Music critic injured during Rachmaninoff performance

[Originally published in 2010]

From wire reports

A music critic for The Orange County Register in California felt the life being sucked out of him during a concert last week but was able to continue working to the end of the event.

Timothy Mangan, the newspaper’s music critic since the latter part of the 20th century, sensed that he was “losing the will to live” during a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances by the local orchestra on Thursday.

“I just couldn’t take it anymore,” Mangan told reporters in the locker room afterward. “It was an odd feeling — hard to describe, exactly.”

But the veteran scribe didn’t panic.

“These things happen at this time of year,” he said. “It’s been a long season and we’re all playing hurt. I just have to man up and carry on. It’s all about executing.”

The injury is just one of several nagging complaints that have plagued Mangan in recent weeks. The top part of his right foot aches, the result, he says, of the continuous squeezing of his dress shoes throughout the winter season. The lower part of his back has stiffened in the last few days.

“It’s those [expletive] concert hall seats. You can only take so much and it just all adds up after a while.”

The injuries have combined to slow Mangan during the crucial final weeks of the season, when orchestras and opera companies are in playoff mode, bringing out the big guns.

Some readers have noticed a decline in his writing.

“Well, he was never much of a writer,” said one anonymous source. “But his opinions were generally somewhere in the ballpark. Now, I can hardly tell if we’ve been to the same concert.”

“He’s hurting the team,” said another reader. “He’s 50. Time to trade him.”

Inside sources say that in a recent review Mangan misspelled a word, which an editor spotted and corrected before it went to press. A colleague noticed the omission of a comma in another critique.

Mangan is in the last year of a five year contract that reportedly pays him $3 million a year. He becomes a free agent this summer.

Register editors insist that Mangan is fine and that they will continue to “find him space” in the newspaper, as well as online.

“I’d say that I’m at about 75, 80 percent,” he said. “Give me a break. I’d like to see you try it.”

Rachmaninoff has long been a weak part of Mangan’s game. In 2006 he was accused of falling asleep during a performance of the composer’s Second Symphony. In 2001, he sent a freelance writer to review a concert that included Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto. He walked out of the movie “Shine.”

But he has usually been able to write around the weakness using sparkling verbiage and sarcasm. Some worried that the Symphonic Dances incident, coming so late in the season, would put him out for the rest of the schedule.

“No, I’m all right, I’m getting treatment. My doctors gave me a box set of Stravinsky. 22 CDs. I’m supposed to listen to a disc a day. So far, it’s working.”



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