Author Topic: The Classical Chat Thread  (Read 194108 times)

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DavidW

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The Classical Chat Thread
« on: July 14, 2009, 08:39:17 AM »
There seem to be two different approaches to the listening thread.  One is to do thread duty and let people know what you are currently listening to.  The other is to discuss what you're listening to.  Due to the high traffic on the thread latter is buried or ends up with replies separated by pages and pages.  I thought we might try something different.  If you want to post your thoughts and discuss them with others over current listening, reading or whatever is on your mind, post it here and it won't vanish.  You can then more easily talk about things with other posters.  I'll kick it off.

This morning I was listening to (from the Bernstein Mahler Columbia reissue) the interviews of performers that personally knew Mahler.  There is one thing that struck me in particular as interesting, and that is how particular he was about artistic choices depending on his mood.  He would even change employment of instruments from day to day as a result of that!  Being sensitive to mood he would conduct works differently, and didn't just have one style.  He might take Beethoven's 5th or a Schumann symphony with an angry, stormy passion but play a Schubert symphony or Beethoven's 6th with exuberant joy.  They even went so far as to contrast his approach to Beethoven's 6th with Toscanini, who "was clearly just waiting for the Storm". :D  That is one thing that I think is an issue with many conductors today (or perhaps always, how do I know?) is that they take too uniform of an approach to music.  Take Pinnock, his approach to Bach, Vivaldi etc seems the same whether it be a fast movement, a slow movement, German music, Italian music etc



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Now playing: Hob. III:48 String Quartet Op. 50 No. 5  mvt. 2   

Elgarian

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2009, 11:00:51 AM »
DavidW, I salute you, Sir. This is exactly the sort of place to put these thoughts as they arise from our listening; not set in stone, but of more than passing interest. Furthermore, I enjoyed reading your post and I don't believe I've ever significantly considered the extent to which composers may have conducted their work differently. I find myself wondering how Elgar was in this respect, and can't answer it myself by listening because I don't own any alternative recorded performances. Just the one, of each. And I can't recall, in all my reading, whether anyone has recorded their impressions of differing approaches he might have adopted. I may have to read all my Elgar books again.  :o

On a completely different tack, may I use this excellent new thread to record my own musings this lunchtime? This, copied over from the listening thread where it will, as you say, soon disappear without trace. Here goes:



I listened to this while eating lunch. This is the bargain I bought from Hyperion, which caused Lethe to issue timely warnings about the dangers of collecting light English music that no one else wants. When I was about 17 I'd have loved this - like finding an hour's worth of extra music from the Wasps suite that I didn't know about. I'd have dreamed dreams of cricket on the village green, white cumuli scudding over the downs, the watercolour landscape vision of England.

And sure it's still pleasant enough, but these days a little of it goes a long way, and I couldn't really give it my attention for long without drifting off somewhere - though to do it justice, it did keep pulling me back from time to time when a new piece started, and a new tune popped up. So why, I ask myself, would I want to listen to a Vaughan Williams derivative, instead of Vaughan Williams himself? Well, the dark side (which admittedly must be faced) doesn't have to be faced all the time. Sometimes I want Trumpton and Camberwick Green just to cut myself a bit of slack. But there's a bigger question here, to do with the changes that take place in us as we grow older, and the unrealistic tug that pulls backwards towards the less cynical times of our youth. And it's not just Gibbs with his watered-down Vaughan-Williamsism that's in question for me right now, but the whole of sprawling expressionistic formless 'romanticism' that seems a bit tiresome, and I find myself wondering, soaked in Handel as I am these days: 'If it can't be said in a 5 minute da capo aria (or 10 minutes if you must), is it really worth saying at all?'

I know this is a terrible thing to say, and yes I am the chap who used to listen to The Ring complete on four successive nights and still thought it too short, but that was a long time ago. I can't decide whether I know better now, whether I know worse now, or whether I just know differently. Or whether I'll wake up tomorrow and find it was all a dream.


Offline knight66

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2009, 01:06:46 PM »
I will join in when I get back home, I am being timed out here in Sunny Carlisle, North of England.

