Karajan's descent into Nibelheim from Das Rheingold is the shiznit too!
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I'm home now, even more drunk so deciding not to formulate my proper response now. I would just like to say thank you Copperears for your post, which has set me on the right vein. I can already tell that we could have some great and enlightening dialogue. Regarding Wganer though (being a trumpet plyaer too, who loves to razz those parts out), I've never come to Wagner through digesting the whole operas and tetralogies of. I would advise anyone on any day to try to experience Wagner through isolated section of glorious music. I'm sorry to use this example, but Siegfried's Funeral March from Gotterdammerung. My god, what a sound. There is Wagner in a nutshell, but I certainly wouldn't put anyone thorugh what comes before it to have the pleasure of that uniquely intimidating piece of writing (...)
LOL, I am 180° the opposite of this. In fact my favorite part of Götterdämmerung is the second half of Act 1, from Hagen's Watch onwards. The music is loaded with dark, evil forebodings. It feels like watching a train wreck in slow-motion...
One of my favorite is the Böhm/Bayreuth Ring which happens to have possibly the worst Funeral March out there - seriously, they must have put the trumpet player in stocks for the way he sh*t on the sword-motif. So I agree that if you think of the Funeral March or the Liebestod as a reward for sitting through 5 hours of "Monsieur Wagner a de beaux moments, mais de mauvais quart d'heures" (as Rossini put it), skip yourself the whole ordeal and buy a "best of Wagner" CD, preferably by Karajan. But to me, it's the whole journey that counts.
There have been many posts regarding Ricardo Wagnerotti and Gustavo Mahlerotti - as I affectinally call two of the composing greats. Believe it or not, this little joke, which certainly means no disrepect, allowed me to slowly bring their music to attention and finally acceptance of the people who were originally buying only lighter Italian opera - hence the above names.
I apologize if this video has been posted before, I only discovered it today : the Gotterdammerung, specially Sigfried's Funeral March, for which I immediately apon first listen knew it is really special and will remain the reference for me perhaps for my entire life - from the recording o Solti/VPO
just under 50 years ago:
Just look how hard and passionately possesed work Solti does; I was always wondering how it must have looked the recording this seminal version of Siegfrid's Funeral - now I have finally found the answer.
One learns most about music and performing it at the rehearsals or recording - what general public ever gets to see, is the polished end product, sometimes vastly underperformed compared to the magnificant performance at the rehearsal. But true greats will usually add yet another last all important stone to the mosaic that leaves us speechless - that is why I find classical music so appealing.
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No brass instrumentalists here, alas :
or they could have had engaged in a rarified dialogue on their preferred recording of Tchaikovsky's 6th :
Just joshing (think that's the term).
I've had Levine and the Met on CD for many years, some great singing there.
Then there's Barenboim's live performance of Das Rheingold with the Bayreuth Festival, from the 1990s. Very energetic, but..... The feet! Worst at the beginning but don't get if you are distracted by stage noise (doesn't bother me).
Oh! Another unforgettable performance, of unforgettable music: Joseph Szigeti, Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. Make sure you listen to this sometime in your lifetime. I've listened to later performances of the same repertoire, none as impassioned and musical, however.
And to add to that, while I'm in a J.S. Bach mood: Sigiswald Kuijken's performance of the Cello Suites on the "shoulder cello." Kuijken did research into Baroque instruments leading to his getting this instrument resurrected. The recording is phenomenal: the performances are expressive, the tonalities resonant and distinctively more lithe than those of later cellos, and the recording itself is a true audiophile's delight of clarity and presence.
You'll know instantly listening to these whether whatever transducer you are using is up to snuff across the board or not.
The Szigeti by contrast is a monoaural, older recording, but still phenomenal. Szigeti wasn't into "beautiful" tone but into the muscle and dance of Bach's music, and the full, noisy qualities of playing a violin with gusto. It's almost like listening to heavy metal Bach, it's that stunning. The squeaks, scratches, bounces of the bow on the string, are all part of the music. Makes me think of Pharaoh Sanders and Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane.
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Edited by Copperears - 11/10/13 at 10:25am
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Here is another of my transfers from 78 rpm disks... Siegfried's Rhine Journey, Bruno Walter / Royal Philharmonic recorded 1926. This a great way to hear what golden age performance practices sounded like. They didn't dawdle!
I have some fantastic Parsifal extracts too if anyone is interested in that.
Edited by bigshot - 11/10/13 at 11:19am
Older recordings are fascinating; it's like time travel.
I hear more of a popular music element in these than in later, more worshipful and serious performances; and I'm not saying that critically. The performers and musicians of the time were much closer to their popular and folk musical traditions than later, more studious equivalents.