Thursday, July 26, 2007

Strauss scores update

So I heard back from Boosey & Hawkes. Their very helpful reply indicated that Helena, Feuersnot, Guntram, Friedenstag and Die Liebe der Danae were indeed available individually as study scores. But the email referred to them as "pocket scores". But the listing for Helena I saw elsewhere only said "study score", not "pocket", so I don't know what the devil's going on here.

I ordered Friedenstag to see exactly what these things are and got an email today notifying me that it's been shipped. Now we enter End Game...

Booed after all

Katharina did get her boos. And here's a video of a rehearsal.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Meistersinger -LIVE (end of Act III)

Cheated! After the opera ended, there were a lot more boos than after Act II but it wasn't dominant. Some I'm sure were saving it for Katharina herself but Bavarian Radio lowered the volume of the feed and the announcer came back on! Foiled! Then the Polish guy came back and he's talking over the Bavarian. I can barely hear the Bayreuth feed - no Katharina yet - then they fade it out completely. Serves me right.

Tannhäuser's tomorrow, but I'll think I'll catch the rest of the festival as it's uploaded to the opera group.

Meistersinger - LIVE (Act III)

I've only listened to a couple of sections of Act III (Beckmesser's pantomime and I've just joined back in to hear a huge version of "Wacht auf".) On my walk at lunch I got in a foul mood over the proceedings and decided that if all I wanted to hear in Act III was the booing for Katharina Wagner, then that was just negative, life's too short and besides Howard Stern has The World's Strongest Naked Woman contest today and I should be listening to that instead. (My lunchtime walks usually start with me yelling randomly at passing cars for 20 minutes and end with some self-psychotherapy.)

A member of the Opera Share group has promised that he'll be uploading his recordings of the Bayreuth 2007 broadcasts as they're aired (I think he's recording straight off Bavarian Radio with his digital radio setup) so I wasn't as concerned about hearing every note today.

But I got curious to hear how Act III was going so I jumped in at Beckmesser's pantomime, listened for a bit and went back to the Howard Stern on the iPod, and now I've picked up again at Sachs' entrance in the meadow. Beckmesser's currently doing his version of the Prize Song and that means Ted McGinley's up soon.

Meistersinger LIVE - end of Act II

Act II's over. Some booing this time. I'm recording it as I'm listening but I'm thinking I won't be coming back to this one too often. Hearing that idiotic typewriter will just make me angry. Time for the festival to be run by someone other than a Wagner.

Meistersinger LIVE - Act II (Doch, diese Meister)

Correction - I'm not coming around to Vogt's Walther. Take your tiny-ass voice to Broadway, Ted.

Meistersinger LIVE - Act II (Eva's entrance)


Meistersinger LIVE - Act II

Act II's underway. Here's a link to Bavarian Radio's page on the Bayreuth Festival. In the middle of the page is a link to a photo gallery from the new Meistersinger. It looks pretty foolish. It's 2007 - making opera characters businessmen in boardrooms is officially boring now. And the Walther looks a little too much like Ted McGinley.

Meistersinger LIVE - end of Act I

Act I's over. Strongly positive reaction in the theatre. Sounded pretty good at this end. Klaus Florian Vogt's Walther is pretty light (too light?) but it's lyrical and I'm coming around to it. Sebastian Weigle's conducting is an interesting mix of brisk and flexible, expressive tempi. Here's something to read during the 1 hour intermission - another article on the succession drama that contains a description of at least part of Katharina Wagner's production.

Meistersinger LIVE

Listening to the Meistersinger from Bayreuth via a Polish radio station's Internet stream. They're rebroadcasting the feed from Bavarian Radio. The Polish announcer talked over the German/English/French intro and after that the Bavarian announcer came on and announced that there'd be a brief delay. As soon as the announcement was done the Prelude started. It's going well so far...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Gathering Storm?

