Author Topic: Great wrongheaded recordings  (Read 916 times)

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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Great wrongheaded recordings
« on: July 11, 2018, 08:52:53 AM »
I'm thinking of recordings which seem to go against the spirit of a piece, or flagrantly disregard score indications, or just introduce some element of weirdness that is foreign to the music, yet they work splendidly anyway. A few examples:

Barbirolli's Mahler 6 - the grim slow tempi and the constantly highlighting and heaviness shouldn't work in Mahler's most deliberately classical symphony, but they do, and the result is one of the great Mahler recordings;

Glenn Gould's "Consort of Musicke" album - playing Shakespeare-era virginal music on a modern piano shouldn't work, but it does, and it's one of my favorite piano records.

Come to think of it, there are probably a lot of pioneering Early Music recordings that still sound great as performances, but due to advancing scholarship, were actually performed totally wrong. I don't know enough to judge, but maybe David Munrow's anthologies and Pro Cantione Antiqua fall into this category? (I'll give up these records only if you pry them from my cold dead hands!)
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2018, 09:01:10 AM »
The epic Nimrod of Lenny's Enigma Variations.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2018, 09:34:56 AM »
.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2018, 09:38:11 AM »
Well, I disagree that that one works splendidly;  but that detail aside . . . .
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2018, 09:42:41 AM »
Well, I disagree that that one works splendidly;  but that detail aside . . . .

I knew you'd say that! I remembered. Here's another one I thought of just now



Karl -- Michel Portal's Domaines (Boulez) -- it's the only one I know and somehow I've picked up that it's wrongheaded in some way because of some sort of jazz influence. Is that right? (I like it very much.)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2018, 09:58:11 AM »
Karl -- Michel Portal's Domaines (Boulez) -- it's the only one I know and somehow I've picked up that it's wrongheaded in some way because of some sort of jazz influence. Is that right? (I like it very much.)

I'll bet Rafael could tell;  I cannot.

. . . this is impossibly slow, but good heavens, it is exquisite:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/R4Ag-SloSX0" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/R4Ag-SloSX0</a>
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Offline Marc

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2018, 10:04:56 AM »
I'm thinking of recordings which seem to go against the spirit of a piece, or flagrantly disregard score indications, or just introduce some element of weirdness that is foreign to the music, yet they work splendidly anyway. A few examples:

Barbirolli's Mahler 6 - the grim slow tempi and the constantly highlighting and heaviness shouldn't work in Mahler's most deliberately classical symphony, but they do, and the result is one of the great Mahler recordings;
[…]

Heftig, markig, wuchtig, energico. Words that Mahler used frequently in this score.
And that's what I hear in this performance. Who knows, it might correspond quite good with Mahler's intentions.

To me, this symphony is only formally and outwardly 'deliberately classical'.
Inwardly, there's not much classical about this dramatic journey from Alma's theme to hammer blows and fate. And IMHO, Barbirolli understood that perfectly, even though it's not a 'perfect' performance. Tempi are sometimes too slow, I think. But I would never consider this one wrongheaded.

Well, at least we agree that it's a Great Performance! :)
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 10:15:53 AM by Marc »
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Offline ritter

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2018, 11:14:57 AM »
I'll bet Rafael could tell;  I cannot.
Well, it is hard to tell, but I’ll do my best.  ;)

Diego Masson’s 1971 recording for Harmonia Mundi of the Domaines version for clarinet and ensemble  (or Domaines II) is the only available recording AFAIK of this infrequently performed piece, so there’s nothing to compare it to. Dominique Jameux says it was supervised by the composer, and Boulez also selected it for inclusion (some 40 years later) in his “Complete Works - Work in Progress” box on DG.  So I suppose the composer himself would not have seen it as “wrongheaded”.

There definitely are some “jazzy” sounds in the performance. I suppose Mandryka is referring to the moment the clarinet soloist “visits”  the instrumental group “C” in section 1 (at ca.4’50” of track 1). That group is made up of a marimba and a double bass, the latter playing only pizzicato. The sound that emanates is jazzy, in a rather cool way, but that may have to do with the fact that there are few things we would associate more with jazz than a pizzicato double bass. I presume the composer would have noticed the effect when writing the music, and that it might even be slightly tongue-in-cheek. Still, is is rather cool.

Of course, some may argue that that section of Domaines is a late reflection of what has been called “Darmstadt jazz”. For instance Martin Iddon in New Music in Darmstadt quotes Robin Maconie dismissing Stockhausen’s Kreuzspiel thus: the piece seemed “to defer, by its salon-jazz character, to the vulgar influence of the occupying American culture”  ??? :o . But to me it seems that the late 60s Boulez of Domaines is rather distant from the early Stockhausen of Kreuzspiel.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 12:44:40 PM by ritter »
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Online Holden

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2018, 11:21:02 AM »
I'm going to list a controversial one here. While I really like it for the way it exposes the inner workings of the piece, others will consider it to be an abomination. I'm talking about Glenn Gould's performance of the Appassionata, specifically the first movement.

