Author Topic: Tippett's Tearoom  (Read 47874 times)

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Offline Luke

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #40 on: March 07, 2011, 12:41:30 PM »
Did someone say wind machine? For pity's sake - no!! think of the children!! (I refer, of course, to the Great Wind Machine Debate of 2009 or whenever it was, into which Tippett's 4th reared its head).

Massive, massive Tippettian here - as I've said many times. This thread ttt-ing is coincident with me going on one of my frequent Tippett binges. One of the very few composers whose every note I devour, and it's because, as Edward said, the music exudes such personality. Nothing leads you closer to the heart of someone than their music, and if the person is of sufficient interest and the music sufficiently honest, the experience of getting to know them in this way can be awe-inspiring. This is the case with me and Tippett. His detractors tend to miss the point pretty wildly, I think (read a horrifically nasty and vicious - and inaccurate - piece about him by that musically-blind Lebrecht guy the other day; made me feel nauseous!). But no time to pontificate now...

Scarpia

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #41 on: March 07, 2011, 12:43:58 PM »
Did someone say wind machine? For pity's sake - no!! think of the children!! (I refer, of course, to the Great Wind Machine Debate of 2009 or whenever it was, into which Tippett's 4th reared its head).

Hmmm, maybe Vaughan Williams Arctic would sound better if the wind machines were replaced by the sound of asthmatic old men breathing into microphones.  (Couldn't be much worse.   >:D)


Offline Luke

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #42 on: March 07, 2011, 12:46:03 PM »
...no, surely better, given the cowpat-theme of all British music, would be a recording of, shall we say, bovine flatus?

Scarpia

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #43 on: March 07, 2011, 12:46:57 PM »
...no, surely better, given the cowpat-theme of all British music, would be a recording of, shall we say, bovine flatus?

C'mon now, there are no cows in the arctic! 

karlhenning

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #44 on: March 07, 2011, 12:52:16 PM »
Not even Perry's sled-cows?

Offline Luke

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #45 on: March 08, 2011, 02:37:50 AM »
C'mon now, there are no cows in the arctic!

No, of course not, that would be silly. But we're talking about the Antarctic, not the Arctic. Arctic = Polar bears; Antarctic = Penguins, and, implicitly (since VW wrote a symphony about it, and he was English) cows.

karlhenning

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #46 on: March 08, 2011, 05:35:34 AM »
Looking forward to giving the symphonies a try soon.

Offline Luke

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #47 on: March 08, 2011, 06:33:04 AM »
As a converted Tippettian you probably don't need to approach them in a particular order - but try 2 first, it's classic Tippett in the first flowering of his full powers. But I love them all, and I think 3 is the bravest, boldest and most impressive of the lot, if you buy into that final blues, which I do.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #48 on: March 08, 2011, 09:21:27 AM »
As a converted Tippettian you probably don't need to approach them in a particular order - but try 2 first, it's classic Tippett in the first flowering of his full powers. But I love them all, and I think 3 is the bravest, boldest and most impressive of the lot, if you buy into that final blues, which I do.

I just don't think Tippett was a particularly inspired symphonist. This is not to say that he didn't compose some fine orchestral music, because he did, I'm just less convinced by his symphonies. I think he sounds rather uninspired. I have heard all of them, but none fail to capture the greatness he achieved with his Piano Concerto, Concerto for Double String Orchestra, or Fantasia on a Theme by Corelli. There's something about the orchestral writing I like in these works that just hits me right away. The overall sound-world of the symphonies aren't very compelling to me or even that coherent for that matter.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2011, 08:07:24 PM by Mirror Image »
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Scarpia

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #49 on: March 08, 2011, 05:13:00 PM »
As a converted Tippettian you probably don't need to approach them in a particular order - but try 2 first, it's classic Tippett in the first flowering of his full powers. But I love them all, and I think 3 is the bravest, boldest and most impressive of the lot, if you buy into that final blues, which I do.