The 2007 Bayreuth Festival kicks off tomorrow with Katharina Wagner's new production of Die Meistersinger (her first production for Bayreuth). Kathrina is the 29 year-old great-granddaughter of the composer and daughter of current festival chief Wolfgang. She is Wolfgang's controversial choice to succeed him and is a big fan of Regietheater so tomorrow should be interesting. Read more here and here. Will it be a triumph that will change public opinion and make her a popular choice to run the festival? Or will it be a fiasco with loads of booing and the punching and the biting? Listen live tomorrow to find out!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What the devil?

So that was weird. Listened to Act I of Tristan from Furtwängler's recording last night. Did not enjoy it. This is bothering me. The Prelude was good, but the rest... I dunno. Didn't seem to have enough forward momentum. Could have been my mood. I'll go through Acts II and III this weekend then straight into another performance - maybe the 1952 Bayreuth recording with Karajan. I did like the Furtwängler on previous listens so I'm not ready to say I don't like it. More data is needed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Met HD on DVD

The Met issued a press release today announcing the upcoming release of some of their live HD performances that will be broadcast to movie theatres next season. Hansel and Gretel (in English), Macbeth, Peter Grimes, Manon Lescaut (with Karita Mattila), and La Bohème will be released by EMI. Tristan, Roméo et Juliette (with Anna Netrebko), and La Fille du Régiment are the ones next season not currently on the list but it sounds like they'll come out one way or another.

I hope they're able to release the broadcasts from this past season. Liz and I were able to go to all of them except The Magic Flute (abidged and in English? No thanks) and The First Emperor. I recorded them all but Magic Flute on the PVR as they were shown on PBS so it looks like the effort to move them to computer will be worthwhile since proper release could be months or years away. Frickin' Shaw disables the USB ports on the PVR boxes so I'll have to plug the PVR into my Hauppauge TV tuner card which has flaky software and blah blah blah.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Always picked last

Listened to Bruckner's Third Symphony (1877 version) this morning. It was from the recently re-issued box set of the symphonies conducted by Barenboim (an early birthday present).

While reading the set's notes, I found stuff I liked: "In order for it to be fully understood, Brahms's First Symphony seems to presuppose two whole centuries of music history as a living force, whereas Bruckner approached his task with an almost naive insouciance, seeming not to suffer from the oppressive weight of tradition. While his First Symphony is far from denying the age in which it was written, no other composer of his stature has been able to animate the elemental forces of rhythm and melody with such unrefracted immediacy..."

And I also found stuff so banal it would make a first-year musicology student blush: "Even more radically than Mahler, Bruckner appears to suggest that the repertory of Romantic enchantment is wholly exhausted or at least that it has fallen under suspicion in a world of rampant industrialisation."

Then I found this: "With their synthesis of drama, seduction and ecstasy, Wagner's works cast an immediate and almost inexplicable spell on the God-fearing Bruckner, a confirmed bachelor of punctilious habits and petit-bourgeois inhibitions." Which lead me to think: why haven't the "queer musicology" revisionists set their sights on Bruckner? Is there something wrong with him? Man, nobody ever wants to give Bruckner the time of day. The brother can't buy a break.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Forgetting the Axe

So I've been on a big Elektra kick lately. And the last time I was on a Strauss streak I also listened to Elektra quite a lot. I bought Böhm's and Ozawa's recordings on the same day and listened to them back to back. I was nastily reminded of the cuts that are a plague on performances and recordings of Strauss's operas.

Whenever Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Arabella, Die schweigsame Frau or Daphne are performed, the standard stage cuts will most likely be taken. The cuts taken are not sanctioned by the composer - the cut passages can be found in the published score. Die Frau ohne Schatten's performance and recording history has been particularly disfigured by cuts. But I'm not going to whine about all these now. Only Elektra.

I first heard the work with Solti's recording with Birgit Nilsson. It was (and still is?) the only recording that is complete. The other recordings I have heard - Böhm, Ozawa, Levine's 1980 Met performance with Nilsson (on DVD), and the 1961 Met - all make the cuts. I sat down with the score and marked where the cuts are - I wanted to know how much of the opera regularly gets cut out.

There are six cuts that are regularly taken in performances. They are listed below with an indication of where in the opera it occurs, how many measures it is and where in the score it's located. The page numbers listed below refer to the study score and references to CD tracks and timing are refer to the Nilsson/Solti recording on Decca. The six regularly cut passages total 6:47 of running time.

[+/-] Cut 1 - Fourth scene: Elektra and Klytemnästra - 16 measures
Rehearsal No. 225-228 - pp. 151-153 - CD1,10 - 4:21-4:40 (0:19)

Und aus dir bring' ich so oder so das rechte Wort schon and den Tag. Du hast dich schon verraten, daß du das rechte Opfer weißt und auch die Bräuche, die mir nützen. Sagst du's nicht im Freien, wirst du's an der Kette sagen. Sagst du's nicht satt, so sagst du's hungernd. Träume sind etwas, das man los wird. Wer dran leidet und nicht das Mittel findet, sich zu heilen, is nur ein Narr. Ich finde mir heraus wer bluten muß, damit ich wieder schlafe.
And out of you I will get the right words one way or another. You have revealed
that you know both the correct sacrifice and the rites that will help me.
If you won't say it in freedom, you will say it in chains. If you won't say it fed, you will say it starved. Dreams are things that one can be freed from. Anyone suffering from them who does not find the means to cure himself is just a fool. I will find out whose blood must flow so that I can sleep again.

[+/-] Cut 2 - Fourth scene: Elektra and Klytemnästra - 94 measures - Rehearsal No. 240-255 - pp. 162-171 - CD1,11 - 1:13-3:17 (2:04)

Hinab die Treppen durch Gewölbe hin, Gewölbe und Gewölbe geht die Jagd - Und ich! ich! ich! ich! ich, die ihn dir geschickt, ich bin wie ein Hund an deiner Ferse, willst du in eine Höhle, spring' ich dich von seitwärts an, so treiben wir dich fort - bis eine Mauer alles sperrt und dort im tiefsten Dunkel, doch ich seh' ihn wohl, ein Schatten und doch Glieder und das Weiße, von einem Auge doch, der sitzt der Vater: er achtet's nicht und doch muß es geschehn: zu seinen Füßen drücken wir dich hin - du möchtest schreien, doch die Luft erwürgt den ungebornen Schrei und läßt ihn lautlos zu Boden fallen. Wie von Sinnen hältst du den Nacken hin, fühlst schon die Schärfe zucken bis an den Sitz des Lebens, doch er hält den Schlag zurück: die Bräuche sind noch nicht erfüllt.

Alles schweigt, du hörst dein eignes Herz an deinen Rippen schlagen. Diese Zeit - sie dehnt sich vor dir wie ein finstrer Schlund von Jahren. - Diese Zeit ist dir gegeben zu ahnen, wie es Scheiternden zumute ist, wenn ihr vergebliches Geschrei die Schwärze der Wolken und des Todes zerfrißt, diese Zeit ist dir gegeben, alle zu beneiden, die angeschmiedet sind an Kerkermauern, die auf dem Grund von Brunnen nach dem Tod als wie nach Erlösung schrein - den du, du liegst in deinem Selbst so eingekerkert, als wär's der glüh'nde Bauch von einem Tier von Erz - und so wie jetzt kannst du nicht schrein! Da steh ich von dir, und nun liest du mit starrem Aug' das ungeheure Wort, das mir in mein Gesicht geschrieben ist. Erhängt ist dir die Seele in der selbst - gedrehten Schlinge, sausend fällt das Beil,
und ich steh' da und seh' dich endlich sterben! Dann träumst du nicht mehr, dann brauche ich nicht mehr zu träumen, und wer dann noch lebt, der jauchtzt und kann sich seines Lebens freun!
Down the steps and through the vaults, through vault after vault goes the chase, and I, I, I, I, I, who sent him to you, I am like a dog at your heels. If you would creep into a hole, I will spring at you from the side, and so we drive you on until a wall blocks off everything, and there, in the deepest darkness, yet I can see him well, a shadow, but with limbs and the white of an eye, there sits my father. He pays no heed, and yet it must be done: we drive you to his feet - you want to scream, but the air chokes the unborn cry and lets it fall silent to the ground. Out of your mind you bow your neck, already you feel the blade quivering at the source of life, but he holds back the stroke: the rites are not yet completed.

All is silent, you can hear your own heart beating against your ribs. This time - it stretches ahead of you like a gloomy abyss of years - this time is given to you to imagine how shipwrecked men feel, when their vain cries are swollowed up in the darkness of clouds and of death: this time is given to you to envy all those who are chained to dungeon walls, who at the bottom of a well cry for death as for deliverance - but you, you are imprisoned within yourself as though in the red-hot belly of a bronze animal - and so, as now, you cannot cry out! There I stand, in front of you, and now you read with staring eyes the awful words that are written in my face. Your soul is hanged in the noose you yourself have tied, the whistling axe falls,
and I stand there and see you die at last! Then you will dream no more, then I need dream no more, and they who still live can exult and rejoice in life!

[+/-] Cut 3 - Fifth scene: Elektra and Chrysothemis - 71 measures - Rehearsal No. 59a-68a - pp. 212-217 - CD2,4 - 1:11-2:14 (1:03)

Laß mich deine Arme fühlen: wie kühl and stark sie sind! Wie du mich abwehrst, fühl' ich, was das für Arme sind. Du könntest erdrücken, was du an dich ziehst. Du könntest mich, oder einen Mann in deinen Armen ersticken! Überall ist so viel Kraft in dir! Sie strömt wie küles, verhalt'nes Wasser aus dem Fels. Sie flutet mit deinen Haaren auf die starken Schultern herab! Ich spüre durch die Kühle deiner Haut das warme Blut hindurch, mit meiner Wange spür' ich dem Flaum auf deinen jungen Armen! Du bist voller Kraft, du bist schön, du bist wie eine Frucht an der Reife Tag.

Laß mich!

Nein, ich halte dich!
Mit meinen traurigen, verdorrten Armen umschling' ich deinen Leib...

Let me feel your arms: how cool and strong they are! As you push me away I can feel what arms they are. You could smother anything you pull close. You chould squeeze a man to death in your arms! There is so much strength in you! It flows like cool water which has been stored up in a rock. With you hair it streams down over your strong shoulders! Through the coolness of your skin I can feel the warm blood, with my cheek I can feel the down on your young arms! You are full of strength, you are beautiful, you are like a fruit on the day it ripens.

Let me go!

No, I will hold you! With my sad, withered arms I embrace your body...

[+/-] Cut 4 - Fifth scene: Elektra and Chrysothemis - 120 measures - Rehearsal No. 89a-102a - pp. 227-235 - CD2,4 - 5:10-6:55 (1:45)

Nicht, Schwester, nicht. Sprich nicht ein solches Wort in diesem Haus.

O ja! weit mehr als Schwester bin ich dir von diesem Tage an: ich diene dir wie deine Sklavin. Wenn due liegst in Weh'n, sitz' ich an deinem Bette Tag und Nacht, wehr' dir die Fliegen, schöpfe kühles Wasser, und wenn auf einmal auf dem nackten Schoß dir ein Lebendiges liegt, erschreckend fast, so heb' ich's empor, so hoch, damit sein Lächeln hoch von oben in die tiefsten, geheimsten Klüfte deiner Seele fällt und dort das letzte, eisig Gräßliche vor dieser Sonne schmilzt und du's in helle Tränen ausweinen kannst.

O bring' mich fort!
Ich sterb' in diesem Haus!

ELEKTRA (an ihren Knien)
Dein Mund ist schön, wen err sich einmal auftut, um zu zürnen! Aus deinem reinen, starken Mund muß furchtbar ein Schrei hervorsprüh'n, furchtbar ,wie der Schrei der Todesgöttin, wenn man unter dir so daliegt, wie nun ich.

Was redest du?

ELEKTRA (aufstehend)
Denn eh' du diesem Haus und mir entkommst, mußt du es tun!
(Chrysothemis will reden, aber Elektra hält ihr den Mund zu.)
Dir führt kein Weg hinaus als der. Ich laß dich nicht, eh' du mir Mund auf Mund es
zugeschworen, daß du es tun wirst.

No, sister, no. Do not speak of such things in this house.

Oh yes! Far more than a sister will I be to you from this day on. I will serve you like your slave. When you like in labour I will sit by your bed day and night, drive away the flies, draw fresh water, and then, when all at once a living child lies on your naked body, almost terrified, I will hold it on high, so high that its smile will fall from above to the most deep, most secret recesses of your soul, and there the last frozen horror will melt away before this sun and you will be able to wash it away with bright tears.

Oh, take me away!
I am dying in this house!

ELEKTRA (on her knees)
Your mouth is beautiful, even when it opens in anger! Out of your pure, strong mouth a terrible cry must come, as terrible as the cry of the goddess of death, when they lie before you as I do now.

What are you saying?

ELEKTRA (standing up)
Before you escape from this house and from me, you must do it!
(Chrysothemis tries to speak but Elektra stops her.)
This is the only way out for you. I will not let you go until you have sworn to me, mouth to mouth, that you will do it.

[+/-] Cut 5 - Fifth scene: Elektra and Chrysothemis - 35 measures - Rehearsal No. 104a-108a - pp. 237-240 - CD2,4 - 7:15-7:45 (0:30)

ELEKTRA(faßt sie wieder)
Schwör', du kommst heut' nacht, wenn alles still ist, an den Fuß der Treppe!

Laß mich!

ELEKTRA (hält sie am Gewand)
Mädchen, sträub' dich nicht! es bleibt kein Tropfen Blut am Leibe haften: schnell schlüpfst du aus dem blutigem Gewand mit reinem Leib ins hochzeitliche Hemd.

Laß mich!

Sei nicht zu feige! Was du jetzt an Schaudern überwindest, wird vergolten mit Wonneschaudern Nacht für Nacht -

Ich kann nicht!

Sag, daß du kommen wirst!

Ich kann nicht!

Sieh, ich lieg' vor dir, ich küsse deine Fuße!

Ich kann nicht!
(Ins Haustor entspringend).

Sei verflucht!
Nun denn, allein!

ELEKTRA(grasping her again)
Swear that you will come tonight, when all is quiet, to the foot of the stairs!

Let me go!

ELEKTRA (holding her by her robe)
Do not struggle, girl! Not a drop of blood will cling to your body: you will quickly slip out of the bloodstained robe and clothe your clean body in the bridal shift.

Let me go!

Don't be such a coward! The shuddering that you now overcome will be repaid with shivers of ecstasy night after night -

I cannot!

Say you will come!

I cannot!

See, I lie down before you and kiss your feet!

I cannot! (she runs through the door into the house.)

Curse you!
Well then, alone!

[+/-] Cut 6 - Sixth scene: Elektra and Orest - 33 measures - Rehearsal No. (6 measures before)167a-171a - pp. 284-287 - CD2,8 - 8:42-9:48 (1:06)

...der milchige, des Monds um jedes Weib herum ist und das Gräßliche von ihr und ihrer Seele weghält. Verstehst du's, Bruder? Diese süßen Schauder hab' ich dem Vater opfern müssen. Meinst du, wenn ich an meinem Leib mich freute, drangen seine Seufzer, drang nicht sein Stöhnen an mein Bette? Eifersüchtig sind die Toten: und er schickte mir den Haß, den hohläugigen Haß als Bräutigam. So bin ich eine Prophetin immerfort gewesen und habe nichts hervorgebracht aus mir und meinem Leib als Flüche und Verzweiflung! Was schaust du ängstlich um dich? sprich zu mir! sprich doch! Du zitterst ja am ganzen Leib?

