who had the ability to play without a competent conductor.

This ability belongs to the members of the New York Philharmonic, and it was theft for Kaplan to sell it as his.

Casals and Rostropovich were trained MUSICIANS, applied music theorists. Kaplan studied piano as a child but has no further training.

D and M: It does matter that Kaplan is rich. It means that his focus has been on business and this means that he simply hasn't had the time to become musically qualified. It also means that money talks, inappropriately in this case.

Furthermore, Kaplan's vulgar apotheosis was meant to bitch-slap working people, since it demonstrated that their collective intellectual production could be taken from them.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

Many posters use "subjective" to refer to opinions expressed here, normally in the course of merging all subaltern opinions about Kaplan under the category of sour grapes.

But here is musicologist/philosopher/sociologist Adorno on these issues. Adorno, unlike Kaplan, who purchased the poly in his math, genuinely earned his chops in music theory, philosophy and sociology by actual work, not by buying manuscripts.

"But far from finding anything inimical in the prohibitions on thinking, the candidates - and all scientists are candidates for posts - feel relieved. Because thinking burdens them with a subjective responsibility which their objective position in the productive process does not allow them to meet, they renounce it, shiver a bit, and run to join their opponents. Dislike of thinking rapidly becomes incapacity for it: people who can effortlessly discover the most sophisticated statistical objections when it is a question of sabotaging a piece of knowledge, are unable to make ex cathedra the simplest predictions. They hit out at speculation and in it kill common sense. The more intelligent of them suspect the sickness of their intellectual powers, since it first appears not universally but in the organs whose services they sell. Many wait in fear and shame for their defect to be discovered. But they all find it publicly acclaimed as a moral achievment, and see themselves recognized for a scientific asceticism which to them is none, but the secret contour of their weakness. Their rancour is socially rationalized with the argument: thinking is unscientific. At the same time, their mental power has, in a number of dimensions, been prodigiously increased by control mechanisms. The collective stupidity of research technicians is not simply an absence or regression of intellectual faculties, but a proliferation of the thinking faculty itself, which consumes thought with its own strength."

"The notions of subjective and objective have been completely reversed. Objective means the non-controversial aspect of things, their unquestioned impression, the façade made up of classified data, that is, the subjective; and they call subjective anything which breaches that façade, engages the specific experience of a matter, casts off all ready-made judgements and substitutes relatedness to the object for the majority consensus of those who do not even look at it, let alone think abou it - that is, the objective."

That is: the functionaries of the administered world, precisely the sort of people who work for the Kaplans by day in technico-financial capacities but described themselves by night as music-lovers at the symphony, have lost the capacity for thought in the first passage, and reversed subjectivity and objectivity in the second.

In the first passage, thought has been replaced by calculation such that, for example, the administrated administrator is, for example, unable to write a complex sentence, but all too ready to use word counting as a metric of complexity, and to collapse all complexity to the caategory "over-complexity", because Microsoft Word has a tool to do so...and is quite ready to disregard syntactical form in so doing, as a simplifying gesture with a sort of macho-mathematical glamor.

In the second, people with no decidable relationship to the means of production, who can be laid off unfairly as a matter of course to increase stock values, have no way of expressing an opinion with truth value.

The result is that the final metric becomes bank balances and Deutsches Grammophon sales, a triumph of one-dimensionality.

If you actually talk to people at symphony orchestra events, you discover them so absurdly overspecialized or so globally uninformed that they will make elementary chronological errors...of the sort that are cleared up in seconds in the music section of the children's room of the public library.

These chronological errors are symptomatic of a deeper mass ignorance in which Donald Duck could wave his arms in front of the New York Philharmonic and no-one would wise up.

And even as today, Bush continues to blame anonymous and down-sized, degraded midlevel intelligence operatives (so intelligently portrayed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WoZTWuR5D0 in Charlie Wilson's War) for his failure. And Kaplan continues his monkey shines.

However, bank balances are collapsing even amongst the rich. Then what?

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

It's food for thought, and not foods, even as Hoffman admonishes his boss at the CIA that it's water under the bridge, not the dam.

Hell's bells, I have typos, but in some of these posts I see a tin ear for language that's shared by the administrated administrator in the YouTube selection I identified above.

Ortega y Gasset was worried about the revolt of the masses, and part of that revolt was pretty revolting. However, it also produced Big Mama Thornton and Buddy Guy.

