Everything that is wrong in „Mozart in the Jungle“, episode 5, season 4 „The Coach“

Rodrigo is back! And this time he has to manage a household with dozens of kids, as Hailey has morphed into an uncontrollable birthing machine…no wait, it was a dream!
As the lovable series about classical musicians arguing, doing drugs and having lots of sex starts its 4th season, the writers are clearly on the look for new and crazy ideas to keep Rodrigo busy (he’s a social worker! he’s a waiter! he’s a philosopher!), Pembridge in the picture (he teaches Hailey! he humps Gloria! he’s a pop star!) and Hailey as lovable as possible (she’s a talented conductor! she teaches tweeting kids! she visits her parents!).
Of course this also means that a lot of stuff is going on that would never happen in real life classical music world. Or would it? Let’s find out…

  • Everybody complains about the “bad” viola playing of Shawn, but as is usual in TV world his playing was recorded by a professional musician in good acoustics who does not even remotely pretend to play badly…

 

  • One could probably insert a viola joke here, but really, firing a viola player who actually does practice hard (as can be seen) from a position in a chamber orchestra seems weird. Is Hailey really that critical of the viola part in her repertoire in particular, that she has to resort to drastic measures like this? Give the guy a break!

 

  • 3:30 Bruce Davison‘s mad composer is funny, but hey, you can‘t write a score on paper towels and flower paper, an orchestra piece needs more space to write it on! Or perhaps the piece is more like a „conceptual“ piece, and the guy is some kind of John Cage character.

 

  • 3:40 I don‘t know if the screenwriters are aware that their actually IS a piece called „Asyla“, composed by a completely mad Thomas Adès on paper towels probably.

 

  • And by the way: no normal orchestra plans a premiere by a composer like this: „We‘ll premiere it next month“ might sound funny, but it is simply not realistic: rehearsal schedules are actually made months, if not years in advance, and this piece does not even have orchestral parts yet (somebody would have to copy the music for each instrument from the paper towels, and that is actually a lot of work that still takes weeks).

 

  • 5:07 Winslow might hear the „chest hairs“ now, but his playing of Grieg is simply wrong. That piano entry has a tempo and cannot be played that slow, because the composer has not written it that way. There is artistic liberty with a tempo, but it doesn‘t go that far. And also: why is Winslow playing in the back of the orchestra, not the usual solo position? This makes no sense in a concerto!

 

  • Again a set of expert viola players (or „violin players“, as wrongly announced in the subtitles) fail to convince a weirdly super critical Hailey, at least judging by the soundbites. Also: this is the audition for a small position in an unknown chamber orchestra that is probably badly paid – it wouldn’t be handled like a big orchestra audition with screen et al. Jobs like this are usually given by the conductor directly, phoning up people that she/he knows or has been recommended to.

 

  • Even though the idea of the symphony players trying to get a job in Hailey’s audition is endearing, in real life auditions are clearly for specific instruments, you can’t just turn up and play as an ensemble!

 

  • 8:00 ff.  This whole dance rehearsal situation is completely nuts. The dancers show Rodrigo something, but involve him in it immediately; Rodrigo and Egon talk artistically about the choreography, but the dancers simply continue to dance, ignoring that their choreographer is actually rethinking the choreography at the same moment. And why is Egon giving the main role of a dance to a person who is completely inexperienced with dance? It’s like asking the janitor of the stadium to become the starting pitcher in a baseball game.

 

  • 9:41: again, crazy blond dancer is continuing to move intensely on the chair in the background, while Egon rehearses something in which she is not involved at all. That gal just loves to dance, does she? Or rather the director said “Be artistic! I want you to move all the time, no matter what!”

 

  • 10:30 Ok, I understand that Egon and his dancers are supposed to be crazy, but dancing Rodrigo’s exit from the production as yet another choreography is really pushing it too far!

 

  • 11:20 Hailey is laborously explaining a simple special playing technique on the violin as if she has to use analogies and complicated stories. In real life such an effect is a purely technical matter – there is a precise way of doing it, the musician only has to do it, he doesn’t have to ponder philosophical questions!

 

  • 14:30 You don’t just replace a scheduled Grieg concerto with something completely crazy in just one day. When was this composed? Who prepared the elaborate special effects? In real life, soloists practice around 1-2 days only with an orchestra, usually coming very late in the reharsals, so Pembridge had 1 day maximum to set all this up, which is impossible.

 

  • 16:00 if you suffer from tendonitis, restaurant waiting is probably the last thing you would want to try. You also don’t do arctic swimming if you suffer from a cold!

 

  • 18:15 That wouldn’t be a gesture to “sign” a ponticello, and also he doesn’t play ponticello when he says he is. But you know what: this show is now becoming so weird and detached from reality that I won’t even bother listing all the myriads of details that are wrong with this rehearsal! A conductor not speaking with the musicians when that is the main part of their (rehearsal) job? Come on!

 

  • 19:45 What, the symphony suddenly has a solo piano part for Winslow to play? Symphonies usually don’t feature solo piano…

 

  • 21:15: this is bullshit: a museum director actually constantly interacts with the artists behind the art they display, and these artists might be even madder than the classical musicians Gloria puts up with usually. Think Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons!

 

  • This must be some conducting competition if the Japanese send music critics from Iceland to some seedy bar in New York to “scout” just one single entrant! And also: how did the “shark from Reykjavik” become a world famous music critic? Iceland has great musicians, but the music scene is tiny, and their newspapers have miniscule budgets and exposure, and they are also not internationally read. Are music reviews from Iceland really that popular in the world?

 

  • And Rodrigo should know very well that you can’t just cut the last 10 bars of a piece right before the performance starts, especially if you can’t tell it to the musicians anymore!

 

  • 24:10 making that announcement about her father being there would be something no conductor would do, and it is especially awkward as there are only about 10 people in the audience apparently!

 

  • The less said about Hailey’s “conducting” the better, but let’s put it like that: even a music critic from a small newspaper in Iceland would realize that it isn’t that good…
I don’t know, this show has taken a weird turn since the arrival of Liberace’s ghost. The whole episode seems to take place in some weird fantasy land dreamed up by the screenwriters, not even remotely connected to how real musicians work, interact and play. Let’s see if this trend continues…
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Moritz Eggert

Komponist

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