Laß zittern diesen Leib! Er ahnt welchen Web ich ihn führe.
...the modesty that, like the milky, silvery vapour of the moon, surrounds every woman and keeps horros away from her body and her soul. Do you understand, brother? These precious feelings I have had to sacrifice to our father. Do you think, when I rejoiced in my body, that his sighs and groans did not penetrate to my bedside? The dead are jealous: and he sent me hate, hollow-eyed hate as a bridegroom. So I became evermore a prophetess, and have brought forth out of myself and my body nothing but curses and despair! Why do you look round so anxiously? Speak to me! Speak! But your whole body is trembling!

Let it tremble. It forsees the path along which I shall lead it.

I guess some of the cuts save the soprano singing Elektra a little trouble - a few dropped high notes here and there. But no one singing the role is expecting an easy time. We stopped cutting Tristan decades ago and no one thinks of cutting the tenor in Siegfried a break so it's enough already with the cutting.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Too Many Rings

While reading an opera blog, I found a reference to a Yahoo group that shares opera recordings. I signed up and promptly went into convulsions.

The 1957 and 1958 Bayreuth Rings conducted by Knappertsbusch? The 1983 Solti Bayreuth Ring? Karita Mattila's 2004 performance of Salome? The Gergiev Parsifal and the Thielemann Die Frau ohne Schatten (no cuts!) from the Met? So all these and more are on the iPod. I've actually got a few things to offer the group so I'll work on doing some uploading before I start another downloading frenzy.

Uh, I also found the 1960 Bayreuth Parsifal (which I did have on LP but hadn't transfered to the computer yet). Also came across excerpts from the 1955 performances of Parsifal (parts of Act I and Act II complete) which I didn't know existed and quickly downloaded those as well. With the "private" copy of a 1957 performance, I now have the full run of Parsifals Knappertsbusch did at Bayreuth (1951-1964). Like Furtwängler conducting Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, you do have to have every recording - they're all essential. (I find a 1953 Vienna Furtwängler Beethoven 9 in the Opera group as well...)

On Friday, I took the day off to help my sick, pregnant wife out. After taking the best care of her and Young Daniel, I promptly buggered off to the Rutherford Library which I hadn't visited in years. After getting my all-in-one Alberta library card set up for Rutherford, I went up to visit the music section. I saw something on the shelves that I'd been waiting at least a decade to see -- the study scores of Strauss's Die ägyptische Helena, Feuersnot, Friedenstag, Guntram and Die Liebe der Danae. I grabbed the Helena and took a quick look through ("Wow! Six trumpets?") After looking at all five, I chose the first three and signed them out. I have an email into Boosey and Hawkes asking if I can purchase them separately from the complete edition they offer. If not, I'll have to scheme a different way to acquire these.

I was being careful to be quiet and consequently didn't shriek like a maniac when I found those scores. There was a girl sitting nearby studying intently and there was someone else over by the windows so I was even trying to turn the pages quietly. I'd been annoyed earlier by an old man sitting by the windows. He was making all kinds of noise with paper. I discreetly moved into position so I could see what he was doing - he was reading a newspaper! Do you have to do that here? No way in hell am I going to be a boor like that. I'm quiet in a library.

Before grabbing the study scores, I went to check out the miniature scores. I passed by the girl studying - she was studying for a drivers test! I decided to never be quiet in a library again.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Yesterday's Listening List

Lots of listening yesterday. King Crimson's The Power to Believe on the way into work. Barenboim playing Beethoven's Diabelli Variations in the morning and his new recording of Mahler's Ninth at lunch.

