Discussion:
Strauss - Four Last Songs: - Favourites?
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Andy Evans
2012-12-02 22:51:21 UTC
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What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
EM
2012-12-02 23:05:05 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Janowitz / BPh / HvK (DG).

EM
Andy Evans
2012-12-02 23:35:09 UTC
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There's a wonderful performance by Marilyn Horne on Youtube. Is this available anywhere else?

Otherwise I like Fleming, Isikoski, Varady, Roschmann, Auger.... All on Youtube but I don't think there are recordings of Varady alas. There's also some fascinating recordings with Glenn Gould and Lois Marshall.
Schwarzkopf is lovely in Fruhling but a bit light in the others. I find Norman just too powerful for these.

Which of Fleming's CDs would you choose? Or in fact, which CDs in general?
JohnGavin
2012-12-03 01:02:01 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
There's a wonderful performance by Marilyn Horne on Youtube. Is this available anywhere else?
Otherwise I like Fleming, Isikoski, Varady, Roschmann, Auger.... All on Youtube but I don't think there are recordings of Varady alas. There's also some fascinating recordings with Glenn Gould and Lois Marshall.
Schwarzkopf is lovely in Fruhling but a bit light in the others. I find Norman just too powerful for these.
Which of Fleming's CDs would you choose? Or in fact, which CDs in general?
I'm an Ameling fan. I have a feeling you might find her too light.

Here it is complete on YouTube:


Bob Harper
2012-12-03 05:38:11 UTC
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Post by EM
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Janowitz / BPh / HvK (DG).
EM
Seconded. What a voice, what an orchestra!

Bob Harper
Jenn
2012-12-03 01:10:15 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
I like Flagstad and Norman.
wkasimer
2012-12-03 01:38:38 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Isokoski, Popp, Jurinac.

Bill
Oscar
2012-12-03 06:36:34 UTC
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Post by wkasimer
Isokoski
Fantastic CD!
Alan Cooper
2012-12-04 15:57:15 UTC
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Post by wkasimer
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Isokoski, Popp, Jurinac.
Yup. Add Della Casa and you have my favorites as well. Isokoski is
phenomenal.

AC
Christopher Webber
2012-12-04 16:30:04 UTC
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Post by Alan Cooper
Isokoski is
phenomenal.
She is. It took quite something to come up with a performance which
knocks so many spots off so many other great singers, but Isokoski
manages it. Desert Island material.
Mark S
2012-12-03 02:04:40 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Best: Jurinac, Della Casa/Bohm, Fleming/Thielemann, Janowitz/Karajan

Also good: Mattila/Abbado

Can't stand Norman or Schwarzkopf.

There are many versions I haven't heard.
Andy Evans
2012-12-03 10:17:14 UTC
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Post by Mark S
Best: Jurinac, Della Casa/Bohm, Fleming/Thielemann, Janowitz/Karajan
Also good: Mattila/Abbado
Can't stand Norman or Schwarzkopf.
That's fairly close to my tastes. So the Fleming/Thielemann is better than the Fleming/Eschenbach?
wkasimer
2012-12-03 12:22:45 UTC
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On Dec 3, 5:17 am, Andy Evans <***@gmail.com> wrote:
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Post by Andy Evans
That's fairly close to my tastes. So the Fleming/Thielemann is better than the Fleming/Eschenbach?
I don't much care for either. The earlier one was recorded when
Fleming was 6 or 7 months pregnant, and her breath control suffered
for it. The later one is a little too fussy for my taste.

Bill
wkasimer
2012-12-03 12:21:39 UTC
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Post by Mark S
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Best: Jurinac, Della Casa/Bohm, Fleming/Thielemann, Janowitz/Karajan
Also good: Mattila/Abbado
Can't stand Norman or Schwarzkopf..
I agree about Norman and Schwarzkopf, but given that, I'm surprised
that you favor Fleming's version. She has the right voice, but when I
heard this, her singing struck me as every bit as mannered as JN and
ES.

As for Janowitz, there's another recording with Haitink, briefly
available on Philips, in even better sound, which I prefer in the
first three songs (the tempo is simply too fast for Im Abendrot).

Bill
Mark S
2012-12-03 15:33:20 UTC
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Post by wkasimer
Post by Mark S
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Best: Jurinac, Della Casa/Bohm, Fleming/Thielemann, Janowitz/Karajan
Also good: Mattila/Abbado
Can't stand Norman or Schwarzkopf..
I agree about Norman and Schwarzkopf, but given that, I'm surprised
that you favor Fleming's version.  She has the right voice, but when I
heard this, her singing struck me as every bit as mannered as JN and
ES.
It is the right voice, and she does show off what she can do with it.
It's not the most straight-forward version, but it's hardly the
mannered mess we get from Norman and Schwarzkopf.
Post by wkasimer
As for Janowitz, there's another recording with Haitink, briefly
available on Philips, in even better sound, which I prefer in the
first three songs (the tempo is simply too fast for Im Abendrot).
Outside of her 4 Last Songs & the Richter Xmas Oratorio, I'm not much
of a Janowitz fan. It's the combo of her+BPO+Karajan that makes this
recording so special to my ears.
wkasimer
2012-12-04 01:54:23 UTC
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On Dec 3, 10:33 am, Mark S <***@yahoo.com> wrote:
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Post by Mark S
Outside of her 4 Last Songs & the Richter Xmas Oratorio, I'm not much
of a Janowitz fan..
I also like her Countess in Capriccio.

Bill
M forever
2012-12-04 00:06:02 UTC
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Post by Mark S
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Best: Jurinac, Della Casa/Bohm, Fleming/Thielemann, Janowitz/Karajan
Also good: Mattila/Abbado
Can't stand Norman or Schwarzkopf.
There are many versions I haven't heard.
You are still entitled to have an opinion about them though. That's
your good right. And it wouldn't be any less helpful than listing a
few names (which is not specifically referring to just your post).
Dumbarton Oaks
2012-12-04 00:11:53 UTC
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On 3 dic, 22:06, M forever <***@gmail.com> wrote:

Della Casa/Bohm, great performance, great recording.
Steve de Mena
2012-12-04 09:55:10 UTC
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Post by Mark S
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Best: Jurinac, Della Casa/Bohm, Fleming/Thielemann, Janowitz/Karajan
Also good: Mattila/Abbado
Can't stand Norman or Schwarzkopf.
There are many versions I haven't heard.
I used to listen to the Lucia Popp/Tennstedt (EMI) recording a lot.
It's been many years, need to give it a re-listen to see if it still
holds it's luster to me.

I never did like the Jessye Norman Philips recording, which everyone
seemed to praise as "the best" at the time.

Steve
wkasimer
2012-12-04 11:32:28 UTC
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On Dec 4, 4:55 am, Steve de Mena <***@demena.com> wrote:
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Post by Steve de Mena
I used to listen to the Lucia Popp/Tennstedt (EMI) recording a lot.
It's been many years, need to give it a re-listen to see if it still
holds it's luster to me.
I listened the other day, and it certainly did for me.
Post by Steve de Mena
I never did like the Jessye Norman Philips recording, which everyone
seemed to praise as "the best" at the time..
Right voice, wrong singer, and definitely wrong conductor. It can only
be described as "self-indulgent".

Bill
aesthete8
2012-12-16 09:14:59 UTC
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Post by Mark S
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Best: Jurinac, Della Casa/Bohm, Fleming/Thielemann, Janowitz/Karajan
Also good: Mattila/Abbado
Can't stand Norman or Schwarzkopf.
There are many versions I haven't heard.
Concerning Jurinac, the following Amazon customer review reports:

- ...Noted musical biographer Tully Potter's description of Jurinac's
account as "proper, honest-to-goodness singing rather than the ghastly
crooning affected by a much-touted rival."

http://www.amazon.com/Sena-Jurinac-Opera-Arias-Strauss/product-reviews/B000005GON
Christopher Webber
2012-12-16 11:20:15 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
- ...Noted musical biographer Tully Potter's description of Jurinac's
account as "proper, honest-to-goodness singing rather than the ghastly
crooning affected by a much-touted rival."
http://www.amazon.com/Sena-Jurinac-Opera-Arias-Strauss/product-reviews/B000005GON
People like this gentleman from Bishop's Stortford would be better
sparing us such spiteful nuggets. It quite spoils his review, and Potter
should have known better too.

