Author Topic: Elgar's Hillside  (Read 325621 times)

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Offline Brewski

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3380 on: March 19, 2021, 11:15:50 AM »
Conductor Kenneth Woods just posted this concert, with Elgar miniatures for cello and strings, which will be up for four days. (The works with asterisks are only available to ESO subscribers.)

English Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Kenneth Woods
Cello: Raphael Wallfisch

Programme:
– Chanson de Matin, Op.15 No.2
– Chanson de Nuit, Op.15 No.1
– The Wild Bears, Wand of Youth Suite No.2
– Nimrod, The Enigma Variations, Op.36
– Romance, Op.62
– Sospiri, Op.70
– Mazurka, Op.10 No.1
– Pleading, Op.48 *
– In Moonlight *
– Salut d’Amour, Op.12 *
– Adieu *

https://www.eso.co.uk/elgar-reimagined-1/

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3381 on: March 19, 2021, 12:17:21 PM »
I don't trust other people recommending stuff. This is especially true with Elgar. Most of the performances discussed here are unknown to me. I have enough performances of the Violin Concerto. I am the crazy guy who things Naxos can offer really good performances. I am the crazy guy who things it is pointless to waste your time on some distorted and noisy mono recordings from the 50's in 2021.

There are only a few composers I wish had more music for us to enjoy. Nikolaus Bruhns is one. Alban Berg is another. I wish Elgar had more symphonies. I wish he had more chamber music. It's crazy. Elgar wrote quite a lot of music, but it feels so little.

Sorry if I can't participate beyond my own ramblings. I should visit Tasmin Little again.

P.S. Half of the time I don't even understand where you find some of the obscure performances you are talking about. Why have you bought Sitkovetsky for example? The devil made you do it?

Sitkovetsky = very fine violinist
Menuhin = very good in Elgar
RPO as recorded on Virgin = a rich opulent sound well suited to the Elgar idiom
Add all the above together = worth a listen
Don't trust other people's opinions = fine - but to trust others opens the soul
PS: Leaper + Kang on Naxos = also very good (as is the other Naxos/Elgar violin concerto from the West Kazakhstan PO (!)


Offline 71 dB

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3382 on: March 19, 2021, 03:52:33 PM »
I still like the first recording I acquired, Sitkovetsky with Menuhin conducting.




Just listened to this on Spotify. I think Sitkovetsky plays some anticipatory notes too aggressively instead of "fading them softly in", but otherwise he does well. The orchestra under Menuhin struggles to know what to do and things are emphasized oddly. The result sounds like the parts rather coherent sum of the parts. The sound quality is not stunning for a 1994 recording, but it is at least pleasant. Tempi are good. I'd say this is a good performance, but not so awesome as to making me want to add it to my Elgar collection.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
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Offline Daverz

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3383 on: March 19, 2021, 05:31:39 PM »
Just listened to this on Spotify. I think Sitkovetsky plays some anticipatory notes too aggressively instead of "fading them softly in", but otherwise he does well. The orchestra under Menuhin struggles to know what to do and things are emphasized oddly. The result sounds like the parts rather coherent sum of the parts. The sound quality is not stunning for a 1994 recording, but it is at least pleasant. Tempi are good. I'd say this is a good performance, but not so awesome as to making me want to add it to my Elgar collection.

Thanks for the comments.  I listened to this again the other night, and, yeah, the sonics are rather opaque.

I have about a dozen other recordings on the music server.  The latest one is Nicola Benedetti.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 05:33:12 PM by Daverz »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3384 on: March 22, 2021, 05:56:29 PM »
I just read with great interest an interview by violinist Renaud Capuçon about his new recording of the violin concerto (w. LSO, Rattle). This web page from Presto contains audio samples of the performance as well as of 2 historic performances discussed in the interview (Menuhin/Elgar and Sammons/Wood).

https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/articles/3842--interview-renaud-capucon-on-elgar


I listened to these clips in succession and was astounded by the differences. Briefly: a far superior account of the violin part from Capuçon, with astounding precision and purity of tone in alt (check the clip of the 3rd movement). Menuhin in comparison is firm-toned yet his intonation wobbles as he reaches the highest notes.

But then compare the orchestral intro to the first movement: mushy and lethargic under Rattle, firm and resolute under Elgar, with much more forceful accents and energy, very good but rushed under Wood.

So, a remarkable soloist and a terrible conductor (the new release) vs lesser violinists but much better conducting under the composer. Of course a battle of the clips is no way to judge competing recordings, but the juxtaposition is so startling that it really made me pause.

I wouldn’t say Rattle is a terrible conductor --- this is just too harsh of a criticism. He has turned in some fantastic performances. For example, his Szymanowski is of a another planet. How he was able to get inside this music yet can make Debussy or Ravel sound trivial is beyond me. He’s also quite good in Stravinsky and Janáček. He’s good in Britten, but I think little of his other performances of British composers (not that I flock to British composers much these past few years in general).