Mike
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I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Elgarian

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2009, 01:22:24 PM »


Have you heard this?

http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/al.asp?al=CDA67286&f=handel%20coronation%20george

Just found it on the Hyperion website, and I'm listening to the large number of samples (about 20 minutes' worth) - King's recreation of the Coronation of George II. Blimey! Bells, drums, shouts, trumpets, fanfares, thrilling choral singing - this is Handel at full pelt, taking no prisoners. I'm not much of a monarchist really, but this takes the biscuit, and my goodness, to have been there, with all this going on, must have been utterly awesome. I mean, just listening to the samples is hugely entertaining, and I'm very tempted to buy one of these just so I can march around the living room with an imaginary drum. Or maybe a real drum, neighbours permitting.

DavidW

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2009, 03:02:10 PM »
It's an interesting disc, based on the clips (if Paulb sees this I'm doomed >:D ) it veers from bombastic to sublime, and the different composers work well with each other, there is unity to the music even though there are multiple composers.  I was a bit embarrassed though when they started King George! :D

Elgarian

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2009, 11:55:37 PM »
there is unity to the music even though there are multiple composers.

I thought so too. The seemingly coherent ebb and flow of the thing is remarkable, really.

I know what you mean about the 'King George' stuff, but one of the advantages of hindsight is to be able to see all this in its cultural context; we can watch and enjoy without subscribing - like enjoying ancient Egyptian art without believing in the divinity of the Pharaoh.


Offline jochanaan

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2009, 07:17:13 AM »
I've been saturating myself with Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony over the last week or so, having checked out the score from the library.  One thing I've found about my recording, the old Ormandy/Philadelphia one, is that as good as it is it's not perfect.  I had guessed that this 1963 record was a little murky-sounding, but there were lots of things in the score that I hadn't even heard!  And Ormandy, surprisingly, gets some of the tempo relationships wrong, although without the score you'd never have guessed.

But what has always angered me about that recording (I have it on a vinyl reprint from the '70s) are the program notes.  Credited to one David Johnson, they reveal an astounding lack of sympathy for not just this symphony but all radical contemporary music.  Most egregious is this statement about the first movement: "Thematic transformation, or the constructing of new themes out of old ones, is also avoided."  Multiple hearings had convinced me that Mr. Johnson didn't know what he was talking about, and the score makes it crystal clear that he was dead wrong.  All the musical material in that movement starts from either the sardonic opening theme or the nostalgic second theme.

Another strong impression from the score is how easy it was to read.  Shostakovich liked pure orchestral colors, not blends, so you don't have a lot of the divided strings or three-lines-on-a-part passages like you find in Mahler and R. Strauss; it's pretty much one, or two at the most, lines of music per staff, and everything lines up really nicely on the printed page.  That makes it far easier to read than, say, the Mahler symphonies or the Strauss tone poems, both of which I love but are not the easiest thing in the world for a score-reader to read through. 8)
Imagination + discipline = creativity

karlhenning

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2009, 07:19:48 AM »
Delighted that you have made this enriched acquaintance with the Opus 43, jo!

DavidW

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2009, 08:00:16 AM »
Jo, that was my first recording of the 4th and it does not disappoint.  I find that it actually had better sound than most of those essential classics as well.  Not spectacular but good enough.  Alot of forumites (well at least back then) were highly dissatisfied with Ormandy's interpretations of pretty much anything.  I don't know why, I think he is a fantastic conductor.  His Sibelius for example just opened up the music for me!

One thing I've heard attributed to the 4th is that it's the closest to being Mahlerian.  I never really understood that.  In sheer length maybe?  It's not exactly hysterical like a Mahler symphony would be.  Is it in the harmony?  Or maybe a just a melody? ???

Anyway is that David Johnson are David Johnson?

karlhenning

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2009, 08:16:52 AM »
I've been saturating myself with Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony over the last week or so, having checked out the score from the library.  One thing I've found about my recording, the old Ormandy/Philadelphia one, is that as good as it is it's not perfect.  I had guessed that this 1963 record was a little murky-sounding, but there were lots of things in the score that I hadn't even heard!

Emphasis mine; q. for t.

