A soccer magazine reviews a classical concert

A soccer magazine reviews a classical concert


norman lebrecht

March 09, 2014

Not every novice who steps into a concert hall feels as alien as our recent student visitor who couldn’t get a date.

One of the writers on The Anfield Wrap, an award-winning magazine that covers Liverpool Football Club, decided it was about time he checked out the other game in town – the Philharmonic. And what do you know? He absolutely  nailed it: And so know this: this music is neither dead nor dying. It’s being played with startling aggression and pride in most cities in the country, most cities in the world.

Here’s Neil Atkinson’s report. He really knows the score.





  • Robert King says:

    Give this man a job immediately as a music critic. One of the most readable reviews I’ve read in ages. He writes from the heart. He has no prejudices about music, or musicians, he describes what (wonderful) effects this concert had on him, what emotions it stirred (many), and he’s not afraid to admit what he doesn’t know. This fine gent could become an overnight ambassador for classical music and remove a load of preconceptions. Bravo a thousand times to him.

    Mind you, I’m not sure what the ushers would do if the splendid Liverpool Phil were to get 40,000 people supporting a concert on a regular basis… And think of the transfer fees…

    • MWnyc says:

      Think of the bidding wars that might start over principal wind players …

    • James of Thames says:

      I have found that most music critics aren’t afraid to admit in print what they don’t know. It’s just that they don’t know that they don’t know. 😉

  • Norman, Thank you for posting this. Everyone should read it. It’s the first review I’ve ever read that reduced me to tears. (In a good way.) It’s inspirational and hopeful. It’s exactly what you hope, as a musician, might happen when a newcomer is there.

  • Mark Pemberton says:

    The latest issue of Club Wembley magazine has a feature comparing football managers with conductors.

  • Great piece. I love it when people give lower case classical music a whirl and find out they’ve really enjoyed it, particularly when they write as well as Neil Atkinson. Lets hope he goes back to Hope Street and takes some others along with him.

  • Marguerite Foxon says:

    That’s the best thing I’ve read on this blog in a long time. Too bad he doesn’t live in NY so we could replace those two dreadful Met opera critics this blog uses, with someone who actually gets it.

  • Alison says:

    “It is music of soul searing passion, not smooth, not relaxing, not the soundtrack to a drive home or a commercial or a Hollywood film…”

    Classic FM please note!

    • Dave K says:

      Radio 3 please note!

    • MWnyc says:

      Alison, I feel what you’re saying about Classic FM (and a lot of classical radio stations in the US, public and commercial, that program with a similar approach) …

      … but …

      … Folks like us who care enough about classical music to spend time commenting on Slipped Disc need to remember what most people who listen to classical radio — to any radio station — actually want.

      They want the soundtrack to a drive home (or to work or wherever) or to the morning shower/shave/get dressed routine or to yardwork or jogging or shopping in the supermarket. They don’t want music (or drama or news-reading) of soul-searing passion; they want aural wallpaper. That’s what most people use radio for.

      We’re a minority.

      That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t push for continued high-quality content on BBC Radio Three and Four or CBC or NPR and PRI and American Public Media in the States.

      But we need to remember that we’re lucky to have them – and that we can’t realistically expect commercially-driven radio stations like Classic FM to play soul-searing music for us and risk driving away the majority of their listeners who just want background sound and don’t really have time to have their souls seared right now, thank you.

      • Alison says:


        Perhaps my comment was too short.

        Classic FM is a commercial station so has to attract listeners by playing music that people want to listen to. I don’t have a problem with that at all. Overall, I think we’re better off with it than without it.

        They can play whatever they like but I wish they would be a little more careful about the descriptions they use. They seem to regard almost any film music or music with a violin in it as classical.

        It’s not easy to recommend classical as passionate, exciting, muscular and robust, especially to young males, when it’s being sold by Classic FM as musical valium.

  • So, it is after all possible to write engaging about classical concerts. It is a great piece of writing… and reminded me of Debussy’s remark that he preferred music critics who had no musical training at all like Willy (husband of the writer Colette, who – WIlly – was one of the fashionable Parisian ignorati around 1900) because they had no preconceptions.

  • M.A. Steinberger says:

    First-rate writing. Thank you for posting this. This man has a real internal understanding of the purpose of fine music.