A visitor from Sutton Coldfield, United Kingdom, entered a comment on an earlier post that deserves its own special recognition.
We are up at the lake this weekend—it is the first of three consecutive weekends we shall spend at the lake—and we are sitting out on the deck that overlooks the water, playing with our laptops (there is no television at the lake house).
It is dark, the kids are in bed, asleep, and the dog is snoozing—or at least he was until a very short time ago, when we all began laughing ourselves silly.
The comment I reproduce is hilarious. We are all howling, trying to keep the volume down so as not to wake the kids. The dog is excited, seeing that we are having fun, but he cannot understand what the fuss is about.
Even Andrew’s mother, the world’s most graceful and elegant and refined woman, is beside herself, joking that she may need to be hospitalized if she cannot stop herself laughing soon.
Lizbeth, a psychiatrist, is prepared heartily to affirm the commenter’s diagnosis at the end of his remarks.
I have a great story to tell. I think you’ll like it.
My wife and I live in Birmingham. In December, we went to hear CBSO play Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony.
Nikolaj Znaider was called in to conduct as last-minute replacement. In the UK, Znaider is always the conductor called in at the last minute because his engagement book is never filled. He is always available. Halle, Liverpool, Birmingham: all can call him at the last minute, knowing he is free and his fee is low.
We bought our tickets before Znaider was booked as replacement conductor. With some reluctance, and no enthusiasm, we attended the concert.
I would not have missed the concert for the world.
Znaider came onstage and started flashing his jacket to show the audience that its linings were bright red. He played with the flaps for two minutes, maybe three, swishing around repeatedly, to show everyone the sparkly red. It was as if he were a contestant in a beauty contest. Only when Znaider was done flashing and swishing was the concert allowed to start.
The first half of the concert was a new organ symphony. Was the performance good? I have no idea. It was a new work.
The second half of the concert was Bruckner.
Znaider came out after the interval and stood on the podium. With swashbuckling showmanship and sweeping motions, he raised his arms as if to begin. The musicians raised their instruments.
Then, with great ostentation, Znaider picked up the conductor’s music stand and made a soaring, storklike, excessively dramatic waving gesture. Two musicians had to rise, take the music stand from him, and place it behind him.
Naturally, all this had been arranged in advance. Znaider obviously knew he was going to conduct without a score, but nevertheless had insisted that a music stand be present so that it could be dramatically and ostentatiously removed in full view of the audience.
Need I mention that once he lifted the music stand, Znaider could easily have moved it himself, and placed it anywhere he wanted? He could have simply turned around and placed the stand behind him. Instead, he had to have two musicians do it for him, with much ceremony and fanfare, so that no one in the hall could possibly miss his pretentiousness.
It gets better.
During the Bruckner, in addition to flashing his jacket so that the audience could continue to see the sparkly red, Znaider started swishing around and playing with his feet so that he could constantly show the soles of his shoes to the audience.
The soles of his shoes were bright red.
He would display his soles to the right, and then to the left, and then straight behind. Then he would start all over again. He made sure that every single person in the hall knew he was wearing shoes with bright red soles. This elaborate can-can went on for 70 minutes, the duration of the symphony.
It was all we could do to keep from devolving into hysteria. People all around us were suppressing giggles, stuffing handkerchiefs down their throats, while watching Twinkle Toes Tiddly Pooh manhandle Bruckner, more concerned with flashing his jacket and flashing his shoes than holding a performance together.
In more than thirty years of concerts, I have never seen anything like it. It was Monty Pythonesque.
Need I add that the performance of the Bruckner was incomparably incompetent?
Znaider quite clearly has numerous psychiatric issues to address.
And I’m qualified to make that diagnosis. I work at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital.