Author Topic: Franz Schubert  (Read 54376 times)

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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #40 on: April 27, 2008, 05:26:26 PM »
Your point of view seems immediately more fruitful than most I have seen until now. I will bear your words in mind.

Donwyn, can you elaborate?
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #41 on: April 28, 2008, 05:08:32 AM »
Donwyn, can you elaborate?

I understand Donwyn so, that you (or one) should not look at Schuberts music (instrumental music) as consisting only of melodi and chordal accompaniment, but you should look at what happens in the inner parts, Donwin in this way suggesting the presence of some polyphonic writing. I can not say, that I think Schuberts music immediately invites to such a perspective, or it may be the attitude of most performers, which make me think so. But the idea is thought-provoking, why I take it ad notam.
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ChamberNut

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #42 on: April 28, 2008, 05:24:29 AM »
Schubert is my third favorite composer.  His late works are unbelievably good.  In my opinion, his final year of composing is perhaps the greatest of all time.  :)

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #43 on: April 28, 2008, 09:50:15 PM »
Donwyn, can you elaborate?

I understand Donwyn so, that you (or one) should not look at Schuberts music (instrumental music) as consisting only of melodi and chordal accompaniment, but you should look at what happens in the inner parts, Donwin in this way suggesting the presence of some polyphonic writing. I can not say, that I think Schuberts music immediately invites to such a perspective, or it may be the attitude of most performers, which make me think so. But the idea is thought-provoking, why I take it ad notam.

Well, this is from the hip, so to speak, as I lack anything in the way of advanced musical training (had some college courses, though)...but I'll hazard a sort of thumbnail summary...

I wouldn't necessarily call Schubert 'polyphonic', but I'd go out on a limb and say there are kernels of such a thing in the music. It's more a 'multiplicity' of sorts than anything, taking on the image of polyphony what with all the musical ideas barbing at each other and invading each other's space. It often reminds me of Stravinsky in that there isn't really a sense of a "Beethovenian Building Block" type of structure - just heaps of notes arranged strategically to provide firm and definite shapes. Large, sweeping gestures (themes), while present, need not carry as much import.

It's here where I feel Schubert loses his 'classicist' identity and looks more to the future. I think of Berlioz, and perhaps Liszt and Wagner, and on into the twentieth century. Classicist structures as a whole obviously dissolved over time and I believe Schubert was one of the first to make good use of such a change.

I've long given up looking for classicist roadsigns in Schubert. There's no denying that earlier in his career he held to earlier conventions but there was a gradual transition from about midpoint in his career that edged closer and closer to a full-on experimental format. Overlap occurred of course with conventional methods still vying for space alongside all the tinkering but the watershed moment came at about the time of the Wanderer Fantasy. From that moment on Schubert never looked back.

Cast in a structure fully reminiscent of the romantic era - one continuous movement - the Wanderer Fantasy was the deepest Schubert had gone yet into new territory. Full of pathos, it is, and dripping with a new kind of Schubertian emotion. No more pretty tunes, just good solid emotionalism - a la romantic.

From there the floodgates open wide. Listening to the opening movement of the B flat piano sonata (his last) it's impossible to think of Schubert as mere Tunemeister. The "New Multiplicity" has taken hold. There's a precipitous bent to that movement and it's a testament to his technical prowess that it succeeds so well. Can't chalk that one up to mere melody...

Anyway, 'daunting' is the way I define Schubert from about midpoint in his career. Little of the 'simple' or 'tuneful' rears its head by this point (think early Beatles and late Beatles :P ;D). With this new musical paradigm comes added complexity. But in my experience, on record anyway, it's an uncommon thing to encounter a performer who's willing to sacrifice the 'tunefulness' to get to the more decadent side of the music. Fortunately there are those who DO take a liking to this side of Schubert and it's to them I warm to most.

None of this of course is really an adequate explanation of what I mean by 'inner complexity' in the music. All I can say is that Schubert to my ears really took a liking to tinkering with layers. Unfortunately his 'tunefulness' carries so much weight that that's what gets the lions share of exposure.