The difference between your complacent Amazon "reviewer" and proper
ones, is that the latter know that making out a positive case for what
you *do* like about a performance is ultimately more interesting and
illuminating than chalking up an easy score against what you *don't*.

I don't hold a particular candle for her personally, but the
anti-Schwarzkopf lobby disgust me by their nasty slur tactics and
puerile criticisms. They make no attempt to analyse what she did that
made her so communicative to so many "ordinary" music lovers. That's I
suppose what makes me speak up for a seriously intelligent singer who
managed to speak so strongly to so many through the music she sang.

That is the undeniable fact which the pompous imps of malice cannot
answer. Though in savaging them I suppose I'm falling into exactly the
same pit of iniquity myself!
wagnerfan
2012-12-16 19:33:45 UTC
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On Sun, 16 Dec 2012 11:20:15 +0000, Christopher Webber
Post by Christopher Webber
Post by aesthete8
- ...Noted musical biographer Tully Potter's description of Jurinac's
account as "proper, honest-to-goodness singing rather than the ghastly
crooning affected by a much-touted rival."
http://www.amazon.com/Sena-Jurinac-Opera-Arias-Strauss/product-reviews/B000005GON
People like this gentleman from Bishop's Stortford would be better
sparing us such spiteful nuggets. It quite spoils his review, and Potter
should have known better too.
The difference between your complacent Amazon "reviewer" and proper
ones, is that the latter know that making out a positive case for what
you *do* like about a performance is ultimately more interesting and
illuminating than chalking up an easy score against what you *don't*.
I don't hold a particular candle for her personally, but the
anti-Schwarzkopf lobby disgust me by their nasty slur tactics and
puerile criticisms. They make no attempt to analyse what she did that
made her so communicative to so many "ordinary" music lovers. That's I
suppose what makes me speak up for a seriously intelligent singer who
managed to speak so strongly to so many through the music she sang.
That is the undeniable fact which the pompous imps of malice cannot
answer. Though in savaging them I suppose I'm falling into exactly the
same pit of iniquity myself!
I prefer her early version under Ackermann slightly to the complete
version from a few years later under Sawallisch

Wagner fan
Mark S
2012-12-16 20:16:32 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
the
anti-Schwarzkopf lobby disgust me by their nasty slur tactics and
puerile criticisms. They make no attempt to analyse what she did that
made her so communicative to so many "ordinary" music lovers.
Huh?

If somebody dislikes a particular singer, it's enough for them to give
their reasons for disliking them, is it not? Why would you expect a
person to get into somebody else's head and figure out why someone
else likes a particular singer? That's like asking an atheist to
enumerate the reasons that somebody would choose to believe in gods,
or to require a Democrat to say something positive about Republican
policies that they loathe. How does one do that without being
condescending and ingenuous?

You happen to like Schwarzkopf, so much in fact that you demand that
those who don't like her say something positive about her. "Ghastly
crooning" is an apt description of much of Schwarzkopf's singing, IMO.
I'd say the onus is on you to discern what made Mr Potter write that
about Schwarzkopf and why his description resonates with so many
professional critics and musicians (you know, the "not-ordinary" music
lovers).
Christopher Webber
2012-12-16 20:59:17 UTC
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Post by Mark S
If somebody dislikes a particular singer, it's enough for them to give
their reasons for disliking them, is it not? Why would you expect a
person to get into somebody else's head and figure out why someone
else likes a particular singer?
I think, unusually, that you contradict yourself, Mark. You have no
objection to hearing reasons for *not* liking a particular singer, but
every objection to suggestions from thoughtful observers as to why other
people *do* like them? It makes no sense, unless you have a terminally
closed mind, which I am sure you don't.

Good writing, and good criticism, is precisely about "getting into
someone else's head". Negativity in my head (or even yours) is
profoundly uninteresting to anyone else, especially where we lob such
crude grenades as your bald dismissals of Schwarzkopf's singing. They
communicate nothing beyond your own prejudices, I fear. I at least have
learned, in the main, to shut up about things I don't like - and
therefore clearly don't understand.

You certainly show no talent for "getting into my head"! If you had
managed that, you'd see (as I've said) that I am no particular fan of
hers, nor of many singers indeed. I am repertoire not personality
driven, and would rather hear Rimsky's "Servilia" than two hundred more
performances of "Tosca" (or even one, frankly!) - just as I'd rather
hear Franz Schmidt's 4th Symphony these days in preference to Beethoven's.

No. The question which interests me (though evidently not everyone, I
see) is "what makes so many people *like* or *love* her performances of
4LS on disc so much?" Thinking about that might help us see her work in
a stronger, more rewarding light. As it is, negativity illuminates
nothing. Not even the clubbable Mr Potter's: we could all cite three
critics who love Schwarzkopf to one who doesn't, so your appeal to "not
ordinary" authorities cuts two ways.

As you ask me, I will tell you frankly that I think Mr Potter wrote that
to demonstrate his own fastidious taste and distance from the common
herd, and not because he meant something serious by it - or anything at
all. "Ghastly crooning" is a very telling phrase, a typical piece of
lazy reviewer's cheap polemic aligning the singer with other popular
artists such as Dean Martin and Bing Crosby. Crooners, you see. Not
proper singers, of course. Not artists at all. Far too popular. And he
doesn't even name her - "a much-touted rival" = 'you know who I mean, I
know who I mean, and aren't we clever?' A low trick of smug cowardice.

Such cheap shots, I'm sure you agree, are not worth the paper it was
written on. They're below Mr Potter's usual comfortable standards.
Mark S
2012-12-16 21:45:31 UTC
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On Dec 16, 12:59 pm, Christopher Webber
Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Mark S
If somebody dislikes a particular singer, it's enough for them to give
their reasons for disliking them, is it not? Why would you expect a
person to get into somebody else's head and figure out why someone
else likes a particular singer?
I think, unusually, that you contradict yourself, Mark. You have no
objection to hearing reasons for *not* liking a particular singer, but
every objection to suggestions from thoughtful observers as to why other
people *do* like them? It makes no sense, unless you have a terminally
closed mind, which I am sure you don't.
Good writing, and good criticism, is precisely about "getting into
someone else's head". Negativity in my head (or even yours) is
profoundly uninteresting to anyone else, especially where we lob such
crude grenades as your bald dismissals of Schwarzkopf's singing. They
communicate nothing beyond your own prejudices, I fear. I at least have
learned, in the main, to shut up about things I don't like - and
therefore clearly don't understand.
You certainly show no talent for "getting into my head"! If you had
managed that, you'd see (as I've said) that I am no particular fan of
hers, nor of many singers indeed. I am repertoire not personality
driven, and would rather hear Rimsky's "Servilia" than two hundred more
performances of "Tosca" (or even one, frankly!) - just as I'd rather
hear Franz Schmidt's 4th Symphony these days in preference to Beethoven's.
No. The question which interests me (though evidently not everyone, I
see) is "what makes so many people *like* or *love* her performances of
4LS on disc so much?" Thinking about that might help us see her work in
a stronger, more rewarding light. As it is, negativity illuminates
nothing. Not even the clubbable Mr Potter's: we could all cite three
critics who love Schwarzkopf to one who doesn't, so your appeal to "not
ordinary" authorities cuts two ways.
As you ask me, I will tell you frankly that I think Mr Potter wrote that
to demonstrate his own fastidious taste and distance from the common
herd, and not because he meant something serious by it - or anything at
all. "Ghastly crooning" is a very telling phrase, a typical piece of
lazy reviewer's cheap polemic aligning the singer with other popular
artists such as Dean Martin and Bing Crosby. Crooners, you see. Not
proper singers, of course. Not artists at all. Far too popular. And he
doesn't even name her - "a much-touted rival" = 'you know who I mean, I
know who I mean, and aren't we clever?' A low trick of smug cowardice.
Such cheap shots, I'm sure you agree, are not worth the paper it was
written on. They're below Mr Potter's usual comfortable standards.
It could be as simple as believing that Schwarzkopf and her career was
a case of the emperor's new clothes. She was a decent-to-very-good
soprano in her earliest days, such as her 1951 Mestersinger. But the
voice became laden with mannerisms over time until it devolved into
ghastly crooning. I imagine much of this can be laid at the feet of
Walter Legge, who seems to have coached her voice into a kind of
strident grasp, rather than it remaining a flowing instrument.

I happen to believe that had she stayed with her vocal production from
her early years that she would have been a better singer. But she paid
a price being married and mentored by Legge. The upside was that her
recorded career was promoted and built up far beyond her natural
talents. To me, she became the embodiment of Szell's comment of
chocolate sauce over asparagus.

I will be the first to complement Schwarzkopf's singing when I feel it
deserves praise. But I am not going to praise singing that I find to
be ghastly from my perspective as a singer and a musician, simply
because received opinion has it that she was a great artiste.

I have similar feelings about the singing of Mr Domingo, whose voice
was distinctive in the early years, and while no Corelli or Tucker,
was still quite enjoyable in many of the same leads sung by those two
artists. But at some point, Domingo started to squeeze his bridge
which served to make his high voice unreliable and generally
constricted in its emission. I don't know if that was an accident or
part of a plan to allow him to widen his repertoire, but to me, it was
a decision that made his technique the enemy of his natural talents.
Beauty of tone was replaced with a throaty and pushed sound that I
really can't abide.

As far as the phrase "ghastly crooning" - there's effective crooning -
like that done by Bing Crosby who sang with a mike, after all - and an
opera singer crooning in a theater without the aid of amplification.
The ghastliness arises from the genre of music and the venue in which
it is performed. I won't condemn all crooning, because it's OK in many
situations. But opera and the classic song repertoire doesn't present
a situation where crooning is acceptable. Crooning is akin to falsetto
singing, while the classical rep requires the ability to sing with a
voix mixte that is a balance of the falsetto and the chest voice. So,
yes, when classical singers lose the chest connection in a true voix
mixte and allow their singing to devolve into crooning, then it
becomes, well, ghastly.
Christopher Webber
2012-12-16 22:09:59 UTC
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So, to come back at length to my question, why do so many people *like*
or *love* what you and Mr Potter (for reasons best known to yourselves)
see fit to condemn as "ghastly crooning"? Repeating the sneer, and
adding that it's all right for popular artists but not Schwarzkopf, gets
us no further on. Why does she touch so many hearts? That's the
intriguing part - to me at least.

Your negative comments on Domingo, tossed in as a sour bon bouche, don't
get us much further either. The negativity Opera Buffs like to exude
about his artistry strikes me as snobbery, pure and simple. Your
technical rationalisation of such views seems to me (with respect) to
leave everything of importance about him out of the picture.

And again, why does he inspire such *love* in so many artistic admirers
around the globe? Any ideas, Mark? I'd be more interested to have your
take on that, than a technical disquisition on why Domingo can't sing
properly (unlike, it would seem, Corelli. Hmm...)
Mark S
2012-12-17 16:06:30 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
And again, why does he inspire such *love* in so many artistic admirers
around the globe? Any ideas, Mark? I'd be more interested to have your
take on that, than a technical disquisition on why Domingo can't sing
properly (unlike, it would seem, Corelli. Hmm...)
Why do even more people love Andrea Bocelli than love Domingo? Is it because they're less "artistic" in their ability to evaluate what constitutes great singing?

If so, then I'd say the reason even more like Bocelli is the same reason that some like Domingo: they don't know any better.

(Let's see what kind of response that broadside inspires)
Christopher Webber
2012-12-17 16:13:03 UTC
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Post by Mark S
If so, then I'd say the reason even more like Bocelli is the same reason that some like Domingo: they don't know any better.
With respect, that (like your "emperor's new clothes" tag) has the
unfortunate side effect of denigrating the many people who do like
Domingo, Bocelli, Schwarzkopf or whoever.

"They like these singers, I do not. I know more about it than they do.
Therefore they are being fooled or hoodwinked, whilst I am too clever
for that."

Is this a fair summary of your attitude?

Would it not be more fun to analyse what quality it is about Domingo,
Bocelli, Schwarzkopf or whoever which appeals, which some of the singers
you consider superior somehow miss?
Mark S
2012-12-17 18:21:25 UTC
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As I said earlier, how does one do what you're asking without coming off as being condescending?
Christopher Webber
2012-12-17 18:49:22 UTC
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Post by Mark S
As I said earlier, how does one do what you're asking without coming off as being condescending?
This is the Beam talking to the Mote, Mark, but ...

... don't you think it's as well to do our best to couch our arguments
with courtesy and humility?

If we insist on imperiously dismissing a Schwarzkopf or a Domingo (let
alone a Bocelli) as being beyond the pale, it's a sure way to alienate
nearly everyone before we can enthuse them about the things we do find
good. It makes it almost impossible for people to hear what we have to say.

It's a universally better tactic (in this sort of conversation) to
praise what there is to be praised in these singers, then - and only
then - slip in our "and now listen to Tucker..." (or whichever tenorial
demigod happens to float our boat on any given day).
Matthew B. Tepper
2012-12-17 17:03:13 UTC
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Post by Mark S
Post by Christopher Webber
And again, why does he inspire such *love* in so many artistic admirers
around the globe? Any ideas, Mark? I'd be more interested to have your
take on that, than a technical disquisition on why Domingo can't sing
properly (unlike, it would seem, Corelli. Hmm...)
Why do even more people love Andrea Bocelli than love Domingo? Is it
because they're less "artistic" in their ability to evaluate what
constitutes great singing?
If so, then I'd say the reason even more like Bocelli is the same reason
that some like Domingo: they don't know any better.
(Let's see what kind of response that broadside inspires)
Bocelli is popular the way he is for several reasons:

1) Relentless PR, and pronouncements of his alleged "greatness" by such
operatic experts as Ms. O. Winfrey of Chicago;

2) His scruffy looks and continual three-day beard, contributes to the
"awwww" factor, and his blindness makes his critics seem mean and
unsympathetic;

3) He is marketed chiefly toward a certain segment of the population,
namely, lonely middle-aged women, which is why I sometimes refer to him as
"the singing vibrator";

4) He is also marketed toward the segment of the pop-music-raised public
who know little or nothing about actual opera or full-voice chest singing,
with a nod to the people who complain about "opera snobs" being "jealous";

5) He actually does have a basically sweet tone in his voice, that is if
you overlook such unimportant details as its limited palette, faulty
production, imperfect intonation, and dramatic dullness.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!!
Read about "Proty" here: http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/proty.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of my employers.
Christopher Webber
2012-12-17 17:51:16 UTC
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Post by Matthew B. Tepper
1) Relentless PR, and pronouncements of his alleged "greatness" by such
operatic experts as Ms. O. Winfrey of Chicago;
2) His scruffy looks and continual three-day beard, contributes to the
"awwww" factor, and his blindness makes his critics seem mean and
unsympathetic;
3) He is marketed chiefly toward a certain segment of the population,
namely, lonely middle-aged women, which is why I sometimes refer to him as
"the singing vibrator";
4) He is also marketed toward the segment of the pop-music-raised public
who know little or nothing about actual opera or full-voice chest singing,
with a nod to the people who complain about "opera snobs" being "jealous";
5) He actually does have a basically sweet tone in his voice, that is if
you overlook such unimportant details as its limited palette, faulty
production, imperfect intonation, and dramatic dullness.
Thank God - some *genuine* analysis instead of mere name calling! No
arguments from me about (1) or (2). And I think the pop-music-raised
public is absolutely right about the opera snobs, though not necessarily
for the right reasons!

(3) is like (2) in that it applies to "proper" singers as well as the
Krossover Kings. If all else is equal, then pretty and/or fashionable
looks and/or political correctness provide that vital bit of "edge" over
the competition.

