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and yet you have contributed nothing...
Of course I did. Best posting EVER
Best post ever
Does it make sense to compare music ? Of course not. And what is this thread for?
I didn't meant your post. I was referring to mine. But I hope my contribution is useful for someone who takes the music as it is, and may think over this competition nonsense. Best composer, best conductor, best whatever. This disaster goes for decades now. And my contribution is to express exactly that. And what I really do not like is the notion in the past classical music was better performing. It is exactly the opposite. We never had so many good musicians as today.
Why people continue to post non-factual comments on a thread they don't like puzzles me.
A few great composers too these days. What does it all mean to history and current culture in your opinoin?
Whether or not performers were better or worse in the past compared to today is a subjective opinion. Different people might think differently. But I think it's pretty clear that performance practices are different now than they were in the past. Today, there are no Stokowskis or Heifetzes. Back then there was no HIP. I think eliminating either would be ill advised.
There is one thing though where the past does have a significant advantage... singers. There's never been another Caruso, Chaliapin or Melchior. I suppose you could also argue that there aren't composers of the quality of those in the classical or romantic era. But that's because in those days classical music was mainstream and not just another niche of the overall music field. It could be argued that the Bachs and Mozarts and Beethovens of today might have gone into popular music, jazz or film scoring. They still exist, they just aren't necessarily making classical music any more.
Recording has changed the music world completely. Classical music was created to be performed live in concert halls by conductors and musicians who were expected to interpret the work. Today the goal is to create a historically accurate picture of how the music was presented in the past without a lot of interpretation... "let the music do the talking". That wasn't at all the way music was performed in the era of great charismatic conductors like Stoki or Karajan. It's quite different now. So comparing today to the past is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. But recording allows us to go back in time like in a time machine and experience music they way our grandparents did. I think that is pretty cool myself.
Also, this seems like a great time for someone to define what "great" means. Or maybe noone actually cares?
My apologies to Mr. B. I didn't see his post before my last comment.
Actually, on a deep level I think there are and always have been always historically informed performances. In fact, HIP aside( which is a style IMO.), ALL performances are historically informed consciously or not. Meaningful/relevant or not.
EDIT: All performances are also presently informed as well, for better or worse relevance-wise. So maybe I should just go to the zoo ...
In the late 19th/early 20th century, performance style was more romantic, and the conductor was given free rein to interpret the music himself. The conductor was the star of the show, and he was expected to have an unique personality that made a recognizable mark on the music. This was before recording technology impacted performance style. A conductor could improvise in performances and experiment with new personal ways to phrase or pace a work. If it didn't work, it had only existed for one performance at one point in time. He could do it differently at the next performance. Conductors played with the sound of their band, creating their own recognizable sound.
But by the hifi era, that had started to change. There were still romantic style conductors, like Stokowski and Karajan, but when a performance is set in stone on a vinyl disc for all time, experimentation wasn't valued as much. Mistakes could be enshrined forever too. Eventually this led to the effort to record "perfect" performances that hit all the marks properly. The goal was a definitive recording. This led to the era of the Szells and Reiners who cracked a whip for tight perfection and control.
After a dozen or more "definitive recordings" that all sounded pretty similar, there wasn't much point recording more. So performance style doubled down on the definition of "proper" and strove to exactly reproduce the performance style of the period the piece was composed. Naturally, opinions will vary about that, so performances did too, and we end up with a bunch of quite different "historically accurate" performances.
Now we find ourselves with a back catalog of recordings in all three of these styles... all of which have their strengths and weaknesses. There is no definitive "one recording" that surpasses all others. Instead there are many which all approach the work differently. I have a very large collection of classical music, and a lot of the enjoyment I get from listening to it is hearing the differences between performances. I can play a Beethoven symphony and in many cases know who is conducting it by the way it is performed. That adds a whole other layer of appreciation to classical music.
Your cool too bigshot! Really. Love your passion about music!
There is nothing wrong what your are saying. I would consider myself as an attentive listener. I do not play my music as background noise. Yes, there are many different interpretations on records. We are talking about a time frame of over 100 years. Like anybody else I have my favorites and stick with them. I do not compare a lot. I just keep the version I like most.
The big change in performing music was at the end of 18th century. Music culture changed fundamentally. Not the style, but the practice. People began playing music from composers, who where already passed away. The piano teacher of Beethoven (Christian Gottlieb Neefe) wrote in a newspaper: "A interesting experiment. But I hope this practice will never prevail". Conducting grew more and more over the 19th century. Mahler (as a conductor) and von Bülow are worth to mention.
Nice, you mention Caruso and you speak about Singers. He was really incredible. He gave recordings a big kick.
But people like effects more than singing. They like volume and it has to be loud. Give me more drama. Who sang the high B better competition? Waiting for Nessun Dorma's "Vincerò! Vincerò!". Hurray. Welcome to the world of opera.
For the romantic italian and french opera's I listen most to singers from pre WW2. The audience has the singers they deserve! And I say this without any disrespectful intention.