It had to happen sooner or later. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra has just received its first bad CD review, in the hands of Donald Vroon, the usually vitriolic Editor of American Record Guide. Below is his stinging review which appeared in the Aug/Sep 2009 issue of ARG.
Here are two sweeping statements that floor me:
"... but this is not a great orchestra. Almost any American orchestra of the top 19 would make it seem dull and inexperienced - would reveal far more beautiful tone and phrasing... But, as often, the Asians will strike westerners as utterly dispassionate."
Asians are utterly dispassionate? Is this man racist or what? Is he for real?
This is in complete contrast from the glowing ARG reviews by Gil French and Robert Markow in previous issues. The latter had this to say about the SSO in the Mar/Apr 2007 issue of ARG:
"Today, it unquestionably ranks among the world's best... A world-class orchestra than can switch between such radically divergent styles with virtuosic ease."
Which of these should we believe in?
One major difference: Both French and Markow have heard the SSO "live" in concert for themselves, and can probably attest that the SSO is as good as any of the 19 top American orchestras. Editor Vroon should come down from his ivory tower and visit Singapore sometime for himself.