Author Topic: Willem Mengelberg  (Read 15459 times)

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Sean

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2015, 11:48:31 PM »
I see him as a very detailed and rhythmically sophisticated. Listening to the Oberon right now.

Offline Beaumarchais

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2015, 03:19:18 AM »
I see him as a very detailed and rhythmically sophisticated. Listening to the Oberon right now.

To my mind Richard Strauss was the greatest orchestrator in musical history. Take for example the battle sequence in Heldenleben. To the uninitiated it sounds like one hell of a noise but that is what it's intended to sound like on the surface because a battle is just that. However, if we listen to it carefully dissecting the different 'noises' we can see that it's an amazing combination of different themes made up of leitmotifs from his previous works and, far from being a disparate conglomeration of orchestral sounds, it is all of a piece.
I suppose that Strauss dedicated the work to Mengelberg because of the conductor's deep insight into the dynamics of music but also because Mengelberg's musical background was so extraordinary.
“Music is what tells us that the human race is greater than we realize.”
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Sean

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2015, 07:11:41 AM »
You sound like a serious listener, a rare person. Reminds me of an academic seminar a few years ago with this birdbrain and his dumb paper about Charles Villiers Stanford's criticism of Heldenleben, both of them saying the work was meaningless, from an outward analysis of the score, without understanding that there are subtle level interrelations that make the musical language completely logical and meaningful, as demonstrated by repeated listening.

Offline Beaumarchais

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2015, 10:07:24 AM »
You sound like a serious listener, a rare person. Reminds me of an academic seminar a few years ago with this birdbrain and his dumb paper about Charles Villiers Stanford's criticism of Heldenleben, both of them saying the work was meaningless, from an outward analysis of the score, without understanding that there are subtle level interrelations that make the musical language completely logical and meaningful, as demonstrated by repeated listening.

I should think there are many members of this forum who are more serious listeners than I am but I have been listening for a very long time and that probably makes up for any special ability to analyse what I hear.
In some ways the early criticism of Heldenleben is understandable given what at the time must have been a very modern work. Today we have all of Strauss's tone poems readily at hand, but in Stanford's time those works were heard, if at all, infrequently in concert by a relatively small number of people.
Without prior knowledge of the Strauss tone poems, Heldenleben loses its meaning.
Mengelberg, whose knowledge was encyclopaedic, obviously knew of Strauss's intention as soon as he read the score even though he was only 28 years old at the time.
“Music is what tells us that the human race is greater than we realize.”
 ― Napoleon Bonaparte

Sean

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2015, 10:17:32 AM »
Well yes indeed, credit to the conductors who can discern the level of artistic value in scores before they're even performed.

The pomposity and foolishness of Stanford however, examples the problems both with 18th-19th century English music and its pedantry, and much of music academia then and now.

Offline Beaumarchais

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #25 on: February 15, 2015, 03:40:57 AM »
Well yes indeed, credit to the conductors who can discern the level of artistic value in scores before they're even performed.

The pomposity and foolishness of Stanford however, examples the problems both with 18th-19th century English music and its pedantry, and much of music academia then and now.

You raise an interesting point inasmuch as English music was never part of the European tradition and its development occurred within an insular framework. Notwithstanding visits or sojourns in England by such luminaries as Haydn, Handel, Mozart, Weber, Mendelssohn, Chopin etc., and despite Sir Thomas Beecham's sterling efforts to introduce European music to the English, England remained, erroneously, 'The land without music'. Against this background it's hardly surprising that the parochialism we see in the works of Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Britten for example, was reflected in academic circles. The cross-fertilization of ideas that took place in Europe hardly influenced the English musical establishment but that is not to say that great music was entirely absent from England. Within its own terms of reference, there are wonderful examples of truly great music.
“Music is what tells us that the human race is greater than we realize.”
 ― Napoleon Bonaparte

Sean

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2015, 06:37:48 AM »
Hi there, I think a new topic would be in order here or Karl or others with sticks will come rapping.

