Discussion:
On Horenstein
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Oscar
2011-10-12 12:02:37 UTC
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Today, I bought the 1994 Chesky CD of Jascha Horenstein's Brahms 1
with the LSO, produced by Gerhardt, engineered by Wilkinson. What
sound! And a great performance, to boot. I trolled the rmcr archives
and found this post by Michael Weston, dated July 3, 1999, discussing
the disc in question. Thought it would be interesting to share it and
to start a discussion about a conductor who I have not been well-
served by — till now — on account of some crappy BBC Legends discs and
a Vox title of little engagement due to constricted sound. This is a
great post http://tiny.cc/mpub6

<<Here is Yakov H.'s response to my initial tepid reaction to the
recording.
(I now consider it pretty essential, though I feel Furtwangler gets
more
out of it than anyone.) Yakov has reposted this before, so I'm sure
he
won't mind (Though putting Furt on top like the above might not be
appreciated. Oh well, Furt never got as much out of Bruckner 8 as
JH.)

Michael,
You seem to be trying very hard to like Jascha Horenstein's
recordings,
perhaps without too much success but I applaud your efforts. There
are
many musicians whose style of music making doesn't appeal to me,
so it could be that your musical sensibilities and expectations are
not
answered by JH's ideas. This is legitimate.

Having listened to JH recordings for over 30 years, and having known
him
in person, I think I have developed as fine an understanding as
anyone
regarding the hallmarks of his particular style of conducting, and I
would
like to try and put this down in writing here for you and anyone else
who
might be having difficulty in understanding what all the fuss is
about.
I shall refer to the JH recordings of Mahler's 1st (Unicorn CD 2012)
and
the Brahms Ist (Chesky CD 19) both with the London Symphony, an
orchestra
with which JH had a long and fruitful relationship. These are two of
his
best recordings and I'll use them to illustrate some points. It would
help also
to have a score handy.

First of all, I would caution you not to pass judgment on JH's
recordings
after only one or two hearings. Like all good art, JH's does not
reveal
its beauties immediately. It is an acquired taste, like good whisky,
so
you have to give it a few shots before it goes down smoothly. Second,
although
I'm going to mention little phrases here and there which JH does to
perfection, you should try to listen to the entire movement or even
the entire
piece in one go, because there is an inexorable logic to the whole,
rather than
the details, which interested JH enormously.

Having said that, here are some observations about Horenstein's style
which I find particularly distinctive and noteworthy of mention,
which
may help you to appreciate him more.

1) Orchestral playing & sound

With Horenstein don't look for precision playing and whipcrack chords
alla Toscanini. If this kind of music making excites you (and it is
exciting), you won't be satisfied with JH's recordings because
Horenstein was
not overly interested in this approach. He appreciated good ensemble,
and was
disappointed with sloppy playing as much as anyone, but these were
not
things he stressed so that in his recordings you'll occasionally hear
slips, bad entries, intonation problems and so on. Apart from 4 years
as head
of the Dusseldorf Opera in early thirties, Horenstein never held a
permanent position with an orchestra, so that when he performed it was
always
as a guest conductor, whose job is not usually to teach the orchestra
ensemble
techniques or how to stay in tune (there's not generally enough time,
and
in any case any self respecting orchestra has house conductors whose
job this
is. Hmm... maybe this point is open to argument). In any case
precision
playing, in the sense of everyone doing it exactly together, balanced,
and in
strict rhythm, is not characteristic of Horenstein's style (there is
another kind
of precision, that of *expressing* something accurately, which
Horenstein has
in abundance, but I'll mention that more under phrasing below.
Obviously
though, how you express something will affect the sound you make). So,
with
Horenstein don't expect Toscanini-, Szell- or Reiner-like sound &
precision.