The problem is that it's become an administrative qualification-for-promotion and a secular Mitzvot to start to forget how to use the language properly: Bush is just one example of the man culled out not for any special talent (for his SUBJECTIVITY would merely anger other rats in the rat race, even as McCain's remnants of decency caused him no end of s*t) but because he was a type of new elite man: the highly placed mob member.

I'm serious. Israel can bomb Gaza and claim to be preventing, and not causing, rocket attacks, Bush was able to sell the Iraq war and Kaplan conducts Mahler because elites, far more than masses, are now a mob that believes all truths, except its comfort, subjective.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

An actual conductor's directives are "subjective" even if, and now especially if, they have a ground or basis in interpretation and theory. Just as, in 2000, John McCain was thought unelectable and in need of anger management in direct proportion to the actual "truth content" of what he said: this is not its truth or falsity, nor was I a McCain supporter, instead, "truth content" is meaning: verifiability, information content, and falsifiability.

McCain had definite opinions on campaign finance reform which activated resentment, whereas Bush talked inchoately of a "compassionate conservatism" which we now know to be meaningless.

When Al Gore described in precise terms his "lockbox" for Social Security, Bush used his own failure to follow Gore, and that of his Rovean base, to label Gore's ideas "fuzzy math".

Similarly, the fastest way to be accused of "verbosity" is to use complex sentence structure, although this, consisting of a partial ordering of verbs, is necessary to express most interesting ideas.

Bernstein's or Karajan's ideas could always fuel resentment, where in an administered world, resentment performs a galvanic, energizing function previously performed by more constructive emotions.

Whereas Kaplan, lacking ideas, encountered no resistance.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

Most of the pro-Kaplan posters describe themselves as "music lovers" as if this, even and perhaps especially absent detailed musical knowledge (whether in an absolute sense, or outside of a preselected "favorite" genre), and absent recognition of form above the leitmotif, was a special mark of status.

But in this connection, I recall what the gnomic catcher and manager of the New York Yankees said: "I would like to go back to college and study but I would not study music appreciation because I already like music".

As an episode in "Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould", in which Gould plays for a hotel chambermaid, shows, the ability to be a music lover is a universal.

"Pop" music as a genre developed in response to brutalization and industrial discipline in which clock time internalized the necessary feeling of restlessness in which all music must be a "song". The music from which "pop" music evolved, such as the blues of Robert Johnson, had no preset time limits: "Sweet Home Chicago" is not a song at all, it is a blues *raga* in the sense that the tune corresponds to a wide class of interpretations...including that of Johnson and that of "Jake and Elwood Blues".

But this class has boundaries. Likewise, a "classical" score specifies no one standard or default interpretation but a range.

Enter Kaplan, grinning, gibbering, and writing checks. His supporters don't know nuffin about interpretation: interpretation to them is untrustworthy and "subjective". Kaplan has their vicarious cake and eats it too, since he sure shows those pompous conductors without his bank balance what's what. One interpretation is as good as any other, so...it might as well be Kaplan's, since he don't need the money and can play for charity, for chrissake.

Of course, in terms of destruction, Kaplan might remind the sensitive of the Israeli Army's clemency in sending SMS messages to trapped people saying "hi, this is the IDF! You better watch out, because we're gonna have a war!"

Anti-Semitic? Moi? I am indeed in danger of anti-Semitism in the sense of thinking that Kaplan's disgusting stunt, like Madoff's Ponzi scheming and the IDF's murderous campaign, is bad for ordinary Jews. But, the problem is the behavior of people with money and power, not Jews. Anti-semitism is the socialism of fools.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

"Resentment listening" is a concept in Adorno. We don't know why we like what we like: most concert-goers couldn't tellya what sonata form is (and it's possible Kaplan kan't).

But we DO know, don't we, what we don't like.

Thus, a "classical music lover" today is often a Beautiful Soul who feels (like Robert Crumb's, the American "underground comics" artist's Mister Sensitive in his "Mister Sensitive Can't Take It!) that he wuz meant to be Culled Out as he walks down America's Shakedown Street.

Popular music assaults him, for its positivism doesn't speak to his void. This forms a "love" for classical music.

Of course, the old and informed love remains, mixed to greater and lesser degrees with the new negative attraction. And, there is a "neutral" attraction to the external trappings. The conductor and the musicians wear nice clothes as does the audience, and at all but some German performances of Wagner, the audience is gracious and polite, quite unlike that of the juke joint or boogie bar.

