You get what you pay for (or not)

Years ago, I got ferocious reader backlash after observing in a review of a recital by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax that the audience seemed more enthusiastic about being in the same room as the artists than intent on hearing the Brahms sonatas they were playing.

Robert Battey may be in for the same kind of feedback after his review for The Washington Post of Ma, Ax and violinist Leonidas Kavakos, playing trios of Schubert and Brahms at the Kennedy Center, especially as Battey compared their performance unfavorably with that of the far less well-known Vienna Piano Trio, playing Brahms, Haydn and Schoenberg at the Library of Congress:

There are fans and there are listeners, and while there is some overlap, those constituencies and their motivations are quite distinct. So, in these cases, were their investments: The Ma-Kavakos-Ax concert commanded ticket prices of $75 to $300; tickets for Library of Congress concerts are rather laborious to acquire, but free if you can get them.

Reviewers generally get complimentary tickets. Battey’s readers paid, either with money or with time and effort. In DC over the weekend, it appears that time and effort trumped money, at least for listeners.

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