Getting back to Elgar, I don’t listen to his music very much, but when I was listening regularly, I favored two performances of the Violin Concerto: Hugh Bean/Groves on EMI and Tasmin Little/A. Davis on Chandos. I also liked the James Ehnes/A. Davis recording on Onyx. If I ever get in the mood to listen to Elgar again, which I don’t foresee happening for a long-time, I’ll have to revisit this VC and post some thoughts here.
"When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something." - Dmitri Shostakovich

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3385 on: March 23, 2021, 04:46:23 AM »
I agree MI.  I think that certain critics have overhyped Rattle, but he is not a bad conductor.  He is a good conductor, but when there are many great conductors it is not sufficient to be merely good.  Why waste time with such a conductor when there are so many finer recordings out there?

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3386 on: March 23, 2021, 06:23:36 AM »
I agree MI.  I think that certain critics have overhyped Rattle, but he is not a bad conductor.  He is a good conductor, but when there are many great conductors it is not sufficient to be merely good.  Why waste time with such a conductor when there are so many finer recordings out there?

For me, it depends on the repertoire. If I were to listen to Bruckner or Wagner, would I listen to Rattle’s recordings of these composers? Hell no. He’s not on the level of a Karajan or Böhm.
"When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something." - Dmitri Shostakovich

DavidW

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3387 on: March 23, 2021, 07:00:12 AM »
For me, it depends on the repertoire. If I were to listen to Bruckner or Wagner, would I listen to Rattle’s recordings of these composers? Hell no. He’s not on the level of a Karajan or Böhm.

Exactly.  But as you pointed out he has made some excellent recordings though.

Offline André

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3388 on: March 23, 2021, 07:00:28 AM »
I wouldn’t say Rattle is a terrible conductor --- this is just too harsh of a criticism. He has turned in some fantastic performances. For example, his Szymanowski is of a another planet. How he was able to get inside this music yet can make Debussy or Ravel sound trivial is beyond me. He’s also quite good in Stravinsky and Janáček. He’s good in Britten, but I think little of his other performances of British composers (not that I flock to British composers much these past few years in general).

Getting back to Elgar, I don’t listen to his music very much, but when I was listening regularly, I favored two performances of the Violin Concerto: Hugh Bean/Groves on EMI and Tasmin Little/A. Davis on Chandos. I also liked the James Ehnes/A. Davis recording on Onyx. If I ever get in the mood to listen to Elgar again, which I don’t foresee happening for a long-time, I’ll have to revisit this VC and post some thoughts here.

I didn’t either. I was referring specifically to the opening of the concerto in this particular recording. The extrapolation is yours, not mine. ;)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3389 on: March 23, 2021, 07:15:47 AM »
I didn’t either. I was referring specifically to the opening of the concerto in this particular recording. The extrapolation is yours, not mine. ;)

Well, I just felt the need to come to Rattle’s defense, but yes, I do realize now that you were referring this Elgar VC recording and not to Rattle’s entire discography. ;)
"When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something." - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3390 on: September 05, 2021, 01:56:35 AM »
I have some of the historical recordings of Elgar conduction his own works. The sound quality has put me off listening to them much, but a week or so ago I got an idea:

Headphone spatiality has been my hobby for almost a decade now especially in the form of headphone crossfeed and how to mix music for headphones. I think I have gathered a solid understanding of headphone spatiality and human spatial hearing in general. So, why not try and write a Nyquist plugin to process monophonic recordings so that they have the "feel" of being stereophonic? Make the mono sound "diffuse" so that it sounds more like how monophonic recordings sound playing on speakers: The room acoustics create a diffuse reverberation sound field that has only statistically mono random left and right information.

The technical details of the plugin goes beyond Elgar's thread, but it was a success!  ;D I have been finetuning the parameters and the results are quite nice. The only problem is that diffusing the sound makes noise also diffuse and more noticeable, but otherwise the music becomes engaging and more natural. The plugin is designed for headphone listening, but it even work with speakers and in multichannel listening modes such as DTS Neo:6 Music spreads the music nicely to all my 5 speakers.

I have been listening to Elgar's first symphony conducted by himself in 1930 prosessed into diffuse mono and enjoying the performance like never before! Especially the Adagio is super-lovely. I haven't been much into recordings of mono era, but this can change that!
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Jazzz"

Offline Scion7

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3391 on: October 10, 2021, 01:20:38 AM »
^ What is needed is a time-machine equipped with the latest recording technology.  :P

In the meantime:

The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3392 on: October 10, 2021, 01:49:08 AM »
^ What is needed is a time-machine equipped with the latest recording technology.  :P

Haven't you watched the Back to the Future movies? What if Elgar being able to record with digital audio gear in 1930 leads to Nazis winning in WWII? Changing the history is tempting, but dangerous.   :o

Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW track "Jazzz"

Offline Scion7

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Re: Elgar's Hillside
« Reply #3393 on: October 10, 2021, 03:59:50 PM »
An English composer with records of high fidelity enabling National Socialism to overcome the vastly superior war material output of the Americans?  It ... it BAMBOOZLES the mind!
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal