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Author Topic: Elgar's Hillside  (Read 88377 times)

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karlhenning

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #60 on: September 21, 2007, 07:51:29 AM »
Lucid is, however, the perfect word for the scoring of the Cello Concerto.

I love the Spanish hints at the start of the second movement Lento.

Offline J. Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #61 on: September 21, 2007, 07:58:01 AM »
Lucid is, however, the perfect word for the scoring of the Cello Concerto.

Yes. The marvel of that work is the way Elgar 'rebuilds' the orchestra around the cello.
"O infinite virtue, com’st thou smiling from
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karlhenning

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #62 on: September 21, 2007, 07:59:18 AM »
Any composer would love to be able to write an Adagio like that third movement!

longears

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #63 on: September 21, 2007, 08:02:45 AM »
One of the glories of the literature.

Loss, to make our hearts weep.

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #64 on: September 21, 2007, 10:03:04 AM »
I'm listening to the Rondo of the Second (Downes) whilst writing this... ...there is a clarity there: all lines are audible.

Yes. I have always found Elgar's music complex/sophisticated rather than chaotic. To me every note makes perfect sense. But that's me. Maybe I simply want my classical music "fatter" than average listener.

Bad performances of Elgar's symphonies can sound chaotic if the conductor is unable to balance the textures and follow structures. I also recommend new crystal clear digital recordings of Elgar for maximum structural clarity.

Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening. Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural and less tiresome in headphone listening.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #65 on: September 21, 2007, 11:14:01 AM »
Bad performances of Elgar's symphonies can sound chaotic if the conductor is unable to balance the textures and follow structures. I also recommend new crystal clear digital recordings of Elgar for maximum structural clarity.

Bad acoustics don't help either - Davis's LSO Live Elgar performances are a little muddy (heck, many of the releases on that label are), I may try Boult.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline Bonehelm

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #66 on: September 21, 2007, 09:00:17 PM »
Ok 71dB I need your help appreciating the two Elgar symphonies. Aside from the beginning of his 1st movt. in his 1st symphony, I am almost completely lost in his music. I can't stay on track, it all makes no sense musically to me. Even Bruckner sounds more logical to me comparing to Elgar.

So in order to appreciate him, what should I listen for? (e.g. brass chorales for Bruckner, off-stage brass and fanfares for Mahler, etc)

Mark

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #67 on: September 22, 2007, 12:30:30 AM »
... Davis's LSO Live Elgar performances are a little muddy (heck, many of the releases on that label are) ...

Not an experience I've had - I own several discs from the label, almost all of which ring with clarity.

Offline J. Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #68 on: September 22, 2007, 12:47:47 AM »
Ok 71dB I need your help appreciating the two Elgar symphonies. Aside from the beginning of his 1st movt. in his 1st symphony, I am almost completely lost in his music. I can't stay on track, it all makes no sense musically to me. Even Bruckner sounds more logical to me comparing to Elgar.

So in order to appreciate him, what should I listen for? (e.g. brass chorales for Bruckner, off-stage brass and fanfares for Mahler, etc)

Hello, Bonehelm! I'm no 71dB, but I can make a suggestion - why don't you leave the opening movement till later, and start off the with the middle movements? Their structure is very clear. And the Finale is one great struggle to regain that wonderful melody you like from the beginning of the first movement. So, if you end the work, you can begin again, but hopefully with a stronger sense of what the symphony is grappling with and working towards.

Hope this helps.

Johan
"O infinite virtue, com’st thou smiling from
The world’s great snare uncaught?"

(Antony and Cleopatra, Act 4, Scene 8 )

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #69 on: September 22, 2007, 03:34:02 AM »
Ok 71dB I need your help appreciating the two Elgar symphonies. Aside from the beginning of his 1st movt. in his 1st symphony, I am almost completely lost in his music. I can't stay on track, it all makes no sense musically to me. Even Bruckner sounds more logical to me comparing to Elgar.

So in order to appreciate him, what should I listen for? (e.g. brass chorales for Bruckner, off-stage brass and fanfares for Mahler, etc)

I appreciate you are curious about these symphonies and want to understand them better. They are not easy to get imo but I'd say once they become familiar to you and you undertand Elgar's musical thinking better they become very logical.

The key imo to understand Elgar is the fact he composed sounds rather than notes. If you play Elgar's (orchestral) themes on piano they sound less promising but played on orchestra they sound fantastic. You can't separate Elgar's melodies, harmonies etc. from the orchestral timbre. That's why analyse of his scores do not reveal everything essential in Elgar's art. He was a self-taught composer who used music theory in subordinate way to achieve as good sounding music as possible.

I am not capable of full musical analyse of scores but to me Elgar's thematic material seems to be longer than that of many other composers. He uses rather long melodies and motivs to construct the music. These long building blocks overlap in sophisticated ways I admire a lot. I suppose this overlapping is Elgar's version of "fugal writing" in late romantic style. After all, he was heavily influenced by the music of J. S. Bach and Händel (he wanted to became a violinist after hearing a perfomance of The Messiah at the age of 12).

In quiet passages in Elgar's music are not thin which I also like. The sound of woodwinds is thin because of the spectral stucture. Elgar avoids situations where only one woodwind instrument is playing something. He uses woodwinds skillfully to color his music. Elgar was a violinist and strings are the foundation of his music, other instruments mere complete the orchestral colors.

Elgar's music is unique. I find similar orchestral thinking in Bruckner and creativity in Nielsen. I call it relative music. The meaning of every note and musical structure is defined by other notes. You take something away and the whole perfect structure falls apart, loses it's meaning. Oboe starts playing because the last 5 minutes have sonically repaired you to want the sound of oboe. Try to see this analysing the score! If you take those few notes played with oboe away the meaning of the previous 5 minutes is compromised.

In a way Elgar's music is also very easy to understand because he is a straight-to-the-point composer. The music tries to strike your mind and heart directly with the way it sounds. Clearly the 1st movement of his 1st symphony does just that to you. I hope in time rest of his music has the same effect.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening. Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural and less tiresome in headphone listening.

Offline sound67

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #70 on: September 22, 2007, 04:26:24 AM »
Might 'chaotic' be a more appropriate word? The Second Symphony certainly sounds all over the place (at times) to my untrained ears.

Usually, the slower the performance, the muddier the Elgar symphonies seem. Boult e.g. never seems muddy in either (I'd recommend his Lyrita set, which just had its CD premiere), nor does Solti. Giulini, Thomson and Tate do, the dreadfully slow lot of them.

Thomas
"Vivaldi didn't compose 500 concertos. He composed the same concerto 500 times" - Igor Stravinsky

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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #71 on: September 22, 2007, 05:27:04 AM »
Usually, the slower the performance, the muddier the Elgar symphonies seem. Boult e.g. never seems muddy in either (I'd recommend his Lyrita set, which just had its CD premiere), nor does Solti. Giulini, Thomson and Tate do, the dreadfully slow lot of them.

Solti doesn't belong in that "lot"...he's very swift. With a performance modeled on Elgar's own, he's faster than Boult (at least faster than Boult's EMI version with the LPO). Solti's timings:

I - 15:30
II - 15:30
III - 7:49
IV - 12:33

Maybe you meant Sinopoli?

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline sound67

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #72 on: September 22, 2007, 05:39:54 AM »
Solti doesn't belong in that "lot"...he's very swift.

Exactly. That's why there's a "." between Solti and "the lot". I was referring to both Boult/Lyrita and Solti/Decca being on the quick side, the rest on the slow(er) side.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2007, 05:43:40 AM by sound67 »
"Vivaldi didn't compose 500 concertos. He composed the same concerto 500 times" - Igor Stravinsky

"Mozart is a menace to musical progress, a relic of rituals that were losing relevance in his own time and are meaningless to ours." - Norman Lebrecht

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #73 on: September 22, 2007, 05:51:59 AM »
Exactly. That's why there's a "." between Solti and "the lot". I was referring to both Boult/Lyrita and Solti/Decca being on the quick side, the rest on the slow(er) side.

Ah...should have had my specs on. I saw a comma instead of a period. My apologies.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #74 on: September 22, 2007, 06:30:37 AM »
I guess I will definitely try the Boult now. I'm still having difficulties with the syms, and it's my last hope that this may be due to the slow interps I've only heard so far.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline CS

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #75 on: September 22, 2007, 06:41:43 AM »
How's Sinopoli in the symphonies? And how is he in the other works (Enigma Vars, Cello Concerto w/ Maisky, In the South)? I haven't heard any of it.

But I did find this interesting treat, of Sinopoli commenting on Elgar's music:

Quote
Elgar composed carefully, a fact not appreciated by many European critics who consider Elgar a mediocre orchestrator. The complexity of the different textual families and polyphony must be balanced with care--it is necessary to have a very good orchestra with a conductor fully aware of how to realize the various levels of sound, character and structure.

Interview with Anne Inglis, Gramophone (London), February 1989, 1266.

Now, does he practice what he preaches?  :)
« Last Edit: September 22, 2007, 06:45:53 AM by CS »

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #76 on: September 22, 2007, 06:47:41 AM »
Now, does he practice what he preaches?  :)

Thanks to Sarge I can comment Sinopoli on Elgar's 2nd. In my opinion he perhaps tries to practise what he preaches but there are those who practise better (Downes).
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening. Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural and less tiresome in headphone listening.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #77 on: September 22, 2007, 07:13:35 AM »
How's Sinopoli in the symphonies? And how is he in the other works (Enigma Vars, Cello Concerto w/ Maisky, In the South)? I haven't heard any of it.