These three attractions, informed love, negative love, and love for the trappings, exist of course in various ratios in thee...and me.

However, I would hasard that the negative love creates such contentless claims as "Kaplan's performance was beautiful", insofar as those claims stop thought and cannot be explained. The Kaplan listener is at a loss to explain why, furthermore this would be a "subjective opinion".

But God's in his heaven and all's right with the world. Mister Sensitive, for the price of a ticket, shows that he worships money and class: the musicians are subservient: the man with the dollars beats time.

symphonic

Even if you'd write 12 postings every day and quote Adorno in every other line, there are two simple things that will make your mountains of words insignificant.

Audiences all around the world consist MOSTLY of "unimformed music lovers". No concert and no recording would exist without them.

Neither you nor Adorno would be able to tell Kaplan's concert or recording from many others if you did not know what were you listening to... (does not matter whether it is Kaplan's merit or that of the orchestra) - and that makes everything you stated completely pointless.

Unless you are 100% sure that based on whatever adornesque criteria you are able "objectively" tell one recording from another you are not qualified to discuss any of the above. And you're not, trust me.

There are two upcoming Mahler performances that will be played by NYPO, one "Mahler for AIDS" and one with Dudamel. Again - if you listened to those and would not know who is the conductor, you would NOT be able to make ANY of your "objective" judgements.

And yes, I think Kaplan should not be conducting - in a perfect world that, alas, does not exist.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

This is just wrong. Each exposure to a work of art should educate the viewer or listener: otherwise it's just the tourists staring dully at the Mona Lisa and wandering off to damage the sculptures. Therefore it's not relevant whether I could tell the difference. I retain, along with the rest of the audience, the right to differences, "where the meanings are" (Emily Dickinson): to a certain slant of light even if we could not verbalize it:

There's a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
'Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, 't is like the distance
On the look of death.

Being able to "tell" you the difference, whether identifying it as in a quiz show or explaining it, is only one sort of knowledge. Bernstein communicated a different and more humanistic, less money-mad feeling that the audience could not verbalize, but felt.

And: if it's necessary to bury your brutal, and basically Fascistic views, expressible as they are so simply, so dully, and indeed so verbosely in the sense of repetitiously, views that are no more than "opinions are like assholes: everyone's got one" under what you call a "mountain" of amusing and well-written words, then indeed, I shall do so.

I don't see you for a moment here asking the blog host, David Finlayson, whether or not it's appropriate for you to initiate off-topic personal attacks on the literary style of a fellow guest, whereas I asked David in a post whether I was being appropriate, and received a thank you note in reply.

This is because the default behavior and language of "domination of the dominated by the dominated" always gets a free pass.

Music is about a perfect world, one in which people would have the time in which to perfect skills in music, cooking and taking care of each other, and would not have to labor in meaningless jobs such as those created by Kaplan at Institutional Investor. Your nod in the direction of such a world is meaningless if you're going to harass me here.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

I don't think my contributions to this discussion are verbose, or a mountain of words at all. I think that I've raised issues that are important in an amusing and readable style. I suggest you take the time to read more thoughtfully and with an open mind.

Here's some analogical reasoning. Consider the case of the child prodigy, which like Kaplan's stunt can also increase attendance for reasons that lie outside of music.

It's questionable whether the child prodigy who's technically perfect at five years gives as deep a performance as even the superannuated virtuoso who compensates for lack of strength or even complete accuracy with understanding the music.

Using this analogy, Kaplan is the child progidy...without the technical skill which at least guarantees some sort of coherent performance, nor with the freshness of the child: Kaplan is like Lear before the storm, old before he's wise.

It's not the young Mozart inverting themes extempore before the crowned heads of Europe. It's not even the adolescent Beethoven doing considerably less well while his father has a drink out back.

It's also important that despite all the stunts pulled in the capitals of music in the Baroque and Classical eras, including the invention of the child prodigy, no celebrity got to conduct unless, like Frederick the Great, he had musical chops...and this was an era in which musicians were considered little more than field hands. It means that today's musicians are considered even less important.

The MUSICIAN Jean-Baptiste Lully, conducting, put his staff right through his foot (see this dramatized in the French film Le Roi Danse) rather than miss a beat. Kaplan oughta be ashamed of himself, because even when conductors were field hands, they were dedicated musicians willing to keep time and take responsibility, not, like Kaplan, beg off as needed!