Does 3 have singing?

Offline edward

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #50 on: March 08, 2011, 07:55:12 PM »
Does 3 have singing?
Yes, the finale (the part of the work that has proved controversial) has a soprano singing Tippett's own idiosyncratic treatment of the blues, punctuated by several appearances of the fanfare from the finale of Beethoven's 9th.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
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Scarpia

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #51 on: March 08, 2011, 10:10:04 PM »
Yes, the finale (the part of the work that has proved controversial) has a soprano singing Tippett's own idiosyncratic treatment of the blues, punctuated by several appearances of the fanfare from the finale of Beethoven's 9th.

Ok, the reason I grew to loath Tippett is coming back to me.  I'll steer clear of that one, I think.

karlhenning

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #52 on: March 09, 2011, 05:46:23 AM »
As a converted Tippettian you probably don't need to approach them in a particular order - but try 2 first, it's classic Tippett in the first flowering of his full powers. But I love them all, and I think 3 is the bravest, boldest and most impressive of the lot, if you buy into that final blues, which I do.

Sounds like not everyone here swings into it!  But I am unmoved.  Ready to give them all a clean-slate hearing.

There was one late afternoon I was driving along the Fellsway, and the car radio was tuned into WHRB (possibly the only radio station in the Boston area which would broadcast such a piece), and I heard just the tail end of one of the symphonies or other.  I didn't know what to make of it, but (a) de-contextualized like that, and (b) since sometimes, one's ears just aren't ready for this or that piece . . . I won't count it out from that halting introduction.

 
The other thing (pace MI) is, I think of how one must expect different things from the Elgar of Falstaff and the concertos, than from the Elgar of the symphonies (and I was quite a while  acquiring a sympathy for the symphonies).  So I shouldn't shear off the Tippett symphonies, because they operate differently to the Fantasia on a Theme of Corelli, e.g.

Scarpia

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #53 on: March 09, 2011, 08:43:41 AM »
I'm not scared off by the symphonies so much as by the late works.  His final major work was an opera about aliens who land in a space ship and set up a bizarre regime on earth, then depart on the same spaceship, no.  Senile dementia?

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #54 on: March 09, 2011, 08:56:53 AM »
Well, if Menotti could do it...
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline Luke

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #55 on: March 09, 2011, 10:35:20 AM »
I'm not scared off by the symphonies so much as by the late works.  His final major work was an opera about aliens who land in a space ship and set up a bizarre regime on earth, then depart on the same spaceship, no.  Senile dementia?

No. Definitely not. The other last works (5th Quartet, Rose Lake...) belie that idea even if New Year doesn't convince (and yes, the plots can be pretty strange, but I'm always prepared to go with them because the music is worth it!). Tippett is such an easy target - he doesn't hedge his bets, play safe or hide behind technique; he writes his own libretti, so scorned but so perfectly fitted to the music, because he knows that this is the best solution; he delves into his own subconscious and allows the world to see it and poke fun; he doesn't avoid clunkiness (the breathing noises, the chanting in Ice Break..) in his eagerness to communicate; he dares to appropriate some of the instruments of rock and jazz, and to try to 'speak yoof' and invites criticism from all sides for it. He's actually, in many ways, the bravest composer I can think of, so keen to get these ideas which possess him out that he is always at risk of ridicule - and yes, sometimes the ideas don't work, but so often they do...

So, yes, there are simple hits to make on him, if one wishes to, and many like to make them - there are those who dismiss him as an amateur (for 'faults' in his music) whilst failing to recognise that his music has infinitely more guts and humanity than pretty much any other music post 1950 . Personally I feel great gratitude for his music, because it is so generous - give me big, gutsy, human, fallible Tippett over more academically 'correct' but emptier, less urgent music any day. This also ignores the fact that the vast majority of his music is impeccably built and superbly dressed...