If you like the lush, rich tones and rounded edges of the Karajan
approach
you'll be disappointed too, because that is not the way Horenstein
wanted
his orchestra to sound. Horenstein came from the Furtwangler school
of
conducting, which stressed the expressionistic nature of music.
Horenstein's approach is different from Furtwangler's in that the
orchestral
playing is more relaxed, even chamberlike. This is the key word -
chamberlike.
I suggest that JH's use of the orchestra, and therefore its sound, is
like the
playing of a large chamber ensemble, where the orchestral choirs are
more like
soloists, rather than sections, which fuse into one body. Horenstein
strove to
reveal the logic and clarity of the music he conducted, and indulged
in quite a bit
of freedom to achieve this (Don't forget that Furtwangler had years of
practice
with one orchestra, while Horenstein was the eternal wanderer. There
is no
"Horenstein sound"). H's. orchestra is lighter, less compact than
Furtwangler's,
and his readings are a little less ecstatic than F's, but not lacking
in power or
freedom nevertheless. I once asked JH how his interpretations had
changed
over the years, and he replied that today (this was in 1970 or
thereabouts) he downplayed the romantic side more and more.
Furtwangler
makes beautiful music but almost incidentally, because he seems more
concerned with reaching the emotional heights of the piece, of getting
to the
stratosphere, than of revealing its beauty. The same can be said of
Horenstein,
except that he plumbs the depths rather than scales the peaks (Get
it? ;-)

As an example of JH's attention to orchestral color, listen to the
last
movement of the Brahms Ist symphony after the famous first horn and
flute
entry where (letter C in the Dover score) the winds and brass
delicately
anticipate the glorious end of the symphony. This chorale also
includes a
double bassoon, though you would never guess it from most recordings
because the trombones & horns which accompany it are generally too
loud,
and because the DB is usually treated as an instrument of color only,
eg.
not as an independent presence in its own right. With JH you can
savour this
superb instrument in all its bovine splendor, including that glorious
low C that
leads back to the chord, because H. lets it play as an equal, not
subordinate,
member of the choir. I have yet to hear a recording in which the
double
bassoon figures quite so prominently (unusual instrument the DB,
which
Brahms uses in 3 of his 4 symphonies. Trivia quiz: which symphony
omits
it?). As Brahms was one of the first to incorporate the double
bassoon
regularly into his symphonic music, he obviously *wants* you to hear
it,
otherwise why include it?. I am willing to bet that most people who
have not
seen a score and listen to recordings of this piece would never even
realise
that a double bassoon is present. Not so with JH. Obviously, if you're
going
to treat the instrument like this, its going to affect the way the
orchestra
sounds (more like what Brahms intended, IMO), as well as make unusual
demands on the abilities of the players to respond.

In almost all JH's recordings there is an intensity, concentration
and
sheer power in the orchestral playing which you rarely find
elsewhere.
You can hear this immediately in the opening 8 measure sostenuto of
the Brahms 1st symphony, where the orchestra plays with a restrained,
held-back power and concentration which ring out with smouldering
portent as if the composer was saying "Pay attention -this is serious
stuff!". In these 8 bars listen also to the timpani, accompanied by
the
basses and double bassoon, which pound out that heavy, grim rhythm
(pre-echoes of Mahler's 6th?) with which Brahms opens the piece. As
you
will notice in all of his recordings, JH was very attentive of the
timpani,
whose sound he nurtured with great care. This balance of forces is
what
gives JH's sound its unique quality.

Also, the dynamic range of JH's orchestra is far greater than that
achieved
by many others, from the softest of delicate pianissimo's to the most
majestic of orchestral fortes. In concert the only other conductor I
heard
who could make an orchestra play with quite so wide a dynamic range
was Stokowski (much admired by Horenstein), and you hear this in all
of
JH's recordings, especially the Brahms & Mahler 1st. This fact created
lots
of problems for JH's recording engineers who were not used to such
extremes,
and IMO accounts in part for the poor quality of many of his
recordings
(happily, Charles Gerhard of RCA was responsible for the Brahms, so
the
recording is excellent).