(5) in the case of Bocelli at least is arguable. I remember John
Steane's Gramophone review of his Bohème Rodolfo, and his commendable
attempt to review it (pardon the word) "blind". He found it just below
top of the class, but only just. And he certainly praised the sweet tone
and (for him) technical solidity. In the end it just wasn't dramatic
enough. The older Bocelli is, sadly, a shadow of his former self.

In sum, if they're to be successful today's singers need to be far more
than merely competent singers - just as they always did. With the
possibilities opened up by the microphone (which is used in nearly all
major Houses nowadays) that's not even any longer a Given.

No. Success at the highest level has as little to do with that
"musicality" which we too often evoke to support our favourites (I'm as
guilty as anyone); and much more to do with what we personally find
sexy. If only we could admit that instead of dressing up our likes and
dislikes as some sort of superior artistic sensibility.

In his time even such a great artist as Gigli was sneered at by the
cognoscenti for his popularity - not least with those lonely middle-aged
ladies (of both sexes) you isolate in (3)! Rather, his popularity *was*
his greatness, as it always is.
Mark S
2012-12-17 19:25:18 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
I remember John
Steane's Gramophone review of his Boh me Rodolfo, and his commendable
attempt to review it (pardon the word) "blind". He found it just below
top of the class, but only just. And he certainly praised the sweet tone
and (for him) technical solidity. In the end it just wasn't dramatic
enough.
First off, I would question the general knowledge of singers held by
any critic who would not be able to immediately identify Bocelli's
sound in a blind test. The one thing one can say for Bocelli is the
fact that his sound is instantly recognizable, just as much as
Pavarotti or Domingo's voices are instantly recognizable.

For Steane to opine that Bocelli's Rodolfo is "just below the top of
the class" displays a lack of knowledge about what qualifies as top-of-
the-class in Boheme recordings. In my books (I can only speak for
myself), the absolute top of the class would be Pavarotti and
Bjoerling. A rung down while still very close would be a plethora of
tenors, including Domingo, Bergonzi, Gedda, Kraus and Di Stefano. One
more rung down and we get into Peerce, Tucker, Corelli and Carerras.
Another step and we hit the Alagnas, Poggis and Raimondis of the
world. And still not Bocelli in sight, IMHO.

BTW - have you ever listened to Bocelli's Boheme? Give it a try and
tell me what you think of Steane's thoughts on it.
Christopher Webber
2012-12-17 20:11:21 UTC
Reply
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Post by Mark S
BTW - have you ever listened to Bocelli's Boheme? Give it a try and
tell me what you think of Steane's thoughts on it.
I have. In a phrase, and without going into detail, I found his Rodolfo
pleasantly mellifluous but lacking in a sense of dramatic direction. The
big numbers were rather moving. I had no problem at all with his
technique, or the size of voice: the microphone is perfectly adapted for
boosting small voices (c.f. Anna Moffo, who was a great recording artist
because of that, rather than in spite of it) and that should never worry us.

I have unwittingly misrepresented John Steane's "blind test" and led you
up a blind alley. Of course he knew who it was, but did his utmost to
sit back and listen to it as if he didn't. He got rid of all the bag and
baggage Matthew outlined so well. He didn't treat the performance as a
cheap parlour game, nor did he play a "pecking order" card, but judged
the performance solely on its own merits and demerits, as if the tenor
were Giovanni Bloggs.

I can't give you a link, because the Gramophone Archive is now
unavailable to non-subscribers. It was Steane at his considerable best,
as a writer, critic and human being.
O
2012-12-17 20:31:12 UTC
Reply
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Post by Christopher Webber
In his time even such a great artist as Gigli was sneered at by the
cognoscenti for his popularity - not least with those lonely middle-aged
ladies (of both sexes) you isolate in (3)! Rather, his popularity *was*
his greatness, as it always is.
I don't know why people flock in droves to hear this phenomena Franz
Liszt when you can go listen to Frederic Chopin play much more
intellectual and emotionally satisfying music.

-Owen
Kip Williams
2012-12-18 03:02:55 UTC
Reply
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Post by O
Post by Christopher Webber
In his time even such a great artist as Gigli was sneered at by the
cognoscenti for his popularity - not least with those lonely middle-aged
ladies (of both sexes) you isolate in (3)! Rather, his popularity *was*
his greatness, as it always is.
I don't know why people flock in droves to hear this phenomena Franz
Liszt when you can go listen to Frederic Chopin play much more
intellectual and emotionally satisfying music.
You go to who's close enough you can get to them. Railways are the
wonder of the age, but it still takes time and money to get from place
to place. When they're both in Paris, yes, you have to make a choice,
but Chopin only plays in salons anyway — but if you can get in, you're
better off. You don't have to get past Liszt's screaming groupies,
crowding the stage for a cigar butt to treasure forever.


Kip W
Mark S
2012-12-17 19:12:20 UTC
Reply
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Post by Mark S
Post by Christopher Webber
And again, why does he inspire such *love* in so many artistic admirers
around the globe? Any ideas, Mark? I'd be more interested to have your
take on that, than a technical disquisition on why Domingo can't sing
properly (unlike, it would seem, Corelli. Hmm...)
Why do even more people love Andrea Bocelli than love Domingo? Is it
because they're less "artistic" in their ability to evaluate what
constitutes great singing?
If so, then I'd say the reason even more like Bocelli is the same reason
that some like Domingo: they don't know any better.
(Let's see what kind of response that broadside inspires)
1)  Relentless PR, and pronouncements of his alleged "greatness" by such
operatic experts as Ms. O. Winfrey of Chicago;
And Schwarzkopf had a PR machine behind her career that was quite
aggressive for its time.
2)  His scruffy looks and continual three-day beard, contributes to the
"awwww" factor, and his blindness makes his critics seem mean and
unsympathetic;
Schwarzkopf's extremely arch vocal production and mannerisms
contributes to the idea that she was the embodiment of Heilige Kunst.
3)  He is marketed chiefly toward a certain segment of the population,
namely, lonely middle-aged women, which is why I sometimes refer to him as
"the singing vibrator";
Schwarzkopf was marketed mainly to the non-vocal queen segment of the
music-loving public, ie: the people who don't really bother learning
the intricacies of vocal production and artistry to the same depth
that they explore the worlds of the piano or the symphony.
4)  He is also marketed toward the segment of the public (snip)
who know little or nothing about actual opera or full-voice chest singing,
Slightly edited to describe Schwarzkopf.
5)  He actually does have a basically sweet tone in his voice, that is if
you overlook such unimportant details as its limited palette, faulty
production, imperfect intonation, and dramatic dullness.
Schwarzkopf at least enjoyed a period in her career where her singing
was relatively free of the mannerisms that made her later singing so
unlovable.
JohnGavin
2012-12-17 17:50:59 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Mark S
Post by Christopher Webber
And again, why does he inspire such *love* in so many artistic admirers
around the globe? Any ideas, Mark? I'd be more interested to have your
take on that, than a technical disquisition on why Domingo can't sing
properly (unlike, it would seem, Corelli. Hmm...)
Why do even more people love Andrea Bocelli than love Domingo? Is it because they're less "artistic" in their ability to evaluate what constitutes great singing?
If so, then I'd say the reason even more like Bocelli is the same reason that some like Domingo: they don't know any better.
(Let's see what kind of response that broadside inspires)
I'm not inclined to write any sort of radical response to this. For me there is never an argument with people's tastes, because it's a very personal and complex matter.

I would say to you, Mark, that "not knowing any better" can actually be a plus to some extent. (I see you rolling your eyes at this statement.)
I don't question that the blue-haired ladies who adored Liberace and Wayne Newton in Las Vegas genuinely enjoyed themselves.

I'm a Schwarzkopf fan - why? because I find in her best singing a unique intensity, musical intelligence, a commitment to the text (which, admittedly can at times be overdone.) But most of all I am very frequently moved by her singing.

Schwarzkopf rarely goes into autopilot - she is always intensely in the moment, always musically awake. I also happen to like the way she bends pitch for emphasis or expression.

