Author Topic: An overlooked aspect of HIP  (Read 792 times)

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Offline Baron Scarpia

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2020, 12:45:48 PM »
I mainly object to recordings made in great reverberant chambers. Wolf Erichson in the Vivarte series was one for recording chamber music in churches for some reason.  Perhaps in lieu of a live audience, crash test dummies could be used to fill the seats. :D

I don't see this as an 'HIP' issue, because the preference for dry vs reverberant recordings is just as much an issue for any music.

All "stereo" recordings are at some level artificial in which an array of microphones is positioned and mixed to record a combination of direct and reflected sound. I think churches are popular recording locations because they have long, pleasant sounding reverberation that can be mixed in at whatever level the engineer chooses, without strong early reflections which can result in an unclear soundstage. I can think of many recordings made in a church which are nevertheless rather dry because the engineer mixes in reverberation sparingly. So I don't think churches are usually chosen because they are HI. I can't comment specifically about Wolf Ericson, since I haven't heard many of those recordings.

« Last Edit: February 19, 2020, 07:51:50 AM by Baron Scapia »

Online Jo498

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2020, 12:25:03 AM »
Why should Schubert not have been the focal point of his circle of friends who were not high nobility but rather bourgeois and artists? He was not quite such a nobody. This seems at least as much a romantic posthumuous fabrication as some details about the "Schubertiads".
Quite a bit of his stuff was printed during his lifetime, he was actually one of the first and few composers who did not (and could not) rely on earning money as a virtuoso/professional player of music and some chamber music concerts toward the end of his life seem to indicate that he was quite close to a "breakthrough".
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2020, 01:06:32 AM »
Why should Schubert not have been the focal point of his circle of friends who were not high nobility but rather bourgeois and artists? He was not quite such a nobody. This seems at least as much a romantic posthumuous fabrication as some details about the "Schubertiads".
Quite a bit of his stuff was printed during his lifetime, he was actually one of the first and few composers who did not (and could not) rely on earning money as a virtuoso/professional player of music and some chamber music concerts toward the end of his life seem to indicate that he was quite close to a "breakthrough".

http://figures-of-speech.com/2016/11/schubert-trajectory.htm
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”  --- Victor Hugo

Online Jo498

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2020, 02:05:03 AM »
I haven't read all through this, but if Schubert was a (musical) nonentity, how could the family get 300 Gulden for Schwanengesang alone within a few months after his death? And another 2000 Gulden within the next year? What publisher would be so foolish to pay such money for insignifant unsellable stuff?

Look up how many full concerts for his own benefit with his own works Beethoven had achieved at 31 ("Akademien", I think it was about two, one in April 1800 with the 1st symphony and the septet and maybe another one within the following year) and he had been one of the most renowned pianists for most of the 1790s in Vienna.

And the quotation below is very misleading as 11 of the string quartets are juvenilia Schubert wrote in his teens and one is a fragment, so there are *at most* 5-6 "publishable" ones of which three are rather huge and daring pieces, so I'd say it is a pretty good achievement that the a minor was published at all. Similar arguments apply to the symphonies and piano sonatas. The three penultimate sonatas WERE published, the three last ones were still too recent for that and of the earlier ones there are lots of fragments and overall maybe 3 more (D 664 and 784) that could have been published, so three extremely long and "modern" sonatas is a rather significant fraction, which is the opposite of what the quote seems to suggest.
Again look up how many years sometimes passed between Beethoven's compositions and their eventual publication (and again for a composer who was a famous virtuoso and popular with friends in high places, all of which Schubert was not). Had Schubert lived another two years he would probably have seen most of his mature (composed after ca. 1824) pieces published.

"Not one symphony, only one string quartet (D 804) out of 15 complete ones, one Mass (D 452) out of eight complete ones and only three piano sonatas (D 845, D 850, D 894) from more than a dozen such works had been published."
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Marc

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2020, 02:24:18 AM »
I recall I once (yeeeeaaaars ago) posted about HIP conductor Jos van Veldhoven, who was rather furious about countertenor Andreas Scholl. Scholl had given a recital of Renaissance and Baroque arias & songs in the 'Grote Zaal' of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. That proved to him that Scholl wasn't to be taken seriously as a HIP-artist. "It's a gotspe!" Van Veldhoven claimed.

A couple of years later, Van Veldhoven himself performed Bach's Matthäus-Passion in the same Concertgebouw, with an orchestra playing on modern instruments.... well well well.

The question with these 'overlooked' (which isn't the case, I think it probably depends on where you live, what magazines you have read and what discussion partners you have) aspects of HIP is: where does it end?

I have spoken, both offline and online, to people who thought Leusink's Bach cantatas were the best because they were so bad. Did not Bach himself complain about the quality of his performers? Therefore: the worse the performance, the more historically informed and thus the better. They weren't even kidding.

"Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" BWV 659, performed in summer? Defintely not HIP. Bach would only play this piece during Advent.
Ballet music performed in concert halls, without dancers? A gotspe!
Stravinsky's Le Sacre performed without angry shouting audience? Not to be taken seriously.
Mozart's Idomeneo with a beautiful singing tenor as Idomeneo? Well, Mozarts wasn't happy with the first Idemeno (Anton Raaff, who was already very old at the time), so we really got to find ourselves an old moderate dude to sing that part.
Female instrumentalists in baroque orchestras? Now come on. Women gave birth, supported their husbands (if possible) and did the dishes. They did not play in orchestras. You must be joking.

Of course, I'm (just slightly ;)) exaggerating here.

Still, this list could be made endless, and, again, I kid thee not, I've been part of discussions where some of these aspects were serious issues, esp. the Advent thing, the ballet in the concert hall thing and even the female members of a HIP orchestra. In the Netherlands, during the 1980s, some angry anti-HIPsters wrote that if female singers weren't allowed in Bach's church works, then female instrumentalists should not be allowed, either. The 'leader' of this 'contra-revolution' was writer Maarten 't Hart. (He's grown a bit more mellow now though. ;))

I.c. the issue of the topic starter: the fun thing with HIP is, that most of their performers already adapt their way of playing and performing to the acoustics they are confronted with. And there are also plenty of 'non-HIP' performers who do so, btw. They are musicians and know that this is an important aspect.
For instance, when small ensembles play in large churches, it happens that only a limited amount of seats is available. Because otherwise, seated at the back, you would be hearing nothing but reverb.
So, I think all those aspects have been quite well considered. For the rest, HIP is mainly about the way of performing, the playing style, phrasing, about affects and effects, legato or non-legato, and what kind of instruments to use to reach the wished-for result... well, the entire stuff one can read about on various websites and in various books/articles about HIP. It's not about (kind of) recreating the première of a piece, in (kind of) the same room/hall/church or whatever. It's nice to do that once in a while, but it has never been the first aim of HIP.
And, as the Baron said, dry versus spatial recordings are an issue with any kind of music, and with any sort of performing ensemble. I agree with him: it's not a specific 'HIP' issue at all.
 
I will finish my contribution by letting the Baron know that Wolf Ericson's recordings are mostly beautiful and therefore heartily recommended. (My tuppence worth of course.)
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Online Jo498

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2020, 02:31:52 AM »
To the contrary, most of the musicians in Vivaldi's concerti should be young girls!
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Marc

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2020, 02:38:54 AM »
To the contrary, most of the musicians in Vivaldi's concerti should be young girls!

Ur right, I forgot about that naughty priest.
I'm just way too focused on that darn Sebastian. ;)
« Last Edit: February 19, 2020, 02:40:27 AM by Marc »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2020, 03:52:02 AM »
I haven't read all through this, but if Schubert was a (musical) nonentity, how could the family get 300 Gulden for Schwanengesang alone within a few months after his death? And another 2000 Gulden within the next year? What publisher would be so foolish to pay such money for insignifant unsellable stuff?

The article makes the case for Schubert being a social nonentity, not a musical one. Socially speaking in the context of those times, Schubert was a nobody, his social status was lower even than that of an artisan. All his friends, most of them from the minor nobility, had succesful pofessional careers, a steady income, a family and a home of their own --- everything that Schiubert never had.

Quote
Look up how many full concerts for his own benefit with his own works Beethoven had achieved at 31 ("Akademien", I think it was about two, one in April 1800 with the 1st symphony and the septet and maybe another one within the following year) and he had been one of the most renowned pianists for most of the 1790s in Vienna.

The difference between Beethoven and Schubert is conspicuous: the former was a virtuoso pianist and enjoyed the patronage and even friendship of the high aristocracy; the latter had none of these advantages. Beethoven's social status and public recogntion were far above Schubert's.

Quote
And the quotation below is very misleading as 11 of the string quartets are juvenilia Schubert wrote in his teens and one is a fragment, so there are *at most* 5-6 "publishable" ones of which three are rather huge and daring pieces, so I'd say it is a pretty good achievement that the a minor was published at all. Similar arguments apply to the symphonies and piano sonatas. The three penultimate sonatas WERE published, the three last ones were still too recent for that and of the earlier ones there are lots of fragments and overall maybe 3 more (D 664 and 784) that could have been published, so three extremely long and "modern" sonatas is a rather significant fraction, which is the opposite of what the quote seems to suggest.
Again look up how many years sometimes passed between Beethoven's compositions and their eventual publication (and again for a composer who was a famous virtuoso and popular with friends in high places, all of which Schubert was not). Had Schubert lived another two years he would probably have seen most of his mature (composed after ca. 1824) pieces published.

