Author Topic: Op 61  (Read 1162 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2020, 05:42:16 AM »


Sticking with Giulini on the podium, but switching to Salvatore Accardo for solo duties, and the La Scala band, the opening Allegro ma non troppo remains broad of conception, and quite serious, but also more relaxed and lyrical.  Accardo goes for a laid-back tempo, and plays with a warm, rich, beguiling tone.  The orchestral parts end up more comparatively prominent than in prior versions, but Giulini's conception compels even more here than with the Philharmonia.  A few times, Acccardo's playing sounds less exact than Mintz, sticking with a slow version, let alone Milstein, but that's OK.  The Larghetto goes for a full-on lyrical approach from both band and soloist, with Accardo's tone especially affecting.  Giulini's conducting lends a sound very reminiscent of slow movement the G Major concerto at times.  Nice.  The Rondo sounds comfortable and fun and a deft combination of refined and rustic.  The comfortable tempo and Giulini's nifty details - the horn calls, say - just make the music fall easily on the ear. 
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Offline Herman

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2020, 08:36:34 AM »
To be fair these are also problems I’ve heard from (professional) violinists, who describe the piece as awkward to play. Beethoven’s piano music is also awkward and sometimes painful to play. This is not to say his music isn’t very enjoyable to listen to for many people, but it’s certainly not perfect, at least from the perspective of pure craftsmanship.

The only composer who turned in technical perfection on a consistent basis is Mozart; maybe also Machaut, Palestrina & Ravel. But perfection isn’t what people listen for, generally.

Both Mozart and Beethoven, in their maturity, did not write comfortably for the violinist(s). They were beyond that.

I also saw a comment about Beethoven writing beautiful String Quartets even when he was deaf. The mind boggles this is still a thing. Beethoven did not test-play his music as he was composing. He heard and saw everything in his his head.

Same with Mozart, who composed whole pieces as he larking about in the pool hall, and then went home to quickly notate the stuff.

A lot of great composers work this way. Max Reger wrote the entire Hiller variations, forty minutes of large orchestra music in one single day  -  meaning he wrote it down in one day, after he had pictured the whole thing in his head.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2020, 08:39:38 AM by Herman »

Offline André

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2020, 09:07:02 AM »
I tend to prefer the concerto in a performance where tensile strength and a certain amount of volatility are predominant. Tetzlaff and Gielen for example. But I also like the approach on display with Accardo/Giulini, Szeryng/Haitink or Grumiaux/Davis: sweetness and grandeur in perfect balance.

Offline Todd

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2020, 05:46:34 AM »


Moving on to a classic of the Gramophone, Jascha Heifetz paired with Charles Munch and his fine Boston Symphony.  In the vaunted Living Stereo reissue, the mid-50s recording sounds fine, though one can tell it's an ancient stereo recording.  Everything is exactly as it should be.  First, as is so often the case with this fiddler, the overall tempo is fast, and he makes it seem easy.  Nothing poses a technical challenge to Heifetz.  He soars into the high registers with a silly easy feel, navigates the trickiest passages extra fast just to make them sort of a challenges, dashes off the cadenza like a quick one-take in the studio, and otherwise zips through everything.  And that's sort of a problem: more than with even Milstein, this becomes just a virtuoso showpiece.  This is most evident in the pure surface Larghetto, and the least consequential in the exciting Rondo.  In terms of excitement and execution, from soloist and band, this version is hard to resist, though I wanted more.  In this listening case, that meant just letting the Mendelssohn play. 
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Offline Holden

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2020, 01:45:17 PM »


Moving on to a classic of the Gramophone, Jascha Heifetz paired with Charles Munch and his fine Boston Symphony.  In the vaunted Living Stereo reissue, the mid-50s recording sounds fine, though one can tell it's an ancient stereo recording.  Everything is exactly as it should be.  First, as is so often the case with this fiddler, the overall tempo is fast, and he makes it seem easy.  Nothing poses a technical challenge to Heifetz.  He soars into the high registers with a silly easy feel, navigates the trickiest passages extra fast just to make them sort of a challenges, dashes off the cadenza like a quick one-take in the studio, and otherwise zips through everything.  And that's sort of a problem: more than with even Milstein, this becomes just a virtuoso showpiece.  This is most evident in the pure surface Larghetto, and the least consequential in the exciting Rondo.  In terms of excitement and execution, from soloist and band, this version is hard to resist, though I wanted more.  In this listening case, that meant just letting the Mendelssohn play.

