Author Topic: Karajan was a silly musician  (Read 4174 times)

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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #100 on: April 20, 2018, 06:55:12 AM »
Yep and he clearly doesn’t like HvK’s Mahler. The simple solution there would be not to listen to it and move on, but that’s easier said than done as indicated by Mahlerian’s past postings where he’s talked his way into a corner.

I only got into this lengthy discussion because people indicated that they were interested in the basis of my opinion.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Baron Scarpia

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #101 on: April 20, 2018, 06:57:25 AM »
I only got into this lengthy discussion because people indicated that they were interested in the basis of my opinion.

Mahlerian has not changed my basic view, but I can't deny that the discussion has been very interesting.

Offline Traverso

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #102 on: April 20, 2018, 06:59:24 AM »
Mahlerian has not changed my basic view, but I can't deny that the discussion has been very interesting.

I fully agree. :)

Offline Ken B

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #103 on: April 20, 2018, 07:48:35 AM »
I haven't checked his comments against Karajan's recording with the score in hand.  So, I don't know if he is exaggerating or not.  But even so, interpretative choices a conductor makes could include completely ignoring a tempo marking in the score, if the conductor thinks he can create an effect differently. 

For me, score indications are suggestions by the composer and not iron bound.  A score is frozen in time and who's to say that a composer might not change his mind after a period of time and mark the score differently.  I am not aware that scores are regularly revised every time a composer might wish to alter some of the score markings.

I think a performer or conductor is absolutely free to play the music as they see fit - the only constraint would be a critical and audience reaction so negative as to impact their career.

Well I agree with that take but I think it means more than just Mahlerians taste. Turning a rit into an acc is objective, whether right or wrong.

I saw a Dudamel rehearsal where he did something like that, noting Shostakovich asks for this but he's wrong and we'll do it this way. Perfectly acceptable IMO.
Give a man a fire and he is warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he is warm for life.

Baron Scarpia

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #104 on: April 20, 2018, 10:05:14 AM »
Yes exactly what I am trying to say. His aesthetic sense is so distinctive because it comes from a distinctly personal vision.

I am flattered, by the way, that you seem to have such an interest in me that you would even shift the focus of the discussion to an assessment of my own taste. It certainly made me chuckle a bit this afternoon to see you have a stab at whether I like Karjan's aesthetic or not, as if my own personal taste and prejudices were actually important.  0:)  But actually I know probably less than 1% (maybe less than 0.1%?) of anything there is to know about what was going on in Karajan's head when he studied Mahler scores. Getting to know a little more about that is what I am interested in through listening to his recordings, not whether people simply like it or not.

Karajan's recording of Mahler's 6th tells me that he had a very individual and even a rather eccentric view on Mahler's music to the point that he comes at it quite strongly from a different angle than what one might usually deduce from the score. I suppose it might be something like taking a bite into what looks like an apple but is revealed to be a Heston Blumenthal meat fruit! It might look like an apple, but after tasting it it probably wouldn't taste like one!  :laugh:

I hope you don't think I was questioning Karajan's competence.......perhaps you need to read over my posts again considering you seem to want to talk about it.

I'm glad you didn't take too seriously the earlier, more intemperate version of my post.  :-[

Offline San Antone

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #105 on: April 20, 2018, 10:34:48 AM »
Well I agree with that take but I think it means more than just Mahlerians taste. Turning a rit into an acc is objective, whether right or wrong.

I saw a Dudamel rehearsal where he did something like that, noting Shostakovich asks for this but he's wrong and we'll do it this way. Perfectly acceptable IMO.

What is value of the art of performance and interpretation?  For me, it is on an equal level with the composer's creation. 