Tippett was an innovative composer far ahead of his time in many ways, I think - many times he left audiences and performers playing catch-up (the first performer of the piano concerto declared it unplayable, but multiple beautiful subsequent recordings prove otherwise; the premiere of the 2nd symphony broke down because the violins couldn't cope with their parts, which had been altered from the composer's markings pre-performance; again, subsequent playing proved how eminently playable it is). This also draws (or drew) criticism - bloody amateur, how dare he make us work for our money... which fades with the passage of time, as Tippett's judgement on most things (not breathing sounds, maybe...) is proved correct.

fun little blog entry on Tippett's struggles with the public, repudiating as it goes that disgusting Lebrecht article I mentioned a few posts ago!:

http://angryorganist.blogspot.com/2008/06/separated-at-birth.html

karlhenning

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #56 on: March 09, 2011, 10:43:31 AM »
The Rose Lake . . . argument enough, indeed.

Separately — Luke, on a back burner I've been meaning to listen to (or view) King Priam. Should I look in to the Chandos recording, or a staged production on DVD? Your thoughts?  (Have I asked this before? Senile dementia?)

karlhenning

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #57 on: March 09, 2011, 11:21:30 AM »
fun little blog entry on Tippett's struggles with the public, repudiating as it goes that disgusting Lebrecht article I mentioned a few posts ago!:

http://angryorganist.blogspot.com/2008/06/separated-at-birth.html

Very interesting (and I missed that post . . . I think I started "following" that blog at a later date).  "Soho the Dog" is a composer here in the Boston area . . . I wonder what he meant by that dreadfully binary quiz?

Osbert plays this nicely, of course:


Quote from: Osbert Parsley
All of the above, of course, was necessary only for the two people in the blogosphere who still take Norman Lebrecht seriously . . . .

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #58 on: March 10, 2011, 04:16:44 AM »

Luke, on a back burner I've been meaning to listen to (or view) King Priam. Should I look in to the Chandos recording, or a staged production on DVD?

Until Luke weighs in, I'd say "yes"!  It's been my favourite Tippett (The Knot Garden's a close second, I've never heard New Year) opera since I heard the Atherton recording in its original LP release on Decca (what a cast!), but Hytner's production on DVD is also wonderful.
“Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

Scarpia

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Re: Tippett's Tearoom
« Reply #59 on: March 10, 2011, 06:14:26 AM »
No. Definitely not. The other last works (5th Quartet, Rose Lake...) belie that idea even if New Year doesn't convince (and yes, the plots can be pretty strange, but I'm always prepared to go with them because the music is worth it!). Tippett is such an easy target - he doesn't hedge his bets, play safe or hide behind technique; he writes his own libretti, so scorned but so perfectly fitted to the music, because he knows that this is the best solution; he delves into his own subconscious and allows the world to see it and poke fun; he doesn't avoid clunkiness (the breathing noises, the chanting in Ice Break..) in his eagerness to communicate; he dares to appropriate some of the instruments of rock and jazz, and to try to 'speak yoof' and invites criticism from all sides for it. He's actually, in many ways, the bravest composer I can think of, so keen to get these ideas which possess him out that he is always at risk of ridicule - and yes, sometimes the ideas don't work, but so often they do...

Well, I don't want to ridicule the poor man.  But when I read an opera is about a spaceship landing, I won't necessarily ridicule it, but I won't listen to it.  If I find out that a symphony is organized around an amplified breathing sound effect, or that it culminates with a bizarre blues for operatic soprano, I'm going to avoid it.  If the man doesn't have the modicum of common sense to realize that those are just silly ideas, why would I trust the rest of the artistic decisions he makes? 

I've been here before, and listening to the man's "brave" works got me so turned off to the music that I sold every Tippett recording I owned, (including the ones that I now realize I like).  I'm not going to go there again.   Sometimes the better part of valor is discretion.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2011, 06:18:53 AM by Il Barone Scarpia »

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