Discussion:
ELGAR Symphony No.2 - GSOTC?
(too old to reply)
Van Eyes
2003-08-24 19:22:45 UTC
Permalink
The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
century". The 20thC, of course.
I have come to agree with Svejda.
Favourite recordings? I like Barbirolli better than Boult, but have
many others I like too: Slatkin, Previn, Solti, Tate, Sir Colin Davis.
I must say I wonder what a Bernstein performance would have sounded
like, or a Stokowski, or Karajan performance. And what about
Furtwangler, assuming he could have got over the fact that he was
performing English (yuk!) music? Or Bruno Walter? The stuff of dreams,
I fear, as most of these conductors did little Elgar in their lives
and are no longer with us. Maybe they just could not get hold of the
elusive nature of his music.
Although it's Elgar's best Symphony, I don't think it's close to being
his best work. I'll reserve that distinction to Enigma, Violin Concerto,
Cello Concerto, and a coupla Chamber pieces.
I've heard your favorite E2's. The one I've settled on is LPO/Handley.
Whatever pomp was leftover from Elgar's 1st, Handley has dispensed with
nicely. Grasping elusive nature?

Bernstein? Who knows? Probably not too different from Solti or Barenboim
Elgar treatment.

Karajan? Yes, his dabbling with Britten and RVW arouses, for me, some
Elgar curiosity.

I wouldn't see much hope for Furt or Bruno.


Regards
--
Posted via Mailgate.ORG Server - http://www.Mailgate.ORG
Jeremy Dimmick
2003-08-24 20:04:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Van Eyes
The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
century". The 20thC, of course.
I have come to agree with Svejda.
Favourite recordings? I like Barbirolli better than Boult, but have
many others I like too: Slatkin, Previn, Solti, Tate, Sir Colin Davis.
Although it's Elgar's best Symphony, I don't think it's close to being
his best work. I'll reserve that distinction to Enigma, Violin
Concerto,
Post by Van Eyes
Cello Concerto, and a coupla Chamber pieces.
I've heard your favorite E2's. The one I've settled on is
LPO/Handley.
Post by Van Eyes
Whatever pomp was leftover from Elgar's 1st, Handley has dispensed with
nicely.
I think LPO / Handley is a good recommendation for a modern stereo
recording, but frankly it bores me by comparison with the excellent
1954 Barbirolli. I don't think it's by any measure the greatest
symphony of the 20th century, though I do find it more rewarding
than any of the pieces Van Eyes names.
Jeremy
Van Eyes
2003-08-24 20:19:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeremy Dimmick
I think LPO / Handley is a good recommendation for a modern stereo
recording, but frankly it bores me by comparison with the excellent
1954 Barbirolli. I don't think it's by any measure the greatest
symphony of the 20th century, though I do find it more rewarding
than any of the pieces Van Eyes names.
Jeremy
LOL.


Regards
--
Posted via Mailgate.ORG Server - http://www.Mailgate.ORG
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-24 20:47:10 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 24 Aug 2003 21:04:26 +0100, "Jeremy Dimmick"
Post by Van Eyes
The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that
the
Post by Van Eyes
Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
century". The 20thC, of course.
I have come to agree with Svejda.
Favourite recordings? I like Barbirolli better than Boult, but
have
Post by Van Eyes
many others I like too: Slatkin, Previn, Solti, Tate, Sir Colin
Davis.
Post by Van Eyes
Although it's Elgar's best Symphony, I don't think it's close to
being
Post by Van Eyes
his best work. I'll reserve that distinction to Enigma, Violin
Concerto,
Post by Van Eyes
Cello Concerto, and a coupla Chamber pieces.
I've heard your favorite E2's. The one I've settled on is
LPO/Handley.
Post by Van Eyes
Whatever pomp was leftover from Elgar's 1st, Handley has dispensed
with
Post by Van Eyes
nicely.
I think LPO / Handley is a good recommendation for a modern stereo
recording, but frankly it bores me by comparison with the excellent
1954 Barbirolli. I don't think it's by any measure the greatest
symphony of the 20th century, though I do find it more rewarding
than any of the pieces Van Eyes names.
Jeremy
Well, we can, of course, move onto the "measures" by which one would
arrive at such conclusions of greatness. Perhaps you would like to
give us your "measures"?

TD
Jeremy Dimmick
2003-08-24 22:37:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Well, we can, of course, move onto the "measures" by which one
would
Post by d***@yahoo.com
arrive at such conclusions of greatness. Perhaps you would like to
give us your "measures"?
TD
OK, I can tell I'm not going to make any new friends in this thread
so I'll keep this brief. Of course these pseudo-measurements of
relative value are absurd and unhelpful, but when I don't consider a
work to be great, it rather rules it out of participation in any
sort of chart of greats, however silly such a chart would be.
Elgar's second is a good work with stretches that are much better
than good, but it strikes me as suffering from a tendency to get
stuck in rhythmically stereotyped ruts, and the finale seems to me
built from relatively uninteresting materials.
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-24 23:18:40 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 24 Aug 2003 23:37:21 +0100, "Jeremy Dimmick"
Post by Jeremy Dimmick
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Well, we can, of course, move onto the "measures" by which one
would
Post by d***@yahoo.com
arrive at such conclusions of greatness. Perhaps you would like to
give us your "measures"?
TD
OK, I can tell I'm not going to make any new friends in this thread
so I'll keep this brief. Of course these pseudo-measurements of
relative value are absurd and unhelpful, but when I don't consider a
work to be great, it rather rules it out of participation in any
sort of chart of greats, however silly such a chart would be.
Elgar's second is a good work with stretches that are much better
than good, but it strikes me as suffering from a tendency to get
stuck in rhythmically stereotyped ruts, and the finale seems to me
built from relatively uninteresting materials.
I would suggest that you read Hurwitz's post on this symphony. Not
only does he disagree with you, his conclusions have a great deal more
substance.

It is hard to help thinking that yours are not thought out at all,
just a knee-jerk kind of putdown.

TD
David Hurwitz
2003-08-24 21:16:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeremy Dimmick
I think LPO / Handley is a good recommendation for a modern stereo
recording, but frankly it bores me by comparison with the excellent
1954 Barbirolli. I don't think it's by any measure the greatest
symphony of the 20th century, though I do find it more rewarding
than any of the pieces Van Eyes names.
Jeremy
I don't think there's any point is even debating the question of what was the
"greatest" symphony of the 20th century, particularly as it begs the issue of
just how many symphonies of the 20th century the person in question knows so as
to be able to make the comparisons and draw this conclusion in the first place.
Nor do I think this completely arbitrary and unmusical periodicity is at all
applicable to music best judged (for qualitative purposes) on stylistic criteria
rather than lumping it into a pool of disparate works simply by date.

Elgar's Second is a late Romantic work best compared to other late Romantic
works of similar ambition and expressive range; when it was composed is
irrelevant. This point was driven home a few years ago at a particularly vile
concert given by Simon Rattle and the CBSO when he paired Stravinsky's The Rite
of Spring with Elgar's Falstaff merely because they date from around the same
year. It was the musical analog to putting chocolate sauce on liver, and neither
work gained from being placed in close proximity to the other.

That said, I'm largely with Tom on this one, in believing the Elgar to be ONE of
the great symphonies of any period whatever. Among its qualities:

1. The subtle and highly sophisticated use of cyclical form, not merely in the
"spirit of delight" motto theme, but also in the transformation of the "malign
influence" tune from the first movement's development section to the horrifying
juggernaught in the central episode of the third movement. This is long-range
symphonic thought an a very grand scale, flawlessly executed.

2. The second movement strikes me as one of the great symphonic adagios, and its
orchestration (that of the whole symphony in fact) is particularly gorgeous and
well-judged.

3. The finale has none of the problems of movement or form typical of many
Romantic symphonies, and the coda successfully avoids the necessity of a
grandiose peroration but at the same time never sounds anti-climactic. That's
quite an achievement, especially for a quick movement. It is, in this respect,
very similar to the finale of Brahms' Third Symphony, which has that same
"autumnal" glow and feeling of quiet contentment, "all passion spent", though of
course Brahms is as compact as Elgar is expansive.

4. The close of the third movement clearly inspired Bernard Herrmann at the end
of his overture to North by Northwest, and for that alone we should be grateful.
Immitation by another great composer in a surprising context is, after all, the
sincerest form of flattery.

I'd like to note two additional performances not mentioned by Tom and worthy of
notice: Elgar's own electrical recording on EMI, which has some of the best
sound around for it's era, and Mackerras on Argo.

Finally, some observations regarding those who have NOT recorded the symphony
and the comparative neglect of Elgar outside of the UK. Here I think much of the
blame lies squarely with the English press, which I believe has been an
absolutely dreadful custodian of the UK's musical patrimony (and not just in
Elgar). The constant flogging of Boult, Barbirolli, Handley, or if not English
conductors than the absolute necessity of having an English orchestra involved
in any Elgar performance (and in particular recording), and the whole issue of
English "authenticity" or "idiomatic" interpretation in this music have very
successfully, I believe, discouraged "international" orchestras and conductors
from even thinking about making the music their own.

Of course, on the positive side, one might observe that Elgar has NOT been
ill-served at all at home; Boult, Barbirolli and others have done marvelous work
in this music. The issue here is NOT that these are not excellent performances.
They often are. We may in fact well ask the question: What conductor needs to
"take up the cause" when Elgar has been so successfully championed and so
frequently recorded in the UK?

But if the issue is to be framed as one of concern that non-English conductors
and orchestras do not give the music the attention that it deserves (as it often
is, usually when an English critic wants to celebrate his nation's superior
cultivation in uniquely recognizing Elgar's unassailable genius), then there
needs to be coming from the English press a willingness to welcome views from
abroad and encourage every sign of foreign interest, and to express gratitude
when others take up the cause rather than dismissing with contempt the perceived
effrontery at the merest suggestion that a non-English orchestra and conductor
can play this music just as well as the domestic competition. The ongoing and
quite astonishingly silly controversy over Bernstein's DG Enigma Variations that
still pops up in commentary from time to time stikes me as a classic example of
the "This will never do!" approach so typical of so many members of the English
press.

Mr. Dimmick's rather predictable affection for the "celebrated" 1954 Barbirolli
performance strikes me as another case in point. Is it good? Sure. Is it better
than Slatkin, Previn, Colin Davis, Previn, Haitink, and a few others I can think
of? I don't think so, and I don't think it helps the cause to maintain that
there's been nothing of similar quality since 1954. As long as this attitiude of
cultural xenophobia typifies much English criticism or can be said to represent
the cultural attitude of the English musical public (and I really don't know if
it does or not, though I have my suspicions), then Elgar will not receive the
attention abroad that those of us who love his music and would like to hear more
of it in concert feel that he deserves.

Dave Hurwitz
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-24 22:19:21 UTC
Permalink
Now the "measures" of greatness are coming out of the woodwork and
that is good. And I do allow that the use of the word is highly
personal and questionable.

Hurwitz is right in his judgmen of the qualities of this work. I would
only add that there is an emotional component of its appeal which
might need to be nudged into the limelight here; I find the work among
the most potent of any symphonic work I know. I would, for example,
far rather hear this symphony than Beethoven's 9th! A personal choice,
of course. But it stems from the emotion at the heart of this work.
Beethoven's "tub-thumping" on behalf of brotherly love is, for me,
mildly embarrassing.

Rattle certainly did Elgar no favours by eliminating him entirely from
his 20th Century series. I see this as a perverse form of intellectual
snobism on his part and very regrettable.

That said, however, I do applaud the comments on the "sense of
prrprietorship" with which the English - and not only its critics, by
the way - regard Elgar's music. Previn in Los Angeles did the symphony
up brown, in my opinion. I look forward to investigating Zinman's work
in Baltimore. And why not a new look by Maazel and the NYPhilharmonic?
Or Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony? I for one long for such
international treatment of this masterpiece. The Victorian cobwebs
need to be stripped from this score.

And just imagine what would be accomplished for this great symphony if
Rattle dropped his snobism and performed and recorded the work in
Berlin!

Hurwitz also points to Mackerras (I just overlooked those readings,
which are also fine) and have not heard Norrington's recording with an
orchestra in Stuttgart. But wouldn't that be interesting?

And it is, indeed, useful to look back to Elgar's own performance, but
it must be remembered that the orchestra used for this recording was
not at all the complement designated in the score, but a much reduced
ensemble, to suit the limitations of the recording medium of the day.
Moreover, its sonics really do not allow the piece to reveal all of
its orchestral fabric in the way a modern recording can and so easily.

As for the "mythical" Boult and Barbirolli performances of 55 and 60
years ago, they remain interesting, but clearly not as richly
rewarding as more modern versions by these same conductors. Their
attractions are the attractions of antiquarianism, in my opinion. Not
that I don't appreciate such things; I just think they need to be
called by the right name.

