Author Topic: Beethoven in Period Performances  (Read 214840 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #840 on: December 14, 2015, 07:18:34 AM »
Or for Eroica, premiered in the same venue?



28 players for the Eroica if I remember right. How many does Schoonderwoerd use for op 58? I don't have the CD booklet so I can't check. Online I found a reference to 4 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, and a contrabass, but I don't know how many for winds, brass, and timpani.

It would also be interesting to confirm whether the engineers  miked the strings,  or otherwise fiddled with the sound, or whether the balance is natural for the venue. If it is natural, it's very interesting indeed.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 07:24:21 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Que

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #841 on: December 14, 2015, 07:49:27 AM »
28 players for the Eroica if I remember right. How many does Schoonderwoerd use for op 58? I don't have the CD booklet so I can't check. Online I found a reference to 4 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, and a contrabass, but I don't know how many for winds, brass, and timpani.

The blessings of physical reality:  :D
2 violins, 2 violas, 2 violoncellos, 1 double bass, 1 flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and pianoforte. That makes for no. 4 a total of 20, an extra flute is used for no. 5.

I don't think the miking is doctered, but just quite close - taking into account the close proximity of the audience in the hall of the Lobkowitz Palace.

Q

Offline North Star

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #842 on: December 14, 2015, 07:49:59 AM »
"Home" might be too misleading a term for what is really a palace featuring a dedicated concert hall.  :D

On that event the Coriolan Overture and the Fourth Symphony were also premiered. Would Schoonderwoerd make the case for them being played with the same tiny forces, I wonder? Or for Eroica, premiered in the same venue?

However one would consider the matter, Schoonderwoerd doesn´t have much of a case for his approach.
Well, refreshing my memory from Schoonderwoerd's liner notes, he says the concert hall measures (LWH) 16m*7m*7½m, or 900 m3, and had 24 places for musicians and 18 places for listeners. So a concert hall might be too misleading a term for what is really quite a small room, and we tend to think of something bigger when thinking about 'concert halls'. Schoonderwoerd also mentions that the Piano Concerto no. 5 was performed numerously in private performances in this kind of music rooms Vienna in 1810 and 1811, before the first public performance in Kärtnertor Theater, with Czerny as the soloist. Not that vast a space either, although based on that drawing it is perhaps possible that quite a large orchestra fitted there.

Regarding the Kärtnertor concert, a quote from Schoonderwoerd's liner notes:
Quote from: Carl Czerny
"Now I must perform one of your most complex compositions! And indeed in the most dangerous hall that exists for pianists! For this instrument the great ballroom is the most unthankful place and all the pianists who have played there to this day have regretted it"
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 07:53:36 AM by North Star »
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #843 on: December 14, 2015, 10:16:13 AM »
2 violins, 2 violas, 2 violoncellos, 1 double bass

This is misleading: the 2 physical violins are playing two different parts, violin 1 and 2, so that the string distribution on the recording is really 1 violin 1, 1 violin 2, 2 violas, etc.

I cannot accept this distribution as historically credible since numerous records exist to show that orchestras in this period were violin-heavy. Here are some examples from page 70 of Joan Peyser (ed.)'s "The Orchestra":
Dresden - 8.7.4.4.3
Mannheim - 10-11.10-11.4.4.4
Milan - 14.14.6.2.6
Paris - 13.11.4.10.4

Today's larger orchestras of course follow this general pattern, a typical distribution being something like 16.16.10.10.8. One thing is certain: the 4th concerto requires at least 2 cellos, as there are places that specifically call for a single cello. If there were 24 places for musicians at the Palace, I would believe a string distribution of 3.3.2.2.1, or at least 2.2.2.2.1 if room were needed for the piano. But 1.1.2.2.1? Absolutely no way.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #844 on: December 14, 2015, 10:57:39 AM »
But in fact the balances on the recording seem to work, the strings aren't drowned by the brass as you would expect. That's why I was keen to know how truthful the recording is.

What would be the consequences of doubling or tripling the violins, if the balances work fine with just two? Would it be easier to play in tune? Is anyone concerned about the intonation on the op 58 recording?
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 11:00:21 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Que

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #845 on: December 14, 2015, 11:05:24 AM »
This is misleading: the 2 physical violins are playing two different parts, violin 1 and 2, so that the string distribution on the recording is really 1 violin 1, 1 violin 2, 2 violas, etc.

Mea culpa. That was not my intention.
According to the booklet the violas and violoncellos are "divided" (over different parts).