I really can't stand Tucker or Bing Crosby by the way - whether or not their singing aligns to text book edicts on technique or not, I go for the whole package and I just don't care for theirs.
Christopher Webber
2012-12-17 17:52:59 UTC
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Post by JohnGavin
I would say to you, Mark, that "not knowing any better" can actually be a plus to some extent.
Wise, wise words. Seconded!!
Christopher Webber
2012-12-17 17:59:06 UTC
Reply
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Post by JohnGavin
Schwarzkopf rarely goes into autopilot - she is always intensely in the moment, always musically awake. I also happen to like the way she bends pitch for emphasis or expression.
That I think gets to the heart of why she - or any other singer who does
- gets to the heart of others.
Post by JohnGavin
I really can't stand Tucker or Bing Crosby by the way - whether or not their singing aligns to text book edicts on technique or not, I go for the whole package and I just don't care for theirs.
That's partly why the "crooner" jibe lobbed at Schwarzkopf is so
offensive. It's a way of insulting her *because* she's popular. And the
epithet certainly does nothing to illuminate the way she sings in opera,
or much else come to that. It tells us more about Mr Potter than it does
about her. I'm grateful to (Mark was it?) for quoting it.
Norman Schwartz
2012-12-17 18:24:44 UTC
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Post by JohnGavin
I don't question that the blue-haired ladies who adored Liberace and Wayne
Newton in Las Vegas genuinely enjoyed themselves.
The blue-haired ladies also adored Leornard Bernstein, their matinee idol in
New York, at the time when critics were still panning him and that they
didn't know he was gay (perhaps bi-sexual would have ben OK). I don't see
that its worth much if anything at all to bring them (tb-hl) into the
consideration.
Frank Berger
2012-12-17 18:54:49 UTC
Reply
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Post by Norman Schwartz
Post by JohnGavin
I don't question that the blue-haired ladies who adored Liberace and
Wayne Newton in Las Vegas genuinely enjoyed themselves.
The blue-haired ladies also adored Leornard Bernstein, their matinee
idol in New York, at the time when critics were still panning him and
that they didn't know he was gay (perhaps bi-sexual would have ben
OK). I don't see that its worth much if anything at all to bring them
(tb-hl) into the consideration.
Haven't read the whole thread, but maybe it needs to be pointed out that
what is ojectively "good" is not the same as what I "like." I recognize
that (and why) the Mona Lisa is a great painting. I don't particularly like
it. And I don't think it's just because I'm ignorant about what constitutes
great art. Same with movies. I see the many attributes of Citizen Kane.
Can't sit through it. There are many imperfect, even inferior, movies I
love. To love only what is great is probably snobbishness.
Christopher Webber
2012-12-17 20:03:06 UTC
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Permalink
I recognize that (and why) the Mona Lisa is a great painting. I don't
particularly like it.
That's how we are. And a good thing too, Frank. The problem - OUR
problem - would be if we (1) attacked the Mona Lisa for being
technically inadequate and kitschy just because we didn't happen to like
it. Or if (2) we attacked those who did like it, for having less
appreciative standards than ourselves.

Yet people think singers are fair game.
aesthete8
2012-12-17 21:47:51 UTC
Reply
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Post by Frank Berger
Post by Norman Schwartz
Post by JohnGavin
I don't question that the blue-haired ladies who adored Liberace and
Wayne Newton in Las Vegas genuinely enjoyed themselves.
The blue-haired ladies also adored Leornard Bernstein, their matinee
idol in New York, at the time when critics were still panning him and
that they didn't know he was gay (perhaps bi-sexual would have ben
OK). I don't see that its worth much if anything at all to bring them
(tb-hl) into the consideration.
Haven't read the whole thread, but maybe it needs to be pointed out that
what is ojectively "good" is not the same as what I "like."  I recognize
that (and why) the Mona Lisa is a great painting.  I don't particularly like
it.  And I don't think it's just because I'm ignorant about what constitutes
great art.  Same with movies.  I see the many attributes of Citizen Kane.
Can't sit through it.  There are many imperfect, even inferior, movies I
love.  To love only what is great is probably snobbishness.
- Culture is the habit of being pleased with the best and knowing
why.

Henry Van Dyke.
Roland van Gaalen
2012-12-17 22:14:30 UTC
Reply
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Post by aesthete8
- Culture is the habit of being pleased with the best and knowing
why.
Henry Van Dyke.
My favorite episode of the Dick van Dyke show was the one in which Mary Tyler Moore's toe got stuck in the faucet of her bathtub.
--
Roland van Gaalen
Cape Town
aesthete8
2012-12-18 02:52:49 UTC
Reply
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Post by Roland van Gaalen
Post by aesthete8
- Culture is the habit of being pleased with the best and knowing
why.
Henry Van Dyke.
My favorite episode of the Dick van Dyke show was the one in which Mary Tyler Moore's toe got stuck in the faucet of her bathtub.
--
Roland van Gaalen
Cape Town
- Highly illogical.

Mr. Spock
Matthew B. Tepper
2012-12-18 04:18:20 UTC
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Post by Roland van Gaalen
- Culture is the habit of being pleased with the best and knowing why.
Henry Van Dyke.
My favorite episode of the Dick van Dyke show was the one in which Mary
Tyler Moore's toe got stuck in the faucet of her bathtub. --
Roland van Gaalen
Cape Town
Mine is the one titled "It May Look Like a Walnut."
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!!
Read about "Proty" here: http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/proty.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of my employers.
JohnGavin
2012-12-17 20:09:35 UTC
Reply
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Post by Norman Schwartz
Post by JohnGavin
I don't question that the blue-haired ladies who adored Liberace and Wayne
Newton in Las Vegas genuinely enjoyed themselves.
The blue-haired ladies also adored Leornard Bernstein, their matinee idol in
New York, at the time when critics were still panning him and that they
didn't know he was gay (perhaps bi-sexual would have ben OK). I don't see
that its worth much if anything at all to bring them (tb-hl) into the
consideration.
The blue hair lady description wasn't meant to be taken so seriously and literally.
It's a well known fact that women of a certain age constituted the bulk of Liberace's and Newton's fan base for most of their careers.