In closing, I offer this quote from Liszt (about Schubert), saying in just a few words what I've failed to say in all this rambling:

"Such is the spell of of your emotional world that it very nearly blinds us to the greatness of your craftsmanship." -- Franz Liszt


[Forgive any typos and such...it's late...]





« Last Edit: April 29, 2008, 04:03:23 PM by donwyn »
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Holden

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #44 on: April 29, 2008, 12:28:16 AM »
No, you are wrong. Some years ago I decided to investigate Chopin thoroughly. I had always been fascinated by his extraordinary idiomatic piano writing, so I spent about three months listening exclusively to Chopin, scores in hand. Too much repetition gradually caused my interest in his seductive melodies to fade considerably, and I reached some sort of saturation point, but fortunately my stubbornness prompted me to continue my listening, and of course I overcame the deadlock and found out, that there is much more in his music than melting melodies in elegant coating, and as you now may guess, I ended up liking especially the Preludes, the Etudes and the Nocturnes very much, even if I - in the end - prefer music from another age. But I understand easily, why some people may harbour a strong passion for Chopin. I have not reached to that point with Schubert yet.

Good response and some valid points made. I find that Schubert 'grew' on me over a period of time. I started off playing his piano works (Impromptus, Moments Musical then the sonatas and realised that early Schubert in this genre was nowhere as polished as his later efforts. But when I discovered his chamber, choral and vocal music that I realised the genius of the man. It took me a while and while you persevered with Chopin can I suggest that you do the same with Schubert
Cheers

Holden

Offline Rod Corkin

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #45 on: April 29, 2008, 03:00:50 AM »
It is my personal conviction that out of every composer I know, Schubert must surely be considered the most consistently brilliant.

Is this the same Schubert the renowned musical mimic? He of the 'patchwork quilt' school of composition?

Am I a madman?

Not the type of question you should ask here.  :-\
« Last Edit: April 29, 2008, 03:02:41 AM by Rod Corkin »
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #46 on: April 29, 2008, 05:24:42 AM »

But in my experience, on record anyway, it's an uncommon thing to encounter a performer who's willing to sacrifice the 'tunefulness' to get to the more decadent side of the music. Fortunately there are those who DO take a liking to this side of Schubert and it's to them I warm to most.

Thanks, donwyn for this elaboration, which I find most useful. Now I would like to ask you , which performers you think in the most clear way express, what you are describing.
Or better, I would ask for some relevant recommendations.
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Offline quintett op.57

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #47 on: April 29, 2008, 08:47:44 AM »
Well, ok, but i was trying to make a point there. Schubert is one of those composers that i can only listen to after extended breath of times because i have to make sure i'm in the best possible mood to enjoy his melodic and emotional content to it's fullest.
The development of a work like the String quintet is absolutely gripping. His talent for this is obvious. His ability to write long chamber and piano pieces proves it (more than 40mn for many of them).
Although he's probably less complex than Bach, Beethoven or Schumann, the way he uses his material is not less interesting to listen.
Even his first quartet, composed at the age of 12 or 13, does not lack interest (without equalling the art of fugue or LvB's last quartets of course ::))

ChamberNut

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #48 on: April 29, 2008, 08:57:51 AM »
The development of a work like the String quintet is absolutely gripping.

Difficult to find a better chamber work than that one, IMO.  Top notch!   ;D

Offline B_cereus

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #49 on: April 29, 2008, 12:41:13 PM »
I love Schubert's piano sonatas. As Schnabel said of them, "they are a safe supply of happiness"  :)

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #50 on: April 29, 2008, 08:02:13 PM »
The development of a work like the String quintet is absolutely gripping. His talent for this is obvious. His ability to write long chamber and piano pieces proves it (more than 40mn for many of them).
Although he's probably less complex than Bach, Beethoven or Schumann, the way he uses his material is not less interesting to listen.
Even his first quartet, composed at the age of 12 or 13, does not lack interest (without equalling the art of fugue or LvB's last quartets of course ::))

The String Quintet is stunning, of course, but the fact he likes to tackle larger forms isn't necessarily to his advantage. Most of his works are top heavy, the first movements being wonderfully constructed, stunningly original and divinely inspired, but the final movements always lag behind and are often seemingly redundant. That, i believe, it's a sign a formal deficiency.

