Author Topic: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)  (Read 69308 times)

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Online Spotted Horses

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #460 on: January 31, 2022, 11:08:14 AM »
I think that's part of it. I like gnarly, thorny, or less obvious music alongside the more accessible works. Not just musically, either... Laphroaig or other heavily peated whisky, stronger tasting foods, people with 'personality'... but musically, I find that lots of the works I love most have taken a bit more effort to grasp. Outside of classical music, my preferred choices tend to be the thornier genres of metal.

I guess I am drawn to music which is like the proverbial onion, many layers to peel. There is music which I listen to and think, ok, I get it. That's fine, but my favorite is music which leave me with the feeling that I haven't quite grasped it, inviting me to listen again, to the same recording or to a different one. No matter how many times I listen to Brahms it seems that I find something I didn't take note of before. That is the mark of a great artist, for me. I guess the onion can be contrasted with a nut that has a hard shell but a tasty fruit inside.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2022, 11:13:22 AM by Spotted Horses »

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #461 on: January 31, 2022, 11:40:36 AM »
I guess I am drawn to music which is like the proverbial onion, many layers to peel. There is music which I listen to and think, ok, I get it. That's fine, but my favorite is music which leave me with the feeling that I haven't quite grasped it, inviting me to listen again, to the same recording or to a different one. No matter how many times I listen to Brahms it seems that I find something I didn't take note of before. That is the mark of a great artist, for me. I guess the onion can be contrasted with a nut that has a hard shell but a tasty fruit inside.

+1 from me
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Offline Mountain Goat

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #462 on: January 31, 2022, 11:48:59 AM »
This I don't follow. When you buy a recording of a symphony it is not the audio that you value, but the plastic box with a plastic disc inside? Magnetic domains on your hard disk are less real than pits in an aluminum film? The FLAC files hyperion sells are bit-for-bit identical to the CD.

Of course I value the audio, but I also value the disc which I can just shove into my CD player and allows me to hear the audio straight away without any work on my part. With a download, listening anywhere other than the computer requires extra work and expense (CDRs aren't free). For someone who only listens to music on their computer I'd agree that a physical CD is pointless, but almost all my listening is either on a hifi which provides much better sound than a computer, or in my car which has a CD player, so a CD is a much more convenient format for me. And it's durable too - I have CDs bought in the late 1980s that still play fine, I'm not sure CDRs would last that long. When downloads often cost the same or not much less than the physical CD, I've never yet been in a situation where it's been worth my while paying for one.

Online Spotted Horses

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #463 on: January 31, 2022, 12:03:10 PM »
Of course I value the audio, but I also value the disc which I can just shove into my CD player and allows me to hear the audio straight away without any work on my part. With a download, listening anywhere other than the computer requires extra work and expense (CDRs aren't free). For someone who only listens to music on their computer I'd agree that a physical CD is pointless, but almost all my listening is either on a hifi which provides much better sound than a computer, or in my car which has a CD player, so a CD is a much more convenient format for me. And it's durable too - I have CDs bought in the late 1980s that still play fine, I'm not sure CDRs would last that long. When downloads often cost the same or not much less than the physical CD, I've never yet been in a situation where it's been worth my while paying for one.

I never listen to music downloads "on my computer." I buy downloads in FLAC format and I can immediately stream them to the digital input on my CD player or a DAC/headphone amp using a media player. When I buy CDs (generally because I can get a used copy cheaper than a download) I just rip them to FLAC and play them the same way. FLAC files are bit-for-bit identical to the CDs, except of course when hi-rez FLAC files are available.

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #464 on: January 31, 2022, 12:10:06 PM »
I'm enjoying the challenge of the Peter Maxwell Davies' Naxos Quartets, so how much harder can they be?


The Simpson quartets are much better than those  ;)

Offline Mountain Goat

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #465 on: January 31, 2022, 12:31:04 PM »
I never listen to music downloads "on my computer." I buy downloads in FLAC format and I can immediately stream them to the digital input on my CD player or a DAC/headphone amp using a media player. When I buy CDs (generally because I can get a used copy cheaper than a download) I just rip them to FLAC and play them the same way. FLAC files are bit-for-bit identical to the CDs, except of course when hi-rez FLAC files are available.