Horenstein grew up together with the 2nd Viennese School, and was not
afraid of dissonance. His renditions are notable for their emphasis
on
exposing and exploiting the harmonic tensions in the music he
performed,
which created its own special kind of sound, perhaps not to
everyone's
liking. In Horenstein, it's the intensity of the rendition rather than
the precision
or the elegance which counts (although H. could turn a phrase with the
best
of them), but with the intensity you'll notice a very transparent
sound in
which all the forces are very clearly defined & balanced in their
respective
choirs, yet given enough freedom and space to express the topology of
the phrase in question. This sometimes comes at the expense of
accurate
ensemble playing, because Horenstein demands a lot from his players.
It's not easy to express a musical line with feeling, and even harder
to
do it with others, so that the ensemble of the orchestra is
compromised
when demands put upon its capabilities are of a special nature such
as
H. requests. The downside may be the occasional slip up but the gain
is
in being able to hear all the strands in their harmonic context, yet
expressed with an attention to form and line, and especially to the
breath contour of the phrase, which is unique to H. He encourages his
1st desk players to come out, to phrase, to stand out, quite often
much
more forcefully than other conductors. This obviously has an effect
on
the overall sound. It's not always a beautiful sound, but then much
of
the repertoire he performed was concerned with expressions of
struggle
and faith, and these are not always expressed beautifully by the
composer's themselves (in the sense of beauty being elegance,
harmony,
grace, repose and so on. You could hardly describe Mahler's music in
these terms). Horenstein went beyond the concept that music must be
beautiful to express anything worthwhile. In this he was very
influenced
by the 2nd Viennese School of thought.

2) Phrasing

In any biography of JH you will see that while studying music &
Indian
philosophy in Vienna as a kid, he heard Artur Nikisch conducting,
which so influenced him that he abandoned his other studies and
devoted all his time to music. Now what was a teenage kid, son of
prosperous Ukrainian emigre Jewish merchants in Vienna, doing
studying
*Indian* philosophy during WWI? I'll leave this to the biographers to
figure out, but suffice to say here that this fascination for
alternative
cultures never deserted him (I can vouch for this personally), and
considerably influenced his music making. In particular the importance
of
breathing in Indian culture was a lesson that he applied constantly to
his
music, and you can hear this in the long, swelling, sweeping phrases
that
slowly build up over a long time span and seem to go on forever until
the
tension is almost unbearable. Just like one huge inhalation, which
culminates (eg. changes to exhalation) at just the right point
musically.
Horenstein was a master of this.

Go to the coda of the last movement of the Brahms 1st, which most
play
just fast and loudly. Horenstein *builds up* the tension slowly, by
shaping
the phrases so that it arrives at its triumphant conclusion with a
kind of
inexorable logic. That kind of grim concentration and intensity is
pure
Horenstein. By contrast, check out the delicate little 8 bar string
transition
to the 2nd theme & development section in the last movement of
Mahler's
1st on Unicorn (measure 166 or letter 15 in the Universal score). Talk
about
authentic Mahler - this is IT! These are golden moments in music and
after you hear them done in this way, anything else seems wrong or
even
perverse.

The other point concerning phrasing is Horenstein's way with
crescendos
(gradually getting louder), which he seems able to stretch out over
enormously long timespans with an iron control over rhythm and tempo
development, so that when it seems like the orchestra is already
giving
everything its got, he asks for more and they respond! This is real
art,
and Horenstein achieves it by a clever manipulation of tempo and
dynamics whose apparent simplicity conceals the considerable
difficulty
in achieving and executing these nuances. Check out numerous examples
of H's crescendos (and decrecendo's) in the Brahms and Mahler.

••• CONTINUED BELOW •••
Oscar
2011-10-12 12:26:52 UTC
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Permalink
3) Silences & pauses

No one, IMO, and I mean NO ONE, gets more out of pauses and
silences than Horenstein. They are all over the place so I don't
need to tell you where to go, but check out these 2 Mahler and
1 Brahms examples.

