Author Topic: Stravinsky's Agon  (Read 4395 times)

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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon
« Reply #40 on: April 20, 2017, 06:08:41 PM »
1) tRIED THE IWAKI AGAIN, IN A DIFFERENT SYSTEM. hAD TO OPEN IT ALMOST ALL THE WAY UP- i COULD NOW HEAR IT, AND IT'S VERY GOOD, BUT NOW THE DECIBEL LEVEL

every time ::)

iIwaki is just recorded so low, that you have to turn it up to the point of pain- even though the performance seems very good, listening gives me pain- wtf is this????



And I took Craft wityh wm  me (I CANT TYYYPE)


and again, I think he conducts good tempi, but is just so dry- you muuust have extraordinary humanity for this piece... his is a good blueprint, but I want to feel the interaction...
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Offline Herman

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon I WANT KNUSSEN!
« Reply #41 on: April 20, 2017, 11:44:18 PM »
I want Knussen!

Something's telling me the feeling ain't mutual....

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon I WANT KNUSSEN!
« Reply #42 on: April 22, 2017, 06:38:59 AM »
Something's telling me the feeling ain't mutual....

Nope, just got off the phone with him- our date's still on for tonight ;)


AGON

I think I finally cracked this open for myself. I played the Craft Tracks backwards... then MTT backwards... getting a grip on all the different section... yes, I finally "get it"... it almost sounds like a new piece to me.

And, all of a  sudden, the MTT sounds soooo much better to me, I think he's got it- it's just a really big acoustic.


At least with Craft you can hear everything- I still think he's too... something... to "matter of fact"? You can put just a little more charm into it than he does...


anyhow, happy day! ;)
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon
« Reply #43 on: April 22, 2017, 06:39:28 AM »
8)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon HOW WOULD YOU SET UP THE ORCHESTRA?
« Reply #44 on: April 22, 2017, 04:19:03 PM »
8)

I am now convinced that one has to play 'Agon' as if it were Xenakis, with zero vibrato, absolutely tick-tocky rhythms, and a sure sense that a line is being "tossed" about. I'm hearing so little of that in most of these performances. If music can't "mean" anything, then the interplay is the ONLY thing... which means the recording itself HAS to play a part, and the orchestra HAS to be laid out in a way that all the dainty instruments can be heard- ideally, everything should be at the exact same volume, separated by space in the listener's mind-ear.

tHINK about it, doesn't Xenakis's little Chamber Music piece 'Plekto' sound a bit like 'Agon'? Maybe it's just the instrumentation? The "augmented Pierrot" ensemble?...



I think 'Agon's starting to work on me, as if all things flow to and from it, in the musical regard. To me, it really sounds like Xenakis-mind, even though it is "basically" tonal to the ear, all those fanfares and such, still sounding a little like the chord from the Violin Concerto and the Cantata. It's certainly the harp+mandolin action that gives it that "Greek Games" feeling.


anyhow...


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Offline Herman

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon HOW WOULD YOU SET UP THE ORCHESTRA?
« Reply #45 on: April 25, 2017, 11:50:36 PM »
I am now convinced that one has to play 'Agon' as if it were Xenakis, with zero vibrato, absolutely tick-tocky rhythms, and a sure sense that a line is being "tossed" about. I'm hearing so little of that in most of these performances. If music can't "mean" anything, then the interplay is the ONLY thing...

The meme that for Stravinsky music doesn't mean anything has by and large joined the dustheap of history.

I have more than a sneaking suspicion this was from the start more a Craft thing than Stravinsky's own serious conviction.

Same way Balanchine, for whom Stravinsky wrote Agon, used to answer the question "What is this ballet about?" with "It's about twenty minutes."

People ask a lot of dumb questions and so you send them off with a dumb answer. They love it.

I would say 'Agon' is about a lot of things, courtly love and power relations are among those.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon HOW WOULD YOU SET UP THE ORCHESTRA?
« Reply #46 on: April 26, 2017, 04:27:10 PM »
The meme that for Stravinsky music doesn't mean anything has by and large joined the dustheap of history.

I have more than a sneaking suspicion this was from the start more a Craft thing than Stravinsky's own serious conviction.

No, it came from his (ghostwritten) autobiography from 1936, and thus either came from Stravinsky or his co-writer, Walter Nouvel, not Craft, who didn't enter Stravinsky's life for over a decade after that.

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon LOVERS OF AGON- Michael Stern/Tonhalle Zurich (Denon)
« Reply #47 on: April 27, 2017, 12:56:05 PM »
I would say 'Agon' is about a lot of things, courtly love and power relations are among those.

I dunno, the more I listen to it, the more Abstract it seems. It's a true mish-mash of the earlier written, 'Cantata'-like, Olde English polyphony-cum-Greek Celebration Athletic Music, and other bits of music written after 'Canticum Sacrum', which sound like Stravinsky writing Webern... which...mm... it is!

Frankly, I'm not sure how successful the entirety is- it seems like a jumbled thorn bush in my mind, very much like the densest parts of 'Cantata' and 'Septet'.


I MUST MENTION

the Michael Stern conducting the Tonhalle Zurich (Denon)- it's simply the best recorded (typical Denon sound), and is also very unique rhythmically, being very dancey+metronomey...

You really really have to hear it

I'm convinced it may very well be the best overall modern Agon we have, bar none (Gielen)

IT'S A HIDDEN TREASURE!! $3.50
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon LOVERS OF AGON- Michael Stern/Tonhalle Zurich (Denon)
« Reply #48 on: April 27, 2017, 01:08:09 PM »

You really really have to hear it

I'm convinced it may very well be the best overall modern Agon we have, bar none (Gielen)

IT'S A HIDDEN TREASURE!! $3.50

Okay, I'll bite. Ordered the last copy from Amazon DE. I'll come looking for you with my bazooka if it isn't all you say it is  ;D

Sarge
« Last Edit: April 27, 2017, 01:11:38 PM by Sergeant Rock »
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 k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon
« Reply #49 on: April 28, 2017, 04:41:20 AM »
Okay, I'll bite. Ordered the last copy from Amazon DE. I'll come looking for you with my bazooka if it isn't all you say it is  ;D

Sarge

I've ordered one as well, so I shall either serve as a moderator, or I'll be feeding you more ammo  ;)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon
« Reply #50 on: April 28, 2017, 04:42:49 AM »
No, it came from his (ghostwritten) autobiography from 1936, and thus either came from Stravinsky or his co-writer, Walter Nouvel, not Craft, who didn't enter Stravinsky's life for over a decade after that.

It cannot be helped:  Игорь Фëдорович really did say things at which, in fairness, he ought to have cringed later.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon LOVERS OF AGON- Michael Stern/Tonhalle Zurich (Denon)
« Reply #51 on: April 28, 2017, 06:56:34 AM »
Okay, I'll bite. Ordered the last copy from Amazon DE. I'll come looking for you with my bazooka if it isn't all you say it is  ;D

Sarge

I've ordered one as well, so I shall either serve as a moderator, or I'll be feeding you more ammo  ;)

I stand at the ready $:),... AND, I'm quite touched :-*,... but, I think you both calculated Tonhalle+Denon=has to be something there... oooo, I can't wait!! I think your eyebrows will raise in pleasant surprise... just remember, it's Denon, so, you CAN "crank it up"!! If you have Gielen also, I'd like a full compare, lol

the other "lost Agon" is the one by Mario Venzago on Pan, which is too expensive OOP, with the Basel orchestra... and that one has Piano Concerto, Monumentum, and Ode... ah well... haven't heard...


I was ragging on the low-wattage Iwaki/Virgin recording, but, if you crank it up to 10, you hear an excellent performance, very similar to the Stern, though, the Stern has practically transparent sound, and the Virgin sound is a little less crystal clear (but actually still very very goos modern digital)...


AGON has really transformed for me, and I have to give that Stern some credit... though, honestly, the whole work has a cobbled together feel to me- being stopped and started, two totally different styles (like 'Le Rossignol')... all those caesuras added on like little strips of paper... almost the same thing as the added bits to the piano 'Movements'...

it's just such an... odd?,,, work,... at least it gives me stuff to chew on ;)
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon
« Reply #52 on: April 28, 2017, 07:05:53 AM »
I stand at the ready $:) ,... AND, I'm quite touched :-* ,... but, I think you both calculated Tonhalle+Denon=has to be something there... oooo, I can't wait!! I think your eyebrows will raise in pleasant surprise... just remember, it's Denon, so, you CAN "crank it up"!! If you have Gielen also, I'd like a full compare, lol

I do have the Gielen, so it will be fun to comply with your request.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Herman

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though, honestly, the whole work has a cobbled together feel to me- being stopped and started, two totally different styles (like 'Le Rossignol')... all those caesuras added on like little strips of paper... almost the same thing as the added bits to the piano 'Movements'...

Charles M. Joseph wrote a book 'Stravinsky & Balanchine, A journey of invention,' published in 2002, that adresses this definitively.

Agon was composed specifically as a commission for the NYCBallet, he was offered many different proposals, but in the end all he went with was the idea of "agon" or 'competition as the ultimate Greek / neoclassical notion. Stravinsky did not conceive it as a part of a Greek triptych with Apollo and Orpheus. It's a stand-alone piece.

Offline snyprrr

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Okay, I'll bite. Ordered the last copy from Amazon DE. I'll come looking for you with my bazooka if it isn't all you say it is  ;D

Sarge

Karl said you still prefer Craft. You don't hear a heightened sense of "game" in the Stern? And, actually, I'm more curious what you think of the Denon recording (which, I hope, you did "crank")- I know that in the Craft, ALL the instruments appear to be on the same basic level, whereas the Stern (as most others) have a more "natural" environment, which, of course, will favor this and that over that and this.

The Craft is the best "study" recording around, because of the clarity. But the Stern seems to have a sense of "play" and "game" - maybe because the Craft is so close, it's harder to hear the ping-pong as much, whereas with more ambient recordings, one hears the "whooshing" of the parts between one another?

LOL, I just hope you're not mad at me, haha... please, on a scale of 1-10, how NOT disappointed are you with the Stern?!!

How about the 'Jeu de Cartes'?

And 'Firebird', though a very clinical performance, does have some really transparent sound...


ok, enough defending myself :laugh: :-[ :-* :P
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon
« Reply #55 on: May 03, 2017, 09:23:17 AM »
Here was the Sarge's report:

It is very good (gorgeous, detailed sound wrapped in just the right amount of atmosphere). The best modern version though? I can't attest to that. I've only the Craft to compare it with and they are very different. Craft is as detailed but the sound is drier although not harsh. Craft is in every movement not only faster but sharper edged. I like that. Maybe one could say Craft's is a concert performance while Stern's slower pace is more suited for the ballet, the dancers. I'm happy to have both.

Sarge
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Stravinsky's Agon
« Reply #56 on: May 04, 2017, 05:37:57 PM »
Here was the Sarge's report:

I find that a Perfect Review- summary: Craft=concert; Stern=ballet

I agree that, say, Stern and MTT take 2-3 mins. longer, but I never understand (not Sarge, other reviewers) why they call these "leisurely" accounts. I suppose it is more "correct", but, the 2nd number, the one that really sounds like 'Planet of the Apes', with the clarinet darting and string ostinati(?) - I think it sounds a bit caffeinated in Rosbaud, Leinsdorf, Craft, and sounds more "natural" in MTT, Stern. But I suppose IS wrote it quick..?...

But, my ear adjusts... so, yea, I like Craft, MTT, Iwaki, and now Stern...


KARL, PLEASE DO MAKE SURE TO COMPARE THE GIELEN ALSO



btw- also glad Sarge made note of the vintage Denon engineering, which, frankly, I find the star of the show. You simply cannot fail to HEAR the scary quality- for $3.50, it's the best sound I've ever heard, lol!!



My AGON-Y has been satiated. I can move on now! :P
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Stravinsky's Agon
« Reply #57 on: May 04, 2017, 05:43:34 PM »
The Stern just landed, listening now  8)

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Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

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