Author Topic: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!  (Read 1207 times)

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Offline Brian

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Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« on: July 22, 2013, 08:56:28 AM »


"Van Beethoven Code"

It's just like it sounds. Uploaded today on Naxos Music Library, "Van Beethoven Code" comes with a PDF booklet that explains, in utterly bizarre language, how Beethoven left all the correct metronome markings for his music in a secret coded riddle which you have to solve in order to unlock the tempos he really wanted.

Some examples:
"To all appearance, he provided Mälzel with the metronome indications on his own works which the latter had requested. However, he wrote them into a cryptic riddle, which in its unsolved form complied with the mechanic’s feelings. In this riddle, only about one seventh of all the metronome indications is correct, and all the other figures are based on feigned errors. However, they are so artistically construed that in pairs they form different dissonances that can be identified and solved according to the laws of the tonal system. Beethoven never directly referred to these errors, but in plays on words he repeatedly endeavoured to draw his interpreters' attention to his ‘broken’, 'faltering’ or ‘pulse-sick’ metronome. In vain!"

"Whatever Beethoven may have intended with the mystification of his tempo indications, he certainly wanted to prevent the thoughtless observance of unequivocal performance instructions." [IRONY]

"Beethoven’s metronome is simply sick, it has, to express it in the maestro’s own words, a faltering gait and a weak, irregular pulse. It is broken and thus produces breaks, it is caught up in ‘confusions’, i.e. it is bewildered. The sick metronome is, of course, a metaphor for Beethoven’s own state of mind."

"on 13 March 1986 Harke de Roos discovered the deliberateness of Beethoven’s mysteriousness with far-reaching consequences for performance practice and our knowledge of the period of Viennese Classicism."

No footnotes or references to any of the claims.

-

What are the results?

Track timings
I. 16:20
II. 15:18
III. 5:44
IV. 9:12

Needless to say, the performance is bizarre.

First movement: the introduction is very quick. It's rather exciting, really. At first I thought the 16-minute timing might reflect a repeat of the entire development section after the recap. But nope... the tempos for the intro and main movement have been reversed. Which means that the music slows down after the intro and you have to grind your way through a plodding "allegro." \

Slow movement: similarly molasses-like. Seriously, as of 13:00 in the slow movement, I'm ready to pluck my ears off.

Scherzo: Again, Celibidachean. Trio: no relief. I'm really ready for this symphony to be over.

Finale: I paused in the middle to go to the bathroom. This might well be an "andante". At least there's something calming and meditative about the cello tune, although the loud bits are repetitive and aggravating.

-

Conclusion: Either the Van Beethoven Code is bullshit, or Beethoven was a really bad composer. I know where I'm placing my bet.

Offline karlhenning

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2013, 09:07:17 AM »
My money's on Schroeder.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
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nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Opus106

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2013, 09:19:24 AM »
This is certainly not a badly-timed April Fool's joke, as I'd thought.

https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Ludwig-van-Beethoven-1770-1827-Symphonie-Nr-2/hnum/3603410

Similar results of tempo tampering antics can be found by googling* for Maximiano Cobra. But he never really managed to record for a label that has Paul Badura-Skoda, for instance, in its roster.




*Firefox doesn't mind my using the word
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Navneeth

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2013, 09:23:43 AM »
Conclusion: Either the Van Beethoven Code is bullshit, or Beethoven was a really bad composer. I know where I'm placing my bet.
You've probably never heard this phrase uttered with this composer, but that is totally insane! :)  THere is no evidence that he was a freemason or in any similar type group, so I find this utterly bizarre (as you say). It's like Da Vinci Code meets classical music, but it makes little sense and they forgot to add something about a hidden treasure.  :D
Offenbach gets a raw deal in recordings considering his talent! For a discussion of this outstanding composer too little recorded: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,5572.

Offline Opus106

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2013, 09:45:35 AM »
Excuse me... I believe it's the van Beethoven Code!

 ;)

Hmm...
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline Todd

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2013, 09:48:21 AM »
Conclusion: Either the Van Beethoven Code is bullshit, or Beethoven was a really bad composer.



I suppose the latter might be possible if the preceding two hundred years of performance practice and scholarship are both entirely wrong. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2013, 11:04:53 AM »
You've probably never heard this phrase uttered with this composer, but that is totally insane! :)  THere is no evidence that he was a freemason or in any similar type group, so I find this utterly bizarre (as you say). It's like Da Vinci Code meets classical music, but it makes little sense and they forgot to add something about a hidden treasure.  :D

He was seriously interested in free-masonry later on in his life I think, even if not a member of a lodge. But free-masonry's a bit of a red herring.

As far as codes are concerned -- the whole thing reminds me of the decoding of the  frontispiece of WTC by Bradley Lehman. Composers may write things in code.  I'd have to read the booklet and hear the CD to form a view, I'll wait till it comes onto spotify. But you can't prima facie dismiss the idea. It could be that our ideas about how to play the music are fundamentally out of line with what Beethoven meant, never mind "preceding two hundred years of performance practice"  -- the thesis is very much like what the Authentic Performance movement was saying 50 years ago. And I bet then someone said "Either HIP is bullshit, or Beethoven was a really bad composer. I know where I'm placing my bet."

« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 11:14:30 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Todd

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2013, 11:51:45 AM »
the thesis is very much like what the Authentic Performance movement was saying 50 years ago. And I bet then someone said "Either HIP is bullshit, or Beethoven was a really bad composer. I know where I'm placing my bet."



Not really.   If this particular thesis is correct, then not only traditional but also HIP interpretations are incorrect, and some contemporaneous accounts of how Beethoven performed his own music around when the Second Symphony was written and performed would have to be dismissed, or at least questioned.  Perhaps people who’ve read more on Beethoven can point out where, as a young man, he was partial to very slow tempi, especially when the score is marked Allegro con brio. 

Perhaps Mr Roos takes the notion that the Second was written in Heiligenstadt to some type of logical conclusion – ie, this specific work has been misinterpreted for two centuries; it is a highly personal statement of anguish, etc – even though it is the Second Symphony.  The language cited by Brian indicates something even broader, though; there is a magical code for understanding Beethoven.  Apparently, Mr Roos has been floating his ideas for almost thirty years, so his thesis is not new, really.  It just hasn’t found (m)any other adherents. 

Or, perhaps it’s just a gimmick.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Brian

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2013, 12:27:15 PM »
The language cited by Brian indicates something even broader, though; there is a magical code for understanding Beethoven.
He is recording all nine symphonies; this is the first to be released. God or good taste help us all.

I think it is closer to what you say. The booklet does not have references, or quotations, or any other manner of supporting material, except for a series of baffling mathematical statements about how to "decode" the real tempo markings. Forgive the unformatted copy/paste:

Among the metronome indications published in
1817, we can find the encoded tempi of the Second
Symphony, which had been written in Heiligenstadt
15 years earlier. There are five literally crazy measures.
The first measure, for instance, is slowed down
by a third, and the second one is accelerated by
50%. It could be put this way that the Adagio was
shifted ‘inadvertently’ by a fifth downwards and the
following Allegro by a fifth upwards. The original
tempo octave prescribed by the forgotten laws
of Classicism for the proportion between the two
tempi was evidently increased to an interval of more
than two octaves. The other three movements are all accelerated; the
second movement by a third and the third and fourth
by half of their structural tempo. Such intrusions
imply a severe mutilation of one’s own work. You
can read details about Beethoven’s reasons in my
book Der andere Beethoven – das Rätselmetronom
oder die dunklen Tränen. Yet, I do not believe that
the crazy metronome indications should apply for
all time, however much we have already internalized them.

The correct tempo relations cogently produce
a basic tempo of about 66 units per minute for the
first three movements and tempo 100 for the half
note of the finale. On solving the riddle, it can be
seen that the riddle metronome slows down the
introduction to the first movement by a third and
increases the Allegro section by a third. In the case
of Beethoven, 66-66-66-66-100 seems to become
42-100-92-100-150, but in reality it is 63-66-69-
66-100. The introductory Adagio has been shifted
down a tiny step, and the second movement slightly
upwards.
 The encoding and decoding of the Second
Symphony is just a beginning. All the tempi of the
other works gauged by metronome will provide
many surprises.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 12:30:15 PM by Brian »

Offline The new erato

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2013, 02:25:34 PM »
Are you sure the conductor is not Rob Newman?
That's probably the most sane comment possible about this release.

Offline Scarpia

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2013, 02:26:13 PM »
He was seriously interested in free-masonry later on in his life I think, even if not a member of a lodge. But free-masonry's a bit of a red herring.

As far as codes are concerned -- the whole thing reminds me of the decoding of the  frontispiece of WTC by Bradley Lehman. Composers may write things in code.  I'd have to read the booklet and hear the CD to form a view, I'll wait till it comes onto spotify. But you can't prima facie dismiss the idea. It could be that our ideas about how to play the music are fundamentally out of line with what Beethoven meant, never mind "preceding two hundred years of performance practice"  -- the thesis is very much like what the Authentic Performance movement was saying 50 years ago. And I bet then someone said "Either HIP is bullshit, or Beethoven was a really bad composer. I know where I'm placing my bet."

I think it is a big assumption to say that the doodle on Bach's WTC manuscript is a coded message about clavier temperament, or that Lehman has decoded it correctly.  (Lehman's scheme requires the doodles to be interpreted in a very peculiar way.)  However, the idea that Beethoven generated spurious metronome marks that only reveal metronome marks after an obscure puzzle is solved is even more illogical.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 05:33:26 PM by Scarpia »

Offline amw

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2014, 01:52:59 AM »
I took a crack at decoding the Van Beethoven Code myself, and think these results will completely revolutionise the way we hear Beethoven, in my humble opinion. I don't mean to say that 200 years of scholarship, including many people who knew Beethoven himself intimately, are all wrong, but... I mean, people were so uninformed back in those days. They thought the earth was flat and stuff. Not in Beethoven's day, but you know what I mean. What we've discovered since finding out about quantum physics, well, it's a lot of stuff, and like, eleven-dimensional space and many-worlds theory and ancient aliens.

