Author Topic: Gundula Janowitz  (Read 12269 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #40 on: June 23, 2010, 09:50:53 AM »


But, my post was made in jest, as I tried to indicate by the smiley-wink.

For the record, I love opera, singers in general, and Maria Callas in particular.

Franco, I apologise unreservedly. I misunderstood your post.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Scarpia

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #41 on: June 23, 2010, 09:55:54 AM »
Well, narcissistic or not (and nothing will ever convince me that you are right, or, in fact that there is no such thing as a narcissistic pianist), opera wouldn't exist without them!

Certainly there are narcissistic pianists.  The ones I prefer to listen to are not the ones that strike me as narcissistic. 

In the end, Callas is irrelevant to me, since she did all her work before recording technology had advanced to an adequate level.


Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #42 on: June 23, 2010, 10:10:13 AM »


In the end, Callas is irrelevant to me, since she did all her work before recording technology had advanced to an adequate level.

Oh dear. Hundreds of great artists consigned to the dust, simply because they didn't make recordings before the age of digital recording. If I based all my knowledge of performers simply on those of the last two or three decades, I might have a very skewered appreciation of performers too.


\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Scarpia

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #43 on: June 23, 2010, 10:17:00 AM »
Oh dear. Hundreds of great artists consigned to the dust, simply because they didn't make recordings before the age of digital recording. If I based all my knowledge of performers simply on those of the last two or three decades, I might have a very skewered appreciation of performers too.

I don't see any reason to believe that performers were any better in the past than they are today.  So I don't feel much incentive to listen to technically poor recordings of artists in the distant past when there are an abundance of artists working today who benefit from good recording technology.  Digital vs. analog is not a big issue, but most recordings made before 1955 unpleasant to listen to.  There has to be a good reason.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #44 on: June 23, 2010, 10:59:03 AM »
I don't see any reason to believe that performers were any better in the past than they are today.  So I don't feel much incentive to listen to technically poor recordings of artists in the distant past when there are an abundance of artists working today who benefit from good recording technology.  Digital vs. analog is not a big issue, but most recordings made before 1955 unpleasant to listen to.  There has to be a good reason.

I rest my case.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #45 on: June 23, 2010, 11:27:36 AM »
I don't see any reason to believe that performers were any better in the past than they are today.  So I don't feel much incentive to listen to technically poor recordings of artists in the distant past when there are an abundance of artists working today who benefit from good recording technology.  Digital vs. analog is not a big issue, but most recordings made before 1955 unpleasant to listen to.  There has to be a good reason.

I generally agree with you about old recordings, but Callas did at least two recordings in stereo (have them--Carmen and Barber of Seville)--and several of her other recordings, even though they're mono, have good enough sound quality that they are worth getting (I'm thinking of Norma and Tosca in particular) especially in the budget format in which EMI now offers them  (or even better, the Brilliant re-issues that became available last year, which are even cheaper).
« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 11:30:18 AM by kishnevi »

Scarpia

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #46 on: June 23, 2010, 11:38:36 AM »
I generally agree with you about old recordings, but Callas did at least two recordings in stereo (have them--Carmen and Barber of Seville)--and several of her other recordings, even though they're mono, have good enough sound quality that they are worth getting (I'm thinking of Norma and Tosca in particular) especially in the budget format in which EMI now offers them  (or even better, the Brilliant re-issues that became available last year, which are even cheaper).

I think I have a recording of Tosca in which Callas appears (the price was right, Free!) but I've never listened to it.  If I want to go old-school on Tosca I'm more likely to try the Tebaldi (not the later one, but the earlier recording with Erde).

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #47 on: June 23, 2010, 11:42:31 AM »
Oh dear. Hundreds of great artists consigned to the dust, simply because they didn't make recordings before the age of digital recording. If I based all my knowledge of performers simply on those of the last two or three decades, I might have a very skewered appreciation of performers too.

We have not option except to have a "skewered appreciation", no matter whether we listen to those old recordings or not.  There is a reason stereo overwhelmed mono, after all. It's like the difference between full color and black and white photos. Are you old enough to remember when most cameras were still just b/w, and color photography for personal cameras was a new fangled innovation?  When we here a recording from the mono period, we're getting a filtered or partial representation, and it's extremely hard to truly appreciate the actual performance.  We're not hearing what, say, Callas' audience in 1952 heard. 

