Fleming’s composers

The New York Times has now devoted three articles (1, 2, 3) to the “controversial” Renée Fleming “indie rock” album. (Whew, gotta be careful, I might use up my monthly irony quotes quota on the first day of the month.) Why this record deserves so many column inches is a mystery. (Surely there were albums by composers of “non-pop” released in the last month that deserve to be mentioned in the Times.) Who cares if Fleming has done a pop album? She is a superb artist of historic stature, I’m sure the new record is fine. Isn’t what she has not done more strange, and disturbing: she has not recorded an album of music by living composers of concert music – apart from the opera André Previn wrote for her? (And why was that piece – oh, never mind.) If she really idolizes the late Jan de Gaetani, as she seems to in her book, then why doesn’t she emulate her? Why not a disc with Fleming doing something by Crumb, or Harbison? Why not something new by a composer of her own generation? Why is Fleming doing Death Cab for Cutie considered interesting enough to occupy not just one but two Times critics over three articles, including two in the Sunday Arts and Leisure? Yet neither Fleming, nor her handlers, nor the Times consider the idea of her (not) doing the work of living composers of interest?

4 thoughts on “Fleming’s composers

  1. Love this! I read one of the articles the other day and didn’t get what all the fuss was about, either. Then you take it a step further, pushing me to think about a great question in general, and certainly perfect for this particular tempest in a teapot. Thank you for that. Also, I love the irony quotes, and had no idea there was a quota. Maybe once you use up the irony quotes quota, you can move onto irony ALL CAPS. Because sometimes irony must be shouted!

    Best always,
    Joy Howard

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