Anyway! According to my exhaustive and painstaking research, these are the correct timings for the Symphonies No. 4, 5 and 6 which Mr Roos will be using in his upcoming recordings:

No. 4 - basic tempo: MM 66
I. Adagio - Allegro vivace - 14:49
II. Adagio - 9:47
III. Allegro vivace - 8:29
IV. Allegro ma non troppo - 7:00

No. 5 - basic tempo: MM 64
I. Allegro con brio - 8:42
II. Andante con moto - 10:44
III. Allegro - 6:09
IV. Allegro - 14:01

No. 6 - basic tempo: MM 72
I. Allegro ma non troppo - 9:02
II. Andante molto moto - 7:43
III. Allegro - 6:28
IV. Allegro - 4:18
V. Allegretto - 7:20

I am very much looking forward to hearing that "Szene am Bach" in particular.

Offline Drosera

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2014, 02:16:35 AM »
I remember reading his book "Beetgenomen door Beethoven"  (Fooled by Beethoven, published in 1987) more than 20 years ago. It started with the premise that Beethoven had an inferiority complex caused by Mozart. And went totally off the rails from there. After managing with some effort to get through that book I remember thinking: "That's certainly the last we'll have heard of that guy."
« Last Edit: February 27, 2014, 02:18:33 AM by Drosera »

Online Ken B

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2014, 02:26:17 PM »


"Van Beethoven Code"

It's just like it sounds. Uploaded today on Naxos Music Library, "Van Beethoven Code" comes with a PDF booklet that explains, in utterly bizarre language, how Beethoven left all the correct metronome markings for his music in a secret coded riddle which you have to solve in order to unlock the tempos he really wanted.

Some examples:
"To all appearance, he provided Mälzel with the metronome indications on his own works which the latter had requested. However, he wrote them into a cryptic riddle, which in its unsolved form complied with the mechanic’s feelings. In this riddle, only about one seventh of all the metronome indications is correct, and all the other figures are based on feigned errors. However, they are so artistically construed that in pairs they form different dissonances that can be identified and solved according to the laws of the tonal system. Beethoven never directly referred to these errors, but in plays on words he repeatedly endeavoured to draw his interpreters' attention to his ‘broken’, 'faltering’ or ‘pulse-sick’ metronome. In vain!"

"Whatever Beethoven may have intended with the mystification of his tempo indications, he certainly wanted to prevent the thoughtless observance of unequivocal performance instructions." [IRONY]

"Beethoven’s metronome is simply sick, it has, to express it in the maestro’s own words, a faltering gait and a weak, irregular pulse. It is broken and thus produces breaks, it is caught up in ‘confusions’, i.e. it is bewildered. The sick metronome is, of course, a metaphor for Beethoven’s own state of mind."

"on 13 March 1986 Harke de Roos discovered the deliberateness of Beethoven’s mysteriousness with far-reaching consequences for performance practice and our knowledge of the period of Viennese Classicism."

No footnotes or references to any of the claims.

-

What are the results?

Track timings
I. 16:20
II. 15:18
III. 5:44
IV. 9:12

Needless to say, the performance is bizarre.

First movement: the introduction is very quick. It's rather exciting, really. At first I thought the 16-minute timing might reflect a repeat of the entire development section after the recap. But nope... the tempos for the intro and main movement have been reversed. Which means that the music slows down after the intro and you have to grind your way through a plodding "allegro." \

Slow movement: similarly molasses-like. Seriously, as of 13:00 in the slow movement, I'm ready to pluck my ears off.

Scherzo: Again, Celibidachean. Trio: no relief. I'm really ready for this symphony to be over.

Finale: I paused in the middle to go to the bathroom. This might well be an "andante". At least there's something calming and meditative about the cello tune, although the loud bits are repetitive and aggravating.

-

Conclusion: Either the Van Beethoven Code is bullshit, or Beethoven was a really bad composer. I know where I'm placing my bet.

Markings? Hah! Give up on Beethoven, you've got de Roos now.
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Offline edward

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2014, 04:37:35 PM »
This is the bit I love:

"on 13 March 1986 Harke de Roos discovered the deliberateness of Beethoven’s mysteriousness with far-reaching consequences for performance practice and our knowledge of the period of Viennese Classicism."

Yes... because good musicological research takes one day to complete. But giving an exact day for a discovery is a surprisingly common meme amongst the mildly deranged.

I hope he's paying Gramola and the orchestra plenty to record this lunacy; money that will hopefully be put to use in worthwhile projects.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
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Offline amw

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2014, 06:12:09 PM »
You guys slagging off Harke de Roos probably never even listened to the recording. Gramola Records recently released a few samples from the upcoming recordings in the cycle and I have to say, they sound positively revolutionary. I promise you you will hear Beethoven with new ears when you listen to these revelations of the actual, encoded tempi de Roos received in a dream vision whilst high on peyote.

           

           

           
« Last Edit: February 27, 2014, 06:16:57 PM by amw »

Offline Bogey

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Re: Totally insane Beethoven symphony CD!
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2014, 06:14:15 PM »

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