At No. 34 (measure 375) of the last movt. of Mahler's 1st (Unicorn),
the score indicates a rit. (slowing down) followed by a key change
over which Mahler writes "Luftpause" (pause for breath). Not "take"
a breath, but "pause" for breath, and indicates the inclusion of the
whole orchestra in this, and not just the winds. Here Horenstein
takes a longer pause than anyone else I've heard, pregnant with
the foreboding nature of the following statement. Most versions
I've heard don't emphasise this pause at all, losing a great
expressive
opportunity. Even better, check out the pauses in the five measures
later on before No. 40 (bars 443-447) which lead to the return
of the theme. You could write an essay on these five bars alone.
Pure magic!

For pregnant pauses in Brahms' 1st listen to the 4th and 3rd bar
before the Coda of the 1st movt (letter O measures 430 & 431,
see below).

4) Transitions

I put this fourth, but arguably the mastery of transition sections
is the most important aspect of a successful performance. They are
the backbone or skeleton around which the music takes its' shape
and anyone who can negotiate these passages correctly will
achieve a coherent performance. Negotiating transition passages
was possibly JH's greatest talent. Here, IMO, he surpasses even
Furtwangler...sometimes ;-) ... for the grace with which he
moves from one section to another. Try the transition passage
between the development section (Letter M around bar 375)
and the final coda which starts at Letter 0, of the 4th movement
of Brahms' 1st to see what I mean. This whole section is marked
by Horenstein's very gradual and almost unnoticed slowing down
of the tempo which gives maximum effect to the final peroration
when it comes. In particular notice also the slight elongation of the
pauses in the 4th and 3rd bar before the Coda which jolt you into
the final section in a way that no-one else manages but, and here
is the point, it makes perfect sense. I don't know many other
versions which can sustain that kind of smoldering, intense energy
kept under wraps by an awesomely controlled tempo such as
JH achieves here.

I could go on and on but I think the idea is clear - listen to
Horenstein's transition sections, or bridge passages, on any
of his recordings. They simply take your breath away.

I think this is long enough already. If you're interested we could
continue. I hope the foregoing is helpful.

Yakov Horenstein
themusicparlour
2011-10-12 13:07:04 UTC
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Permalink
..not a performance that 'wears well' after the 'pregnant pauses'
novelty has worn off.

..had it since 1979 on RCA Gold Seal (as a deletion from
'Orchesographie'..then, later that day, @ my first hearing of the QUAD
ESL 57's** @ Imhof's....** mit QUAD 33 pre-amp/QUAD 405 amp/Shure
M75ED cartridge.

..ooooh, the laydee customer says..'it sounds like a real
orchestra!!'.. LOL..
operafan
2011-10-12 14:28:39 UTC
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Permalink
The idea that it wasn't Horenstein's job as a guest conductor to
"teach" an orchestra to play with good ensemble and intonation is
bizarre. The LSO ca. 1970 could certainly play with precise ensemble
when a conductor had them do so, as evidenced by plenty of recordings
from that era by Solti, Abbado, and probably others. Obviously neither
Horenstein nor his producers paid much attention to this issue, which
is an artistic and/or financial choice. For me, the sloppy playing in
some of his LSO recordings takes away from my enjoyment of the music--
others may feel differently.
MSW
2011-10-12 14:32:01 UTC
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Permalink
The group was a lot of fun back then- a great time for someone who
then (as now, probably) had mostly questions to offer.

I hardly have a scorecard in my head of where all the Horenstein
recordings rank, or any insight into whether there was an authentic
Horenstein "magic"- sometimes the orchestras just sound too rough and
the performances don't grab me. I've been disappointed by my
impatience with his early Bruckner symphonies- the sound is just too
cruddy. Gotta love all that Readers Digest stuff, especially the Rach
with Wild. Some of the Vox stuff is really underrated, especially the
Mahler and Bruckner.