TD

On 24 Aug 2003 14:16:38 -0700, David Hurwitz
Post by David Hurwitz
Post by Jeremy Dimmick
I think LPO / Handley is a good recommendation for a modern stereo
recording, but frankly it bores me by comparison with the excellent
1954 Barbirolli. I don't think it's by any measure the greatest
symphony of the 20th century, though I do find it more rewarding
than any of the pieces Van Eyes names.
Jeremy
I don't think there's any point is even debating the question of what was the
"greatest" symphony of the 20th century, particularly as it begs the issue of
just how many symphonies of the 20th century the person in question knows so as
to be able to make the comparisons and draw this conclusion in the first place.
Nor do I think this completely arbitrary and unmusical periodicity is at all
applicable to music best judged (for qualitative purposes) on stylistic criteria
rather than lumping it into a pool of disparate works simply by date.
Elgar's Second is a late Romantic work best compared to other late Romantic
works of similar ambition and expressive range; when it was composed is
irrelevant. This point was driven home a few years ago at a particularly vile
concert given by Simon Rattle and the CBSO when he paired Stravinsky's The Rite
of Spring with Elgar's Falstaff merely because they date from around the same
year. It was the musical analog to putting chocolate sauce on liver, and neither
work gained from being placed in close proximity to the other.
That said, I'm largely with Tom on this one, in believing the Elgar to be ONE of
1. The subtle and highly sophisticated use of cyclical form, not merely in the
"spirit of delight" motto theme, but also in the transformation of the "malign
influence" tune from the first movement's development section to the horrifying
juggernaught in the central episode of the third movement. This is long-range
symphonic thought an a very grand scale, flawlessly executed.
2. The second movement strikes me as one of the great symphonic adagios, and its
orchestration (that of the whole symphony in fact) is particularly gorgeous and
well-judged.
3. The finale has none of the problems of movement or form typical of many
Romantic symphonies, and the coda successfully avoids the necessity of a
grandiose peroration but at the same time never sounds anti-climactic. That's
quite an achievement, especially for a quick movement. It is, in this respect,
very similar to the finale of Brahms' Third Symphony, which has that same
"autumnal" glow and feeling of quiet contentment, "all passion spent", though of
course Brahms is as compact as Elgar is expansive.
4. The close of the third movement clearly inspired Bernard Herrmann at the end
of his overture to North by Northwest, and for that alone we should be grateful.
Immitation by another great composer in a surprising context is, after all, the
sincerest form of flattery.
I'd like to note two additional performances not mentioned by Tom and worthy of
notice: Elgar's own electrical recording on EMI, which has some of the best
sound around for it's era, and Mackerras on Argo.
Finally, some observations regarding those who have NOT recorded the symphony
and the comparative neglect of Elgar outside of the UK. Here I think much of the
blame lies squarely with the English press, which I believe has been an
absolutely dreadful custodian of the UK's musical patrimony (and not just in
Elgar). The constant flogging of Boult, Barbirolli, Handley, or if not English
conductors than the absolute necessity of having an English orchestra involved
in any Elgar performance (and in particular recording), and the whole issue of
English "authenticity" or "idiomatic" interpretation in this music have very
successfully, I believe, discouraged "international" orchestras and conductors
from even thinking about making the music their own.
Of course, on the positive side, one might observe that Elgar has NOT been
ill-served at all at home; Boult, Barbirolli and others have done marvelous work
in this music. The issue here is NOT that these are not excellent performances.
They often are. We may in fact well ask the question: What conductor needs to
"take up the cause" when Elgar has been so successfully championed and so
frequently recorded in the UK?
But if the issue is to be framed as one of concern that non-English conductors
and orchestras do not give the music the attention that it deserves (as it often
is, usually when an English critic wants to celebrate his nation's superior
cultivation in uniquely recognizing Elgar's unassailable genius), then there
needs to be coming from the English press a willingness to welcome views from
abroad and encourage every sign of foreign interest, and to express gratitude
when others take up the cause rather than dismissing with contempt the perceived
effrontery at the merest suggestion that a non-English orchestra and conductor
can play this music just as well as the domestic competition. The ongoing and
quite astonishingly silly controversy over Bernstein's DG Enigma Variations that
still pops up in commentary from time to time stikes me as a classic example of
the "This will never do!" approach so typical of so many members of the English
press.
Mr. Dimmick's rather predictable affection for the "celebrated" 1954 Barbirolli
performance strikes me as another case in point. Is it good? Sure. Is it better
than Slatkin, Previn, Colin Davis, Previn, Haitink, and a few others I can think
of? I don't think so, and I don't think it helps the cause to maintain that
there's been nothing of similar quality since 1954. As long as this attitiude of
cultural xenophobia typifies much English criticism or can be said to represent
the cultural attitude of the English musical public (and I really don't know if
it does or not, though I have my suspicions), then Elgar will not receive the
attention abroad that those of us who love his music and would like to hear more
of it in concert feel that he deserves.
Dave Hurwitz
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-25 15:16:36 UTC
Permalink
says...
On 24 Aug 2003 15:48:53 -0700, David Hurwitz
Post by d***@yahoo.com
And it is, indeed, useful to look back to Elgar's own performance, but
it must be remembered that the orchestra used for this recording was
not at all the complement designated in the score, but a much reduced
ensemble, to suit the limitations of the recording medium of the day.
Not true. The second, electrical recording used the full orchestra (the LSO) and
was made in Queen's Hall. If you don't know it, you should hear it; of course
the tuttis sound congested and the percussion is only fitfully present, but in
all other respects it still sounds very good, and you can certainly hear the
more important details of Elgar's interpretation quite clearly.
It is hard to help thinkinf of those photos of Elgar with a rafty of
assorted musicians grouped around a "horn" trying to make music!
Maybe, but the sound quality of his *electrical* recording is unlikely to make
you think of those photos.
Simon
Perhaps not. But they don't really sound like any orchestra that I
have heard in concert recently, either.

Primitive orchestral recordings of standard repertoire tend only to be
of antiquarian or documentary interest. And this is, I think, the case
with Elgar's own recordings.

The one exception is the Violin Concerto and there we have the
completely unique sound of the young Menuhin, never duplicated or even
equalled sence.

Moreover, we HAVE to be able to perform this music well today if it is
to last, and that includes the Violin Concerto, of course. (Surely
this is a concerto made for the talents of James Ehnes.) And Elgar's
Second Symphony must last, as it is, in my opinion at least, among the
greatest symphonies of the 20th Century, if not the greatest,

TD
David Hurwitz
2003-08-25 16:37:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
The one exception is the Violin Concerto and there we have the
completely unique sound of the young Menuhin, never duplicated or even
equalled sence.
Certainly not by Menuhin himself!

Dave Hurwitz
Deryk Barker
2003-08-25 17:27:42 UTC
Permalink
....
Post by d***@yahoo.com
It is hard to help thinkinf of those photos of Elgar with a rafty of
assorted musicians grouped around a "horn" trying to make music!
Maybe, but the sound quality of his *electrical* recording is unlikely to
make you think of those photos.
Simon
Perhaps not. But they don't really sound like any orchestra that I
have heard in concert recently, either.
Primitive orchestral recordings of standard repertoire tend only to be
of antiquarian or documentary interest. And this is, I think, the case
with Elgar's own recordings.
I'm sorry but this is complete piffle. Elgar's recordings are incredibly
important as he is the only late-Romantic composer to leave us his own
interpretations of almost his entire major orchestral output.

And Solti didn't seem to think as you do: he studied Elgar's own recording
of the first very carefully before making his own.
Post by d***@yahoo.com
The one exception is the Violin Concerto and there we have the
completely unique sound of the young Menuhin, never duplicated or even
equalled sence.
Except that many (self included) feel that Elgar pulled his punches somewhat
in his conducting and that the 1929 Sammons/Wood recording is the one to
beat.
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Moreover, we HAVE to be able to perform this music well today if it is
to last, and that includes the Violin Concerto, of course. (Surely
this is a concerto made for the talents of James Ehnes.)
Fritz Kreisler's actually....:-)
--
Deryk Barker (To email remove nospam.)
Alan Hayward
2003-08-25 19:19:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deryk Barker
Post by d***@yahoo.com
The one exception is the Violin Concerto and there we have the
completely unique sound of the young Menuhin, never duplicated or even
equalled sence.
Except that many (self included) feel that Elgar pulled his punches somewhat
in his conducting and that the 1929 Sammons/Wood recording is the one to
beat.
Isn't it just. My own view is that the Violin Concerto has been very
unfortunate on record for a long time. Has there been a recording in the
past 50 years to compare with the Sammons/Wood, Menuhin/Elgar or
Heifetz/Sargent (1949)? If so, I haven't heard it. Zukerman/Barenboim is as
satisfying as any, although I do have reservations about the accompaniment.
Post by Deryk Barker
Fritz Kreisler's actually....:-)
And what a pity his performance was never recorded.
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-25 20:22:59 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 25 Aug 2003 19:19:49 +0000 (UTC), "Alan Hayward"
Post by Deryk Barker
Post by Deryk Barker
Post by d***@yahoo.com
The one exception is the Violin Concerto and there we have the
completely unique sound of the young Menuhin, never duplicated or even
equalled sence.
Except that many (self included) feel that Elgar pulled his punches
somewhat
Post by Deryk Barker
in his conducting and that the 1929 Sammons/Wood recording is the one to
beat.
Isn't it just. My own view is that the Violin Concerto has been very
unfortunate on record for a long time. Has there been a recording in the
past 50 years to compare with the Sammons/Wood, Menuhin/Elgar or
Heifetz/Sargent (1949)? If so, I haven't heard it. Zukerman/Barenboim is as
satisfying as any, although I do have reservations about the accompaniment.
Post by Deryk Barker
Fritz Kreisler's actually....:-)
And what a pity his performance was never recorded.
Not sure that he would have been up to this concerto when the Menuhin
was recorded. Kreisler's technique had gone a little soft by then and
this is a VERY difficult piece.

Good to have the Sammons so easily available on Naxos Historical, but,
fine as it is, it still does not match Menuhin, in my opinion.

TD
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-26 13:39:08 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 26 Aug 2003 09:24:23 -0400, "Lani Spahr"
Post by Alan Hayward
Isn't it just. My own view is that the Violin Concerto has been very
unfortunate on record for a long time. Has there been a recording in the
past 50 years to compare with the Sammons/Wood, Menuhin/Elgar or
Heifetz/Sargent (1949)?
Well, yes, 2 actually. The 1977 recording by Ida Haendel and Adrain Boult on
Testament. A truly magnificent account, plus her live 1986 recording from
the Proms on BBC (Carlton) Classics.
Post by Alan Hayward
Zukerman/Barenboim is as satisfying as any, although I do have
reservations about the
The reservations I have about this recording are from the violinists end.
IMO, it's one of the worst recordings of the piece, violinistically
speaking.
What about the Zukerman/Slatkin performance on RCA.

Imagine. And American and an Israeli playing Elgar. And what is even
more, they recorded the music in the USA with the St. Louis Symphony.
I can only imagine how this recording was received by the insular
British press.

TD
David Hurwitz
2003-08-26 14:12:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Imagine. And American and an Israeli playing Elgar. And what is even
more, they recorded the music in the USA with the St. Louis Symphony.
I can only imagine how this recording was received by the insular
British press.
TD
You asked for it (from Gramophone):

Zukerman's earlier account of this Concerto, I recall, divided opinions sharply.
Some Elgarians (myself included) found it all a mite too superficial and (at
times) unacceptably gross; others thought it intensely refreshing and intrepid
(indeed, the compilers of The Penguin Guide deemed it rosette-worthy). Well,
these are deeply personal matters, I know, but I'm bound to say that, rehearing
this 1975 performance again after a long period, I find myself liking it even
less.
Though he takes a little time to settle down after his initial entry (for a few
minutes tuning inclines to sharpness) Zukerman plays with much bravura and fire;
what's really missing from his contribution is any feeling of echt-Elgarian
dignity (or more crucially) soul. Equally, Barenboim's accompaniment, though
immensely big-hearted, tends to lapse into unhelpful bluster in any busier bars
(his subsequent support for Perlman showed altogether greater control and
discretion), whilst in the slow movement his handling of those ravishing,
unbearably intimate string passages at figs. 47, 48 and later at 59 merely apes
at the spiritual dimension one encounters under, say, the composer himself or
Vernon Handley. Sony Classical's remastering is effective, though a certain
cloudiness remains in tuttis and the comparatively crude, multi-miked origins of
this material cannot be disguised.
On to the RCA newcomer, then, and that Slatkin is an incomparably more
sympathetic, idiomatic Elgarian than Barenboim is evident from the start: the
orchestral introduction has both power and flexibility, textures glow as they
should. For me, the problems arrive with the soloist's entry. Again, Zukerman's
playing is forthright and (for the most part) beautifully clean-cut, but if
anything, there's an even greater emotional paucity this time round. Granted,
this is a far more considered, thoughtful statement than he gave us back in
1975, yet I'm bound to say that such an observation isn't necessarily a
compliment!
But the real drawback to this new reading is the finale, which is just too
cautious and well-reined by half. What's more, the poetic half-lights of the
great cadenza seem to elude Zukerman completely, and his playing here seems
extraordinarily lacking in any feeling of improvisatory fantasy (the earlier
version, itself by no means ideal, carried far more imaginative flair). RCA's
Powell Hall sonics are typically warm and velvety, though rather greater
transparency would not go amiss (the brass should surely cut through the texture
more than they do here). Neither fill-up—Barenboim's by turns sticky and
over-excitable In the South nor a sweet-toned Salut d'amour (how much more
stingy a coupling can you get?)—exactly sets the pulse racing.
As readers will have gathered, neither performance of the Concerto would come
anywhere near the head of my own list of recommendations. Newcomers should stick
with the incomparable Menuhin, Kennedy or Kang (remarkable value at Naxos's
bargain-basement price). And if you must have Zukerman in this music, then let
it be his earlier version, warts and all.
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-26 15:22:20 UTC
Permalink
Don't you love it?

