Classical music discussion, what do you like?
Apr 29, 2021 at 1:58 PM Post #2,746 of 2,764

vcoheda

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giordano - andrea chenier - franco corelli - emi (LP to 24-96 FLAC)

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May 14, 2021 at 7:30 AM Post #2,755 of 2,764

CanadianMaestro

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A recent interview with Alfred Brendel, by the crew at Presto:

(Questions by Paul Thomas and Katherine Cooper).

PT: What do you feel have been the most significant changes in the performance and appreciation of classical music since you began your career?
AB:
Permit me to concentrate on the greatest 'German' composers. For Bach and Handel, the historicising practice of performance has developed from the time of Harnoncourt’s 'Concentus Musicus' and the harpsichordist and organist Gustav Leonhardt to a multitude of present-day baroque-style conductors, singers, instrumentalists, and virtuoso ensembles. I am not always happy with the results. There is by no means a comprehensive answer to the question: How did they sound then? The individualities and idiosyncrasies of performers have contributed quite a few personal variants, and even where they follow a few 'basic rules', I find some of these rules questionable. There is, of course, also the question: Do we have to try to approximate the performance practice of the past to our times and ears? Does a return to such practices, the attempt of an 'authentic' approach, necessarily lead to a better understanding and deeper enjoyment? In the case of Bach who himself liberally transposed works of his own and of others into very different instrumental settings it would be pedantic to insist too strenuously on these matters.
Fortunately, there is now a coexistence of Bach players: both pianists and harpsichordists play his magnificent keyboard works. Don’t misunderstand me. I much prefer Scarlatti’s sonatas on the harpsichord and Raymond Leppard’s versions of Monteverdi would, these days, sound absurd. But no one today would attempt to perform the St. Matthew Passion à la Mengelberg anyway. There is a borderline where the music starts to sound bloodless, mannered, and academic.
One of the most wonderful developments within my lifetime was the rediscovery of Handel. His oratorios and operas that had long been neglected were resurrected in full glory, adapted to the modern stage, and sung by a multitude of singers who out of nowhere, as it seemed, developed the necessary bravura of coloratura singing without losing their expressive power. Within the same timespan, countertenors and falsetto singers of high quality enriched the vocal spectrum. The range of expression in Handel’s dramatic music reaches from dirge to farce. I can now well imagine why Beethoven admired him above all.
Some of the new dogmas of baroque performance have spilled over to the way in which Haydn’s and Mozart’s music is treated lately, more so in Europe than in the US. It seems grotesque to me that the chamber music of these two masters is sometimes treated in a pseudo-baroque fashion (non-vibrato, accented two-note-groups, the shortest staccato, clipped end notes of phrases etc.) while their younger contemporary Beethoven is allowed to sound 'modern'. For my ears, it has presently become very difficult to find a Mozart opera that is conducted and studied in a natural and sensible manner. Here is a fine example: Cosi fan tutte conducted by Iván Fischer at Glyndebourne with Miah Persson singing Fiordiligi, available on DVD.
As for Beethoven, the tendency goes towards a gain in speed and a lack of warmth. Beethoven’s 'von Herzen möge es wieder zu Herzen gehen' ('from the heart, may it go again to the heart') is present rarely enough – not much space to make Beethoven’s dolce or espressivo come true. I am a great admirer of Beethoven’s notation in general, with the exception of some of his metronome markings in his symphonies and chamber music which, for good reason, have not been followed by most older musicians. For his piano works, there are fortunately no metronome figures with the exception of the Hammerklavier Sonata Op. 106, which has some of the craziest metronome indications imaginable, rightly ignored by nearly all pianists of the past but now frantically attempted by a number of younger players. As for one of his greatest works, the Diabelli Variations, something has happened that was long overdue: They have, during the last decade, become part of the concert repertoire, admired by pianists and listeners alike.
A stunning development has occurred in the field of female performers. While in my young years there was hardly a lady sitting amongst all those men in an orchestra, the situation has by now changed: there are even orchestras with a female majority – a situation that has enabled woman conductors finally to come to the fore. Among instrumentalists, we live in a period of excellent female solo violinists. I would call this the most remarkable achievement in the performing sector. But I should not forget the number of high level string quartets, mostly of mixed male-female players, including some fine primarias. Lately, the Esmé Quartet is demanding attention: four splendid young South Korean ladies trained in Germany. I wish them all the return of a concert life that will enable them to spend many years together.

KC: Over the past year or two in particular, there has been much strenuous debate about whether it is possible/desirable to ‘separate the artist from the art’ in instances where objectionable political views and/or personal behaviour have come to light: where do you stand on this issue, and are there any artists whose work you have deliberately avoided on ethical grounds?
AB:
The person of the artist and the art they produce are not an equation. I see it as a widespread fallacy to think that one necessarily mirrors the other. They may even be opposites. This is particularly evident in composers. As a human being a composer may resemble other human beings. The range is limited. The range of what a great composer can express in his or her music, on the other hand, seems almost unlimited. These two different spheres are incommensurable. There are a few cases where the life has directly influenced the output, like Beethoven recovering from a grave illness and setting the 'gradual revival' into music in his Sonata Op. 110. But they remain exceptions. There are plenty of cases where the opposite happens and a composer in dire circumstances proves capable of being musically radiant and even cheerful. It seems that the first piece Mozart composed after his father’s death was A Musical Joke.
I can only encourage listeners to forget the prejudice of detecting in the music an echo of the composer’s, or performer’s, life, his human circumstances, his private leanings, and particularly his vices. The music will not tell you whether the person who composed or performed it was a saint, a murderer, an anti-Semite, a pederast, a Nazi or a philanthropist. I wish the lives of great musicians would all have remained as near-anonymous as Shakespeare’s.

KC: When it comes to opera, do you generally prefer Regietheater or historically-accurate stagings? (Or does it depend on the work and specific production…?)
AB:
I think that the performance of an opera should not paraphrase, comment on, or contradict the work but rather show what it is. Much of 'Regietheater' seems to me unwanted and counterproductive. There are, as always, exceptions: I remember an odd but exhilarating rendering of Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust by 'La Fura dels Baus' in Salzburg. And there were a number of Handel’s operas that benefitted from an imaginative scenic approach. In general, I object to the music of a great opera being obscured by an excess of acting and action. Prima la musica.

KC: In terms of contemporary music, what do you regard as the outstanding new works of the past decade or so?
AB:
Two operas stand out in my memory: György Kurtág’s Fin de partie, and George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, both blessed with excellent performances.
 
May 29, 2021 at 11:34 AM Post #2,759 of 2,764

CAJames

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Grumiaux Bach BWV 1001 to 1006 DSD remastered
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Violin is not my favorite instrument (by a long shot) but Arthur Grumiaux is certainly my favorite violinist, or more exactly my favorite musician who happens to play the violin. I didn't realize this recording was available in hirez. Something else I'll need to buy...
 
May 29, 2021 at 11:51 AM Post #2,760 of 2,764

gerelmx1986

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Violin is not my favorite instrument (by a long shot) but Arthur Grumiaux is certainly my favorite violinist, or more exactly my favorite musician who happens to play the violin. I didn't realize this recording was available in hirez. Something else I'll need to buy...
I got the SACD myself and ripped them to DSD
 

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