I miss Deryk, Yakov and Henry!
g***@gmail.com
2020-07-29 02:56:10 UTC
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Permalink
Post by Oscar
Today, I bought the 1994 Chesky CD of Jascha Horenstein's Brahms 1
with the LSO, produced by Gerhardt, engineered by Wilkinson. What
sound! And a great performance, to boot. I trolled the rmcr archives
and found this post by Michael Weston, dated July 3, 1999, discussing
the disc in question. Thought it would be interesting to share it and
to start a discussion about a conductor who I have not been well-
served by — till now — on account of some crappy BBC Legends discs and
a Vox title of little engagement due to constricted sound. This is a
great post http://tiny.cc/mpub6
<<Here is Yakov H.'s response to my initial tepid reaction to the
recording.
(I now consider it pretty essential, though I feel Furtwangler gets
more
out of it than anyone.) Yakov has reposted this before, so I'm sure
he
won't mind (Though putting Furt on top like the above might not be
appreciated. Oh well, Furt never got as much out of Bruckner 8 as
JH.)
Michael,
You seem to be trying very hard to like Jascha Horenstein's
recordings,
perhaps without too much success but I applaud your efforts. There
are
many musicians whose style of music making doesn't appeal to me,
so it could be that your musical sensibilities and expectations are
not
answered by JH's ideas. This is legitimate.
Having listened to JH recordings for over 30 years, and having known
him
in person, I think I have developed as fine an understanding as
anyone
regarding the hallmarks of his particular style of conducting, and I
would
like to try and put this down in writing here for you and anyone else
who
might be having difficulty in understanding what all the fuss is
about.
I shall refer to the JH recordings of Mahler's 1st (Unicorn CD 2012)
and
the Brahms Ist (Chesky CD 19) both with the London Symphony, an
orchestra
with which JH had a long and fruitful relationship. These are two of
his
best recordings and I'll use them to illustrate some points. It would
help also
to have a score handy.
First of all, I would caution you not to pass judgment on JH's
recordings
after only one or two hearings. Like all good art, JH's does not
reveal
its beauties immediately. It is an acquired taste, like good whisky,
so
you have to give it a few shots before it goes down smoothly. Second,
although
I'm going to mention little phrases here and there which JH does to
perfection, you should try to listen to the entire movement or even
the entire
piece in one go, because there is an inexorable logic to the whole,
rather than
the details, which interested JH enormously.
Having said that, here are some observations about Horenstein's style
which I find particularly distinctive and noteworthy of mention,
which
may help you to appreciate him more.
1) Orchestral playing & sound
With Horenstein don't look for precision playing and whipcrack chords
alla Toscanini. If this kind of music making excites you (and it is
exciting), you won't be satisfied with JH's recordings because
Horenstein was
not overly interested in this approach. He appreciated good ensemble,
and was
disappointed with sloppy playing as much as anyone, but these were
not
things he stressed so that in his recordings you'll occasionally hear
slips, bad entries, intonation problems and so on. Apart from 4 years
as head
of the Dusseldorf Opera in early thirties, Horenstein never held a
permanent position with an orchestra, so that when he performed it was
always
as a guest conductor, whose job is not usually to teach the orchestra
ensemble
techniques or how to stay in tune (there's not generally enough time,
and
in any case any self respecting orchestra has house conductors whose
job this
is. Hmm... maybe this point is open to argument). In any case
precision
playing, in the sense of everyone doing it exactly together, balanced,
and in
strict rhythm, is not characteristic of Horenstein's style (there is
another kind
of precision, that of *expressing* something accurately, which
Horenstein has
in abundance, but I'll mention that more under phrasing below.
Obviously
though, how you express something will affect the sound you make). So,
with
Horenstein don't expect Toscanini-, Szell- or Reiner-like sound &
precision.
If you like the lush, rich tones and rounded edges of the Karajan
approach
you'll be disappointed too, because that is not the way Horenstein
wanted