I have composed, but mainly write songs, but the point is I welcome interpretations that might be very different from how I originally envisioned the piece (all are not equal, but all are at least valid).  Sometimes I think it is true that a composer does not know what is best for the music, and think that s/he does not have the last word. Once the work is in the public sphere, it takes on a life of its own - and the composer is sidelined.  As time passes future generations hear the music differently and to my way of thinking what is invalid is prohibiting them from exercising artistic license to perform the work as they think best, no matter what the composer marked in the score.

I disagree with what I perceive to be Mahlerian's main thrust: that Mahler's score indications are of paramount importance and conductors are shackled to them with only some, but not much, leeway.

That attitude undermines the challenge and art of interpretation and freezes a work to the time and mentality of its initial creation.  Future generations will and should interpret the work for their own times and according to their own aesthetic sensibilities, even if it means turning a "rit" into an "acc" (an unlikely exaggeration, but not one I'd disqualify on principle).

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #106 on: April 20, 2018, 11:24:02 AM »
What is value of the art of performance and interpretation?  For me, it is on an equal level with the composer's creation.

It's an art, to be sure, but one that is dependent upon the composer's creation.

I have composed, but mainly write songs, but the point is I welcome interpretations that might be very different from how I originally envisioned the piece (all are not equal, but all are at least valid).

As do I.  I am glad to have so many wonderful versions of Mahler's Sixth to choose from; all of them discover new things in the work or look at it in a different light.  That is of course different from changing the text to suit one's whims.

Sometimes I think it is true that a composer does not know what is best for the music, and think that s/he does not have the last word. Once the work is in the public sphere, it takes on a life of its own - and the composer is sidelined.  As time passes future generations hear the music differently and to my way of thinking what is invalid is prohibiting them from exercising artistic license to perform the work as they think best, no matter what the composer marked in the score.

And I would never want there to be any regulatory body to prevent interpretations like Karajan's from being performed and recorded, just as I would hope you would not desire the existence of such a body to prevent people from examining recordings in detail to find whether or not they convey the work in question or some simulacrum of dubious justification.

I disagree with what I perceive to be Mahlerian's main thrust: that Mahler's score indications are of paramount importance and conductors are shackled to them with only some, but not much, leeway

I'm sad that I haven't been clear enough to convey what I meant.  My apologies.

The score is a starting point, not an endpoint.  It delimits the bounds of what the piece is, and there is an infinite amount of possibility within those bounds, which can certainly be pushed or stretched if there is a good reason for doing so.

There are people here who find Karajan's version perfectly acceptable, and more so than what Mahler wrote.  That is their prerogative, of course.  I happen to think very highly of Mahler's Sixth Symphony, and the whole problem from my perspective is that Karajan seems to have little respect for that work that I love, discarding or altering aspects as he sees fit.

That attitude undermines the challenge and art of interpretation and freezes a work to the time and mentality of its initial creation.  Future generations will and should interpret the work for their own times and according to their own aesthetic sensibilities, even if it means turning a "rit" into an "acc" (an unlikely exaggeration, but not one I'd disqualify on principle).

I haven't disqualified anything.  As I've probably written in this thread about five times now, none of the individual details I've pointed out are that important.  They are representative in my mind of Karajan's general attitude towards the score, and his changes are both pervasive and important enough to alter the meaning of the work.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #107 on: April 20, 2018, 11:36:42 AM »
The score is a starting point, not an endpoint.  It delimits the bounds of what the piece is, and there is an infinite amount of possibility within those bounds, which can certainly be pushed or stretched if there is a good reason for doing so.

Who determines where those bounds lie (or end)?
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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #108 on: April 20, 2018, 11:39:38 AM »
Who determines where those bounds lie (or end)?

No one individual.  As this discussion has brought to light, some people consider Karajan's Sixth within the bounds of Mahler's work.  I consider it outside, for the reasons I've stated (and which, as I reiterate, I was asked to state).