Ah ok, didn't know you could do that! I'm out of touch with what is possible these days as I tend to hold on to things until they stop working - my previous car was so old it still had a cassette player  :laugh:

I wasn't really aware of FLAC files either, I tend to think of downloads as MP3s which as far as I know are still lower quality.

Offline Madiel

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #466 on: January 31, 2022, 01:09:19 PM »
Lossless formats such as FLAC are undoubtedly a big setup from mp3, which really needs to die.

Still like having a booklet and a disc though.

I totally need to go listen to other recordings now to find out whether the music comes to life. Idagio has 5 of the first 6 symphonies…
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Offline Mountain Goat

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #467 on: January 31, 2022, 01:22:37 PM »
Still like having a booklet and a disc though.

That is another reason I prefer CDs, it's nice to be able to easily refer to the notes and the track listing.

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #468 on: January 31, 2022, 02:37:58 PM »

The Simpson quartets are much better than those  ;)

Haha. I think lots of people agree with you, but I have come to really love his work. Encouraging that Simpson rates higher in your eyes, though. Bodes well!

Lossless formats such as FLAC are undoubtedly a big setup from mp3, which really needs to die.

Still like having a booklet and a disc though.

I totally need to go listen to other recordings now to find out whether the music comes to life. Idagio has 5 of the first 6 symphonies…

I don't miss discs at all, but I do very much miss booklets with all the information they bring. I use my Samsung Galaxy for everything - both to play Spotify directly to headphones, and to connect to my Sonos system connected to every major room in my house. I use it to control my primary 5TB HD which hosts all my locally held music as well. Tracklisting at the touch of a button, but no helpful notes to hold in my hand or even to read as pdfs, when using Spotify. Boo.

My ears are pants. I'm not at all sure that the gap between mp3 and lossless makes a huge difference to me, sadly. Would be good to hear your thoughtful reflections on the Simpson symphonies, though! You are far more astute than I am.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2022, 03:09:23 PM by foxandpeng »
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Online Spotted Horses

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #469 on: January 31, 2022, 03:00:31 PM »
That is another reason I prefer CDs, it's nice to be able to easily refer to the notes and the track listing.

Most of the time you can get a pdf of the booklet with the download. I keep them together so that I can look at the pdf file of the booklet when I listen to the tracks. I also scan the booklets of CDs that I rip, so I have pdf booklets for them too. The track listing is generally embedded in the media files, so no special effort is needed to get that.

I don't use my phone for any of this, I use a media player in my computer (first a Windows PC, now a Mac).


Offline Madiel

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #470 on: January 31, 2022, 04:10:17 PM »
PDFs are a classic case of outsourcing the printing costs to the consumer (should you want a printed copy).

In most cases I’m more than happy to continue paying for a professional printer to produce a booklet that is the right size for the physical package, though I do have the occasional PDF of vocal texts. And some examples where I have a PDF copy of the booklets of individual volumes when what I actually bought was a box set with less information.

Perhaps the physical entity is less important after I bought a unit that combines a CD player with streaming capability, but I still tend to prefer having something physical to show for my money (and still believe that actually parting with money is an important part of showing what I value, though I acknowledge we were NOT talking about file sharing).
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Offline kyjo

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #471 on: January 31, 2022, 04:10:52 PM »
Maybe it's the symphonies that are dull and lifeless. :)

Spoken as one who has tried to dig into them, but has come out with more respect than love.

Precisely! :D
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #472 on: January 31, 2022, 04:55:35 PM »
Okay, I've just listened to Boult's performance of Symphony No.1, and a few minutes ago I started Handley's performance of the same.

I can tell you right now that in those opening few minutes, Boult has a dynamism and energy that Handley sorely lacks. The difference is striking.

I still don't think that this is going to be my favourite music (by the time I got to the 3rd part out of 3 with Boult, it was beginning to outstay its welcome a touch anyway), but in Part 1 Boult was exciting and Handley is really failing to be exciting.