But I did find this interesting treat, of Sinopoli commenting on Elgar's music:
 
Interview with Anne Inglis, Gramophone (London), February 1989, 1266.

Now, does he practice what he preaches?  :)

I'm late for a birthday party but I'll be back later to comment on Sinopoli's Elgar, most especially his recording of the Second which I love (I'm a lone prophet crying in the wilderness  ;D )

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Bonehelm

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #78 on: September 22, 2007, 01:35:31 PM »
I appreciate you are curious about these symphonies and want to understand them better. They are not easy to get imo but I'd say once they become familiar to you and you undertand Elgar's musical thinking better they become very logical.

The key imo to understand Elgar is the fact he composed sounds rather than notes. If you play Elgar's (orchestral) themes on piano they sound less promising but played on orchestra they sound fantastic. You can't separate Elgar's melodies, harmonies etc. from the orchestral timbre. That's why analyse of his scores do not reveal everything essential in Elgar's art. He was a self-taught composer who used music theory in subordinate way to achieve as good sounding music as possible.

I am not capable of full musical analyse of scores but to me Elgar's thematic material seems to be longer than that of many other composers. He uses rather long melodies and motivs to construct the music. These long building blocks overlap in sophisticated ways I admire a lot. I suppose this overlapping is Elgar's version of "fugal writing" in late romantic style. After all, he was heavily influenced by the music of J. S. Bach and Händel (he wanted to became a violinist after hearing a perfomance of The Messiah at the age of 12).

In quiet passages in Elgar's music are not thin which I also like. The sound of woodwinds is thin because of the spectral stucture. Elgar avoids situations where only one woodwind instrument is playing something. He uses woodwinds skillfully to color his music. Elgar was a violinist and strings are the foundation of his music, other instruments mere complete the orchestral colors.

Elgar's music is unique. I find similar orchestral thinking in Bruckner and creativity in Nielsen. I call it relative music. The meaning of every note and musical structure is defined by other notes. You take something away and the whole perfect structure falls apart, loses it's meaning. Oboe starts playing because the last 5 minutes have sonically repaired you to want the sound of oboe. Try to see this analysing the score! If you take those few notes played with oboe away the meaning of the previous 5 minutes is compromised.

In a way Elgar's music is also very easy to understand because he is a straight-to-the-point composer. The music tries to strike your mind and heart directly with the way it sounds. Clearly the 1st movement of his 1st symphony does just that to you. I hope in time rest of his music has the same effect.

Offline Bonehelm

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #79 on: September 22, 2007, 01:37:06 PM »
I appreciate you are curious about these symphonies and want to understand them better. They are not easy to get imo but I'd say once they become familiar to you and you undertand Elgar's musical thinking better they become very logical.

The key imo to understand Elgar is the fact he composed sounds rather than notes. If you play Elgar's (orchestral) themes on piano they sound less promising but played on orchestra they sound fantastic. You can't separate Elgar's melodies, harmonies etc. from the orchestral timbre. That's why analyse of his scores do not reveal everything essential in Elgar's art. He was a self-taught composer who used music theory in subordinate way to achieve as good sounding music as possible.

I am not capable of full musical analyse of scores but to me Elgar's thematic material seems to be longer than that of many other composers. He uses rather long melodies and motivs to construct the music. These long building blocks overlap in sophisticated ways I admire a lot. I suppose this overlapping is Elgar's version of "fugal writing" in late romantic style. After all, he was heavily influenced by the music of J. S. Bach and Händel (he wanted to became a violinist after hearing a perfomance of The Messiah at the age of 12).

In quiet passages in Elgar's music are not thin which I also like. The sound of woodwinds is thin because of the spectral stucture. Elgar avoids situations where only one woodwind instrument is playing something. He uses woodwinds skillfully to color his music. Elgar was a violinist and strings are the foundation of his music, other instruments mere complete the orchestral colors.

Elgar's music is unique. I find similar orchestral thinking in Bruckner and creativity in Nielsen. I call it relative music. The meaning of every note and musical structure is defined by other notes. You take something away and the whole perfect structure falls apart, loses it's meaning. Oboe starts playing because the last 5 minutes have sonically repaired you to want the sound of oboe. Try to see this analysing the score! If you take those few notes played with oboe away the meaning of the previous 5 minutes is compromised.

In a way Elgar's music is also very easy to understand because he is a straight-to-the-point composer. The music tries to strike your mind and heart directly with the way it sounds. Clearly the 1st movement of his 1st symphony does just that to you. I hope in time rest of his music has the same effect.

Thanks for the explainations. I'm listening to the 2nd symphony now and It does have rich, thick textures. I'm still trying to decipher what Elgar coded, though.

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