Offline Brian

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2009, 09:24:02 AM »
Jo, that was my first recording of the 4th and it does not disappoint.  I find that it actually had better sound than most of those essential classics as well.  Not spectacular but good enough.  Alot of forumites (well at least back then) were highly dissatisfied with Ormandy's interpretations of pretty much anything.  I don't know why, I think he is a fantastic conductor.  His Sibelius for example just opened up the music for me!
Is that the Japanese RCA Sibelius stuff that ArkivMusic is reissuing, or another recording?

DavidW

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2009, 09:37:29 AM »
Is that the Japanese RCA Sibelius stuff that ArkivMusic is reissuing, or another recording?

Oh no nothing exotic, just essential classics.  That was back when every cd I bought by literally walking down to Tower Records. :D

Offline Brewski

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2009, 09:46:03 AM »
I've been saturating myself with Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony over the last week or so, having checked out the score from the library.  One thing I've found about my recording, the old Ormandy/Philadelphia one, is that as good as it is it's not perfect.  I had guessed that this 1963 record was a little murky-sounding, but there were lots of things in the score that I hadn't even heard!  And Ormandy, surprisingly, gets some of the tempo relationships wrong, although without the score you'd never have guessed.

The Fourth is probably my favorite Shostakovich symphony at the moment, especially after hearing two blazing live performances of it in the last few years: first with Andrey Boreyko making his debut with the New York Philharmonic, and then with Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  And interestingly, in the Boreyko evening, which was part of a series called "Inside the Music," it emerged that Shostakovich himself thought the Fourth might be finer than any of the symphonies that came afterward.  (I'm not necessarily agreeing, just reporting.  ;D)  

Last year Haitink and the CSO then released a recording taped from their concerts in Chicago, which I thought was one of the best recordings of 2008.  Both the performance and the sound quality (on CSO-Resound) are stunning.  I have yet to hear the Ormandy/Philadelphia one, but if you are looking for another version, I can't recommend this one highly enough.

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
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ChamberNut

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2009, 09:52:13 AM »
first with Andrey Boreyko making his debut with the New York Philharmonic, and .  And interestingly, in the Boreyko evening, which was part of a series called "Inside the Music," it emerged that Shostakovich himself thought the Fourth might be finer than any of the symphonies that came afterward.  (I'm not necessarily agreeing, just reporting.  ;D)  

Bruce, as we have discussed before, Boreyko is returning for a guest conductor performance with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, for Shostakovich's 10th in the 2009/10 season.  I can't wait!  :)

Offline Brewski

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2009, 09:54:04 AM »
Bruce, as we have discussed before, Boreyko is returning for a guest conductor performance with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, for Shostakovich's 10th in the 2009/10 season.  I can't wait!  :)

That's right!  Yowza, you are in for a treat...

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
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Twitter: @brucehodgesny

karlhenning

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2009, 09:54:44 AM »
Last year Haitink and the CSO then released a recording taped from their concerts in Chicago, which I thought was one of the best recordings of 2008.  Both the performance and the sound quality (on CSO-Resound) are stunning.  I have yet to hear the Ormandy/Philadelphia one, but if you are looking for another version, I can't recommend this one highly enough.

That disc is certainly on the wish list, Bruce;  I am only waiting for some slight increase in the revenue stream  8)

karlhenning

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2009, 09:55:17 AM »
That's right!  Yowza, you are in for a treat...

Worth a trip up to the 'peg, eh, Bruce?

ChamberNut

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2009, 09:56:01 AM »
Worth a trip up to the 'peg, eh, Bruce?

Bring a parka!  ;D

Offline Brewski

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2009, 09:57:26 AM »
That disc is certainly on the wish list, Bruce;  I am only waiting for some slight increase in the revenue stream  8)

(I'll keep my eyes open for a used one at Academy.  ;))

Worth a trip up to the 'peg, eh, Bruce?

It definitely would be!   8)  "Will Travel For No. 10"  ;D

(And I love cold weather, so not a problem...)

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
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Twitter: @brucehodgesny

karlhenning

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Re: The Classical Chat Thread
« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2009, 09:57:51 AM »
 ;D

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