Q

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #846 on: December 14, 2015, 11:11:15 AM »
I would believe a string distribution of 3.3.2.2.1, or at least 2.2.2.2.1 if room were needed for the piano. But 1.1.2.2.1? Absolutely no way.

Your distributions alter the balance of the strings; my guess is that that is something to do with why he chose 1.1.2.2.1.
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #847 on: December 14, 2015, 11:48:29 AM »
Your distributions alter the balance of the strings.

No, they do not. They correct the imbalance on the recording, and bring the distribution closer to standard 18th-century documented practice. With three 1st violins, the 16th-note figurations at mm. 119-22 and 364-67 of the Emperor finale would be audible, as they are on most standard recordings but not on Sch's. A single 1st violin is not sufficient to be heard over the dotted quarters played by eight woodwinds at this point.

I can't believe I'm still debating the same points on this recording that I was in 2008 . . . .
 
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 11:54:48 AM by (poco) Sforzando »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #848 on: December 14, 2015, 12:09:24 PM »
No, they do not. They correct the imbalance on the recording, and bring the distribution closer to standard 18th-century documented practice. With three 1st violins, the 16th-note figurations at mm. 119-22 and 364-67 of the Emperor finale would be audible, as they are on most standard recordings but not on Sch's. A single 1st violin is not sufficient to be heard over the dotted quarters played by eight woodwinds at this point.

I can't believe I'm still debating the same points on this recording that I was in 2008 . . . .

Ah well, thank you for taking the trouble, I hadn't realised this is old ground, and it must be a frightful bore for you to repeat yourself.

About the Emperor I know nothing, it's not a piece of music I've ever really thought about.
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #849 on: December 14, 2015, 12:14:02 PM »
Ah well, thank you for taking the trouble, I hadn't realised this is old ground, and it must be a frightful bore for you to repeat yourself.

If I were that bored, I wouldn't have bothered; quite the contrary, it's always fun to poke at Sacred Cows anew.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #850 on: December 14, 2015, 01:03:34 PM »
I have not heard these Schoonderwoord recordings (I admittedly found both the very idea as well as the online snippets fairly ridiculous/repulsive) but I have never encountered an ensemble or listings for a "standard" orchestra of the 18th or 19th century that would have only a single first violin but two violas and two celli.
 
poco sf gave some plausible historic strings strengths above, I think I have seen something like 3-2-1-1-1 for Haydn's orchestra in Esterhazy. As presumably most violin players would have been able to play the viola as well, it seems fairly obvious that the violin's parts were considered most important because from the mere number of players, 2-2-2-1-1 would also have been possible.
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #851 on: December 14, 2015, 06:21:01 PM »
Just to show that Schoonderwoord spreads the wealth and is not only bad in Beethoven, have a listen to him taking a dump on a poor innocent Mozart rondo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zppndT_IcEo

Does this horse's ass really think Mozart would have tolerated such amateurish playing? The uneven execution, bizarre phrasing, and sheer bad playing are enough to elevate this faker to no. 1 in my all-time list of incompetent performers. It's hard to even imagine him being admitted to a good conservatory. Then next in the lineup comes the excellent Steven Lubin on the fortepiano to show how it's done:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGGWtz_v6xM
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Offline amw

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #852 on: December 14, 2015, 06:40:15 PM »
Ensemble Cristofori is actually quite good in the Beethoven, though I feel sorry for the string players. Schoonderwoerd on the other hand is bizarre, egotistical and not all that good. I think a chamber sized Beethoven piano concerto cycle could work, but would need a different fortepianist and a more sensitive arrangement.

edit: Sforzando, S even looks like his piano playing sounds. I can't get over those "gosh I'm so clever" facial expressions  :P
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 06:44:24 PM by amw »

Offline Brian

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #853 on: December 14, 2015, 06:45:56 PM »
Ensemble Cristofori is actually quite good in the Beethoven, though I feel sorry for the string players. Schoonderwoerd on the other hand is bizarre, egotistical and not all that good. I think a chamber sized Beethoven piano concerto cycle could work, but would need a different fortepianist and a more sensitive arrangement.
There are versions for 1 and 2 for piano and string quintet; I think the smaller-scale, more Mozartean No. 2 comes close to working in the arrangement. Follow the link and click the tracks for sample clips. Arrangements are by someone named Uli Schirmer.

Again, however, performance is a major problem - that's a modern-instrument disc but to me the string players just sound ugly.

