Author Topic: Bach Cello Suites  (Read 108892 times)

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Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: Bach Cello Suites
« Reply #600 on: May 17, 2019, 10:31:05 AM »
Do you dismiss Schnabel's Beethoven out of hand because the recording is not very succesful by today's standards?

More bluntly: what would you rather have, the latest SOTA recoridng in terms of sound and venue of Mozart's PC 20, or his own performance of it?

No, I do not dismiss out of hand Schnabel's recordings because of the technical limitations. That doesn't mean I would not want to be informed of the technical limitations before buying a recording. Why wouldn't I want to know? For me it is not so much an issue of technology but an issue of microphone technique. In a recording you are hearing the performance from the perspective of the microphone, and if the microphone is poorly placed or mixed from microphones that create an inconsistent sound stage the result can be unsatisfying to me. If someone told me they could sent the engineering team that made the digital recordings of Stephen Kovacevich's EMI Beethoven cycle back in time to record Schnabel, I'd say no thanks, the shellac discs sound better.

You second question is too divorced from reality for me to hazard an answer.

It's a sign that the reviewer is focused more on the microphone technique than on the performer's artistic vision and s/he can't see the forest because of the trees, as I said in another thread (the obsession for the perfect performance in the perfect sound).

Nevertheless, it is of interest if the trees are all dead. Informed description of microphone technique is one of the few things in a review that can say something objective about the recording, and which I can find useful. The performers 'artistic vision' is almost entirely subjective and a review which primarily treats 'artistic vision' is of no value to me.

When I encounter a review, I find that at least 90% of the useful information in the review is the fact that the recording exists.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 10:34:21 AM by Ghost of Baron Scarpia »

Offline Florestan

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Re: Bach Cello Suites
« Reply #601 on: May 17, 2019, 10:41:41 AM »
No, I do not dismiss out of hand Schnabel's recordings because of the technical limitations. That doesn't mean I would not want to be informed of the technical limitations before buying a recording. Why wouldn't I want to know? For me it is not so much an issue of technology but an issue of microphone technique. In a recording you are hearing the performance from the perspective of the microphone, and if the microphone is poorly placed or mixed from microphones that create an inconsistent sound stage the result can be unsatisfying to me. If someone told me they could sent the engineering team that made the digital recordings of Stephen Kovacevich's EMI Beethoven cycle back in time to record Schnabel, I'd say no thanks, the shellac discs sound better.

Fair enough. To each his own.

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You second question is too divorced from reality for me to hazard an answer.

Granted. I will hazard an answer, though: I don't know. I might prefer Mozart, or I might not --- and that is my point: prefering this or that performance is ultimately not a matter of technology (this is just rationalization, be honest!) but a matter of "artistic", "subjective" taste.

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When I encounter a review, I find that at least 90% of the useful information in the review is the fact that the recording exists.

I do agree!  :laugh:

EDIT: There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind. - Duke Ellington

What is objective in the above, I wonder?  ;D
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 10:43:18 AM by Florestan »
"Medtner [is] one of  the few oases of the old musical outlook --- when music was music and not a sport; when it still served as the language of expression; when it was permissible and not ridiculous to feel, and to disclose one's feelings" - Leonid Sabaneev

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Bach Cello Suites
« Reply #602 on: May 17, 2019, 11:21:38 AM »
Alban Gerhardt plays Bach's cello suites (label Hyperion).

This recording was announced long before its release, setting expectations high - too high IMO.

Gerhardt plays a Matteo Gofriller four stringed cello from 1710. It hardly sounds baroque and has probably been rebuilt and is surely equipped with a modern set up (steel strings, modern bow). He uses the same instrument for all the suites, which means that he plays the high tessitura parts of the sixth suite with "advanced thumb technique", so we do not miss the resulting "singing dog" effect here.

It's only the modern recording technique, which tells me, that this is a new recording. Spiritually Gerhardt is firmly based in the 1950es with all the implications of continual vibrato, old-fashioned end rubato, casual use of dynamic variation. modest ornamentation and repeats which are uninventive exact copies. Particularly unsuccessful is the sarabande of the fifth suite, which is spoilt by too much vibrato giving it a note of sentimentality.

Just got this recording  as posted above, was waiting for it and finally got it and found the time to listen to it - well - Premont's  comments  are accurate  - except  the part where they are negatives! :D  - I don't believe they invalidate the interpretation at all - I am not anti-HIP practices - I am firmly against the idea that they invalidate the (ironically - a HIP approach seems to be considered more modern! :D ) "traditional" approach. Gerhardt is informed by Starker and Fournier while definitely adding a certain strength to the interpretation. 

Interesting that you do not consider exact copies uninventive. However I would consider Gerhardt to belong to a more traditional school than Fournier and Starker, whom I would call preauthentic like e.g. Wolfgang Schneiderhan or Helmut Walcha and Anton Heiller. They removed the most traditional (read: Romantic) traits from their playing and paved the way for the HIP movement.

Quote from: (: premont :)
If one likes this style, the recording may be serviceable.

Quote from: vmartell
This is an interesting idea - one can see it as "well, to each its own", which is certainly reasonable. Or one can see it as dismissive of the traditional style.. Which would be a mistake - not only Gerhardt's is a worthwhile recording showing the strengths of the traditional style, I think Starker and Fournier have to be kept firmly at the top of the Cello Suites pantheon, no matter the style.

Well, I certainly meant "each to his own" but also, that Gerhardt is not much more than serviceable. Much better recordings in traditional style would be Mainardi, Tortellier or Webber e.g..

Usually I do not compare recordings much, but try instead to immerse myself in the individual recordings.

Tiden læger alle sår,
heldigt nok at tiden går.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach Cello Suites
« Reply #603 on: May 17, 2019, 10:56:25 PM »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Jo498

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Re: Bach Cello Suites
« Reply #604 on: May 17, 2019, 11:41:16 PM »
I think it is totally fair to be bothered by certain noises on recordings. It is a rather different situation from the concert where there will often also be extraneous noises but for most it is easier to focus during the live experience. But with recordings one listens to many times, maybe with headphones, these noises will not be transient but one will almost anticipate them.
I still remember that my first record of the Eroica had a scratch in one of the fugal sections of the finale and many times when I listen to that passage I recall that and almost expect the click...
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Bach Cello Suites
« Reply #605 on: May 17, 2019, 11:48:04 PM »
I don't see what's wrong with a reviewer mentioning that breathing is audible. If you can hear the performer breathing it is a sign that the microphone technique has disproportionately emphasized it. People are free to decide for themselves if that is an issue.

I agree that the reviewer's condescending mention of "labored breathing" on that Gaillard release is idiotic.

It's a sign that the reviewer is focused more on the microphone technique than on the performer's artistic vision and s/he can't see the forest because of the trees, as I said in another thread (the obsession for the perfect performance in the perfect sound).

I take it as a sign that the reviewer was distracted by the come-to-bed image of La Gaillard.