Cheers

Holden

Offline Ken B

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2018, 11:51:55 AM »
Kempff Goldberg Variations

Schuberbach extra romantic. Florestan's dream Goldberg.

Cool thread idea.
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Offline ritter

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2018, 11:58:43 AM »
On the operatic front, Karajan’s take on Puccini's Turandot could qualify:


The female voices are not the “right” ones for their roles, and yet the end result is riveting. And the orchestra, oh, the orchestra....!

And then, of course, there’s Karl Böhm’s swan song recording of Beethoven’s Ninth:


Way too slow, and simply sublime as a result!
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 12:13:51 PM by ritter »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2018, 12:43:34 PM »
Well, it is hard to tell, but I’ll do my best.  ;)

Diego Masson’s 1971 recording for Harmonia Mundi of the Domaines version for clarinet and ensemble  (or Domaines II) is the only available recording AFAIK of this infrequently performed piece, so there’s nothing to compare it to. Dominique Jameux says it was supervised by the composer, and Boulez also selected it for inclusion (some 40 years later) in his “Complete Works - Work in Progress” box on DG.  So I suppose the composer himself would not have seen it as “wrongheaded”.

There definitely are some “jazzy” sounds in the performance. I suppose Mandryka is referring to the moment the clarinet soloist “visits”  the instrumental group “C” in section 1 (at ca.4’50” of track 1). That group is made up of a marimba and a double bass, the latter playing only pizzicato. The sound that emanates is jazzy, in a rather cool way, but that may have to do with the fact that there are few things we would associate more with jazz than a pizzicato double bass. I presume the composer would have noticed the effect when writing the music, and that it might even be slightly tongue-in-cheek. Still, is is rather cool.

Of course, some may argue that that section of Domaines is a late reflection of what has been called “Darmstadt jazz”. For instance Martin Iddon in New Music in Darmstadt quotes Robin Maconie dismissing Stockhausen’s Kreuzspiel thus: the piece seemed “to defer, by its salon-jazz character, to the vulgar influence of the occupying American culture”  ??? :o . But to me it seems that the late 60s Boulez of Domaines is rather distant from the early Stockhausen of Kreuzspiel.

And the writing at about 10,20 in track 1. Thanks for the ideas. I've had the recording for years, I play it occasionally always with pleasure, but I've never thought about it much.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 12:50:38 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2018, 12:59:16 PM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/UT8DFLjWdC8" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/UT8DFLjWdC8</a>

Is this wrongheaded, the way Herreweghe does the opening chorus in such a cheerful way in his second recording, the one with Bostridge? Can that be right?

Or the happy way Bruggen and Egmond do Ich habe genug? Can that possibly be right?

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Offline Cato

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2018, 01:05:16 PM »


Barbirolli's Mahler 6 - the grim slow tempi and the constantly highlighting and heaviness shouldn't work in Mahler's most deliberately classical symphony, but they do, and the result is one of the great Mahler recordings;



Is that the recording where one can hear Sir John humming and even groaning at times?
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2018, 01:31:37 PM »
Is that the recording where one can hear Sir John humming and even groaning at times?

Yeah, that's the one. Adds to the sense of struggle, I think.
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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2018, 02:24:04 PM »
I actually enjoy that absolutely bizarre Mengelberg recording of Mahler's Fourth Symphony.  It doesn't follow the score precisely by any means, but it preserves a certain interpretive tradition that has been lost today.

Gould's rendition of Schoenberg's Suite for Piano is absolutely wrongheaded.  He rebalances things all over the place and takes the Intermezzo at half the notated tempo.  Still, it's very interesting.
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Offline André

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2018, 03:32:31 PM »


Newton’s laws of gravity and of inertia should make this recording founder under its own weight. But it defies the odds.

Online Daverz

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2018, 05:20:19 PM »
A famous example:



I think Lenny has a lot of recordings in this category.

Offline Marc

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2018, 08:43:36 PM »
Yeah, that's the one. Adds to the sense of struggle, I think.

But it can also make me giggle sometimes... let's just say that's the modest amount of Mahlerian irony then.
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Offline Biffo

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Re: Great wrongheaded recordings
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2018, 11:13:59 PM »
Heftig, markig, wuchtig, energico. Words that Mahler used frequently in this score.
And that's what I hear in this performance. Who knows, it might correspond quite good with Mahler's intentions.

To me, this symphony is only formally and outwardly 'deliberately classical'.
Inwardly, there's not much classical about this dramatic journey from Alma's theme to hammer blows and fate. And IMHO, Barbirolli understood that perfectly, even though it's not a 'perfect' performance. Tempi are sometimes too slow, I think. But I would never consider this one wrongheaded.

Well, at least we agree that it's a Great Performance! :)

There are two live Barbirolli performances of the 6th, with the Berlin Philharmonic (January 1966) and the New Philharmonia (August 1967); both are around 10 minutes quicker than the studio recording with the New Philharmonia (August 1967). My preference is for the live New Philharmonia performance.