What I don't get at all is bringing in Bernstein's sexual orientation. What exactly are you saying? That if the critics did know he was gay at that time he would have gotten better reviews?
wagnerfan
2012-12-16 23:26:51 UTC
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Permalink
On Sun, 16 Dec 2012 13:45:31 -0800 (PST), Mark S
Post by Mark S
On Dec 16, 12:59 pm, Christopher Webber
Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Mark S
If somebody dislikes a particular singer, it's enough for them to give
their reasons for disliking them, is it not? Why would you expect a
person to get into somebody else's head and figure out why someone
else likes a particular singer?
I think, unusually, that you contradict yourself, Mark. You have no
objection to hearing reasons for *not* liking a particular singer, but
every objection to suggestions from thoughtful observers as to why other
people *do* like them? It makes no sense, unless you have a terminally
closed mind, which I am sure you don't.
Good writing, and good criticism, is precisely about "getting into
someone else's head". Negativity in my head (or even yours) is
profoundly uninteresting to anyone else, especially where we lob such
crude grenades as your bald dismissals of Schwarzkopf's singing. They
communicate nothing beyond your own prejudices, I fear. I at least have
learned, in the main, to shut up about things I don't like - and
therefore clearly don't understand.
You certainly show no talent for "getting into my head"! If you had
managed that, you'd see (as I've said) that I am no particular fan of
hers, nor of many singers indeed. I am repertoire not personality
driven, and would rather hear Rimsky's "Servilia" than two hundred more
performances of "Tosca" (or even one, frankly!) - just as I'd rather
hear Franz Schmidt's 4th Symphony these days in preference to Beethoven's.
No. The question which interests me (though evidently not everyone, I
see) is "what makes so many people *like* or *love* her performances of
4LS on disc so much?" Thinking about that might help us see her work in
a stronger, more rewarding light. As it is, negativity illuminates
nothing. Not even the clubbable Mr Potter's: we could all cite three
critics who love Schwarzkopf to one who doesn't, so your appeal to "not
ordinary" authorities cuts two ways.
As you ask me, I will tell you frankly that I think Mr Potter wrote that
to demonstrate his own fastidious taste and distance from the common
herd, and not because he meant something serious by it - or anything at
all. "Ghastly crooning" is a very telling phrase, a typical piece of
lazy reviewer's cheap polemic aligning the singer with other popular
artists such as Dean Martin and Bing Crosby. Crooners, you see. Not
proper singers, of course. Not artists at all. Far too popular. And he
doesn't even name her - "a much-touted rival" = 'you know who I mean, I
know who I mean, and aren't we clever?' A low trick of smug cowardice.
Such cheap shots, I'm sure you agree, are not worth the paper it was
written on. They're below Mr Potter's usual comfortable standards.
It could be as simple as believing that Schwarzkopf and her career was
a case of the emperor's new clothes. She was a decent-to-very-good
soprano in her earliest days, such as her 1951 Mestersinger. But the
voice became laden with mannerisms over time until it devolved into
ghastly crooning. I imagine much of this can be laid at the feet of
Walter Legge, who seems to have coached her voice into a kind of
strident grasp, rather than it remaining a flowing instrument.
I happen to believe that had she stayed with her vocal production from
her early years that she would have been a better singer. But she paid
a price being married and mentored by Legge. The upside was that her
recorded career was promoted and built up far beyond her natural
talents. To me, she became the embodiment of Szell's comment of
chocolate sauce over asparagus.
I will be the first to complement Schwarzkopf's singing when I feel it
deserves praise. But I am not going to praise singing that I find to
be ghastly from my perspective as a singer and a musician, simply
because received opinion has it that she was a great artiste.
I have similar feelings about the singing of Mr Domingo, whose voice
was distinctive in the early years, and while no Corelli or Tucker,
was still quite enjoyable in many of the same leads sung by those two
artists. But at some point, Domingo started to squeeze his bridge
which served to make his high voice unreliable and generally
constricted in its emission. I don't know if that was an accident or
part of a plan to allow him to widen his repertoire, but to me, it was
a decision that made his technique the enemy of his natural talents.
Beauty of tone was replaced with a throaty and pushed sound that I
really can't abide.
As far as the phrase "ghastly crooning" - there's effective crooning -
like that done by Bing Crosby who sang with a mike, after all - and an
opera singer crooning in a theater without the aid of amplification.
The ghastliness arises from the genre of music and the venue in which
it is performed. I won't condemn all crooning, because it's OK in many
situations. But opera and the classic song repertoire doesn't present
a situation where crooning is acceptable. Crooning is akin to falsetto
singing, while the classical rep requires the ability to sing with a
voix mixte that is a balance of the falsetto and the chest voice. So,
yes, when classical singers lose the chest connection in a true voix
mixte and allow their singing to devolve into crooning, then it
becomes, well, ghastly.
Your description of Schwarzkopf is exactly the way I feel about
Fleming - Wagner Fan
wkasimer
2012-12-17 13:04:28 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
They make no attempt to analyse what she did that
made her so communicative to so many "ordinary" music lovers.
Of course I don't, because I don't care whether or not she
communicated to others, much less why. I care about whether she
communicates to *me*,

Life is much too short to waste time listening to, analyzing, and
attempting to understand singers I dislike. I tried with Schwarzkopf
for a couple of decades, and have determined that her "glorious
singing" or "ghastly crooning", or whatever else you want to call it,
isn't to my taste, and never will be.

I don't expect you to explain why someone might dislike Schwarzkopf's
singing - why do you expect me to explain why someone might enjoy it?

Bill
Christopher Webber
2012-12-17 16:33:39 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by wkasimer
Life is much too short to waste time listening to, analyzing, and
attempting to understand singers I dislike.
I think it's too short *not* to, so there we differ! The point, I
suppose, is that unless we want all debates in which we are involved to
be simple, stubborn locking of horns, we need to practice such analysis.
Unless perhaps we just enjoy locking horns.
Post by wkasimer
I don't expect you to explain why someone might dislike Schwarzkopf's
singing - why do you expect me to explain why someone might enjoy it?
I don't "expect" anything from anyone. Either we have curiosity about
what makes things tick, or we don't. I'm trying to find out what your
reasons for being consistently rude about this singer might be.

I do have my suspicions about "why someone might dislike Schwarzkopf's
singing", namely that the dislike has little to do with the sound she
makes, or her musical personality, at all. When I posted a link to her
recording of "Luonnotar" I fear that some of the anti- camp didn't even
recognise who was singing! They condemn her on the strength of her
second "Four Last Songs" disc and precious little else, probably because
it is so universally famous a recording, and they want to distance
themselves from the herd. In a word, they are being dishonest.

If you go further and agree with Mark that all those critics, fellow
musicians and members of the musical public who *do* like her are being
fooled in some way, then I fear we differ again!
wkasimer
2012-12-18 00:16:22 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Dec 17, 11:33 am, Christopher Webber
Post by Christopher Webber
I'm trying to find out what your
reasons for being consistently rude about this singer might be.
Below you answer your own question.
Post by Christopher Webber
I do have my suspicions about "why someone might dislike Schwarzkopf's
singing", namely that the dislike has little to do with the sound she
makes, or her musical personality, at all.
So what's the reason? For me, her sound is the equivalent of nails on
a chalkboard.
Post by Christopher Webber
When I posted a link to her
recording of "Luonnotar" I fear that some of the anti- camp didn't even
recognise who was singing!
As I recall, I recognized it and didn't particularly like it.
Post by Christopher Webber
They condemn her on the strength of her
second "Four Last Songs" disc and precious little else, probably because
it is so universally famous a recording, and they want to distance
themselves from the herd. In a word, they are being dishonest.
And *this* is the reason why am so "consistently rude" about
Schwarzkopf. Her fans, you among them, simply assume that anyone who
dislikes her singing must be "dishonest" or a "snob", which is a
rather transparent and pitiful way to discredit an opposing opinion.
Worse, some, yourself included, assume that I must be ignorant of the
bulk of her singing. I have listened to many of her recordings,
probably the majority of her recorded output on EMI (she participates
in some very famous recordings, you know, with singers whom I *do*
like). I have heard (and in fact, still own) three recordings of ES
singing the VLL. I have listened, repeatedly, to her Strauss, her
Mozart, and her operetta recordings. I have heard her Wolf and
Schubert Lieder, but have generally avoided her in song. In fact, I
would hazard a guess that I have heard at least as many of her
recordings as some of her fans. I admit that on occasion, I listen to
her in the end of Act 1 of Rosenkavalier, where the verbal specificity
partially compensates for the lack of tonal vibrancy. But I could
very easily live quite happily without ever hearing her again.

So if you're puzzled by my lack of admiration for Madame Schwarzkopf,
you might eschew the convenient epithets and chalk it up to reality:
that you and I have very different tastes and values when it comes to
singing. And if you want to limit my rudeness, stop acting like such
a smug, condescending know-it-all.

Bill
Christopher Webber
2012-12-18 07:59:58 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by wkasimer
Her fans, you among them
To correct your misunderstanding ... as I've said several times, I am
not a Schwarzkopf "fan" (or any other singer's) though I did have the
experience as a youngster of seeing her live in concert, in Manchester
towards the end of her performing career. That experience was
unfailingly absorbing, but not overwhelming. She really didn't have a
lot of voice left, but the artistry was impressive. I don't collect her
discs, but take her as I find her (or not) in the repertoire which
interests me.

The rest of your long post frustratingly bears out what I'm trying (very
imperfectly I agree) to articulate, lobbing scatter-gun insults instead
of trying to isolate the qualities which account for Schwarzkopf's
success with those who feel differently from you. I'm sorry you feel
personally offended by the attempt: I will stop banging my head against
your brick wall with pleasure. Either we're curious to expand our
sympathies or we're not.

Still ... given that you have "listened repeatedly" to Schwarzkopf's
Mozart, Strauss, Wolf, Schubert and operetta recordings, you can't
really dislike what you choose to describe as her "nails on a
chalkboard" sound that much, now can you?
JohnGavin
2012-12-18 14:37:56 UTC
Reply
Permalink
The wide range of performers, voices and interpretations represent for me in microcosm the phenomenon of endless relativity, and how completely futile it is to argue in terms of absolutes.

