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Best classical recordings...ever! - Page 117

post #1741 of 1748
Originally Posted by perhapss View Post




Unfortunately real activity between humans in real time and space TOGETHER has suffered IMO.


If you're ever in Los Angeles, you're welcome to come by for a visit to watch an opera or see a symphony on my projection video system.

post #1742 of 1748
Originally Posted by edgeworth View Post

I saw Siegfried and Gotterdamerung  at the Washington National Theatre a few years ago.  Siegfried was one of those horrible regietheater productions -- set in a junkyard that was nauseating.  Then I almost screamed with laughter when I saw the cheesy robot dragon they had.  People were disappointed at first when they lost their budgets and Gotterdamerung had to be done as a concert version. But as it happened, what the performers did was to a do a sort of dramatic reading without costumes or props but with some action and movement.  And you know what?  It worked.  It was far more satisfying than Siegfried while not being as static as most straight concert versions.   It's making me think we should demand minimalist productions.  I prefer those to regietheater.


I've been looking for a DVD to buy but I watch excerpts of all the post Levine sets on youtube and think Ok... Not for me.  I'm having more fun imagining an ideal staging while listening to multiple versions.


I find that there is a middle ground. I don't mind old school or modern as long as the interpretation suits the story. Chereau's Boulez Ring and Mehta's Valencia Ring do that for me. I'm renting the Copenhagen Ring from Netflix to give it a go. We'll see how it does.

post #1743 of 1748
Originally Posted by perhapss View Post


Yes I've heard several.

No I haven't heard the Herrick you mention here.


    ".....playing is very "Bach....." "


Curious what this means.....


I grew up with Walcha's recordings and my mother was a very accomplished organist so I'm biased.

I tend to hear something interesting (one way or another) and new in every performance of Bach's organ music so I keep listening and learning....


I don't listen too often though.At the right time there is nothing better.

Often, at those times I would rather hear nothing else.

Yes, you could literally spend a lifetime listening to Bach's keyboard works with a constant fascination. The breadth of invention and imagination is second to none imo :)


I'll try and explain what I mean by "the playing is very Bach" in my usual layman's terminology haha. Here goes; Whether you are a collector of music or a musician (I'm both) and you focus on a particular artist - you can kind of build an image or standard generalization of the music and with this comes 'how you think it should be played'. This is of course subjective but there has to be an element of objectivity involved relatively as well.

As with all interpretations of composers past, there can never be any certainty as to how the composer actually intended the music to be played, away from the written sheets.

With a composer such as Bach we are lucky enough to have a vast world of interpretations out there, from the 'show offs' to the 'idiosyncratic' to the 'technical perfectionists' to even the 'romantics' and some with all of those generalizations. But when you try to remove all of the quirks and stylismo, what are you left with? Just notes. I hate the generalisation that 'Bach was a technician' and that he churned out maths not music. This is absolute nonsense! These generalizations are for people who are soaked up within the romantic music of the later century and have become immune to the subtleties of emotion within Bach's highly complex tapestries. If Bach's output was a fraction of what is is.. say a fifth, then some wouldn't be so focused on the sheer amount of variations. And yes a lot of it is the same as he had to constantly write music to feed his huge family haha, re-writing and magpie-ing his own ideas for further explorations. But hey, thats what all composers do. Mozart is a perfect example of this.

I'm digressing slightly here, but what I'm trying to say is - first and foremost Bach was fundamentally an artist. A musician. And IMO a very emotional guy! One listen to St Matthews Passion must prove this beyond doubt to any reasonable minded person who loves music.


So for me a great Bach interpreter must first of all have the fundamentals firmly in place to begin with. This is the art itself. The "MUSIC!" (This may seem a little contrived  but I know plenty of musicians who treat the keyboard like a typewriter rather than a musical instrument). Secondly the technical abilities. Everything else is open to interpretation. I also think that a knowledge of the times and baroque style are also very important if one is to try and recreate any kind of nostalgia. But at the same time there is also an openness to Bach's works (especially his keyboard works) that beg to be manipulated or 'played with' and in turn put to test with an artists own creativity (and it is this aspect that makes his music 'timeless' rather than stuck in the Baroque movement) - but there has to be a fine line between 'interpreting' or 'taking over' an artists work. 

There are many great Bach players out there. Gould, Hewitt, Schiff, Richter to name a few. All those mentioned have their own ideas on how Bach should be played. But none of them can get inside Bach's head. So how can I claim anyone is "very Bach"? Well... I take away the speed of Gould, the overpowering of Richter's hammer fingers, I turn up Hewitt's gentle touch and I give Schiff a little slap for over indulging hahaha. 


I can never know what "very Bach" is actually. Just what I think it should be.       

post #1744 of 1748

Indeed 'very Bach'  is whatever one wants it to be.. there is no such thing as objective art, and if there is, I want nothing to do with it :D

post #1745 of 1748
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post


I find that there is a middle ground. I don't mind old school or modern as long as the interpretation suits the story. Chereau's Boulez Ring and Mehta's Valencia Ring do that for me. I'm renting the Copenhagen Ring from Netflix to give it a go. We'll see how it does.

I cling to the hope that someday we'll have a filmed Ring for HBO that is done traditionally but shot as a film -- a bit like Losey's Don Giovanni or the Villazon/Netrebko La Boheme.  I am more and more convinced that filmed opera is too limiting.  Lipsynched film to me, when combined with proper staging and effective use of movie techniques, is a reasonable compromise to get a great film.


Or perhaps a good compromise might be an animated version of the Ring using high level Pixar techniques and backed by the music from any of the leading studio Rings.


But I've simply given up on going to live Wagner and most big budget live opera.  It's hopeless; I won't convince the powers that be, so I won't give them my money.  I'd rather confine myself to traditionally done opera from a provincial or university theater group when I need the "hit" that live performances give.  Better mediocre singing than regietheater monstrosities even with great singers.

post #1746 of 1748
Karajan did a filmed Rhinegold and it was very good.

There are plenty of good operas on video, with more showing up just about every day. I'm like a pig in mud when it comes to blu-rays.
post #1747 of 1748

The Karajan was a half-hearted attempt but still pretty good.  Part stage, part film.  I think something that went all the way would be great.  But in fact there is no semi-traditional Ring other than the early Levine.  Some parts of the Valencia look like they might work live but others...? Maybe if I can buy it cheaply, otherwise, I'll wait.  I don't think it's as bad as Boulez or Barenboim or that atrocity I saw in DC but in general it's easier to get traditional direction or at least respectful minimalism with Puccini or Verdi than Wagner stagings.  I did see a minimalist Dutchman in St. Petersburg that I thought was quite good and didn't try to distort the opera.

post #1748 of 1748
It was so half hearted, they ran out of money to film the rest! Karajan burned through the budget on bringing his Ring to the US too. That Saltzburg Ring was a full bells and whistles affair.

The Valencia Ring is the best video Ring I've seen. It totally tops the recent Met blu-rays in every aspect... conducting, singing, staging. I'm not as fond of the costumes in it, but that is minor when they get the rest right. Siegfried's Rhine Journey is spectacular. And the first act of Siegfried is a lot of fun, as Wagner intended it to be, but most stagings take it way too seriously. When was the last time you saw a staging that actually had Fricka's chariot of rams?

I don't care if a staging is traditional or not. I just care if it puts across the story and characters properly. In fact, it is better if the stage director has some original ideas. I just don't want one thing to be going on in the music and a totally different thing to be going on up on the stage.

I recently watched a modern dress Rigoletto and it was very good. The Italians are being restaged too.
Edited by bigshot - Today at 10:53 am
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