Look, i'm not trying to disparage his music, i'm only bringing a bit of perspective here. I have no doubt that, had he lived as long as Bach, or Beethoven, he would have been able to develop a more substantial technical refinement, and i think it's worth mentioning that neither Bach nor Beethoven had written anything any where near as inspired as the C major Quintet, or the G major quartet in their early periods. It seems that for them inspiration came later, after they had mastered their craft to it's fullest. For Schubert, pressed by the mortal coils of his illness, he had to achieve transcendence prematurely, while his technique was still in a formative process, and perhaps it was just as well. In a way, i can't envision him delving into thick contrapuntal textures or writing monumental double fugues, it wouldn't be the same.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #51 on: April 29, 2008, 08:49:18 PM »
I love Schubert's piano sonatas. As Schnabel said of them, "they are a safe supply of happiness" 

If I had a nickel for every time I came across this (in red) about Schubert... >:( ;D

But it's just the type of thing that gives Schubert a stigma. There's much more to him than that...

(Nothing against what you wrote, though, B_cereus :))


Thanks, donwyn for this elaboration, which I find most useful. Now I would like to ask you , which performers you think in the most clear way express, what you are describing.
Or better, I would ask for some relevant recommendations.

You're welcome, premont! Glad it made sense...

Recommendations for recordings:

Piano sonatas:

Richter, Andsnes, Gilels

String Quartets:

Takács (on Decca, though their recent Hyperion is good, too)

Piano Trios:

Beaux Arts (digital cycle)

The String Quintet is a bit of an anomaly. Yes it's a great, great work but to me its foundation is built not so much on 'complexities' (of form) but on sparkling billows of ephemera. But ephemera in a most tangible sense, if that makes any sense. There's plenty of substance, but it's a sort of "clutched from the outside world" type of substance. Hors catégorie I guess I'd call the work...difficult to label...

To that end, for the quintet my two favorite recordings are the Hollywood Quartet and the Quatuor Sine Nomine on Claves.









« Last Edit: April 29, 2008, 09:05:14 PM by donwyn »
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Rod Corkin

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #52 on: April 30, 2008, 04:03:08 AM »
and i think it's worth mentioning that neither Bach nor Beethoven had written anything any where near as inspired as the C major Quintet, or the G major quartet in their early periods.

Nonsense, at least in Beethoven's case. Beethoven's quintet Op29 is at the very least as inspired as anything I've heard from Schubert, C major especially. And Beethoven has the added bonus of his own genuine style even in his first period, something sorely missing from Schubert's confused collection of other composers styles.

By coincidence I ran a comparison of string quintets, including the C Major and Op29, at my site a few weeks back, including a number of tracks, videos etc. Even the Schubert fans could not maintain your position above after these demonstrations. Another example of the Schubertian cult exposed.

It would not be such a big deal if the Schubertians were not so quick to raise their hero above all and sundry, Beethoven in particular (and not just early Beethoven, but late Beethoven too!). I showcased some of their claims at my site also, that made for good entertainment. But under detailed examination the stack of cards comes tumbling down.

Even on Schubert's own hallowed turf, the Lied, Beethoven's Kenst du das Land makes a mockery of Schubert's effort with the same text.  0:)
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 04:40:11 AM by Rod Corkin »
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lukeottevanger

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #53 on: April 30, 2008, 06:33:37 AM »
Well, that's answered that, then. Rod has spoken his mighty word (and strewn upon the faithful an abundance of clips), and the pernicious anti-Beethovenites of the Schubert Cult have been exposed as the fools they are. Go, Rod!

Offline Rod Corkin

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #54 on: April 30, 2008, 06:56:45 AM »
Well, that's answered that, then. Rod has spoken his mighty word (and strewn upon the faithful an abundance of clips), and the pernicious anti-Beethovenites of the Schubert Cult have been exposed as the fools they are. Go, Rod!