Freshness, musicality, and originality are present in a Kaplan stunt, but not thanks to him: it's the individual abilities of the performers like Dave Finlayson, and their collective ability to play together that need the credit, not Kaplan, who steals the credit.

Indeed, guys like Finlayson are playing a difficult score, coordinating their response to Kaplan, sucking up as needed to him, setting him straight where necessary, and biting the bullet lest they uprise and heave him out in the alley out back, where he belongs.

Like Michigan J. Frog in the old Warner Brother's cartoon about the frog that sings The Michigan Rag but only to his discoverer, they were not supposed to be talented but are: but unlike the frog, and like Pagliacci, they know that the show must go on.

miles dinner

I've been passionate about Mahler's second since high school when, as a young teenager, I recall the eminent radio host Bill Watson on WNCN reciting Rilke and drawing a parallel to the sublime Urlicht movement. I was permanently hooked on Mahler since and should comment at this point how remarkable the Listening with Watson experience was in the 60s and 70s and how sad it is that Classical radio is nearing its death in New York. It would be an incredible fantasy of similar intensity to sleeping with Jane Mansfield (albeit involving a different part of the limbic system) to imagine myself conducting the greatest orchestras of the world especially in the last movement. However, I certainly lack the fiscal resources to negotiate with the best orchestras (or any orchestra for that matter) in the world. To be fair, it is a testament to three aspects of Mr. Kaplan that made his appearance even possible 1) a fundamental love of this glorious work of art 2) a zealously spirited propulsion to involve himself in Mahler's world and spend an enormous amount of time and energy in pursuing this and, 3) his good fortune to be incredibly rich. I doubt Bernie Madoff would have the drive to pursue this admirable goal. Well, maybe Kenneth Lay or Dennis Koslowskyi would have had a penchant for Albert Roussel or Berwald.

These three elements allowed this whole phenomena to occur and he must be commended for this. Now, having been at the performance on Dec. 8th, I found Mr. Kaplan to appear narcotized, hyper-constrained and quaaluded - in short the polar opposite of what this music does to anyone who, by virtue of their adoration, is viscerally moved and swept away by its cosmic encompassment. He is either master of emotional minimalism, has achieved the fundamental Buddhist state of Annata (non-self), or is completely out of his element and stunned like a bright lighted deer and thus fully reliant on the collective musicianship of the orchestra as if it was on conductorless auto-pilot vis a vis I Musici.

But what a rush for him and a fantasy to ponder for all music lovers. I fully appreciate David's position but such is the polymorphic prism of reality a la Rashomon that there are 13 ways of looking at a blackbird! Thank god Mr. Gilbert didn't fall in love with the Turangalilia or Moses und Aron.

Carl Braunschweig

My deepest compassion for the members of the NYPO, a body of exploited musicians who obviously lack any form of democratic constitution to resolve such issues internally. Even if criticism may be motivated in this matter, I find this vicious insult in front of a worldwide public is embarrassing. Did you take the opportunity for a personal debate with Mr Kaplan or your Maestro, who obviously invited Mr Kaplan? Is this what all of your fellow colleagues think? I am worried you are leading the way into a new era of trash debates. Who would not love to read frustrated musicians complaining about conductors, colleagues backstabbing each other, or conductors disclosing deficiencies of individual orchestra players? Hope you spare the next Gilbert (Alan) with such thoughtless back-fire.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

Any "personal debate" about management's decision by musicians could be grounds for termination under American employment and union law.

The fact that management's *droit de seigneur*, which is very strong in the USA, is not always exercised doesn't mean that it is not available.

Under employment law, an employee can be fired "for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all" even if he has a union contract as long as union grievance procedures are addressed. But more than the law, courts have been for the past thirty years overfriendly to this *droit*.

Under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1948, management in a union shop has the right to set working conditions and the union only to negotiate pay and benefits.

Therefore, any complaining by a collective of musicians about Kaplan would have been interpreted by management as a rebellion and may have well gotten the complainer ringleaders fired with no union support.

This means that Finlayson has a courage normally lacking in employees as such to question in fact whether management, very often unable to perform the skilled labor which it "manages" should have this unassailable and unquestionable *droit*, whether to foolishly buy securities in 2006 despite the concerns of technical analysts, or to allow Kaplan to "conduct".

When I heard Kaplan perform in San Francisco to the bijoux'd crowd, I sensed that I was present at a deconstruction of the idea that producers as labor had any rights that the rich needed to take into account, and that their 1985 seigneurial rights were the only *droit*.

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