"Not one symphony, only one string quartet (D 804) out of 15 complete ones, one Mass (D 452) out of eight complete ones and only three piano sonatas (D 845, D 850, D 894) from more than a dozen such works had been published."

The quotation refers to the situation at Schubert's death. Again, very different from Beethoven's case.

Look, I'm not trying to convince you of anything but the truth remains that of all great composers Schubert's social status was the lowest, public recognition during his life was virtually nonexistent and he died just a bit richer than a church mouse. A starker contrast with Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven (to take only the Viennese trinity) cannot be imagined.
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”  --- Victor Hugo

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2020, 03:55:06 AM »
I recall I once (yeeeeaaaars ago) posted about HIP conductor Jos van Veldhoven.. et.c.

Great and very entertaining post, MARC, thanks so much.
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heldigt nok at tiden går.

Offline Baron Scarpia

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2020, 07:58:21 AM »
I will finish my contribution by letting the Baron know that Wolf Ericson's recordings are mostly beautiful and therefore heartily recommended. (My tuppence worth of course.)

Just checked, Wolf Ericson did Anner Bylsma's wonderful recording of Bach's cello suites. Splendid sound. Not recorded in a church, though.

For a live performance, I think the venue is a secondary factor of historically informed performance. A small orchestra requires a small performance space to have the necessary impact. But that would apply to any small ensemble.  Nevertheless, the recording engineer can effectively put the listener right in the middle of the orchestra, no matter how big the hall.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2020, 08:18:16 AM by Baron Scapia »

Online Jo498

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2020, 08:17:08 AM »
This may be all true but I still think that the article does not sufficiently respect Schubert's age. His circumstances were a very common predicament in the 19th century (cf. La Bohème) although many people managed to secure some kind of slightly better situation after a few years of struggle (e.g. J. Haydn who got a decen position at 25) and did not have to endure this for 10 years. And as we all know from Dickens and other literature even middle class people were often one failed business, one severe illness or in the case of dependents one death of a breadwinner removed from abject poverty.  One generation later, Bruckner was not much better off as assistant teacher and organist in St Florian until he got a better position in Linz his early 30s (the age Schubert died). Despite his low social status Schubert managed to publish 108 opus numbers within his lifetime between 1821 and 1828, among them 189 songs (usually in groups of 3-4).

These articles also seem to play down the recognition and influence of Schubert's *music* after his death. It's true that the Dreimäderlhaus nonsense of the early 20th century coined a bizarre image of Schubert. But the value of his music was recognized almost immediately by the likes of Schumann and later Brahms and Dvorak.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Marc

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #31 on: February 19, 2020, 10:14:48 AM »
Great and very entertaining post, MARC, thanks so much.

Thanks, Premont.

I searched for that mentioned earlier post only after I posted this particular one… and I could not find it. So, it was probably already posted on the older GMG (before April 2007) or maybe even on a Dutch board, before 2004. I do remember the interview with Van Veldhoven very vividly though, it must have been published in the Dutch magazine Luister. I love the recordings I have of Van Veldhoven, but sometimes he went a bit too far in the way he defended his HIP Gospel. I bet the audience had a great time with Andreas Scholl in the main hall of the Concertgebouw. Now there's a good example of a concert hall that sounds great in any kind of music. Van Veldhoven could/should have known that.

It's the same strange thing with Gustav Leonhardt, who also sometimes amazed me with his one-sided comments. I have a book about the Netherlands Bach Society where he argues against performing a Bach passion in August, as sometimes happens "in other countries". Because, in August, Leonhardt claims, one can not seriously get what is going on and really 'believe' that Greatest Story Ever Told. A passion should only be performed during the Holy Week. As if listeners (believing Christians or not) are not able to relate to the story and the music at any other time of year. Some of us Dutchies c.q. Dutch HIP-pies are/were still too calvinistic about those things, IMHO. Any way, when I'm listening to Leonhardt's recording of BWV 244 in the merry month of September, I'm really enjoying it. I hove Gustav will forgive me for that.

(I admit though that I myself mostly listen to passions during… Lent. :-[ … probably because it's also a sentimental journey to my youth, I guess. But when I feel like listening to them in other seasons: NO ONE is gonna stop me, except maybe the man with the scythe.)
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Offline steve ridgway

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #32 on: February 19, 2020, 10:41:34 AM »
(I admit though that I myself mostly listen to passions during… Lent. :-[ … probably because it's also a sentimental journey to my youth, I guess. But when I feel like listening to them in other seasons: NO ONE is gonna stop me, except maybe the man with the scythe.)

True, I’d probably go for Yeti instead :P.


Offline Marc

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Re: An overlooked aspect of HIP
« Reply #33 on: February 19, 2020, 11:00:58 AM »
True, I’d probably go for Yeti instead :P.



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