English music's poverty that I mentioned indeed ran only for the 17-1800s, and the English Musical Renaissance was very real event despite the wilful stupidities and revisionism of some academics, who never mention actual composers or works. I've met them.

England and Russia kept up the symphonic tradition in the 20th century while those in between were doing their serial and neoclassical stuff.

Offline Beaumarchais

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #27 on: February 15, 2015, 10:02:37 AM »
Hi there, I think a new topic would be in order here or Karl or others with sticks will come rapping.

English music's poverty that I mentioned indeed ran only for the 17-1800s, and the English Musical Renaissance was very real event despite the wilful stupidities and revisionism of some academics, who never mention actual composers or works. I've met them.

England and Russia kept up the symphonic tradition in the 20th century while those in between were doing their serial and neoclassical stuff.

I agree that this thread is off topic and needs returning to its original subject.
“Music is what tells us that the human race is greater than we realize.”
 ― Napoleon Bonaparte

Offline RJR

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #28 on: February 16, 2015, 03:04:49 PM »
Mengelberg's 1929 recording of Tchaikovsky's Fourth is a must hear.

Offline RJR

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2015, 03:06:33 PM »
You can download the VBR zip file of Mengelberg Tchaikovsky Fourth here:
https://archive.org/details/TchaikovskySymphonyNo.4

Offline Beaumarchais

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #30 on: February 18, 2015, 02:35:15 PM »
You can download the VBR zip file of Mengelberg Tchaikovsky Fourth here:
https://archive.org/details/TchaikovskySymphonyNo.4

A terrific rendition of this work with Mengelberg's prints all over it. As the single review points out, the conductor takes liberties with both tempi and dynamics but concedes that it is a stunning performance.
It makes some later recordings sound positively listless. As Sir Thomas Beecham once said re conducting: " Do anything you like but don't be boring."
“Music is what tells us that the human race is greater than we realize.”
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Offline Beaumarchais

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2015, 10:33:35 AM »
Today I have been listening to the Mengelberg NYPO 1928 version of Ein Heldenleben that I received through the post a couple of days ago. It's no surprise that it has been supplied by a Japanese company Opus Cura and they have done an excellent job cleaning it up. It has tremendous presence and the solo violin part is nothing short of brilliant. Obviously there are some remaining problems concerning clarity but it's a very exciting performance with Mengelberg's usual energy well to the fore. One minus point is the the ending which, after some stupendous fff climaxes, finishes forte on my disc.
For comparison I played Karajan's 1969 Moscow concert performance on Youtube and he ends on a stunning  fff before the fade, which must surely be the right way to finish such a powerful work.
“Music is what tells us that the human race is greater than we realize.”
 ― Napoleon Bonaparte

Sean

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #32 on: February 20, 2015, 11:06:04 AM »
Great review. His Strauss recordings on the Naxos catalogue have much original thought, and the more impressive for being right at the start of the performing tradition; illumination of rhythm, counterpoint and texture.

Offline Beaumarchais

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #33 on: February 22, 2015, 01:25:08 AM »
Great review. His Strauss recordings on the Naxos catalogue have much original thought, and the more impressive for being right at the start of the performing tradition; illumination of rhythm, counterpoint and texture.

As a filler to Ein Heldenleben, Opus Kura have included the Mengelberg/Concertgebouw 1930 version of Ravel's Bolero. Rhythm is obviously central to the work and Mengelberg places it at the forefront of the performance which starts off at a measured pace and relentlessly builds to a fierce and savagely exultant finale.
Being composed a year earlier, it's not played as the concert standard that it has become but is expressed as intended i.e. a Spanish dance, and Mengelberg strikingly brings out the Spanish inflexions of the piece which is  another indication of his masterly insight into orchestral textures.
“Music is what tells us that the human race is greater than we realize.”
 ― Napoleon Bonaparte

Sean

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Re: Willem Mengelberg
« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2015, 04:12:00 AM »
Good stuff; I'll seek it out.

Reminds me of the likewise sexualized Charles Munch 1950 Daphne and Chloe.