his orchestra to sound. Horenstein came from the Furtwangler school
of
conducting, which stressed the expressionistic nature of music.
Horenstein's approach is different from Furtwangler's in that the
orchestral
playing is more relaxed, even chamberlike. This is the key word -
chamberlike.
I suggest that JH's use of the orchestra, and therefore its sound, is
like the
playing of a large chamber ensemble, where the orchestral choirs are
more like
soloists, rather than sections, which fuse into one body. Horenstein
strove to
reveal the logic and clarity of the music he conducted, and indulged
in quite a bit
of freedom to achieve this (Don't forget that Furtwangler had years of
practice
with one orchestra, while Horenstein was the eternal wanderer. There
is no
"Horenstein sound"). H's. orchestra is lighter, less compact than
Furtwangler's,
and his readings are a little less ecstatic than F's, but not lacking
in power or
freedom nevertheless. I once asked JH how his interpretations had
changed
over the years, and he replied that today (this was in 1970 or
thereabouts) he downplayed the romantic side more and more.
Furtwangler
makes beautiful music but almost incidentally, because he seems more
concerned with reaching the emotional heights of the piece, of getting
to the
stratosphere, than of revealing its beauty. The same can be said of
Horenstein,
except that he plumbs the depths rather than scales the peaks (Get
it? ;-)
As an example of JH's attention to orchestral color, listen to the
last
movement of the Brahms Ist symphony after the famous first horn and
flute
entry where (letter C in the Dover score) the winds and brass
delicately
anticipate the glorious end of the symphony. This chorale also
includes a
double bassoon, though you would never guess it from most recordings
because the trombones & horns which accompany it are generally too
loud,
and because the DB is usually treated as an instrument of color only,
eg.
not as an independent presence in its own right. With JH you can
savour this
superb instrument in all its bovine splendor, including that glorious
low C that
leads back to the chord, because H. lets it play as an equal, not
subordinate,
member of the choir. I have yet to hear a recording in which the
double
bassoon figures quite so prominently (unusual instrument the DB,
which
Brahms uses in 3 of his 4 symphonies. Trivia quiz: which symphony
omits
it?). As Brahms was one of the first to incorporate the double
bassoon
regularly into his symphonic music, he obviously *wants* you to hear
it,
otherwise why include it?. I am willing to bet that most people who
have not
seen a score and listen to recordings of this piece would never even
realise
that a double bassoon is present. Not so with JH. Obviously, if you're
going
to treat the instrument like this, its going to affect the way the
orchestra
sounds (more like what Brahms intended, IMO), as well as make unusual
demands on the abilities of the players to respond.
In almost all JH's recordings there is an intensity, concentration
and
sheer power in the orchestral playing which you rarely find
elsewhere.
You can hear this immediately in the opening 8 measure sostenuto of
the Brahms 1st symphony, where the orchestra plays with a restrained,
held-back power and concentration which ring out with smouldering
portent as if the composer was saying "Pay attention -this is serious
stuff!". In these 8 bars listen also to the timpani, accompanied by
the
basses and double bassoon, which pound out that heavy, grim rhythm
(pre-echoes of Mahler's 6th?) with which Brahms opens the piece. As
you
will notice in all of his recordings, JH was very attentive of the
timpani,
whose sound he nurtured with great care. This balance of forces is
what
gives JH's sound its unique quality.
Also, the dynamic range of JH's orchestra is far greater than that
achieved
by many others, from the softest of delicate pianissimo's to the most
majestic of orchestral fortes. In concert the only other conductor I
heard
who could make an orchestra play with quite so wide a dynamic range
was Stokowski (much admired by Horenstein), and you hear this in all
of
JH's recordings, especially the Brahms & Mahler 1st. This fact created
lots
of problems for JH's recording engineers who were not used to such
extremes,
and IMO accounts in part for the poor quality of many of his
recordings
(happily, Charles Gerhard of RCA was responsible for the Brahms, so
the
recording is excellent).