The difference is most obvious when dealing with large forces, and least obvious when dealing with one instrument or a small group of instruments, such as a solo piano.  But it's there, and it automatically "skews" our appreciation of the performance.

Scarpia

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #48 on: June 23, 2010, 11:48:53 AM »
We have not option except to have a "skewered appreciation", no matter whether we listen to those old recordings or not.  There is a reason stereo overwhelmed mono, after all. It's like the difference between full color and black and white photos. Are you old enough to remember when most cameras were still just b/w, and color photography for personal cameras was a new fangled innovation?  When we here a recording from the mono period, we're getting a filtered or partial representation, and it's extremely hard to truly appreciate the actual performance.  We're not hearing what, say, Callas' audience in 1952 heard. 

The difference is most obvious when dealing with large forces, and least obvious when dealing with one instrument or a small group of instruments, such as a solo piano.  But it's there, and it automatically "skews" our appreciation of the performance.

Not obvious which way the skew goes.  I sometimes suspect that the scratchy old recordings force us to use our imagination to a greater degree, and lead us to think that the older performance is better than we otherwise would have thought.

Franco

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #49 on: June 23, 2010, 11:54:05 AM »
The fact remains that unless you wish to ignore the historical record, Maria Callas was a amazing talent, with a voice and stage manner quite unique and powerful, and if recording technology of the '50s was not adequate to capture her art, that is our loss and does not take away anything from her huge achievement.

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #50 on: June 23, 2010, 11:58:47 AM »
I think I have a recording of Tosca in which Callas appears (the price was right, Free!) but I've never listened to it.  If I want to go old-school on Tosca I'm more likely to try the Tebaldi (not the later one, but the earlier recording with Erde).

There are apparently several pirate/not-commercially originated recordings floating around, with predictably bad sound--I have one from 1964, and you'd be hard pressed to hear Callas's singing in some parts.  If your recording is one of those,  you didn't overpay :)

This is the EMI recording I was talking about:

which is now available both as a Brilliant super budget issue (without the libretto) and an EMI budget issue (with the libretto on a supplementary CD).  You are performed by by Tito Gobbi.

I have only one other recording of the opera--Nilsson/Corelli/Fischer-Dieskau

Scarpia

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #51 on: June 23, 2010, 12:04:17 PM »
There are apparently several pirate/not-commercially originated recordings floating around, with predictably bad sound--I have one from 1964, and you'd be hard pressed to hear Callas's singing in some parts.  If your recording is one of those,  you didn't overpay :)

This is the EMI recording I was talking about:

which is now available both as a Brilliant super budget issue (without the libretto) and an EMI budget issue (with the libretto on a supplementary CD).  You are performed by by Tito Gobbi.

I have only one other recording of the opera--Nilsson/Corelli/Fischer-Dieskau

I have this one, if I remember right:



Have never heard it.

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #52 on: June 23, 2010, 12:16:30 PM »
I have this one, if I remember right:



Have never heard it.

Arkivmusic says it was recorded in 1964.  It shouldn't be too bad.
Of course, it seems the bad 1964 recording I have had another incarnation in the same group of EMI issues, so you can't be sure.  But yours is apparently a studio recording, unlike mine.
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=78850

Offline cosmicj

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #53 on: June 23, 2010, 12:18:00 PM »
How did the Janowitz thread turn into a discussion of Callas, more or less her polar opposite?

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #54 on: June 23, 2010, 02:10:45 PM »
How did the Janowitz thread turn into a discussion of Callas, more or less her polar opposite?

This is the opera board...all roads (threads) lead to Callas  ;D

Sarge
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Offline Verena

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #55 on: June 23, 2010, 02:25:36 PM »
Quote
Not obvious which way the skew goes.  I sometimes suspect that the scratchy old recordings force us to use our imagination to a greater degree, and lead us to think that the older performance is better than we otherwise would have thought.

I suspect you are right. A very interesting point

Offline knight66

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #56 on: June 23, 2010, 11:05:01 PM »
This is the opera board...all roads (threads) lead to Callas  ;D

Sarge

 ;D ;D

I usually read Scarpia with at least close attention and usually agree with him; however, he is right off the mark on this topic in every way. Perhaps he is just trying to ginger us up. Usually this board is a haven of pleasant discussion.

Back to Janowitz. Again, I think we experience different things from the same sounds. She does have a cool voice and is majorly concerned with the beauty of the sounds, but I don't here her as either detached or bland.