The "echt-Elgarian dignity (or more critically) soul.

Rubbish!

This is the very reason Gramophone is no longer viewed as a source of
intelligent mjusical commentary.

TD




On 26 Aug 2003 07:12:10 -0700, David Hurwitz
Post by David Hurwitz
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Imagine. And American and an Israeli playing Elgar. And what is even
more, they recorded the music in the USA with the St. Louis Symphony.
I can only imagine how this recording was received by the insular
British press.
TD
Zukerman's earlier account of this Concerto, I recall, divided opinions sharply.
Some Elgarians (myself included) found it all a mite too superficial and (at
times) unacceptably gross; others thought it intensely refreshing and intrepid
(indeed, the compilers of The Penguin Guide deemed it rosette-worthy). Well,
these are deeply personal matters, I know, but I'm bound to say that, rehearing
this 1975 performance again after a long period, I find myself liking it even
less.
Though he takes a little time to settle down after his initial entry (for a few
minutes tuning inclines to sharpness) Zukerman plays with much bravura and fire;
what's really missing from his contribution is any feeling of echt-Elgarian
dignity (or more crucially) soul. Equally, Barenboim's accompaniment, though
immensely big-hearted, tends to lapse into unhelpful bluster in any busier bars
(his subsequent support for Perlman showed altogether greater control and
discretion), whilst in the slow movement his handling of those ravishing,
unbearably intimate string passages at figs. 47, 48 and later at 59 merely apes
at the spiritual dimension one encounters under, say, the composer himself or
Vernon Handley. Sony Classical's remastering is effective, though a certain
cloudiness remains in tuttis and the comparatively crude, multi-miked origins of
this material cannot be disguised.
On to the RCA newcomer, then, and that Slatkin is an incomparably more
sympathetic, idiomatic Elgarian than Barenboim is evident from the start: the
orchestral introduction has both power and flexibility, textures glow as they
should. For me, the problems arrive with the soloist's entry. Again, Zukerman's
playing is forthright and (for the most part) beautifully clean-cut, but if
anything, there's an even greater emotional paucity this time round. Granted,
this is a far more considered, thoughtful statement than he gave us back in
1975, yet I'm bound to say that such an observation isn't necessarily a
compliment!
But the real drawback to this new reading is the finale, which is just too
cautious and well-reined by half. What's more, the poetic half-lights of the
great cadenza seem to elude Zukerman completely, and his playing here seems
extraordinarily lacking in any feeling of improvisatory fantasy (the earlier
version, itself by no means ideal, carried far more imaginative flair). RCA's
Powell Hall sonics are typically warm and velvety, though rather greater
transparency would not go amiss (the brass should surely cut through the texture
more than they do here). Neither fill-up—Barenboim's by turns sticky and
over-excitable In the South nor a sweet-toned Salut d'amour (how much more
stingy a coupling can you get?)—exactly sets the pulse racing.
As readers will have gathered, neither performance of the Concerto would come
anywhere near the head of my own list of recommendations. Newcomers should stick
with the incomparable Menuhin, Kennedy or Kang (remarkable value at Naxos's
bargain-basement price). And if you must have Zukerman in this music, then let
it be his earlier version, warts and all.
Alan Hayward
2003-08-26 15:48:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Don't you love it?
The "echt-Elgarian dignity (or more critically) soul.
Rubbish!
This is the very reason Gramophone is no longer viewed as a source of
intelligent mjusical commentary.
Quite. FWIW, the Gramophone review was written by one Andrew Achenbach. The
Zukerman / Slatkin recording is one I had managed to miss completely and,
naturally, now that you have drawn attention to its existence, the recording
has been deleted.
Paul Goldstein
2003-08-26 16:22:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alan Hayward
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Don't you love it?
The "echt-Elgarian dignity (or more critically) soul.
Rubbish!
This is the very reason Gramophone is no longer viewed as a source of
intelligent mjusical commentary.
Quite. FWIW, the Gramophone review was written by one Andrew Achenbach. The
Zukerman / Slatkin recording is one I had managed to miss completely and,
naturally, now that you have drawn attention to its existence, the recording
has been deleted.
Has anyone mentioned the wonderful recordings of the Elgar VC by Campoli
(Beulah) and Perlman (DGG)?

Paul Goldstein
Deryk Barker
2003-08-26 17:35:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Paul Goldstein
Post by Alan Hayward
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Don't you love it?
The "echt-Elgarian dignity (or more critically) soul.
Rubbish!
This is the very reason Gramophone is no longer viewed as a source of
intelligent mjusical commentary.
Quite. FWIW, the Gramophone review was written by one Andrew Achenbach.
The Zukerman / Slatkin recording is one I had managed to miss completely
and, naturally, now that you have drawn attention to its existence, the
recording has been deleted.
Has anyone mentioned the wonderful recordings of the Elgar VC by Campoli
(Beulah) and Perlman (DGG)?
Or Hugh Bean's recording?
--
Deryk Barker (To email remove nospam.)
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-26 17:45:37 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 26 Aug 2003 17:35:31 GMT, Deryk Barker
Post by Deryk Barker
Post by Paul Goldstein
Post by Alan Hayward
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Don't you love it?
The "echt-Elgarian dignity (or more critically) soul.
Rubbish!
This is the very reason Gramophone is no longer viewed as a source of
intelligent mjusical commentary.
Quite. FWIW, the Gramophone review was written by one Andrew Achenbach.
The Zukerman / Slatkin recording is one I had managed to miss completely
and, naturally, now that you have drawn attention to its existence, the
recording has been deleted.
Has anyone mentioned the wonderful recordings of the Elgar VC by Campoli
(Beulah) and Perlman (DGG)?
Or Hugh Bean's recording?
Indeed, as both my EMI copies suffer from endless tics and pops.
Uncelebrated is perhaps the way one would qualify this recording.

But I have a suggestion.

Perhaps we should boycot ANY and ALL recordings of Elgar's music
performed by English - see, Neil! - musicians. That way we would be
acting to increase the internationalization of Elgar.

TD
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-26 17:43:16 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 26 Aug 2003 15:48:44 +0000 (UTC), "Alan Hayward"
Post by Alan Hayward
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Don't you love it?
The "echt-Elgarian dignity (or more critically) soul.
Rubbish!
This is the very reason Gramophone is no longer viewed as a source of
intelligent mjusical commentary.
Quite. FWIW, the Gramophone review was written by one Andrew Achenbach. The
Zukerman / Slatkin recording is one I had managed to miss completely and,
naturally, now that you have drawn attention to its existence, the recording
has been deleted.
But you can, as I did, acquire it through Amazon.com's useful
"marketplace" section.

TD
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-25 20:20:29 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 25 Aug 2003 17:27:42 GMT, Deryk Barker
Post by Deryk Barker
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Primitive orchestral recordings of standard repertoire tend only to be
of antiquarian or documentary interest. And this is, I think, the case
with Elgar's own recordings.
I'm sorry but this is complete piffle. Elgar's recordings are incredibly
important as he is the only late-Romantic composer to leave us his own
interpretations of almost his entire major orchestral output.
And Solti didn't seem to think as you do: he studied Elgar's own recording
of the first very carefully before making his own.
Thank you for making my point all over again and so splendidly.

Solti listened for 1)the tempos, and 2) the style.

One has to doubt that he could actually hear what is going on in the
orchestra!!!

As I said, of documentary or antiquarian interest.

TD
Marcus Maroney
2003-08-26 00:18:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
And just imagine what would be accomplished for this great symphony if
Rattle dropped his snobism and performed and recorded the work in
Berlin!
We'd have the most boring performance available?

MM
Raymond Hall
2003-08-26 01:33:47 UTC
Permalink
"Marcus Maroney" <***@aol.com> wrote in message news:***@posting.google.com...
| ***@yahoo.com wrote in:
|
| > And just imagine what would be accomplished for this great symphony if
| > Rattle dropped his snobism and performed and recorded the work in
| > Berlin!
|
| We'd have the most boring performance available?

With Rattle there is a good chance it would be so bad, it might even be
interesting <g>

Regards,

# http://www.users.bigpond.com/hallraylily/index.html
See You Tamara (Ozzy Osbourne)

Ray, Taree, NSW
mbbb
2003-08-25 00:01:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Hurwitz
Mr. Dimmick's rather predictable affection for the "celebrated" 1954 Barbirolli
performance strikes me as another case in point. Is it good? Sure. Is it better
than Slatkin, Previn, Colin Davis, Previn, Haitink, and a few others I can think
of? I don't think so, and I don't think it helps the cause to maintain that
there's been nothing of similar quality since 1954. As long as this attitiude of
cultural xenophobia typifies much English criticism or can be said to represent
the cultural attitude of the English musical public (and I really don't know if
it does or not, though I have my suspicions), then Elgar will not receive the
attention abroad that those of us who love his music and would like to hear more
of it in concert feel that he deserves.
Dave Hurwitz
Who has said there has been nothing of similar quality since 1954? Certainly
not Mr Dimmick! Why is his attitude " predictable"?
He is merely responding to an opinion on one reording ( Handley) by
expressing a preference for another.
How this equates to "cultural xenophobia" is beyond me!

English critics are no different, I suspect, to any others. They stick up
for their own, just as you stick up for Bernstein. ( I did not think his BBC
Enigma was any worse than his crime against Tchaikovksy in his Pathetique
recording. Any recording which doubles the average performance time for a
movement is bound to be controversial, irrespective of nationality!)

Do conductors like Ancerl and Kubelik perform Dvorak with a special insight
because they were Czech? I don't know but that opinion is often expressed.

Circa 1939, after a performance in New York of Elgar 2 by Barbirolli and
PSONY, Olin Downes wrote "a lengthy, pompous, bourgeious sort of thing: it
reflects the complacency and stodginess of the era" The sight of the
audience at the Last Night of the Proms, singing Land of Hope and Glory,
waving union jacks is far more likely to put people off Elgar than the
response of English music critics to non-English performances or recordings
of his work.

.
David Hurwitz
2003-08-25 00:46:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by mbbb
Who has said there has been nothing of similar quality since 1954? Certainly
not Mr Dimmick! Why is his attitude " predictable"?
He is merely responding to an opinion on one reording ( Handley) by
expressing a preference for another.
How this equates to "cultural xenophobia" is beyond me!
No I do not find Dimmick's remark particularly xenophobic; however, the clear
implication of his remark, that Handley is a good recommendation for a "modern"
recording, but does not compare to Barbirolli of 1954, clearly presumes that no
modern recording is as good as 1954. Otherwise, Handley would not be a
particularly good recommendation, right? I think that's a pretty safe
assumption, and there are plenty other examples of cultural xenophobia
independently of Mr. Dimmick (you will note that this point was made before I
brought him into the picture in any case, not as an example of cultural
xenophobia but of the "antiquarianism" that Tom Deacon mentions, and which is
just as damaging to Elgar's cause).
Post by mbbb
English critics are no different, I suspect, to any others. They stick up
for their own, just as you stick up for Bernstein. ( I did not think his BBC
Enigma was any worse than his crime against Tchaikovksy in his Pathetique
recording. Any recording which doubles the average performance time for a
movement is bound to be controversial, irrespective of nationality!)
I was not "sticking up" for anyone; I never said Bernstein's Elgar was great. I
said the tone of the ongoing controversy about his "Enigma" variations strikes
me as silly. Nor do I have a problem with controversy. The problem I have is
exactly as I describe it; and English critics in my experience will be different
from others to the extent that they let the fact that they are English influence
the fact that they are critics to the detriment of their professional
competence. This is not to say that there are no fine English critics. There are
some very fine ones indeed. Nor is nationalism necessarily a defining
characteristic of English criticism in general, but with respect to Elgar
specifically I think it's fair to say, because of his unique position in English
musical life, that this problem is particularly evident.
Post by mbbb
Do conductors like Ancerl and Kubelik perform Dvorak with a special insight
because they were Czech? I don't know but that opinion is often expressed.
Not by me. Again, we had this discussion a few months ago, and I took the
position that training and simple familiarity based on rehearsal and performance
is far more important than "ethnicity" or musical birthright.
Post by mbbb
Circa 1939, after a performance in New York of Elgar 2 by Barbirolli and
PSONY, Olin Downes wrote "a lengthy, pompous, bourgeious sort of thing: it
reflects the complacency and stodginess of the era"
So? Lots of people feel that way about Elgar, including more than a few English
musicians I know. Mr. Dimmick doesn't even like him especially. But he still
subscribes to the "antiquarian" view and tows the "party" line; perhaps we may
conclude from this that it is simply institutionally entrenched as a commonplace
of English critical thought. I don't know, to be honest, but it's certainly
possible.
Post by mbbb
The sight of the
audience at the Last Night of the Proms, singing Land of Hope and Glory,
waving union jacks is far more likely to put people off Elgar than the
response of English music critics to non-English performances or recordings
of his work.
Why would it do that? I've been to the Last Night of the Proms and had a great
time. I have never expressed any objection to the use of Elgar's music for that
purpose; he sounds the right tone perfectly. He was proud of it, and it's one
aspect of his greatness as an artist. Besides, we are talking about the
reception that foreign views of Elgar receive in England, and not how people
elsewhere regard his use at English patriotic events. Does the use of "The Stars
and Stripes Forever" make people abroad dislike Sousa? I doubt it. People in
other countries (especially English-speaking ones) naturally use the reaction of
English critics as a barometer of quality in this repertoire--we look to their
expertise.