Horenstein grew up together with the 2nd Viennese School, and was not
afraid of dissonance. His renditions are notable for their emphasis
on
exposing and exploiting the harmonic tensions in the music he
performed,
which created its own special kind of sound, perhaps not to
everyone's
liking. In Horenstein, it's the intensity of the rendition rather than
the precision
or the elegance which counts (although H. could turn a phrase with the
best
of them), but with the intensity you'll notice a very transparent
sound in
which all the forces are very clearly defined & balanced in their
respective
choirs, yet given enough freedom and space to express the topology of
the phrase in question. This sometimes comes at the expense of
accurate
ensemble playing, because Horenstein demands a lot from his players.
It's not easy to express a musical line with feeling, and even harder
to
do it with others, so that the ensemble of the orchestra is
compromised
when demands put upon its capabilities are of a special nature such
as
H. requests. The downside may be the occasional slip up but the gain
is
in being able to hear all the strands in their harmonic context, yet
expressed with an attention to form and line, and especially to the
breath contour of the phrase, which is unique to H. He encourages his
1st desk players to come out, to phrase, to stand out, quite often
much
more forcefully than other conductors. This obviously has an effect
on
the overall sound. It's not always a beautiful sound, but then much
of
the repertoire he performed was concerned with expressions of
struggle
and faith, and these are not always expressed beautifully by the
composer's themselves (in the sense of beauty being elegance,
harmony,
grace, repose and so on. You could hardly describe Mahler's music in
these terms). Horenstein went beyond the concept that music must be
beautiful to express anything worthwhile. In this he was very
influenced
by the 2nd Viennese School of thought.
2) Phrasing
In any biography of JH you will see that while studying music &
Indian
philosophy in Vienna as a kid, he heard Artur Nikisch conducting,
which so influenced him that he abandoned his other studies and
devoted all his time to music. Now what was a teenage kid, son of
prosperous Ukrainian emigre Jewish merchants in Vienna, doing
studying
*Indian* philosophy during WWI? I'll leave this to the biographers to
figure out, but suffice to say here that this fascination for
alternative
cultures never deserted him (I can vouch for this personally), and
considerably influenced his music making. In particular the importance
of
breathing in Indian culture was a lesson that he applied constantly to
his
music, and you can hear this in the long, swelling, sweeping phrases
that
slowly build up over a long time span and seem to go on forever until
the
tension is almost unbearable. Just like one huge inhalation, which
culminates (eg. changes to exhalation) at just the right point
musically.
Horenstein was a master of this.
Go to the coda of the last movement of the Brahms 1st, which most
play
just fast and loudly. Horenstein *builds up* the tension slowly, by
shaping
the phrases so that it arrives at its triumphant conclusion with a
kind of
inexorable logic. That kind of grim concentration and intensity is
pure
Horenstein. By contrast, check out the delicate little 8 bar string
transition
to the 2nd theme & development section in the last movement of
Mahler's
1st on Unicorn (measure 166 or letter 15 in the Universal score). Talk
about
authentic Mahler - this is IT! These are golden moments in music and
after you hear them done in this way, anything else seems wrong or
even
perverse.
The other point concerning phrasing is Horenstein's way with
crescendos
(gradually getting louder), which he seems able to stretch out over
enormously long timespans with an iron control over rhythm and tempo
development, so that when it seems like the orchestra is already
giving
everything its got, he asks for more and they respond! This is real
art,
and Horenstein achieves it by a clever manipulation of tempo and
dynamics whose apparent simplicity conceals the considerable
difficulty
in achieving and executing these nuances. Check out numerous examples
of H's crescendos (and decrecendo's) in the Brahms and Mahler.
••• CONTINUED BELOW •••
(Upcoming radio program):

https://www.wfmt.com/2020/08/02/a-dramatic-performance-of-beethovens-missa-solemnis
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