How to do it

Two posts ago, I complained about critics using empty words of praise (“masterpiece,” etc.), and suggested that all of us describe our experience with music, rather than pin inflated labels on it. Now I’m happy to pass on an evocative example of a critic doing just what I like to see. It’s from Anthony Tommasini’s review of a recital by Simon Keenlyside, in today’s New York Times:

Mr. Keenlyside, accompanied by the splendid pianist Julius Drake, was also in his element in Ravel’s “Histoires Naturelles,” a song cycle about animals. A standout was “Le Martin-Pêcheur,” about a fisherman who is transfixed when a dazzling kingfisher perches on his outstretched fishing rod. Mr. Keenlyside did nothing as corny as mimicking a fisherman’s stance. He simply stood still with one hand in his pocket, leaning forward and singing almost in a trance. The imaginary bird seemed so real you were almost afraid to move for fear of disturbing it.

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