The issue for me is never that Elgar's adoption as a "national" composer is
somehow wrong or musically inappropriate; it's simply that if this is the case,
don't look down on others who do NOT share this particular view of his art.
Instead, try to welcome and encourage performances of the music viewed simply as
great music of international stature. The cause of Elgar in the WORLD is not
served by stressing those qualities of "Englishness" that by definition others
who are not English cannot share (assuming they exist at all in a positive or
quantifiable sense). And if you view this as the defining quality of his music,
then don't look down on others when they rightly point out that he does not
deserve to be considered a world class composer with an international following.

Dave Hurwitz
Ed
2003-08-25 09:19:27 UTC
Permalink
British critics love certain British conductors and their performances
of British music. They may even, when it comes down to it, recommend
them as a clear first choice for sentimental reasons etc. Both
possibly true.

But what I don't follow is that you seem to be saying British critics
dislike other nationalities performing British music and somehow this
carping prevents the widespread acceptance of British music.

It seems to me that for instance Previn, Slatkin, Haitink, Silvestri
and Solti have always had good reviews in Britain. (Well maybe not
Slatkin when he messes with the Last Night of the Proms.) Of course
they were working in Britain, but OTTOMH recordings by Mitropoulos,
Szell, Ormandy, Stokowski, Abravanel, Bernstein (VW's 4th) and Karajan
have always been held in high regard in Britain, at the top of the
critical heap and in some cases clearly the very best - e.g. Szell's
Walton. In fact I can't think of any foreign recording that has been
really badly received. (In fact that is a slight lie since I just
thought of Boult's Vienna recordings of Vaughan Williams.)
Post by David Hurwitz
Post by mbbb
The sight of the
audience at the Last Night of the Proms, singing Land of Hope and Glory,
waving union jacks is far more likely to put people off Elgar than the
response of English music critics to non-English performances or recordings
of his work.
Why would it do that? I've been to the Last Night of the Proms and had a great
time.
Actually in Britain many people hate the Last Night of the Proms. Some
because they think it's too jingoistic. Others view it as something
that posh, Southern, hooray-Henry types go to - well at least most of
my friends back home in Glasgow take this view.

But I agree with you - many abroad obviously love this kind of quaint
Post by David Hurwitz
The cause of Elgar in the WORLD is not
served by stressing those qualities of "Englishness" that by definition others
who are not English cannot share (assuming they exist at all in a positive or
quantifiable sense).
Surely the biggest selling point to the public of much classical music
*is* the sort of nationalistic qualities that we can all appreciate:
where would Tchaikovsky be without a lot of snow, Smetana without that
river, Sibelius without a bleak landscape, Copland with a prairie etc.

The reason that Elgar's symphonies are not popular abroad is that they
are just not British enough to foreigners and, in my view, they are
not the kinds of symphonies that are immediately appealing to today's
average concert go-er. Maybe I should change that last statement to
"the average performance of them is not immediately appealing", since
I think that Solti or Elgar give thrilling rides. This is based on my
own experience - I didn't really like Elgar's symphonies much to begin
with (from conductors like Boult) and it took me quite some time to
get to love them.

Vaughan Williams has done much better internationally than Elgar when
it comes to symphonies - and this is not surprising since they are
generally both more British and more easily appealing.

Ed
David Hurwitz
2003-08-25 12:55:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ed
British critics love certain British conductors and their performances
of British music. They may even, when it comes down to it, recommend
them as a clear first choice for sentimental reasons etc. Both
possibly true.
But what I don't follow is that you seem to be saying British critics
dislike other nationalities performing British music and somehow this
carping prevents the widespread acceptance of British music.
It seems to me that for instance Previn, Slatkin, Haitink, Silvestri
and Solti have always had good reviews in Britain. (Well maybe not
Slatkin when he messes with the Last Night of the Proms.) Of course
they were working in Britain,
Exactly the point.

but OTTOMH recordings by Mitropoulos,
Post by Ed
Szell, Ormandy, Stokowski, Abravanel, Bernstein (VW's 4th) and Karajan
have always been held in high regard in Britain, at the top of the
critical heap and in some cases clearly the very best - e.g. Szell's
Walton.
Not in recordings of British music, of which they made very few. Szell's Walton
is something of an exception, but then Cleveland actually commissioned some of
the music by Walton that they recorded, and Walton himself was very much an
"internationalist" composer--after all, he left England completely.

In fact I can't think of any foreign recording that has been
Post by Ed
really badly received. (In fact that is a slight lie since I just
thought of Boult's Vienna recordings of Vaughan Williams.)
But how many have there been? In fact, when Mitropoulos took the NYPO on tour to
the UK in the 50s with VW4, they were trashed. And since then, how many
recordings of English symphonies by non-English conductors AND orchestras can
you think of? There have been practically none--Spano's recent VW Sea Symphony
on Telarc was the FIRST wholly non-British recordings of that work, ever. Previn
made his 3rd recording of the VW Fifth with the orchestra of the Curtis
Institude, a subsidized project for EMI that lasted in the catalog for about ten
minutes. Ormandy did a fabulous Delius disc that blows away Beecham in that
repertoire, who ever mentions it in discussion of that composer? Bernstein, like
Mitropulous, did VW 4, but when was that last time you saw those cited as
reference recordings? Bernstein, in fact, conducted the premiere of Peter Grimes
in Boston (it was, you will recall, a Koussevitsky commission), so there was a
relationship, but his "Four Sea Interludes" is also never mentioned--only his
"scandalous" Enigma Variations. Basically, completely "non-English" recordings
have been very few and far between, and that fact speaks for itself, it seems to
me. Part of the reason, I note, is because the English ones are so common, and
so good, but in those few instances where foreign conductors have attempted it,
my experience is that they have not generally been well received AT THE TIME,
and if the conductor subsequently makes a career in the UK then his reputation
in that repertoire may be "rehabilitated." And of course, there are always
recordings of British music by non-English conductors which are simply
terrible--like Sinopoli's Elgar symphonies. Believe me, I'm not saying
everything is wonderful elsewhere, but to me the trend is clear.
Post by Ed
Post by David Hurwitz
Post by mbbb
The sight of the
audience at the Last Night of the Proms, singing Land of Hope and Glory,
waving union jacks is far more likely to put people off Elgar than the
response of English music critics to non-English performances or recordings
of his work.
Why would it do that? I've been to the Last Night of the Proms and had a great
time.
Actually in Britain many people hate the Last Night of the Proms. Some
because they think it's too jingoistic. Others view it as something
that posh, Southern, hooray-Henry types go to - well at least most of
my friends back home in Glasgow take this view.
But I agree with you - many abroad obviously love this kind of quaint
Post by David Hurwitz
The cause of Elgar in the WORLD is not
served by stressing those qualities of "Englishness" that by definition others
who are not English cannot share (assuming they exist at all in a positive or
quantifiable sense).
Surely the biggest selling point to the public of much classical music
where would Tchaikovsky be without a lot of snow, Smetana without that
river, Sibelius without a bleak landscape, Copland with a prairie etc.
I have no idea what this means. We are talking about Elgar's symphonies; where
is the jingoism in those? And would they benefit by having these qualities
stressed? Is this their principal MUSICAL value and expressive point? Where is
the snow in Tchaikovsky's Sixth, the "bleak landscape" in Sibelius' Second, the
prairie in Copland's Short Symphony or Piano Concerto, even the "river" in the
REST of Ma Vlast?
Post by Ed
The reason that Elgar's symphonies are not popular abroad is that they
are just not British enough to foreigners and, in my view, they are
not the kinds of symphonies that are immediately appealing to today's
average concert go-er.
I disagree; if they were played more, they would at least stand a chance of
achieving a measure of popularity. But the fact is we just don't know because
they are always treated as English 'specialty' repertoire, and so they remain.

Maybe I should change that last statement to
Post by Ed
"the average performance of them is not immediately appealing", since
I think that Solti or Elgar give thrilling rides. This is based on my
own experience - I didn't really like Elgar's symphonies much to begin
with (from conductors like Boult) and it took me quite some time to
get to love them.
Vaughan Williams has done much better internationally than Elgar when
it comes to symphonies - and this is not surprising since they are
generally both more British and more easily appealing.
That I can't say; VW's symphonies are seldom performed outside the UK as well.
As to "more British," I'm not sure what that means. VW was more self-consciously
a "romantic nationalist" musically speaking, but then that being the case
Elgar's more "international" style, being less "English," should have more ready
appeal outside the UK, right?

Dave Hurwitz
Deryk Barker
2003-08-25 17:22:30 UTC
Permalink
David Hurwitz wrote:
...
the English ones are so common, and so good, but in those few instances
where foreign conductors have attempted it, my experience is that they
have not generally been well received AT THE TIME, and if the conductor
subsequently makes a career in the UK then his reputation in that
repertoire may be "rehabilitated."
Read Ernest Newman's (thoroughly misguided IMHO) encomium on Toscanini's
Enigmas.
--
Deryk Barker (To email remove nospam.)
Ed
2003-08-26 02:55:40 UTC
Permalink
Not in recordings of British music, of which they made very few. Szell's >Walton
It is true that there have not been very many, but my point is that
they do not get sneered at in general by the British. If we take the
Penguin guide for instance they give high marks to the
Mitropoulos/Stokowski VW disc, Bernstein's VW disc, Ormandy's
Belshazzar's Feast, Karajan's Planets, Dutoit's Planets, Abravanel's
VW and others. Often they'll say that these performance are not
idiomatic but they're great anyway.

Compare this to what the British press often says about the great
European Orchestras - quotes like "The Berlin PO doesn't have this
music under its skin", "The VPO can't handle these jazzy rhythms",
"The Concertgebouw acoustic is terrible for this sort of music", "The
members of the VPO jetted home in their Mercedes".

American orchestra's and performers are never subjected to this kind
of treatment - at least these days - I will concede that maybe 40 or
50 years ago this might not have been the case.

To be quite honest this attitude to the US is surprising. British
people tend to love America but secretly think that Americans are
stupid. Any American actor who performs Shakespeare is suspect and
over-scrutinised by British film or theatre critics - even today. But
when it comes to classical music the same sort of critisism isn't
present.
Bernstein, in fact, conducted the premiere of Peter Grimes
in Boston (it was, you will recall, a Koussevitsky commission), so there was a
relationship, but his "Four Sea Interludes" is also never mentioned--only his
"scandalous" Enigma Variations. Basically, completely "non-English" recordings
have been very few and far between, and that fact speaks for itself, it seems to
Bernstein only conducted the US premiere, which is hardly the special
relationship it's often portrayed as, and his CBS/Sony recording of
the "4 Sea interludes" was not trashed - see the Penguin guide. The
Enigma variations achieved it's fame presumably because of the TV
programme, the stories of Bernstein arriving drunk and unprepared,
and, let's face it, the extreme interpretation. It's always being
mentioned, on BOTH sides of the Atlantic, because it's just the first
extreme performance of anything that comes to most people's mind
(along with the Pathetique). For what it's worth I think the fill ups
(apparently off the cuff) on the Elgar disc are the best versions I've
ever heard of these works.
my experience is that they have not generally been well received AT THE TIME,
Sticking to recordings only, can you name some that have been badly
received? I will agree with you that some American performances don't
get the coverage they deserve, but I don't believe that it's because
the British hate them, it's just that we have too many performers and
performances of our own.
Post by Ed
Actually in Britain many people hate the Last Night of the Proms. Some
because they think it's too jingoistic. Others view it as something
that posh, Southern, hooray-Henry types go to - well at least most of
my friends back home in Glasgow take this view.
I have no idea what this means. We are talking about Elgar's symphonies; where
is the jingoism in those?
Sorry - this was really just a brief "aside" in my reply just for your
information about how the Last Night is viewed in Britain.
And would they benefit by having these qualities
stressed? Is this their principal MUSICAL value and expressive point? Where is
the snow in Tchaikovsky's Sixth, the "bleak landscape" in Sibelius' Second,the
prairie in Copland's Short Symphony or Piano Concerto, even the "river" in the
REST of Ma Vlast?
There isn't. But my point is that when audiences buy tickets to
concerts featuring works they are not familiar with by well known
composers, they have an expectation of what they are going to hear
based on certain aspects of the composer's other works and especially
his nationality. When the music doesn't have these qualities they are
disappointed and this is one cause of the work's lack of popularity.
All American symphonies that are popular around the world sound like
American symphonies with big wide open prairies and/or big jazzy
rhythms etc. Those that sound like Germanic or neo-classical music are
not popular.

Ed
David Hurwitz
2003-08-26 04:09:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ed
Not in recordings of British music, of which they made very few. Szell's >Walton
It is true that there have not been very many, but my point is that
they do not get sneered at in general by the British. If we take the
Penguin guide for instance they give high marks to the
Mitropoulos/Stokowski VW disc, Bernstein's VW disc, Ormandy's
Belshazzar's Feast, Karajan's Planets, Dutoit's Planets, Abravanel's
VW and others. Often they'll say that these performance are not
idiomatic but they're great anyway.
There's more to British criticism than the Penguin Guide; and I have never seen
anyone say "not idiomatic but great anyway." Historically many of these discs
have not been much acclaimed, though who knows? Perhaps things are changing for
the better? It's also worth point out from that list above that Stokowski was
English (and derided until he returned to England to live, when he immediately
became a Grand Old Man), and Dutoit's Planets was recorded for Decca, which
along with EMI usually could count on a special dispensation for being an
English company (same with Karajan's Decca Planets).
Post by Ed
Compare this to what the British press often says about the great
European Orchestras - quotes like "The Berlin PO doesn't have this
music under its skin", "The VPO can't handle these jazzy rhythms",
"The Concertgebouw acoustic is terrible for this sort of music", "The
members of the VPO jetted home in their Mercedes".
American orchestra's and performers are never subjected to this kind
of treatment - at least these days - I will concede that maybe 40 or
50 years ago this might not have been the case.
Oh know? Ever seen the remarks about "trans-Atlantic" gloss, jet-set slickness,
American brashness, etc, etc, etc. And these from the folks whose orchestras
brought us the Star Wars soundtracks! And how do you reconcile this with the
praise you cite of above of foreign orchestras in English music? Surely you
can't have it both ways!
Post by Ed
To be quite honest this attitude to the US is surprising. British
people tend to love America but secretly think that Americans are
stupid. Any American actor who performs Shakespeare is suspect and
over-scrutinised by British film or theatre critics - even today. But
when it comes to classical music the same sort of critisism isn't
present.
As I said, this has not been my experience either professionally or personally;
if the British public does not feel that way, that's wonderful. I accept that
you would know better than I would, and take you at your word. But I DO know my
colleagues quite well, and their opinions are (to me at least) pretty clear in
this regard.
Post by Ed
Bernstein, in fact, conducted the premiere of Peter Grimes
in Boston (it was, you will recall, a Koussevitsky commission), so there was a
relationship, but his "Four Sea Interludes" is also never mentioned--only his
"scandalous" Enigma Variations. Basically, completely "non-English" recordings
have been very few and far between, and that fact speaks for itself, it seems to
Bernstein only conducted the US premiere, which is hardly the special
relationship it's often portrayed as,
No one said it's "special," merely that he can't be said to be unfamiliar with
the music or lacked the same ability to consult the composer and arrive at an
"idiomatic" interpretation.

and his CBS/Sony recording of
Post by Ed
the "4 Sea interludes" was not trashed - see the Penguin guide. The
Enigma variations achieved it's fame presumably because of the TV
programme, the stories of Bernstein arriving drunk and unprepared,
and, let's face it, the extreme interpretation. It's always being
mentioned, on BOTH sides of the Atlantic, because it's just the first
extreme performance of anything that comes to most people's mind
(along with the Pathetique). For what it's worth I think the fill ups
(apparently off the cuff) on the Elgar disc are the best versions I've
ever heard of these works.
I like the fill-ups too. But that Enigma is hardly EVER mentioned on this side
of the Atlantic, because, Nimrod aside, it's not especially perverse at all. And
that is the point. The reality is considerably less odd than the storm of
commentary surrounding the performance would suggest.
Post by Ed
my experience is that they have not generally been well received AT THE TIME,
Sticking to recordings only, can you name some that have been badly
received? I will agree with you that some American performances don't
get the coverage they deserve, but I don't believe that it's because
the British hate them, it's just that we have too many performers and
performances of our own.
I never said "the British hate them." You are moving to an extreme that I never
asserted. If you agree that some American performances of British music don't
get the coverage that they deserve, then I think I've made my point, for that
essentially WAS my point. I agree that you have too many performers and
performances of your own; that's the logical outcome of being the post-War
recording capitol of the world--not such a bad thing, and I doubt anyone else
would have done better. But then that's just another reason for the current
state of affairs; I never said that there weren't reasons, or that it was a
simple matter.
Post by Ed
And would they benefit by having these qualities
stressed? Is this their principal MUSICAL value and expressive point? Where is
the snow in Tchaikovsky's Sixth, the "bleak landscape" in Sibelius' Second,the
prairie in Copland's Short Symphony or Piano Concerto, even the "river" in the
REST of Ma Vlast?
There isn't. But my point is that when audiences buy tickets to
concerts featuring works they are not familiar with by well known
composers, they have an expectation of what they are going to hear
based on certain aspects of the composer's other works and especially
his nationality.
Well, there I think you are speaking only for yourself. Never in my concert
experience have I heard any concertgoer say they bought a ticket because they
wanted to hear an unfamiliar work by a well-known composer say: "Gee, Elgar sure
is well known and I love the Enigma Variations but don't know the Second
Symphony, but I'll be real disappointed if it doesn't sound English." That is
exactly the sort of spurious nationalist categorization that I find rampant on
the European scene generally (not just the UK). It strikes me as quite silly.

When the music doesn't have these qualities they are
Post by Ed
disappointed and this is one cause of the work's lack of popularity.
All American symphonies that are popular around the world
And which are those?

sound like
Post by Ed
American symphonies with big wide open prairies and/or big jazzy
rhythms etc. Those that sound like Germanic or neo-classical music are
not popular.
Sure, like Ives' Third and Hanson's "Romantic" Symphony. And I think this
concludes today's excercise in sweeping generalization.

Dave Hurwitz
Ed
2003-08-26 10:45:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Hurwitz
Post by Ed
Bernstein only conducted the US premiere, which is hardly the special
relationship it's often portrayed as,
No one said it's "special," merely that he can't be said to be unfamiliar with
the music or lacked the same ability to consult the composer and arrive at an
"idiomatic" interpretation.
Actually I don't think that would have been likely since apparently
Britten disliked the US premiere presumably because of its..... err
hummm.... trans-Atlantic gloss, jet-set slickness and American
brashness. (Nope never heard these expressions used before honest.)

OK I will admit that these phrases are used but I think on balance
only sparingly, and usually they are not aimed at the orchestra
(unless they are being praised for superb brashness in American music
etc). Instead deservedly or not, they are usually reserved for easy
targets like Muti or Mehta when they work in the US. If I think about
reviews for say 1960s recordings then only occasionally is this kind
of remark made (e.g Ormandy's Strauss, Bernstein's Holst come to
mind).
Post by David Hurwitz
Well, there I think you are speaking only for yourself. Never in my concert
experience have I heard any concertgoer say they bought a ticket because they
wanted to hear an unfamiliar work by a well-known composer say: "Gee, Elgar sure is well known and I love the Enigma Variations but don't know the Second
Symphony, but I'll be real disappointed if it doesn't sound English."
I don't think they would say this either - in this case they would say
"Gee I like the Enigma variations and I hope this symphony will be
similar."

But I can imagine people going to Hanson's 2nd symphony and saying
they liked American music (by which they mean Copland et al) and
coming out disappointed.
Post by David Hurwitz
That is
exactly the sort of spurious nationalist categorization that I find rampant on
the European scene generally (not just the UK). It strikes me as quite silly.
I don't quite understand what you mean by this (in the sense of what
is different in the non-European scene), but surely the above
statement about Hanson could be made by an American coming to this
music for the first time?
Post by David Hurwitz
When the music doesn't have these qualities they are
Post by Ed
disappointed and this is one cause of the work's lack of popularity.
All American symphonies that are popular around the world
And which are those?
OK you got me there. How about those symphonies which are most often
mentioned or programmed as the "great American symphonies". Ives 3rd
might be an exception -how popular is Hanson in the US? I'm sure that
I've never come across any of his works programmed in the UK.
Post by David Hurwitz
Sure, like Ives' Third and Hanson's "Romantic" Symphony. And I think this
concludes today's excercise in sweeping generalization.
My apologies but I have to use sweeping generalisations because I
don't yet know how to use those new-fangled ex-cathedra statements,
whatever they are!!

Ed
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-26 13:08:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ed
My apologies but I have to use sweeping generalisations because I
don't yet know how to use those new-fangled ex-cathedra statements,
whatever they are!!
Ed
I am not sure who "Ed" is, but he doesn't live on the same planet I
do.

The British "sneer" at American professionalism has been a constant of
my 50 years of Gramophone reading. The word "brilliant" is the first
indication of the sneer and it is the ultimate condemnation, as the
British seem to worship the talented amateur! Lord preserve us - and
music - from the professional.

"Ed whoever" needs to regain contact with the real world at the
earliest opportunity.

TD
Iain Neill Reid
2003-08-26 15:47:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Post by Ed
My apologies but I have to use sweeping generalisations because I
don't yet know how to use those new-fangled ex-cathedra statements,
whatever they are!!
Ed
I am not sure who "Ed" is, but he doesn't live on the same planet I
do.
Unless Strathclyde has re-located, and it hadn't the last time I
was back there, then I rather think he's still on planet Earth, and
probably within spitting distance of the Scotland's cultural centre
(no, that's not a contradiction in terms).
Post by d***@yahoo.com
The British "sneer" at American professionalism has been a constant of
^^^^^^^^
Post by d***@yahoo.com
my 50 years of Gramophone reading.
I think you mean English - even though Compton Mackenzie may have
founded the publication in question.
Post by d***@yahoo.com
The word "brilliant" is the first
indication of the sneer and it is the ultimate condemnation, as the
British seem to worship the talented amateur! Lord preserve us - and
^^^^^^^
Post by d***@yahoo.com
music - from the professional.
Again this word - do you really think that one set of reactions can
be uniformly applied to even all the english, never mind the other
inhabitants of those islands?
Post by d***@yahoo.com
"Ed whoever" needs to regain contact with the real world at the
earliest opportunity.
Maybe he's in better contact with a wider cross-section of that world
than some this-side-of-the-Atlantic-dwellers, who seem to confuse
London with Britain
Post by d***@yahoo.com
TD
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-26 17:42:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Iain Neill Reid
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Post by Ed
My apologies but I have to use sweeping generalisations because I
don't yet know how to use those new-fangled ex-cathedra statements,
whatever they are!!
Ed
I am not sure who "Ed" is, but he doesn't live on the same planet I
do.
Unless Strathclyde has re-located, and it hadn't the last time I
was back there, then I rather think he's still on planet Earth, and
probably within spitting distance of the Scotland's cultural centre
(no, that's not a contradiction in terms).
Post by d***@yahoo.com
The British "sneer" at American professionalism has been a constant of
^^^^^^^^
Post by d***@yahoo.com
my 50 years of Gramophone reading.
I think you mean English - even though Compton Mackenzie may have
founded the publication in question.
Post by d***@yahoo.com
The word "brilliant" is the first
indication of the sneer and it is the ultimate condemnation, as the
British seem to worship the talented amateur! Lord preserve us - and
^^^^^^^
Post by d***@yahoo.com
music - from the professional.
Again this word - do you really think that one set of reactions can
be uniformly applied to even all the english, never mind the other
inhabitants of those islands?
Post by d***@yahoo.com
"Ed whoever" needs to regain contact with the real world at the
earliest opportunity.
Maybe he's in better contact with a wider cross-section of that world
than some this-side-of-the-Atlantic-dwellers, who seem to confuse
London with Britain
Goodness me. The British are a very testy lot. First they want to be
called British. Then at another moment they want desperately to be
distinguished into their little parts, English, Scottish, Welsh, and
Irish(but only Northern, of course).

It is not suprising that this little group of islands has produced so
many fratricidal wars over the centuries.

Cool your jets, Neil. We know you Scots are a separate bunch of
British, you know.

TD
Raymond Hall
2003-08-27 00:47:49 UTC
Permalink
<***@yahoo.com> wrote in message news:***@4ax.com...
| On 26 Aug 2003 11:47:23 -0400, ***@morales.stsci.edu (Iain Neill Reid)
| wrote:
|
| Cool your jets, Neil. We know you Scots are a separate bunch of
| British, you know.
|
| TD

A small story about the terms British (Brit) and English, from an Englander
living in OZ. Australia was once colonised by the Brits (English mainly),
and although England is generally well regarded (if one digs deep enough
into the Australian psyche), the Australian colonial veneer dictates that
the average 1st generation or more OZeroo, is brought up to sneer at all
things English. Especially when it comes to sport.

When the England soccer team enjoy a great victory, the Aussie press usually
regard it as a British victory. Same with Faldo at golf (when Faldo was
actually a good player).

But if Scotland record a victory (as rare as hen's teeth admittedly), then
the press hail the event as a Scottish triumph, and not a British one.

Get the picture?

Having lived with the situation for over 25 years, one gets used to it. The
colonial spirit never completely dies away.
<g>

Regards,

# http://www.users.bigpond.com/hallraylily/index.html
See You Tamara (Ozzy Osbourne)

Ray, Taree, NSW
Ed
2003-08-27 03:12:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
I am not sure who "Ed" is, but he doesn't live on the same planet I
do.
I apologise for calling myself "Ed" but since I signed up on Google
Groups (this is how primitive I am) I haven't found out how to change
my name to "E.J.Romans" which is the name I used to post under on this
group in the late 1990s. I originally come from Rochdale (a town
slagged off in another recent thread) near Manchester (which is in
England - a fact that has escaped some Americans I have sat next to on
planes). These days I reside permanently in Glasgow, Scotland,
although at present I am living in Japan.

Now then, back to the matter in hand - I don't dispute that in the
past attitudes to US orchestras may have been different to today. But
my general feeling these days is that whenever a North American
Orchestra is visiting Britain the reviews in newspapers etc very
rarely question or sneer at the ability of the orchestra to play the
music of any composer with a supreme technical ability and
flexibility. If there is critism it is usually directed at the music
director - I remember Salonen getting a lot of stick a year or two
back for his very cool Beethoven 9 (can't remember if this was the
LAPO or a British orchestra.) I can't see that US orchestras get any
worse treatment for live concerts than do British orchestras. David
Hurwitz mentioned elsewhere that Mitropoulos and the NYPO were panned
in 1950s when they performed VW's 4th. I can't see this happening
today.

However when one of the so-called great European orchestras visit
(especially the BPO and VPO) then the playing is usually taken to
pieces for minute flaws in the woodwinds and so-on, and general
lowering of standards.

Of course this is for live performances. When it comes to record
reviewers then everything becomes more picky. The words "brilliant"
and "glossy" may sometimes applied to American recordings from the
1960s. But aren't these usually because of the close-miked sound or
similar? Szell/Cleveland surely would never be critisised for
performance. Bernstein/NYPO is usually mostly critisised for the sound
and the odd moment of indulgence (which as a fan I would admit).
Ormandy/Philadelphia (in the CBS era) again is usually mostly
critisised for the sound being "shrill above the stave" or similar.

In fact the most important factor for the setting the tone of past
critical comments in Britain about US recordings was probably that the
standard of CBS lps available in the UK was often terrible, with very
poor shrill sound. Often the US pressings were far superior. (This is
not always true but I tend to buy the US pressings if I can find
them.) It's not surprising that British critics has a field day in the
past, but that attitudes have changed now that we can finally hear
what was actually recorded.

Ed
David Hurwitz
2003-08-27 03:46:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ed
In fact the most important factor for the setting the tone of past
critical comments in Britain about US recordings was probably that the
standard of CBS lps available in the UK was often terrible, with very
poor shrill sound. Often the US pressings were far superior. (This is
not always true but I tend to buy the US pressings if I can find
them.) It's not surprising that British critics has a field day in the
past, but that attitudes have changed now that we can finally hear
what was actually recorded.
Ed
Amazing isn't it--we always want what we don't have! I spend a good part of my
LP days seeking out English pressings of EMI product, which were nice and heavy
and vastly superior to the domestic "Angel" stuff, which was absolutely
wretched. There's a lesson here, somewhere, and perhaps the only thing we can
finally say is that it's impossible to generalize with any assurance.

Dave Hurwitz
Simon Roberts
2003-08-27 13:48:49 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@posting.google.com>, Ed says...

[snip]
Post by Ed
Of course this is for live performances. When it comes to record
reviewers then everything becomes more picky. The words "brilliant"
and "glossy" may sometimes applied to American recordings from the
1960s.
Try the Penguin review of the Emerson Qt's Beethoven quartets from the middle of
the last decade....

But aren't these usually because of the close-miked sound or
Post by Ed
similar?
No. That was the source of a different criticism.
Post by Ed
Szell/Cleveland surely would never be critisised for
performance. Bernstein/NYPO is usually mostly critisised for the sound
and the odd moment of indulgence (which as a fan I would admit).
Ormandy/Philadelphia (in the CBS era) again is usually mostly
critisised for the sound being "shrill above the stave" or similar.
In fact the most important factor for the setting the tone of past
critical comments in Britain about US recordings was probably that the
standard of CBS lps available in the UK was often terrible, with very
poor shrill sound.
Quite true. I remember when British CBS finally got around to releasing
Bernstein's Beethoven 1 & 2. Richard Osborne complained in Gramophone that he
had to turn down the treble by quarter revolution, and rightly so - the LP
sounded wretched, as did most such. The difference between the British LP of
Goberman's Haydn 48/56 and the U.S. Haydn Society LPs is shocking, not just
tonally but in terms of soundstage and the evident distance of the musicians
from the microphones. Based on my experience I would say that the inferiority
of British CBS LPs vis a vis their U.S. counterparts was greater than the
reverse for EMI LPs.

Simon

Stephen North
2003-08-27 10:01:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Post by Ed
My apologies but I have to use sweeping generalisations because I
don't yet know how to use those new-fangled ex-cathedra statements,
whatever they are!!
Ed
I am not sure who "Ed" is, but he doesn't live on the same planet I
do.
The British "sneer" at American professionalism has been a constant of
my 50 years of Gramophone reading. The word "brilliant" is the first
indication of the sneer and it is the ultimate condemnation, as the
British seem to worship the talented amateur! Lord preserve us - and
music - from the professional.
"Ed whoever" needs to regain contact with the real world at the
earliest opportunity.
TD
What people say and do on the ground may be different from what they
write.

We have an excellent American conductor here in Bournemouth on the
English south coast and I haven't heard any gripes about her
nationality or the American music she programmes. Next season we get
Glass, Barber, Torke, Rouse and Adams.

With respect to teh written media. Hans Keller wrote that musical
criticism is ultimately an act of self-analysis; if he was right, and
I'm willing to go with it, snobbery amongst the English is more than
just a problem of musical opinion.

But, does it matter if music critics are snobbish, partial, vague or
wrong when the people tend to find out those who reinforce their
prejudices and ignore the rest?

You could always stop reading Gramophone: Compton MacKenzie said that
a music critics first duty was to report what was good about a
performance. That principle was long since lost and in many ways,
IMHO, this is at the heart of the problem.

S

S
Deryk Barker
2003-08-25 17:19:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ed
Vaughan Williams has done much better internationally than Elgar when
it comes to symphonies - and this is not surprising since they are
generally both more British and more easily appealing.
Comparing, I'd say RVW's are less British...but more importantly, better
composed.
Don't know about International vs British sales of either.
Neither Elgar nor RVW is/was British, but English dammit! Does any of their
music sound faintly Scottish, Irish or (saving the main theme in Elgar's
Introduction and Allegro) Welsh?
--
Deryk Barker (To email remove nospam.)
mazzolata
2003-08-25 17:34:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deryk Barker
Neither Elgar nor RVW is/was British, but English dammit! Does any of their
music sound faintly Scottish, Irish or (saving the main theme in Elgar's
Introduction and Allegro) Welsh?
I would have said Elgar sounds more German ;-)

But German would be closer to English than to British, right? Saxons,
and all that ...
--
------------------------------------------------------------------

Ma chambre a la forme d'une cage
le soleil passe son bras par la fenetre
Alan Hayward
2003-08-25 22:46:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Hurwitz
Finally, some observations regarding those who have NOT recorded the symphony
and the comparative neglect of Elgar outside of the UK. Here I think much of the
blame lies squarely with the English press, which I believe has been an
absolutely dreadful custodian of the UK's musical patrimony (and not just in
Elgar). The constant flogging of Boult, Barbirolli, Handley, or if not English
conductors than the absolute necessity of having an English orchestra involved
in any Elgar performance (and in particular recording), and the whole issue of
English "authenticity" or "idiomatic" interpretation in this music have very
successfully, I believe, discouraged "international" orchestras and conductors
from even thinking about making the music their own.
English (or, rather, London based) critics have a very chequered record when
it comes to Elgar. I can remember a time when most of them seemed to want to
have nothing to do with Elgar's music at all. This led Walter Legge to
comment "I deplore the fact that, in the years of the Philharmonia's glory
(1951 - 1962), the English critics had poisoned the public taste for Richard
Strauss, Sibelius and Elgar, three composers I much admire and which the
orchestra could have played supremely well". Those critics who were prepared
to listen to Elgar's music had very firm ideas as to how it should be
played. Even Barbirolli was too much for some of them. Michael Kennedy
recalls a Barbirolli performance of the Second Symphony at Cheltenham in
1957 when "the music critic of 'The Times' left the hall snorting like an
outraged Colonel Blimp. The tender of the sacred flame of all that is most
English in English music had clearly been offended to hear an English
masterpiece conducted with a cosmopolitan comprehensiveness of technique and
emotion". Sadly, some of that attitude still persists (the attitude of 'The
Times' critic, that is, not Mr Kennedy's).

Is there such a thing as "English" music or should we refer to "music
written by English composers"? For myself, I take the latter view. The Elgar
symphonies are, as you write, "late Romantic" pieces and derive from the
19th century European tradition. Is there any reason why any orchestra or
conductor who can give good performances of symphonies by Schumann, Dvorak
or Brahms should not be able to give equally good performances of both of
Elgar's symphonies? It may take a little time to become familiar with the
Elgarian idiom, but that is equally true of other composers with a very
personal style, for instance Nielsen or Sibelius. It is quite possible that
there will always be something special about performances of Elgar's music
given by English orchestras and English conductors, for example Boult,
Barbirolli, Handley or, more recently, Mark Elder, who have absorbed the
Elgarian idiom over many years just as there is, for me at any rate,
something special about a Czech orchestra and a Czech conductor, such as
Talich, Ancerl, Smetacek or Belohlavek, playing Dvorak or Suk symphonies.
But, just as don't close our ears to non-Czech performers playing Dvorak, we
should welcome non-English performers playing Elgar. Always assuming, that
is, that they play it well. Of course, it helps if the conductor has managed
to figure out exactly what Elgar meant by "Allegro vivace e nobilmente" -
and there have been English conductors who haven't succeeded with that!
Raymond Hall
2003-08-26 02:21:57 UTC
Permalink
"Alan Hayward" <***@yahoo.com> wrote in message news:bie3jh$g90$***@titan.btinternet.com...
|
| It is quite possible that
| there will always be something special about performances of Elgar's music
| given by English orchestras and English conductors, for example Boult,
| Barbirolli, Handley or, more recently, Mark Elder, who have absorbed the
| Elgarian idiom over many years just as there is, for me at any rate,
| something special about a Czech orchestra and a Czech conductor, such as
| Talich, Ancerl, Smetacek or Belohlavek, playing Dvorak or Suk symphonies.

Precisely. Add Neumann, Sejna, and Kosler to the list.


| But, just as don't close our ears to non-Czech performers playing Dvorak,
we
| should welcome non-English performers playing Elgar. Always assuming, that
| is, that they play it well. Of course, it helps if the conductor has
managed
| to figure out exactly what Elgar meant by "Allegro vivace e nobilmente" -
| and there have been English conductors who haven't succeeded with that!

Absolutely. An advocate for all rushing out and buying a German/American's
versions of the symphonies? Go Previn. And why not Solti as an alternative?
Or Haitink?

As an aside, it is an utterly ridiculous notion that *only* native listeners
have some divine key to unlock the great works of the composers of their own
countries, but there is definitely some truth in what you say about an
interpreter's absorption of a native idiom, resulting in the probability of
native interpreters being more correct, or obviously more idiomatic.

Andre Previn is still the best in RVW imo, but then it was through listening
to RVW that led this (then) young conductor to a special and very intense
interest in this composer. As a result he excelled in RVW, Walton (Szell
excepted), and in some Britten too. Have yet to hear his Elgar symphonies,
but fwiw I admire Handley in these great works, and also Andrew Davis, who
despite the flack he gets here, is a very very good Elgarian, from what I
have heard in some of Elgar's choral works.

Finally, I happen to think the Elgar violin concerto a better work even than
the 2nd symphony, and Nige/Handley does this work proud. Haven't heard
Nige/Rattle, and don't particularly want to.

Regards,

# http://www.users.bigpond.com/hallraylily/index.html
See You Tamara (Ozzy Osbourne)

Ray, Taree, NSW
Johannes Roehl
2003-08-24 20:21:11 UTC
Permalink
The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
century". The 20thC, of course.
Sorry, but of the ones I have heard, it is among the worst. On of most
boring, grey in grey pieces I'v ever encountered.
I'd be seriously interested what people like about it. I bought a
recording because I had read Tovey remarks about it and tried to follow
along with these, it still was incredibly dull...
"Greatest" is perhaps an extreme word. There are other candidates and
we can all provide our "favourites", which is not quite the same
thing. And surely nobody would argue with Mahler 9, Sibelius 4 or 7
(or perhaps both!). Or would they? And what about Rachmaninoff 2, or
Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms?. Or the Nielsen symphonies?
Anyway the Elgar is my own candidate, if I had to pick just one.
this is a joke, right? What's your favorite food? cold mashed potatoes
with lukewarm, stale beer as beverage?
;-) (that's about the feeling I get from this piece)
It's not within lightyears of Sibelius, not to speak of Shostakovitch or
Mahler.
I must say I wonder what a Bernstein performance would have sounded
like, or a Stokowski, or Karajan performance. And what about
Furtwangler, assuming he could have got over the fact that he was
performing English (yuk!) music? Or Bruno Walter? The stuff of dreams,
I fear, as most of these conductors did little Elgar in their lives
and are no longer with us.
What do you think why Walter and Furtwängler and all these other guys
didn't conduct a lot of Elgar? Could it be they had some taste?

Johannes
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-24 20:45:18 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 24 Aug 2003 22:21:11 +0200, Johannes Roehl
Post by Johannes Roehl
The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
century". The 20thC, of course.
Sorry, but of the ones I have heard, it is among the worst. On of most
boring, grey in grey pieces I'v ever encountered.
I'd be seriously interested what people like about it. I bought a
recording because I had read Tovey remarks about it and tried to follow
along with these, it still was incredibly dull...
"Greatest" is perhaps an extreme word. There are other candidates and
we can all provide our "favourites", which is not quite the same
thing. And surely nobody would argue with Mahler 9, Sibelius 4 or 7
(or perhaps both!). Or would they? And what about Rachmaninoff 2, or
Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms?. Or the Nielsen symphonies?
Anyway the Elgar is my own candidate, if I had to pick just one.
this is a joke, right? What's your favorite food? cold mashed potatoes
with lukewarm, stale beer as beverage?
;-) (that's about the feeling I get from this piece)
It's not within lightyears of Sibelius, not to speak of Shostakovitch or
Mahler.
I must say I wonder what a Bernstein performance would have sounded
like, or a Stokowski, or Karajan performance. And what about
Furtwangler, assuming he could have got over the fact that he was
performing English (yuk!) music? Or Bruno Walter? The stuff of dreams,
I fear, as most of these conductors did little Elgar in their lives
and are no longer with us.
What do you think why Walter and Furtwängler and all these other guys
didn't conduct a lot of Elgar? Could it be they had some taste?
Johannes
A typical reaction from Germany. One could have written it in advance.
Is there a German "group think"?

Incidentally, Hans Richter, one of the greatest German conductors of
all time, was among the first to discover Elgar's genius So, even
among Germans, tastes differ. Obviously.

Your hypotheses about why Furtwangler and Walter et al did not conduct
a lot of elgar is just that. A hypothesis.

TD
Deryk Barker
2003-08-24 21:09:34 UTC
Permalink
***@yahoo.com wrote:
...
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Incidentally, Hans Richter, one of the greatest German conductors of
all time, was among the first to discover Elgar's genius So, even
among Germans, tastes differ. Obviously.
He described the First Symphony IIRC as the "greatest symphony of our time,
and not just in England"
--
Deryk Barker (To email remove nospam.)
Beaver Lad
2003-08-25 09:18:51 UTC
Permalink
For years I felt Elgar 2 even less impressive than Elgar 1, which,
despite impressive stretches, always ended up seeming to me like the
apotheosis of the obvious.

But recently I heard a recording of Elgar 2 that caused me to do a
total 180 on the piece. It was as though I'd never heard it before --
where earlier it had seemed greyish, long, and unmemorable, now it was
gripping, magnetic, nay, electric! -- even though it was acoustically
recorded: Elgar's 1924 recording.

So, Mr. Deacon, while I have a hard time sorting out the difference
between the terms "greatest" and "favourite", I would certainly put
Elgar 2 in the top echelon of 20th Century symphonies.

=========================================
Post by Johannes Roehl
The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
century". The 20thC, of course.
Sorry, but of the ones I have heard, it is among the worst. On of most
boring, grey in grey pieces I'v ever encountered.
I'd be seriously interested what people like about it. I bought a
recording because I had read Tovey remarks about it and tried to follow
along with these, it still was incredibly dull...
"Greatest" is perhaps an extreme word. There are other candidates and
we can all provide our "favourites", which is not quite the same
thing. And surely nobody would argue with Mahler 9, Sibelius 4 or 7
(or perhaps both!). Or would they? And what about Rachmaninoff 2, or
Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms?. Or the Nielsen symphonies?
Anyway the Elgar is my own candidate, if I had to pick just one.
this is a joke, right? What's your favorite food? cold mashed potatoes
with lukewarm, stale beer as beverage?
;-) (that's about the feeling I get from this piece)
It's not within lightyears of Sibelius, not to speak of Shostakovitch or
Mahler.
I must say I wonder what a Bernstein performance would have sounded
like, or a Stokowski, or Karajan performance. And what about
Furtwangler, assuming he could have got over the fact that he was
performing English (yuk!) music? Or Bruno Walter? The stuff of dreams,
I fear, as most of these conductors did little Elgar in their lives
and are no longer with us.
What do you think why Walter and Furtwängler and all these other guys
didn't conduct a lot of Elgar? Could it be they had some taste?
Johannes
mazzolata
2003-08-24 20:06:00 UTC
Permalink
The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
century". The 20thC, of course.
At the time, and this goes back many years, I found the remark a
trifle outrageousm , the kind of remark intended soletly to shock.
In recent years, listening to many, many different recordings of this
work as well as a few experiences in the concert hall, I have come to
agree with Svejda.
"Greatest" is perhaps an extreme word. There are other candidates and
we can all provide our "favourites", which is not quite the same
thing. And surely nobody would argue with Mahler 9, Sibelius 4 or 7
(or perhaps both!). Or would they?
For me, Sibelius 6 is far and away his best.
--
------------------------------------------------------------------

Ma chambre a la forme d'une cage
le soleil passe son bras par la fenetre
Richard Schultz
2003-08-25 04:58:44 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@hotmail.com>, mazzolata <***@hotmail.com> wrote:

: For me, Sibelius 6 is far and away his best.

We've had our disagreements before, but I'm with you on this one (well,
maybe not "far and away", but it's definitely my favorite Sibelius symphony).

-----
Richard Schultz ***@mail.biu.ac.il
Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Opinions expressed are mine alone, and not those of Bar-Ilan University
-----
"You go on playing Bach your way, and I'll go on playing him *his* way."
-- Wanda Landowska
mazzolata
2003-08-25 12:21:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard Schultz
: For me, Sibelius 6 is far and away his best.
We've had our disagreements before, but I'm with you on this one (well,
maybe not "far and away", but it's definitely my favorite Sibelius symphony).
OK, so maybe I was being a little hperbolic, I also like the 2nd, 3rd
and 5th quite a lot. Which version of the 6th do you prefer? I have the
Ashkenazy set which I bought cheaply on eBay because I used to have the
LP of his 3rd and 6th, and thought both were good. I'm not impressed by
the 7th - not sure if it's the work itself or just that he doesn't do it
very well ...
--
------------------------------------------------------------------

Ma chambre a la forme d'une cage
le soleil passe son bras par la fenetre
Deryk Barker
2003-08-25 17:15:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by mazzolata
Post by Richard Schultz
: For me, Sibelius 6 is far and away his best.
We've had our disagreements before, but I'm with you on this one (well,
maybe not "far and away", but it's definitely my favorite Sibelius symphony).
OK, so maybe I was being a little hperbolic, I also like the 2nd, 3rd
and 5th quite a lot. Which version of the 6th do you prefer? I have the
Ashkenazy set which I bought cheaply on eBay because I used to have the
LP of his 3rd and 6th, and thought both were good. I'm not impressed by
the 7th - not sure if it's the work itself or just that he doesn't do it
very well ...
If you want a complte set, get Barbirolli. He's as good as any in several of
the symphonies and better than just about anyone in the rest. JB's 7th is
superb.

Bernstein and Maazel (VPO not the Pittsburgh) are also very good, if uneven,
ditto Colin Davis (both cycles).
--
Deryk Barker (To email remove nospam.)
mazzolata
2003-08-25 17:35:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Deryk Barker
Post by mazzolata
Post by Richard Schultz
: For me, Sibelius 6 is far and away his best.
We've had our disagreements before, but I'm with you on this one (well,
maybe not "far and away", but it's definitely my favorite Sibelius symphony).
OK, so maybe I was being a little hperbolic, I also like the 2nd, 3rd
and 5th quite a lot. Which version of the 6th do you prefer? I have the
Ashkenazy set which I bought cheaply on eBay because I used to have the
LP of his 3rd and 6th, and thought both were good. I'm not impressed by
the 7th - not sure if it's the work itself or just that he doesn't do it
very well ...
If you want a complte set, get Barbirolli. He's as good as any in several of
the symphonies and better than just about anyone in the rest. JB's 7th is
superb.
Bernstein and Maazel (VPO not the Pittsburgh) are also very good, if uneven,
ditto Colin Davis (both cycles).
I already have a complete set, I'm more interested in any specifically
excellent recordings of individual symphonies.
--
------------------------------------------------------------------

Ma chambre a la forme d'une cage
le soleil passe son bras par la fenetre
Raymond Hall
2003-08-26 02:46:04 UTC
Permalink
"mazzolata" <***@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:***@hotmail.com...
| Deryk Barker wrote:

| > Bernstein and Maazel (VPO not the Pittsburgh) are also very good, if
uneven,
| > ditto Colin Davis (both cycles).
|
| I already have a complete set, I'm more interested in any specifically
| excellent recordings of individual symphonies.

If as you mentioned earlier, the 6th is your particular symphony, then there
are few better 6ths than Karajan/BPO on EMI. My copy has it coupled with the
1st (which is also excellent). Early 80s recordings (DDD), and the 6th comes
off far better recording wise.

Regards,

# http://www.users.bigpond.com/hallraylily/index.html
See You Tamara (Ozzy Osbourne)

Ray, Taree, NSW
Richard Schultz
2003-08-26 08:21:24 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@hotmail.com>, mazzolata <***@hotmail.com> wrote:
: Richard Schultz wrote:
:> In article <***@hotmail.com>, mazzolata <***@hotmail.com> wrote:

:> : For me, Sibelius 6 is far and away his best.

:> We've had our disagreements before, but I'm with you on this one (well,
:> maybe not "far and away", but it's definitely my favorite Sibelius symphony).

: OK, so maybe I was being a little hperbolic, I also like the 2nd, 3rd
: and 5th quite a lot.

I have to confess not being particularly thrilled by the 5th. After the
outer-spaciness of the 4th (and of the 6th which IIRC he was writing more
or less simultaneously), the 5th is just too saccharine for my taste.

: Which version of the 6th do you prefer?

My current favorite (always subject to change) is HvK/Philharmonia. There's
also a Sanderling/Berlin recording that's not too bad.

: I have the Ashkenazy set which I bought cheaply on eBay because I
: used to have the LP of his 3rd and 6th, and thought both were good.
: I'm not impressed by the 7th - not sure if it's the work itself or just
: that he doesn't do it very well ...

I have the Ashkenazy set on LP, which I bought cheaply from the BMG music
club in the "we're getting rid of our LP inventory" days. I think that
it's workmanlike, although not top of the line. For the 7th, I'd recommend
Barbirolli/Halle. I think that it's a great piece of music, personally.

-----
Richard Schultz ***@mail.biu.ac.il
Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Opinions expressed are mine alone, and not those of Bar-Ilan University
-----
It's a bird, it's a plane -- no, it's Mozart. . .
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-24 20:48:35 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 24 Aug 2003 19:22:45 +0000 (UTC), "Van Eyes"
Post by Van Eyes
I've heard your favorite E2's. The one I've settled on is LPO/Handley.
Whatever pomp was leftover from Elgar's 1st, Handley has dispensed with
nicely. Grasping elusive nature?
I also own that one. Very good, indeed.

TD
Deryk Barker
2003-08-24 21:08:31 UTC
Permalink
***@yahoo.com wrote:
...
Favourite recordings? I like Barbirolli better than Boult, but have
many others I like too: Slatkin, Previn, Solti, Tate, Sir Colin Davis.
In fact, once I am involved in listening to a recording of this piece,
I just fall in love with the music all over again.
How about Elgar's own recording or Boult's 1944 BBC SO?
I must say I wonder what a Bernstein performance would have sounded
like,
Judging by his Nimrod, rather longer than the others....
or a Stokowski, or Karajan performance.
I don't even want to contemplate a Karajan performance. His Planets was
(were) enough for me. Stokie? Dunno.
--
Deryk Barker (To email remove nospam.)
Richard Schultz
2003-08-25 04:56:02 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>, ***@yahoo.com wrote:

: The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
: Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
: century". The 20thC, of course.

This is the first time I've heard either of those adjectives applied to
Jim Svejda. The idea that Elgar's 2d symphony is the "greatest" of the
20th Century is neither controversial nor challenging. Finding an
appropriate adjective for that opinion is left as an exercise for the reader.