I listened to this yesterday and have to concur that there is a degree of superficiality in this recording. Technically excellent, emotionally wanting.
Cheers

Holden

Offline Handelian

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2020, 02:36:47 AM »


Moving on to a classic of the Gramophone, Jascha Heifetz paired with Charles Munch and his fine Boston Symphony.  In the vaunted Living Stereo reissue, the mid-50s recording sounds fine, though one can tell it's an ancient stereo recording.  Everything is exactly as it should be.  First, as is so often the case with this fiddler, the overall tempo is fast, and he makes it seem easy.  Nothing poses a technical challenge to Heifetz.  He soars into the high registers with a silly easy feel, navigates the trickiest passages extra fast just to make them sort of a challenges, dashes off the cadenza like a quick one-take in the studio, and otherwise zips through everything.  And that's sort of a problem: more than with even Milstein, this becomes just a virtuoso showpiece.  This is most evident in the pure surface Larghetto, and the least consequential in the exciting Rondo.  In terms of excitement and execution, from soloist and band, this version is hard to resist, though I wanted more.  In this listening case, that meant just letting the Mendelssohn play.

This is a version I bought as a boy and has acted as my benchmark ever since. Heifetz was criticised for taking Beethoven's markings serious and playing the piece as marked. Out went the ponderous romantic strivings and in came the piece as a classical masterpiece it actually is. Interesting in recent years most violinists have followed Heifetz in his tempi as they are what Beethoven (and Clement) actually envisaged.

Offline Todd

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2020, 06:36:43 AM »


Pinky with Danny Boy leading the Chicagoans.  Yep, of course it's broad of tempo, but definitely unlike with Mintz and less so than with Accardo, one hardly notices.  Zukerman's playing sounds supremely controlled and quite appealing, and Barenboim's conducting, especially in the tuttis, is most assured and on the romantic side of the classical spectrum.  It's major label good.  The Allegro also finds Zukerman playing a fine cadenza and truly exceling in the slower, quieter passages, really delivering a dark-hued and appealing sound.  The Larghetto extends that slow music goodness and cranks it up a bit.  Zukerman is perfectly at home eking out gossamer highs, and sustaining the line at a slow and perfectly controlled tempo.  Barenboim backs his buddy as ably as a conductor could.  It's the highlight of the recording.  The concluding Rondo could be peppier, but what it lacks in pep, it makes up for in smoothness and ample weight in the tuttis.  Not my favorite overall, but a just so take sure to please if one just wants to sit and listen.
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Offline Handelian

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #27 on: November 22, 2020, 12:02:28 AM »
I listened to this yesterday and have to concur that there is a degree of superficiality in this recording. Technically excellent, emotionally wanting.

This always appears to me to be a view based on a misunderstanding of Beethoven’s concerto as a romantic rather than classical concerto

Offline Todd

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #28 on: November 22, 2020, 06:22:54 AM »
This always appears to me to be a view based on a misunderstanding of Beethoven’s concerto as a romantic rather than classical concerto


It more likely stems from the fact that Heifetz, for all his technical skill, was superficial in pretty much everything he recorded. 
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #29 on: November 22, 2020, 06:28:13 AM »

It more likely stems from the fact that Heifetz, for all his technical skill, was superficial in pretty much everything he recorded.

Please, define superficial.  :D
“Especially as far as I am concerned, romanticism is not the bloodless intellectual commitment to a program, but the expression of my most profound mind and soul.” --- Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)

Offline Todd

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #30 on: November 22, 2020, 06:38:10 AM »
Please, define superficial.  :D


In the context of Heifetz, hitting the notes in a virtuosic style explicitly meant to elicit applause and proclamations of his technical acumen. 
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #31 on: November 22, 2020, 06:45:31 AM »
In the context of Heifetz, hitting the notes in a virtuosic style explicitly meant to elicit applause and proclamations of his technical acumen.