That doesn't mean that we can't agree that boundaries do exist.  Surely a performance of Mahler's Sixth that changed every G# in any register to a B-flat in the contrabass would be considered outside of the bounds of the work.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #109 on: April 20, 2018, 11:51:03 AM »
No one individual.  As this discussion has brought to light, some people consider Karajan's Sixth within the bounds of Mahler's work.  I consider it outside, for the reasons I've stated (and which, as I reiterate, I was asked to state).

That doesn't mean that we can't agree that boundaries do exist.  Surely a performance of Mahler's Sixth that changed every G# in any register to a B-flat in the contrabass would be considered outside of the bounds of the work.
If I, as a performer or conductor, chose an interpretation of a piece that is outside your boundary, it sounds like I will be guilty (as is Karajan) of "discarding or altering as I see fit", "not representing that composer's work", "ignoring the composer's instructions", etc. Would that be the case? Have I understood you correctly?
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Baron Scarpia

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #110 on: April 20, 2018, 12:16:17 PM »
If I, as a performer or conductor, chose an interpretation of a piece that is outside your boundary, it sounds like I will be guilty (as is Karajan) of "discarding or altering as I see fit", "not representing that composer's work", "ignoring the composer's instructions", etc. Would that be the case? Have I understood you correctly?

Mahler, performing Beethoven's 9th, replaced a famous passage where 2 horns introduce a theme under string ostinato with 2 trumpets and 8 horns. On the other hand, Mahlerian has not cited any instance where Karajan has altered instrumentation of Mahler, but becomes apoplectic when Karajan's oboes sound "timid" instead of "strained."  ::)  :)

(I know, it's not just that one deviation, but that Karajan is satan.) :)
« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 12:21:14 PM by Baron Scarpia »

Offline Ken B

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #111 on: April 20, 2018, 12:32:20 PM »
Mahler, performing Beethoven's 9th, replaced a famous passage where 2 horns introduce a theme under string ostinato with 2 trumpets and 8 horns.

Really? That's positively atonal.

 >:D
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ComposerOfAvantGarde

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #112 on: April 20, 2018, 12:50:21 PM »
Mahler, performing Beethoven's 9th, replaced a famous passage where 2 horns introduce a theme under string ostinato with 2 trumpets and 8 horns. On the other hand, Mahlerian has not cited any instance where Karajan has altered instrumentation of Mahler, but becomes apoplectic when Karajan's oboes sound "timid" instead of "strained."  ::)  :)

(I know, it's not just that one deviation, but that Karajan is satan.) :)
Beethoven's style of orchestration was totally different from Mahler's and it was always open for changes like this. Even Beethoven knew that. Mahler's orchestration on the other hand, whilst I don't think it's always out of the question to actually consider whether it can be changed, was composed with specific things in mind. Even after the first performance he would tweak the orchestration until he was happy with a definitive version.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #113 on: April 20, 2018, 12:57:10 PM »
Mahler, performing Beethoven's 9th, replaced a famous passage where 2 horns introduce a theme under string ostinato with 2 trumpets and 8 horns. On the other hand, Mahlerian has not cited any instance where Karajan has altered instrumentation of Mahler, but becomes apoplectic when Karajan's oboes sound "timid" instead of "strained."  ::)  :)

(I know, it's not just that one deviation, but that Karajan is satan.) :)

I consider Mahler's arrangement of Beethoven's Ninth (or his other such arrangements) a separate text, related to Beethoven's work but not identical to it.

I don't know why you and others are so interested in my personal taste.  It's the least important part of this discussion, and by far (from my standpoint) the least interesting.

(Incidentally, the oboes are supposed to sound "shrill."  We know this because Mahler marks it that way, for four oboes in unison playing ff.  It will only not sound shrill if you ask them to hold back.)
« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 01:01:34 PM by Mahlerian »
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #114 on: April 20, 2018, 01:02:40 PM »
If I, as a performer or conductor, chose an interpretation of a piece that is outside your boundary, it sounds like I will be guilty (as is Karajan) of "discarding or altering as I see fit", "not representing that composer's work", "ignoring the composer's instructions", etc. Would that be the case? Have I understood you correctly?

