Klaus’ Corner: Stirring Debate Over Reviews

The success or failure of a new recording depends, at least to some extent, on whether it gets good or bad reviews, or even whether it gets any reviews at all. Also, the reviews in some media are more effective than others and print media are no longer all-important—some review websites and blogs have become more influential than traditional print media.

Because I am directly or indirectly involved in the planning and production of all our (Naxos) new releases, I am naturally following the reviews these releases get from reviewers all over the world, in all the languages I can read and understand (German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian).

More often than not these days, I am happy with the many positive reviews our recordings receive, and am inclined to ignore the few negative ones. Sometimes I have to ask myself whether two critics who reviewed a particular recording were actually listening to the same recording—one critic may rate the recording very highly while the other may think that it should not have been released. In such cases, I tell myself that reviews only express the personal opinions of the critics involved and are not absolute value judgments.

The only issues about which there should be no disagreement are of a technical nature—is the playing or singing in tune and is the ensemble perfect, i.e. are all the artists involved technically together. There should also be no disagreement about the sound of a recording; although, even there, sometimes opinions differ, partly because critics listen to the same recordings on different equipment.

In the future, I will let my readers enjoy some of the most controversial reviews and will, in some cases, ask the artists involved to comment on some of the opinions expressed by critics. Being married to an artist who has made more than 150 LP and CD recordings, I know how much hard work and preparation goes into every project and how disappointing it can be for artists if their work is not appreciated by the critical establishment. Going forward, I will give our artists an opportunity to voice their own opinions from time to time.

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