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #854 on: December 14, 2015, 07:07:00 PM »
Just to show that Schoonderwoord spreads the wealth and is not only bad in Beethoven, have a listen to him taking a dump on a poor innocent Mozart rondo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zppndT_IcEo



I don't have your level of education in these matters, but that to me looked like he was fighting an unruly instrument, and his expression was kind of amused and/or making the best of a bad situation.

Could I ask you - if you're willing, if it wouldn't cause too much pain - to listen to as much as you can stand of his recording of Beethoven PC1, and point out where the trouble lies in that recording. I'm not especially championing him, but thought (and think again) that of the 5 PCs that might have been the most successful (and become progressively less successful as the chronology progresses). But again, not for everyday use:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyV7BdQlFwQ
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 07:09:08 PM by SimonNZ »

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #855 on: December 14, 2015, 07:51:33 PM »
I don't have your level of education in these matters, but that to me looked like he was fighting an unruly instrument, and his expression was kind of amused and/or making the best of a bad situation.

Could I ask you - if you're willing, if it wouldn't cause too much pain - to listen to as much as you can stand of his recording of Beethoven PC1, and point out where the trouble lies in that recording. I'm not especially championing him, but thought (and think again) that of the 5 PCs that might have been the most successful (and become progressively less successful as the chronology progresses). But again, not for everyday use:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyV7BdQlFwQ

Remember, though, that the chronology is misleading: #2 was actually the first composed, and the most Mozartean. I did however listen to the first movement of #1, and the good news is that his playing of this comparatively less challenging work is cleaner and stronger than in 4 or 5. Even so, whenever the score indicates a more difficult alternative for certain passages, Sch always takes the easier way out. He plays continuo throughout, which I don't much care for but is historically justified. But the balance problem with insufficient violins in the larger tuttis remains, and I went over several passages a number of times to be sure: use a score and tell me if you can hear the 2nd violin at 2:10, or any of the violins at 6:50 or 13:00. Surely Beethoven didn't write these contrapuntal lines if he didn't want them to be heard. And even if Beethoven hadn't left three superb examples for any other pianist to use as models, Sch's cadenza is a disgrace. But to have played any of B's cadenzas, Sch would have had to use an instrument with an expanded range; the fact that he takes the F natural at bar 172 (which is harmonically speaking nonsense but a concession to the limited range of B's original instrument) is proof that Sch is using a 5-octave F-F instrument. Even so, Sch's 10-second noodling is hardly a cadenza; it's not even a z.

I agree that the orchestra is quite good. If only they had a proper string component, and a better pianist.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 07:55:58 PM by (poco) Sforzando »
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Offline SimonNZ

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #856 on: December 14, 2015, 08:04:04 PM »
Thanks very much for taking the time to relisten and reply. I'll go back over the bits you highlight.

I'm playing and enjoying No.2 right now, as it happens. And while I'd understand people having problems with a number of issues, and myself feel it's only really valuable long-term as an interesting problematic exercise, I've gotta say: I've heard plenty worse.

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #857 on: December 14, 2015, 08:33:47 PM »
Thanks very much for taking the time to relisten and reply. I'll go back over the bits you highlight.

I'm playing and enjoying No.2 right now, as it happens. And while I'd understand people having problems with a number of issues, and myself feel it's only really valuable long-term as an interesting problematic exercise, I've gotta say: I've heard plenty worse.

Well, I hadn't heard his #1 before; 4 and 5 were so bad I didn't want to buy the others. But I sampled the slow movement of 1 (no problems in what I heard), and played the finale complete. It plods along, feeling about 10% slower than normal, probably 'cause Sch can't play the notes fast enough. But there are some real problems that I would consider inexcusable from any professional pianist today. Any time B writes passages in broken octaves (measures 214-15, 245-46, 529 et seq.), Sch fakes them by playing straight eighth notes. In this movement he does use B's very short cadenza, but he slows down at the end where the broken sixths are apparently too hard for him to play up to speed. And he omits the second cadenza that should start at 25:33, no doubt because it's also beyond his technique. With technical standards as high as they are today, it's simply unacceptable for anyone to issue a recording where he's faking the written notes.

No. 2 is by far the simplest of the five, technically. As long as I can get it free on YT I'll listen to it tomorrow. But I won't hear #3; I love the work too much to hear it mangled.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 08:58:09 PM by (poco) Sforzando »
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Offline Brian

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #858 on: December 14, 2015, 08:44:08 PM »
(p)Sfz, your heroism is appreciated.

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: Beethoven in Period Performances
« Reply #859 on: December 14, 2015, 10:20:50 PM »
Yes, thanks again. No.2 is here if you want it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qtV2KiqTlY