Thanks. Iow, he was a self-centered, narcissistic performer. Well, I'd say a good match for a self-centered, narcissistic composer such as Beethoven.  ;D

“Especially as far as I am concerned, romanticism is not the bloodless intellectual commitment to a program, but the expression of my most profound mind and soul.” --- Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)

Offline Todd

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #32 on: November 22, 2020, 06:49:07 AM »
Thanks. Iow, he was a self-centered, narcissistic performer. Well, I'd say a good match for a self-centered, narcissistic composer such as Beethoven.  ;D

OK
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Offline Todd

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #33 on: November 22, 2020, 06:50:18 AM »


Teenage Ms Mutter and old man Fluffy.  Of course the conductor gets exactly the lush, string dominated sound he wants in the opening tutti and elsewhere, but when Mutter enters, one can hear what the old man saw in her.  Her control is superb, her tone, aided by a generous acoustic and perhaps some added reverb, sounds big and rich, at least when it doesn't sound light and sweet.  The slow overall tempo never really drags.  Rather, the music unfolds in a not particularly spontaneous way.  Mutter goes for a slow, dramatic cadenza to demonstrate her superb control, and it works for that reason, though others entertain more.  The Larghetto is also quite broad and both conductor and soloist deliver the goods.  It lacks engagement and seems somewhat detached, but it sounds splendid.  The Rondo is conventionally timed and mixes vibrant solo and tutti passages with slightly slower and more fluid passages, with smooth legato aplenty, helping the music sail along.  Somewhat like Zukerman/Barenboim, this is high end major label stuff, but perhaps a bit more contrived overall.   
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #34 on: November 22, 2020, 07:06:33 AM »
OK

I just love your composure, here and elsewhere. I'd really like to have it myself, but heck, I am Florestan, right?

 :-* :-* :-*
“Especially as far as I am concerned, romanticism is not the bloodless intellectual commitment to a program, but the expression of my most profound mind and soul.” --- Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)

Offline Handelian

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #35 on: November 22, 2020, 12:57:10 PM »

In the context of Heifetz, hitting the notes in a virtuosic style explicitly meant to elicit applause and proclamations of his technical acumen.

You obviously went inside his mind?

Offline Todd

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #36 on: November 22, 2020, 01:19:00 PM »
You obviously went inside his mind?


Yeah, sure, why not?
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Offline Handelian

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #37 on: November 23, 2020, 01:49:26 AM »

Yeah, sure, why not?

Interesting. Some sort of telepathy with the dead?

Offline Todd

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #38 on: November 23, 2020, 05:19:39 AM »


James Ehnes and Andrew Manze in an up to date modern recording, augmented by 24 bit sound.  The Allegro is snappy in overall delivery, first by Manze and his very slightly thin sounding Royal Liverpool Philharmonic - Manze's no Giulini or Karajan, that's for sure - but Ehnes displays wicked good control and sound.  He sounds urgent here and there, but never rushed, and he sounds smooth and lovely.  Manze, again not leading the most fulsome sounding band, nonetheless leads bracing, energized support for the soloist, bringing the tight tuttis to the fore and backing off for the soloist, just as he should, and perhaps, as a fiddler himself, how he thinks other conductors ought to.  Strangely, there's an episodic feel - soloist leads, and then band - but it moves forward and blends together as it should.  And the entire Allegro moves forward with a sort of relentlessness yet musically satisfying inertia that finds its closest analog in the Heifetz/Munch recording, without ever sounding as pushed-just-because feel.  Ehnes and Manze keep things taut in the Larghetto, which never loses tension while managing to sound lovely, moving, and quite "classical" in demeanor.  Nice.  The Rondo, unsurprisingly, displays more than a bit of pep, and Ehnes, who always displays very fine upper register control, seems to display just a bit more.  Sound is tip-top, though that owes more to be a contemporary recording from Onyx than being 24 bit.
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Offline Todd

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Re: Op 61
« Reply #39 on: November 24, 2020, 06:02:18 AM »


Wolfgang Schneiderhan paired with Eugen Jochum and the Berlin Philharmonic.  Coming right after Ehnes, one can't help but notice the thinner tone and less awesome command, though Schneiderhan does quite well, thank you.  The overall timing is just a hair on the broad side, but at least partly due to Jochum's masterly conducting, it doesn't sound like that.  (And dig the perfectly balanced horns in the opening tutti of the Allegro.)  Some of the upper register playing can sound too thin after extended stretches, but ultimately it's OK.  Scheiderhan uses the Op 61a cadenza re-transcribed to violin, and it's snazzy and virtuosic, and Schneiderhan does a good enough job, but can't match Leonidas Kavakos (more on him forthwith).  The Largo slows everything down accordingly, though again Jochum's direction in the tuttis is comparatively more interesting than the soloist's playing a few times, though as the movement progresses, Schneiderhan's playing approaches late-LvB soundworld quality.  Nice.  He repeats the feat in the Rondo, too, though the movement lacks the last word in pep.  Overall, a good version and one that still has decent sonics almost sixty years on.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General