To the editors:
Thanks to Ted Shen for his fairly informative May 15 concert review "Searching for New Sounds." Unfortunately, the second half of his article in which he reviews the Goethe-Institut concert of April 15 is mired in some misinformed funk.
Regarding Atem by Mauricio Kagel, a small amount of research (chiefly a look at the widely available score) would have told Mr. Shen that Atem was missing (in an otherwise exemplary performance by Mr. Coleman) much of the vocal and theatrical elements.
A far greater error is committed by Mr. Shen when he assumes that a composition's name listed on a program guarantees that it will actually be performed. All the florid, free- associating prose in the world won't change the fact that Nono's Post-Praeludium per Donau was present on April 15 in name only. During the course of the supposed performance I availed myself of the opportunity to follow the score for Post-Praeludium. It was quickly evident to me that Mr. Abbinanti was absolutely ignoring the score. Instead he freely improvised his part, thinking perhaps that no one would notice.
As Mr. Abbinanti no doubt knows, performing a local premiere of a posthumous piece by a world famous composer can be a career boost. However, intentionally failing to produce the goods is unethical behavior which rapes the dead. The dead can't defend themselves. Yet sometimes the dead speak up . . .