In the main she has a terrific technique, though on the famous 'Creation' disc, on a Mozart Aria recital and in a live Don Giovanni, she evinces a weakness in one phrase or other in actually getting round the notes. I also have a live recital with a fast Handel aria and it is not a comfortable experience.

She certainly uses vibrato; if you can hear her in anything and find a boy soprano or Emma Kirkby to compare with, you hear the difference. What sounds utterly pure is a very carefully crafted sound, abetted by her very specific vocal equipment.

I always look for any surfacing performances, though did abjure a Karajan, Monteverdi 'Poppea' performance, that apart, I think I have about all her discs.

Despite promoting her, Karajan preferred to encourage her to use her voice in an instrumental way. He loved her voice and the sounds in abstract. A different mentor might have brought out more word painting. Very suddenly, he moved from her to Tomowa-Sintow, who once found, Karajan then used and excluded Janowitz. I never much enjoyed Tomowa-Sintow, her Karajan Four Last Songs is never now mentioned.

Recital discs recorded post Karajan show she was involved in the storytelling and emotional content of the songs.

Mike
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #57 on: June 24, 2010, 12:55:28 AM »
How did the Janowitz thread turn into a discussion of Callas, more or less her polar opposite?

Not my fault for once. I wasn't the first person to mention her, but, once goaded, I confess it's hard to stop me coming to her defence.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #58 on: June 24, 2010, 01:22:15 AM »
;D ;D

Back to Janowitz. Again, I think we experience different things from the same sounds. She does have a cool voice and is majorly concerned with the beauty of the sounds, but I don't here her as either detached or bland.

In the main she has a terrific technique, though on the famous 'Creation' disc, on a Mozart Aria recital and in a live Don Giovanni, she evinces a weakness in one phrase or other in actually getting round the notes. I also have a live recital with a fast Handel aria and it is not a comfortable experience.

She certainly uses vibrato; if you can hear her in anything and find a boy soprano or Emma Kirkby to compare with, you hear the difference. What sounds utterly pure is a very carefully crafted sound, abetted by her very specific vocal equipment.

I always look for any surfacing performances, though did abjure a Karajan, Monteverdi 'Poppea' performance, that apart, I think I have about all her discs.

Despite promoting her, Karajan preferred to encourage her to use her voice in an instrumental way. He loved her voice and the sounds in abstract. A different mentor might have brought out more word painting. Very suddenly, he moved from her to Tomowa-Sintow, who once found, Karajan then used and excluded Janowitz. I never much enjoyed Tomowa-Sintow, her Karajan Four Last Songs is never now mentioned.

Recital discs recorded post Karajan show she was involved in the storytelling and emotional content of the songs.

Mike

Thanks, Mike, for bringing us back to the topic in hand.

I have to confess that Janowitz is not really a favourite of mine. I have her Vier letzte Lieder, and she is also on my Karajan recordings of Die Schopfung, Die Walkureand Gotterdammerung. I would agree with you, that she is not detached or bland, adjectives that, at times, can be used to describe the singing of Kiri Te Kanawa, for instance (though here, I have recently begun to appreciate the sheer beauty of Te Kanawa's voice), but I don't really respond well to the actual sound Janowitz makes, especially at the very top. Though somewhat fuller, it reminds me a little of the sound of Stich-Randall on the Karajan Rosenkavlier, which I always found almost too silvery. Of course we all hear voices differently, and I wish I could describe it better, but to my ears that silveriness is almost shrill, though that is the wrong word too, as shrill suggests piercing, which it is not. Popp is another singer with a voice often described as silvery, but for some reason I find the timbre of her voice altogether more grateful.

My favourite voices all tend to be ones that are idiosyncratic or instantly recognisable, and Janowitz certainly has an instantly recognisable sound. I just wish I could work out why I don't respond to her as well as I might.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Gundula Janowitz
« Reply #59 on: June 24, 2010, 01:50:36 AM »
Just re-listened to Janowitz's Vier letzte Lieder, and, this time round, I admit to finding it very beautiful. Nor is the singing unfeeling or bland, but, and this could be because it's the version I first came to know the work by, my inner ear kept harking back to Schwarzkopf/Szell, her inimitable way with the music, her more intelligent (yes, that word) use of the text. It is a work I love, and I have several versions, but Schwarzkopf's with Szell is the one I always return to - one of my desert island discs.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

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