Only if that is what you do.  There are plenty of ways to be outside of the boundary of one work.  Like playing a different work, for example.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline San Antone

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #115 on: April 20, 2018, 01:50:03 PM »
I don't know why you and others are so interested in my personal taste.  It's the least important part of this discussion, and by far (from my standpoint) the least interesting.

You are expressing your opinion about Karajan's recording of the M6, and when someone does that it usually is an expression of their subjective appreciation of a recording, IOW, an expression of their taste.  Maybe you see yourself as a Mahler expert, a kind of Mahler authority - I can't speak for others, but to me you're just another classical music listener voicing his opinion about a recording. 

For sure you have some specific reasons why you don't think the Karajan M6 is one to recommend.  But I don't see that as much different from someone saying, "it just doesn't do it for me."  And in fact the latter is less pedantic.

Baron Scarpia

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #116 on: April 20, 2018, 01:54:03 PM »
This should satisfy everyone.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #117 on: April 20, 2018, 02:27:10 PM »
You are expressing your opinion about Karajan's recording of the M6, and when someone does that it usually is an expression of their subjective appreciation of a recording, IOW, an expression of their taste.

No, my opinion of Karajan's Mahler is more negative than what I've expressed here.  I've tried to stick to the ways in which he alters or ignores the score, which can be verified by anyone.

Maybe you see yourself as a Mahler expert, a kind of Mahler authority

I'm not Henry Louis de la Grange or even someone who's conducted the cycle, nor do I claim to be.

I can't speak for others, but to me you're just another classical music listener voicing his opinion about a recording.

Unlike many others here though, I've studied the score of the work in question, and can discuss what's there.  I'm surprised at how many people are telling me what they think is or isn't there who have never bothered to do that.  It's right here for anyone to see:
http://imslp.org/wiki/Symphony_No.6_(Mahler,_Gustav)

For sure you have some specific reasons why you don't think the Karajan M6 is one to recommend.  But I don't see that as much different from someone saying, "it just doesn't do it for me."  And in fact the latter is less pedantic.

As I said, I was asked to give my reasons.  I thought it might provoke interesting discussion.  And surely giving the rationale for one's belief is different, and far more interesting, than merely stating it?
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Baron Scarpia

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #118 on: April 20, 2018, 02:47:30 PM »
As I said, I was asked to give my reasons.  I thought it might provoke interesting discussion.  And surely giving the rationale for one's belief is different, and far more interesting, than merely stating it?

Your familiarity with the score and discussion of details certainly makes your critique of the music more precise and interesting. The only problem I have is your insistence that Karajan's recording is invalid, or that the music he performed is "not Mahler" because he "ignored the text." You have created an artificial threshold that Karajan has crossed when all conductors take the liberty of ignoring score directions when it suits their interpretive vision. The discrepancies you have cited are more-or-less objective, but your threshold for "changing the text" is entirely subjective, in my opinion, and you will not admit that.


Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Karajan was a silly musician
« Reply #119 on: April 20, 2018, 03:43:19 PM »
Your familiarity with the score and discussion of details certainly makes your critique of the music more precise and interesting. The only problem I have is your insistence that Karajan's recording is invalid, or that the music he performed is "not Mahler" because he "ignored the text." You have created an artificial threshold that Karajan has crossed when all conductors take the liberty of ignoring score directions when it suits their interpretive vision. The discrepancies you have cited are more-or-less objective, but your threshold for "changing the text" is entirely subjective, in my opinion, and you will not admit that.

As this discussion has brought to light, some people consider Karajan's Sixth within the bounds of Mahler's work.  I consider it outside, for the reasons I've stated (and which, as I reiterate, I was asked to state).


Edit: I forgot to mention, your fake cover is pretty funny.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 03:48:39 PM by Mahlerian »
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

 

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