Just from that one Part, Boult made me think "oh right, this is like Nielsen". Nielsen being one of Simpson's favourite composers. And what do we associate with Nielsen? Drive. Momentum. Yes, some composers end up overdoing that aspect of Nielsen and losing shade and colour, but flaccid Nielsen is no good either.

Against, Boult, Handley is sounding rather lead-footed in Symphony No.1 (still the same impression 10 minutes in). I will try the other symphonies where other conductors are readily available to me (3 through 6) but on this first run it's looking as if Handley might have taken music that is admittedly a little square and academic and made it sound moreso.
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Offline relm1

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #473 on: January 31, 2022, 05:01:52 PM »
If that's the case then Simpson was completely and utterly wrong. Those recordings have got more life to them than anything. A fine continuation of Handley's excellent Hyperion records.

Weird response.  Let the man who created the music have an opinion of how it's interpreted.  My recollection from MacDonald was exactly what he said and he knew the man closely.  I recalled it because it shocked me as at that time, the ONLY recording of these works I heard were Handley's. 

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/mar04/simpson_macdonald.htm
« Last Edit: January 31, 2022, 05:03:59 PM by relm1 »

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #474 on: January 31, 2022, 08:07:27 PM »
PDFs are a classic case of outsourcing the printing costs to the consumer (should you want a printed copy).

I don't see it as outsourcing printing costs. These labels all include printed booklets with sales of physical media. It seems pretty unreasonable to expect them to mail you a physical booklet if you order a digital download of the music. I see the inclusion of a pdf booklet with a download as a courtesy, relieving you of the necessity of visiting the web site. And for the record, I have never once in my life printed out a booklet for a CD download. I make them accessible in "the cloud" and view them on my iPad, which is generally much easier to read than the tiny booklet.

Offline Madiel

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #475 on: January 31, 2022, 08:25:25 PM »
I don't see it as outsourcing printing costs. These labels all include printed booklets with sales of physical media. It seems pretty unreasonable to expect them to mail you a physical booklet if you order a digital download of the music.

This is true. I was perhaps thinking more about things where there's a PDF on one of the discs. I'm not used to buying downloads in most contexts.

It's interesting how booklets are now commonly available on streaming services. Now reading THOSE on my phone is a challenge...
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #476 on: January 31, 2022, 10:25:04 PM »
I have the Handley cycle of Simpson's symphonies on Hyperion and, tbh, I thought they were boring, lifeless works --- all of them. There was nothing redeeming about any of them.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #477 on: January 31, 2022, 11:44:43 PM »
Maybe it's the symphonies that are dull and lifeless. :)

Spoken as one who has tried to dig into them, but has come out with more respect than love.
This is largely my view as well, although I do like symphonies 1 and 3 and want to investigate 2 and 4 (on the same Hyperion CD) which I have heard good things about. As I've said before, I regard Simpson's symphonies as like coming across a very impressive piece of scaffolding which, when removed, reveals that there is no building underneath. 'Nielsen without the tunes' also rings true to me. Having said that I shall persevere with Symphony No.9 which made more sense to me the last time I heard it. There's a really good old EMI CD featuring Simpson's First Symphony (Boult), Symphony No.2 by Fricker and the very impressive Symphony in One Movement by the Scottish composer Robin Orr.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2022, 01:00:06 AM by vandermolen »
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Offline Maestro267

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #478 on: February 01, 2022, 12:20:01 AM »
Not all music has to have tunes. Symphonies are structures first and foremost. And Simpson did more than most to inject life into the symphonic form. Creating a work in the 9th Symphony which maintains the same pulse for 50 minutes and yet still gives the impression of distinct sections. That's skill right there.

Offline Madiel

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #479 on: February 01, 2022, 12:42:55 AM »
Not all music has to have tunes. Symphonies are structures first and foremost. And Simpson did more than most to inject life into the symphonic form. Creating a work in the 9th Symphony which maintains the same pulse for 50 minutes and yet still gives the impression of distinct sections. That's skill right there.

And yet, somehow he had no clue about the interpretation of his own symphonies...
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