Thanks!  ;D

But I'm not making it up, there are plenty of quotes by musically educated persons on the web anyone can find in seconds if they know how to use a search engine. The thing is it is not Beethoven he trounces (though he seems to be their favourite target), but by default all the others too, even the small town composers you like Luke. It would not be a problem but young naiive persons visiting forums such as this may start to think these notions about Schubert are true unless they are addressed in a more critical fashion.

Anyway, as you were gentlemen...
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lukeottevanger

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #55 on: April 30, 2008, 07:10:27 AM »
Thanks!  ;D

But I'm not making it up, there are plenty of quotes by musically educated persons on the web anyone can find in seconds if they know how to use a search engine. The thing is it is not Beethoven he trounces (though he seems to be their favourite target), but by default all the others too, even the small town composers you like Luke. It would not be a problem but young naiive persons visiting forums such as this may start to think these notions about Schubert are true unless they are addressed in a more critical fashion.

Oh, but I do think Schubert trounces most of the 'small town composers I like', Rod. I have enough perspective on the weight my tastes carry to know that my own personal favourites are not necessarily the very finest. Though of course some of them are - Schubert and Beethoven both figure on the list of these personal favourites, and they both are among those finest. So what if Schubert is so many degrees below Beethoven, or above him, or equal to him? - he writes music which gives things Beethoven never gave, and vice versa. And so I wouldn't want to be without either.

MN Dave

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #56 on: April 30, 2008, 07:13:11 AM »
Schubert makes a great supplement to LvB.

Mango

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #57 on: April 30, 2008, 07:23:29 AM »

By coincidence I ran a comparison of string quintets, including the C Major and Op29, at my site a few weeks back, including a number of tracks, videos etc. Even the Schubert fans could not maintain your position above after these demonstrations. Another example of the Schubertian cult exposed.


Rod is suffering hallucinations all over again.  Schubert is the recognised leader in lieder (no pun intented), and Beethoven's efforts pale into insignificance.  Schubert's String Quintet is widely recognised to be far superior to Beethoven's  Op 29 effort.  I'd take Schubert's chamber, orchestral and sacred music in preference to Beethoven's any day.  So come off it, Rod, admit you're talking your usual load of cobblers, probably as a ploy to stimulate a few uniformed innocents to register on your board.

As for the so-called "demonstrations", the only things that happen on your board are that people fall asleep regularly.  It's been virtually dormant for weeks.  Yes, you tried to whip up an anti-Schubert campaign, but like most things on your site it fell flat on its face.  Nobody wanted to play ball, and who can blame them when it’s obvious that your game is merely to make bold and assertive comments about the alleged weaknesses of all composers other than Beethoven and Handel.   

You also sponsors one of looniest anti-Mozart cranks on the Internet, and there's no-one on your site apart from yourself (or any site that I'm aware of) who takes him seriously.  I would have thought you might have your lesson by now that most people find your attitude, and the kind of activity you sponsor against other composers, both seriously ill-informed and insulting. 
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 07:25:34 AM by Mango »

MN Dave

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #58 on: April 30, 2008, 07:28:38 AM »
Wow, Harry posts over there.

Offline Rod Corkin

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Re: Franz Schubert
« Reply #59 on: April 30, 2008, 07:40:57 AM »
Oh, but I do think Schubert trounces most of the 'small town composers I like', Rod. I have enough perspective on the weight my tastes carry to know that my own personal favourites are not necessarily the very finest. Though of course some of them are - Schubert and Beethoven both figure on the list of these personal favourites, and they both are among those finest. So what if Schubert is so many degrees below Beethoven, or above him, or equal to him? - he writes music which gives things Beethoven never gave, and vice versa. And so I wouldn't want to be without either.

Well at my site even Beethoven's songs went down better than Schubert's in my comparative test. Seriously Beethoven's songs are very underrated. But I'm sure there must have been some genre Schubert attempted that Beethoven never really got involved with, and if so, in those such cases I will allow the noble Schubert his supremacy!
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