Some of the faux arguments I am reading is that singer x is as popular as she is because of an excellent PR machine (as if this could happen without the basic talent and artistry to back it up).

If you knew more about the basics of singing you would not like singer x. (As if the techniques of good singing are ends in themselves rather than a means to a greater end).

What is never said is "I must have a blind spot when it comes to her, because I know that thousands of people adore her singing." Why don't we ever seem to read this sort of admission here?

If that dimension entered into the discussion, it might go in a significant and constructive direction.
Frank Berger
2012-12-18 14:48:56 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JohnGavin
The wide range of performers, voices and interpretations represent
for me in microcosm the phenomenon of endless relativity, and how
completely futile it is to argue in terms of absolutes.
Some of the faux arguments I am reading is that singer x is as
popular as she is because of an excellent PR machine (as if this
could happen without the basic talent and artistry to back it up).
If you knew more about the basics of singing you would not like
singer x. (As if the techniques of good singing are ends in
themselves rather than a means to a greater end).
What is never said is "I must have a blind spot when it comes to her,
because I know that thousands of people adore her singing." Why
don't we ever seem to read this sort of admission here?
If that dimension entered into the discussion, it might go in a
significant and constructive direction.
I think singers (all art for that matter) can be judged on the basis of
objective criteria. That doesn't mean you have to "like" art that scores
well, or shouldn't or can't like art that doesn't score so well. It would
be ludicrous to say there is no such thing as talent and equally ludicrous
to say the preferences don't matter.
Herman
2012-12-18 18:50:06 UTC
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Permalink
Post by Frank Berger
I think singers (all art for that matter) can be judged on the basis of
objective criteria.
Of course you would.

Roland van Gaalen
2012-12-18 14:53:31 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JohnGavin
Some of the faux arguments I am reading is that singer x is as popular as she is because of an
excellent PR machine (as if this could happen without the basic talent and artistry to back it up).
This begs the question.

Don't you think "an excellent PR machine" could help someone with just "the basic talent and artistry" to become a world star?
--
Roland van Gaalen
Cape Town
Christopher Webber
2012-12-18 15:17:14 UTC
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Post by JohnGavin
What is never said is "I must have a blind spot when it comes to her, because I know that thousands of people adore her singing." Why don't we ever seem to read this sort of admission here?
Quite. That's what I'm getting at when I talk about the need for that
courtesy and humility, towards the artist as much as everyone else,
without which no open debate is possible. To misquote Lady Bracknell, it
seems that for some people prejudice (like ignorance) is an exotic
fruit: touch it, and the bloom is gone.
Mark S
2012-12-18 15:52:19 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
What is never said is "I must have a blind spot when it comes to her, because I know that thousands of people adore her singing."   Why don't we ever seem to read this sort of admission here?
Quite. That's what I'm getting at when I talk about the need for that
courtesy and humility, towards the artist as much as everyone else,
without which no open debate is possible. To misquote Lady Bracknell, it
seems that for some people prejudice (like ignorance) is an exotic
fruit: touch it, and the bloom is gone.
Q: would you extend the same courtesy to, say, Kurt Baum?
Frank Berger
2012-12-18 16:46:19 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
Post by JohnGavin
What is never said is "I must have a blind spot when it comes to
her, because I know that thousands of people adore her singing." Why
don't we ever seem to read this sort of admission here?
Quite. That's what I'm getting at when I talk about the need for that
courtesy and humility, towards the artist as much as everyone else,
without which no open debate is possible. To misquote Lady Bracknell,
it seems that for some people prejudice (like ignorance) is an exotic
fruit: touch it, and the bloom is gone.
That's exactly what I said about classical music in general about 40 years
ago. I put my mind to listening to it and learned to like it. Same with
green olives. Hasn't worked (yet) with shredded coconut.
Alan Cooper
2012-12-18 15:46:26 UTC
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Post by JohnGavin
The wide range of performers, voices and interpretations represent for
me in microcosm the phenomenon of endless relativity, and how
completely futile it is to argue in terms of absolutes.
It's a Relativity Cadenza!

AC
wkasimer
2012-12-18 17:58:49 UTC
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What is never said is "I must have a blind spot when it comes to her, because I >know that thousands of people adore her singing."   Why don't we ever seem to >read this sort of admission here?
OK.

I must have a blind spot when it comes to Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,
because I know that thousands of people adore her singing.

Is everyone happy now? Frankly, I assume that everyone on this forum
is intelligent enough that I wouldn't have to spell that out.
If that dimension entered into the discussion, it might go in a significant and >constructive direction.
I doubt it.

Bill
wkasimer
2012-12-18 18:01:05 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
Still ... given that you have "listened repeatedly" to Schwarzkopf's
Mozart, Strauss, Wolf, Schubert and operetta recordings, you can't
really dislike what you choose to describe as her "nails on a
chalkboard" sound that much, now can you?
When I'm listening to Ariadne, or Nozze, or Rosenkavalier, or Don
Giovanni, or Fledermaus, sometimes I don't hit the "next track" button
on my remote quite fast enough. I listen to one of her recordings of
the VLL every couple of years, just to make sure that I haven't
changed my mind.

Bill
wade
2012-12-18 15:48:08 UTC
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Post by wkasimer
On Dec 17, 11:33 am, Christopher Webber
Post by Christopher Webber
I'm trying to find out what your
reasons for being consistently rude about this singer might be.
Below you answer your own question.
Post by Christopher Webber
I do have my suspicions about "why someone might dislike Schwarzkopf's
singing", namely that the dislike has little to do with the sound she
makes, or her musical personality, at all.
So what's the reason? For me, her sound is the equivalent of nails on
a chalkboard.
Post by Christopher Webber
When I posted a link to her
recording of "Luonnotar" I fear that some of the anti- camp didn't even
recognise who was singing!
As I recall, I recognized it and didn't particularly like it.
Post by Christopher Webber
They condemn her on the strength of her
second "Four Last Songs" disc and precious little else, probably because
it is so universally famous a recording, and they want to distance
themselves from the herd. In a word, they are being dishonest.
And *this* is the reason why am so "consistently rude" about
Schwarzkopf. Her fans, you among them, simply assume that anyone who
dislikes her singing must be "dishonest" or a "snob", which is a
rather transparent and pitiful way to discredit an opposing opinion.
Worse, some, yourself included, assume that I must be ignorant of the
bulk of her singing. I have listened to many of her recordings,
probably the majority of her recorded output on EMI (she participates
in some very famous recordings, you know, with singers whom I *do*
like). I have heard (and in fact, still own) three recordings of ES
singing the VLL. I have listened, repeatedly, to her Strauss, her
Mozart, and her operetta recordings. I have heard her Wolf and
Schubert Lieder, but have generally avoided her in song. In fact, I
would hazard a guess that I have heard at least as many of her
recordings as some of her fans. I admit that on occasion, I listen to
her in the end of Act 1 of Rosenkavalier, where the verbal specificity
partially compensates for the lack of tonal vibrancy. But I could
very easily live quite happily without ever hearing her again.
So if you're puzzled by my lack of admiration for Madame Schwarzkopf,
that you and I have very different tastes and values when it comes to
singing. And if you want to limit my rudeness, stop acting like such
a smug, condescending know-it-all.
Bill
"So what's the reason? For me, her sound is the equivalent of nails on
a chalkboard." Sounds like my reaction to the singing (for want of a better word) of a certain ex-wife of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Frank Berger
2012-12-03 04:53:46 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Della Casa / Bohm / VPO 1953
a***@gmail.com
2012-12-12 09:33:28 UTC
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According to this recent article:

- Her 1953 recording of Strauss' Four Last Songs is considered one of the finest interpretations.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/12/11/166947838/soprano-lisa-della-casa-strauss-and-mozart-specialist-dies-at-93
Oscar
2012-12-12 10:04:02 UTC
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Post by a***@gmail.com
Her 1953 recording of Strauss' Four Last Songs is considered one of the finest interpretations.
Listened to it again tonight, the 2010 Naxos Historical transfer by Mark Obert-Thorn http://tiny.cc/sj76ow Just wonderful. In the words of John Steane: ‘Della Casa remains one of the best of all sopranos in Richard Strauss. Her voice has that touch of spring and silver that Strauss loved and wrote for; her tone will float and soar.' And, as Sir Neville Cardus once said, one should go to her concerts twice: once to listen, once to look. She was the vision of beauty http://tiny.cc/8e76ow

RIP
wkasimer
2012-12-12 12:40:16 UTC
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Listened to it again tonight, the 2010 Naxos Historical transfer by Mark >Obert-Thorn
I listened to it last night, for obvious reasons, and remembered why I
didn't put it in quite the same category as Jurinac, Popp, and
Isokoski. It's a really dumb reason - I know the published order puts
"Beim Schlafengehen" first, but I much prefer the usual order with
"Frühling" first, and I'm too lazy to figure out how to program my CD
player. So last night, I uploaded it to the cloud and changed the
order :-).

