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There are plenty of reasons for an arts critic to leave town—-say, vacation. OK, OK, all critics should see what’s animating the national conversation from time to time—-it can broaden and inform their perspective. But sometimes it feels like The Washington Post‘s reviewers are spending a bit too much time consuming art in other cities, especially New York—-this despite the Post‘s 2009 reorientation as a paper focused on politics and local news. With editorial budgets tight and plenty of in-town art that escapes the Post‘s eye, we offer this regular series, in which we determine how much of the Post‘s travel budget ought to have gone to an individual review. At one end of the budget spectrum: Acela. At the other: Hitchhiking.
Reviewer on the Road: WaPo classical music critic Anne Midgette, reviewing on page C3 the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Carnegie Hall performance of works by Prokofiev, Mahler, and Barber.
Invoice Argument: The BSO’s music director, Marin Alsop, is a popular conductor with a taste for new works, who’s generated a lot of interest in the orchestra despite its financial woes. The concert featured the Carnegie debut of an up-and-coming Macedonian pianist, 31-year-old Simon Trpceski. Plus, it’s always interesting to see a local powerhouse perform on the much-more-discerning national stage.
Budget Hawk: Then again, this is Baltimore’s orchestra, not Washington’s. Nor was it a marquee program. Midgette writes: “Having done Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Mass’ for her last BSO Carnegie appearance, in 2009, Alsop, or the powers-that-be, opted this time for convention — that is, music written mainly by dead white European men, presented without comment from the podium.” Oh, and by the way: BSO performed the same program in its own concert hall earlier in the week.
The Verdict: WaPo probably could have sprung for tolls on the Jersey Turnpike, but even that feels a tad generous. Baltimore’s Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is three hours closer than Carnegie, and the route is toll-free.