Quite a lot of music for the morning (Howard Stern's on vacation this and next week) so I decided to relax a bit and listened to Robert Fripp's 2005-12-07 London Soundscapes performance.

On the way home it was Miles Davis's "Zimbabwe" from Pangaea. Lots of good moments on this one, especially Dave Liebman's first solo, but I think you could probably do some healthy cutting on the end of the set without missing too much - the last 6 minutes is pretty much just dicking around on percussion.

I got Pangaea and the other 1975 live album Agharta on the 1996 Mastersound remasters from Japan. They both feature extra material not on the original albums - something like 3 minutes for Pangaea and 20 minutes for Agharta. At first I thought this was a good thing, but now I kind of wish I had Teo Macero's original edits. He's the one who made Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, etc. coherent and I don't like his being pushed to the side by Columbia (Sony). Macero's had nothing to do with the huge ongoing Miles boxset project and his input on the upcoming On The Corner sessions box will be missed. But yeah, I'll still be buying it.

Listened to a King Crimson show from 1994-09-29 in Buenos Aires, their second concert after returning to active service after the 10 year break. More spills than thrills here. Fripp makes some impressive mistakes including stepping on a couple landmines during "Discipline": he loses his balance at one point, the ostinato gets shaky and in the recovery he hits a note 8 miles from where he needed to be. And the very end of the song features Fripp's ostinato part completely breaking down. Some missed pedal hits from both guitarists as well. And "VROOOM VROOOM" as song didn't convince me at all until I heard live versions of it from 1996. Here, and on the B'Boom live album, it's distressingly flaccid.

But there's good stuff here, too. "Funky Jam", which also appears on the VROOOM Sessions disc, is cool and makes me regret they abandoned it. I liked the version of "Heartbeat" and the instrumental version of "People" is interesting. It's a show worth hearing but it's not essential. To me, this lineup didn't really start getting it together until the next year and finally caught fire in 1996 which is, of course, when they stopped performing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Weekend Wrapup

Long weekend but not much listening. Cleaned up the basement, put on a new screendoor, mowed the lawn and watched fireworks instead.

Watched most of the second concert in the Barenboim on Beethoven set. He played the Op.2 No.2, the Tempest (Op. 31, No. 2) and the Op. 14, No. 2 sonatas (the Les Adieux is the remaining sonata in the concert). I thought the Op. 2 No. 2 was a little too... interpreted, I guess. I prefer Goode's more straightforward reading. A few days before watching this, I watched the masterclass on the last movement from the Hammerklavier. The pianist was farther along the way than the one in the previous masterclass - Barenboim seemed impressed with him. The bar-by-bar commentary Barenboim provides is great. Wish there were more of them.

A couple of nights ago, I watched the recent Glenn Gould documentary Hereafter. It was a strange experience in that I don't think Gould comes off all that well. The way it's presented in the film, his distaste for live performance and preference for recordings is only a rationalization for his own neuroses. In a telling scene, Yehudi Menuhin says to Gould that surely a work like the St. Matthew Passion needs to be performed in public. Gould has no answer and Menuhin continues by asking what if people prefered to watch movies about mountain climbing instead of actually climbing mountains. "What kind of world would that be?" Gould answers lamely to the effect that it would be better since mountain climbing is dangerous. "Oh, Glenn, don't say that. Don't say that," Menuhin replies.

The scene in which he explained his approach to a Mozart sonata to Humphrey Burton also rankled. I came away from the film thinking I didn't have much use for such a solipsistic approach to music. But then again, his playing of Beethoven's Op. 109 seems worth a try.....

So after viewing that, I listened to Goode playing Op. 109 and Beethoven's Sonatina for Mandolin, WoO 43a.

Today's lunchtime listening was Haydn's Op. 20, No.1 quartet and the first of Mozart's great Vienna concertos - the E-flat, KV 449 (Murray Perahia's performance).

Last week, I also listened to one of the Elektras recorded off Sirius. That's for next time since the subject of the lecture will be cuts in performances of Elektra.