-----
Richard Schultz ***@mail.biu.ac.il
Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Opinions expressed are mine alone, and not those of Bar-Ilan University
-----
It's a bird, it's a plane -- no, it's Mozart. . .
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-25 11:21:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard Schultz
: The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
: Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
: century". The 20thC, of course.
This is the first time I've heard either of those adjectives applied to
Jim Svejda. The idea that Elgar's 2d symphony is the "greatest" of the
20th Century is neither controversial nor challenging. Finding an
appropriate adjective for that opinion is left as an exercise for the reader.
Well, it certainly has provided some controversy here and it seems to
challenge the "status quo" quite nicelym, specially with hide-bound
music-lovers like yourself..

TD
David M. Cook
2003-08-25 06:43:08 UTC
Permalink
The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
century". The 20thC, of course.
What would be a good complement to the Barbirolli stereo recordings? I'm
thinking Solti; I really liked his In The South on LP.

Dave Cook
Tom Daish
2003-08-25 08:05:05 UTC
Permalink
I'm not sure I'm in any position to comment at whether Elgar's 2nd is the
greatest symphony of the century - there seem too many other great ones to
choose from which are all good in different ways. You can't really compare
Stravinsky's Symphony in C with Elgar, they are just too different in
conception.

My main query is with regard to the Handley version of Elgar's 2nd. I bought a
copy of it, performed by the London Philharmonic on EMI Classics for Pleasure
and just wondered if this was indeed one of the highly recommended performances.
If it is, then I evidently got a bargain. It was one pound in a charity shop...
--
Tom

Soundtrack Express, nice...
www.soundtrack-express.com
--
akiralx
2003-08-25 11:13:24 UTC
Permalink
The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
century". The 20thC, of course.
At the time, and this goes back many years, I found the remark a
trifle outrageousm , the kind of remark intended soletly to shock.
In recent years, listening to many, many different recordings of this
work as well as a few experiences in the concert hall, I have come to
agree with Svejda.
"Greatest" is perhaps an extreme word. There are other candidates and
we can all provide our "favourites", which is not quite the same
thing. And surely nobody would argue with Mahler 9, Sibelius 4 or 7
(or perhaps both!). Or would they? And what about Rachmaninoff 2, or
Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms?. Or the Nielsen symphonies?
Anyway the Elgar is my own candidate, if I had to pick just one.
How strange that such a seemingly outrageous opinion has gained
ground, with me at least, with advancing years!
Favourite recordings? I like Barbirolli better than Boult, but have
many others I like too: Slatkin, Previn, Solti, Tate, Sir Colin Davis.
In fact, once I am involved in listening to a recording of this piece,
I just fall in love with the music all over again.
I must say I wonder what a Bernstein performance would have sounded
like, or a Stokowski, or Karajan performance. And what about
Furtwangler, assuming he could have got over the fact that he was
performing English (yuk!) music?
Actually Furtwangler *did* perhaps conduct Elgar 2 AFAIK - and in the 1980s
Karajn studied the score (returning other Elgar scores) with the serious
intention of conducting it according to Osborne's biog - although he
surmises it would not have been with the BPO.
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-25 21:29:15 UTC
Permalink
The controversial and challenging Jim Svejda once remarked that the
Elgar Symphony No. 2 was perhaps the "greatest symphony of the
century". The 20thC, of course.
At the time, and this goes back many years, I found the remark a
trifle outrageousm , the kind of remark intended soletly to shock.
In recent years, listening to many, many different recordings of this
work as well as a few experiences in the concert hall, I have come to
agree with Svejda.
"Greatest" is perhaps an extreme word. There are other candidates and
we can all provide our "favourites", which is not quite the same
thing. And surely nobody would argue with Mahler 9, Sibelius 4 or 7
(or perhaps both!). Or would they? And what about Rachmaninoff 2, or
Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms?. Or the Nielsen symphonies?
Anyway the Elgar is my own candidate, if I had to pick just one.
How strange that such a seemingly outrageous opinion has gained
ground, with me at least, with advancing years!
Favourite recordings? I like Barbirolli better than Boult, but have
many others I like too: Slatkin, Previn, Solti, Tate, Sir Colin Davis.
In fact, once I am involved in listening to a recording of this piece,
I just fall in love with the music all over again.
I must say I wonder what a Bernstein performance would have sounded
like, or a Stokowski, or Karajan performance. And what about
Furtwangler, assuming he could have got over the fact that he was
performing English (yuk!) music? Or Bruno Walter? The stuff of dreams,
I fear, as most of these conductors did little Elgar in their lives
and are no longer with us. Maybe they just could not get hold of the
elusive nature of his music.
But the music is still, for me, "the greatest".
TD
Karajan - Elgar 2 - not a chance.
IIRC When asked he said "why would I want to conduct second rate
Brahms when I can conduct first rate Brahms" - or words to that
effect.
I used to love Elgar - then I grew older and resented all that
sentimentality.
SN
And when you grow up you will go back to it.

Not sure Karajan's taste in music should be our yardstick, either. He
even did things like the Meditation from Thais by Massenet!

TD

P.S. It is hardly as "sentimental: as Mahler, in my opinion, and much
more noble. Nor as gloomy as Shostakovich or Sibelius. Nor as
frivolous as Prokofiev.
David Hurwitz
2003-08-25 22:05:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
P.S. It is hardly as "sentimental: as Mahler, in my opinion, and much
more noble. Nor as gloomy as Shostakovich or Sibelius. Nor as
frivolous as Prokofiev.
Perhaps, but then Elgar totally lacks Mahler's lyrical expansiveness and
sardonic humor (or any humor at all for that matter), as well as Shostakovich's
tragic intensity, Sibelius' nature poetry, and Prokofiev's melodic verve. I
don't think it ever makes much sense to praise one composer at the expense of
others in this fashion; Elgar has qualities those other composers do not, but
then they have qualities that Elgar does not. Nothing is proven one way or the
other. We love Elgar for what he IS, just as we love those other composers for
what they are, and we should not denigrate them to the extent that they are NOT
Elgar!

Dave Hurwitz
Alan Hayward
2003-08-25 23:05:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Hurwitz
Perhaps, but then Elgar totally lacks Mahler's lyrical expansiveness and
sardonic humor (or any humor at all for that matter)
What? No humour at all? Not even in Falstaff?
David Hurwitz
2003-08-26 00:35:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alan Hayward
Post by David Hurwitz
Perhaps, but then Elgar totally lacks Mahler's lyrical expansiveness and
sardonic humor (or any humor at all for that matter)
What? No humour at all? Not even in Falstaff?
Especially not in Falstaff.

Dave Hurwitz
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-26 00:10:28 UTC
Permalink
On 25 Aug 2003 15:05:10 -0700, David Hurwitz
Post by David Hurwitz
Post by d***@yahoo.com
P.S. It is hardly as "sentimental: as Mahler, in my opinion, and much
more noble. Nor as gloomy as Shostakovich or Sibelius. Nor as
frivolous as Prokofiev.
Perhaps, but then Elgar totally lacks Mahler's lyrical expansiveness
I disagree. The slow movement of Elgar 2 should be proof enough.

and
Post by David Hurwitz
sardonic humor (or any humor at all for that matter)
Not sure that humour makes good music. Good fun, of course, but good
music?

, as well as Shostakovich's
Post by David Hurwitz
tragic intensity,
Disagree. Elgar 2 slow movement, again.

Sibelius' nature poetry

Never think of Sibelius in those terms, which seem to make of him a
local amateur painter, n'est-ce pas?

, and Prokofiev's melodic verve.

Wouldn't call it verve. Prokofiev should have been, in fact was, a
composer of film music. Elgar would never have qualified.
I
Post by David Hurwitz
don't think it ever makes much sense to praise one composer at the expense of
others in this fashion
Which of course you have just done. I did it only when prompted by
other invidious comparisons posted by others.

TD
David Hurwitz
2003-08-26 00:36:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Which of course you have just done. I did it only when prompted by
other invidious comparisons posted by others.
TD
Well, I did it only when prompted by invidious comparisons posted by you, so
what's good for the goose...

Dave Hurwitz
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-26 02:10:40 UTC
Permalink
On 25 Aug 2003 17:36:15 -0700, David Hurwitz
Post by David Hurwitz
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Which of course you have just done. I did it only when prompted by
other invidious comparisons posted by others.
TD
Well, I did it only when prompted by invidious comparisons posted by you, so
what's good for the goose...
My remarks were not intended as a criticism. Just a comment.

That said, when I say I think Elgar 2 is "the greatest" the
comparisons are immediate and obvious and invidious as well.

Ah, well, goes with the territory of likes and dislikes, or
preferences.

Regarding humour in symphonies. I don't listen to music to hear a
symphonic version of a Bob Hope quip or the Marx Brothers in full
flight. Or even Jack Benny!

TD
Simon Roberts
2003-08-26 12:37:22 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>, ***@yahoo.com
says...
Post by d***@yahoo.com
Regarding humour in symphonies. I don't listen to music to hear a
symphonic version of a Bob Hope quip or the Marx Brothers in full
flight. Or even Jack Benny!
I would hope not. Haydn and Beethoven were far funnier.

Simon
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-26 13:12:23 UTC
Permalink
: Regarding humour in symphonies. I don't listen to music to hear a
: symphonic version of a Bob Hope quip or the Marx Brothers in full
: flight. Or even Jack Benny!
I take it that you don't think too much of Beethoven's 6th symphony, then.
Or "Don Quixote" or "Till Eulenspiegel," for that matter. Why should music
be allowed to express every emotion except for humor?
It would be nice if you actually read what I wrote.

I said I do not listen to music in order to hear a symphonic version
of a Bob Hope quip or the Marx Brothers in full flight. Or even Jack
Benny!

I did NOT say that humour does not exist in music. Only that this is
not the reason I listen to it.

TD
Jeremy Dimmick
2003-08-26 02:53:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@yahoo.com
On 25 Aug 2003 15:05:10 -0700, David Hurwitz
Not sure that humour makes good music. Good fun, of course, but good
music?
Haydn?
Richard Schultz
2003-08-26 08:24:56 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@drn.newsguy.com>, David Hurwitz <***@newsguy.com> wrote:

: We love Elgar for what he IS, just as we love those other composers for
: what they are, and we should not denigrate them to the extent that they are
: NOT Elgar!

Au contraire, we (or rather, those people whom I have not yet convinced to
become atheists) should be giving thanks to God that they are not Elgar.

-----
Richard Schultz ***@mail.biu.ac.il
Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Opinions expressed are mine alone, and not those of Bar-Ilan University
-----
"You go on playing Bach your way, and I'll go on playing him *his* way."
-- Wanda Landowska
d***@yahoo.com
2003-08-26 13:10:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard Schultz
: We love Elgar for what he IS, just as we love those other composers for
: what they are, and we should not denigrate them to the extent that they are
: NOT Elgar!
Au contraire, we (or rather, those people whom I have not yet convinced to
become atheists) should be giving thanks to God that they are not Elgar.
Just as some of us thank God we do not work at a university which
bears the name of a competent pianist and loathsome political hack!

TD
Richard Schultz
2003-08-26 14:05:55 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>, ***@yahoo.com wrote:

:>Au contraire, we (or rather, those people whom I have not yet convinced to
:>become atheists) should be giving thanks to God that they are not Elgar.
:
: Just as some of us thank God we do not work at a university which
: bears the name of a competent pianist and loathsome political hack!

I didn't even know that there *was* a Paderewski University!

-----
Richard Schultz ***@mail.biu.ac.il
Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Opinions expressed are mine alone, and not those of Bar-Ilan University
-----
"You don't even have a clue about which clue you're missing."
akiralx
2003-08-26 09:35:59 UTC
Permalink
Karajan - Elgar 2 - not a chance.
IIRC When asked he said "why would I want to conduct second rate
Brahms when I can conduct first rate Brahms" - or words to that
effect.
Rubbish - he was interested in Elgar 2 - see my post above!
David Hurwitz
2003-08-26 14:20:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by akiralx
Karajan - Elgar 2 - not a chance.
IIRC When asked he said "why would I want to conduct second rate
Brahms when I can conduct first rate Brahms" - or words to that
effect.
Rubbish - he was interested in Elgar 2 - see my post above!
Nor was Karjan's Brahms anything to cheer about, in general. Elgar's richer
upholstery and Straussian lushness would have suited him quite well, I think,
though I suspect the necessary flexibility of pulse within musical paragraphs
would have eluded him, and his players too would have needed a lot of rehearsals
to deal with more complex rhythms (this symphony is full of them, most in
compound meters).

Dave Hurwitz
Stephen North
2003-08-26 16:09:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by akiralx
Karajan - Elgar 2 - not a chance.
IIRC When asked he said "why would I want to conduct second rate
Brahms when I can conduct first rate Brahms" - or words to that
effect.
Rubbish - he was interested in Elgar 2 - see my post above!
I can't lay my hands on the Vaughan biog - which may hold the quote or
it could have come from an RO review in Gramophone - but I certainly
didn't make it up.

RO's references in the biography had slipped my mind - perhaps because
his reflections on scores studied conveniently adds weight to ROs
theories on what motivated Karajan's choice of music.

I've no reason to doubt HvK had a look at Elgar 2, along with RVW 4 &
6, but he didn't conduct any of them.


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