BTW, has anyone compared the Naxos transfer with any of the Decca
issues? I have the first one from around 1990, and wonder if anyone
(Decca or Mark Obert-Thorn) has made any significant sonic improvement
since then.

Bill
Oscar
2012-12-12 12:51:55 UTC
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Post by wkasimer
BTW, has anyone compared the Naxos transfer with any of the Decca
issues? I have the first one from around 1990, and wonder if anyone
(Decca or Mark Obert-Thorn) has made any significant sonic improvement
since then.
I also have the Decca Legends 2000 reissue, mastering by Andrew Wedman, but I could not find it tonight. Have not heard the Decca Historic 1990 first issue. The Obert-Thorn LP transfer sounds very good on the main rig, but as I was listening past midnight I had the cans on and noticed some high-pitched noises during the latter half of Frühling which were annoying but not a deal-breaker. The dynamics are intact and EQ is natural-sounding, which was one of my 'issues' with Wedman's mastering. A bit forward and tilted up, IIRC. I also have an early 70's British-pressed Decca Eclipse not-fake-stereo LP.
Terry
2012-12-03 13:52:16 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Studer/Sinopoli and Janowitz/Karajan.
--
Cheers!

Terry
Juan I. Cahis
2012-12-03 14:44:07 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
There is an EMI CD with Schwarzkopf and Szell full of Strauss orchestral
songs, including these, that maybe it is the most outstanding CD of my
whole collection of classical music.
--
Enviado desde mi iPad usando NewsTap, Juan I. Cahis, Santiago de Chile.
Sava Savanovic
2012-12-03 15:30:39 UTC
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Della Casa / Bohm, both studio and live '58 Salzburg on Orfeo:


aesthete8
2012-12-12 09:41:48 UTC
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Post by Sava Savanovic
http://youtu.be/AD97lDKKXvI
- The soprano "possessed an instrument of crystalline purity," a Times
reviewer wrote in 1990 of her landmark recording of Richard Strauss'
"Four Last Songs."

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-passings-20121212,0,3171067.story
aesthete8
2012-12-04 07:07:53 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
For a piano-accompanied rendition, I like Ljuba Welitsch's recording.
wkasimer
2012-12-04 11:33:45 UTC
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On Dec 4, 2:07 am, aesthete8 <***@gmail.com> wrote:
.
Post by aesthete8
For a piano-accompanied rendition, I like Ljuba Welitsch's recording.
I prefer Bonney's - if you're doing it with piano, you might as well
use a pure-voiced singer who couldn't possibly sing these songs with
an orchestra.

Has anyone else recorded these with piano?

Bill
wanwan
2012-12-04 09:04:35 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Schwarzkopf/Szell (the new Japanese re-issue has a cleaner more open sound than the older U.S. issue with the LP cover), Schwarzkopf/Karajan, Auger/Previn.

Some others have mentioned the live Janowitz/Haitink which is pretty good. Problem is trying to find it since it was part of short lived Dutch Philips issued Haitink box which otherwise was filled with commercial issues.


---------
Eric
aesthete8
2012-12-07 10:05:11 UTC
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Post by wanwan
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Schwarzkopf/Szell (the new Japanese re-issue has a cleaner more open sound than the older U.S. issue with the LP cover), Schwarzkopf/Karajan, Auger/Previn.
Some others have mentioned the live Janowitz/Haitink which is pretty good. Problem is trying to find it since it was part of short lived Dutch Philips issued Haitink box which otherwise was filled with commercial issues.
---------
Eric
Concerning the Schwarzkopf/Szell recording, didn't she transpose down
one of the songs--something which she didn't do on her earlier
recording with Ackermann?
D***@aol.com
2012-12-08 22:49:17 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Schwarzkopf and Otto Ackermann. Angel/UK Columbia/EMI Mono. Circa 1953. People like Schwarzkopf's stereo remake with Szell circa 1965, but I've sometimes suspected that that is only because it is a stereo recording and perhaps they don't know or would never listen to a mono one. Her singing in 1965 not only betrays the effect of years upon her voice; some things are transposed down. The difference between 1953 and circa 1965 is major. But people need to know the earlier version.

Like others, I also love Lisa della Casa's recording. Plus live ones by Flagstad and others. Many are better than many of today's sopranos, some of whom make the songs lugubriously, absurdly slow.

Don Tait
wkasimer
2012-12-09 20:58:25 UTC
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  Like others, I also love Lisa della Casa's recording. Plus live ones by Flagstad and others. Many are better than many of today's sopranos, some of whom make the songs lugubriously, absurdly slow.
Isokoski, with Janowski, is something of a throwback; it's transparent
and relatively quick at under 21 minutes - forward momentum is always
maintained, but it never feels rushed.

Bill
Mark S
2012-12-10 00:21:25 UTC
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Post by D***@aol.com
Schwarzkopf and Otto Ackermann. Angel/UK Columbia/EMI Mono. Circa 1953. People like Schwarzkopf's stereo remake with Szell circa 1965, but I've sometimes suspected that that is only because it is a stereo recording and perhaps they don't know or would never listen to a mono one. Her singing in 1965 not only betrays the effect of years upon her voice; some things are transposed down.
Really? I never noticed that. It's been forever since I listened to that recording, which I no longer own. Does she actually transpose down an entire song, or are a few phrases rewritten to lie lower in her range?
i***@gmail.com
2012-12-10 03:09:54 UTC
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Post by Mark S
Post by D***@aol.com
Schwarzkopf and Otto Ackermann. Angel/UK Columbia/EMI Mono. Circa 1953. People like Schwarzkopf's stereo remake with Szell circa 1965, but I've sometimes suspected that that is only because it is a stereo recording and perhaps they don't know or would never listen to a mono one. Her singing in 1965 not only betrays the effect of years upon her voice; some things are transposed down.
Really? I never noticed that. It's been forever since I listened to that recording, which I no longer own. Does she actually transpose down an entire song, or are a few phrases rewritten to lie lower in her range?
She transposes down an entire song - I think the second or third Wagner fan
Christopher Webber
2012-12-10 08:50:18 UTC
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Post by i***@gmail.com
She transposes down an entire song - I think the second or third
It is "Frühling", which is down by a semitone.

Which should be taken as a comment, rather than (yet another) criticism
of what remains one of the most celebrated recordings ever made, of
anything ...

... at least judging from the number of appearances it still makes on
BBC Radio 4's "Desert Island Discs" (though in the last couple of years
the Renee Fleming / Christian Thielemann version seems to be making
inroads!)
wkasimer
2012-12-10 14:30:09 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
... at least judging from the number of appearances it still makes on
BBC Radio 4's "Desert Island Discs" (though in the last couple of years
the Renee Fleming / Christian Thielemann version seems to be making
inroads!)
Perhaps because it's nearly as annoying and mannered as Schwarzkopf's.

Bill
Christopher Webber
2012-12-10 16:04:06 UTC
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Post by wkasimer
Perhaps because it's nearly as annoying and mannered as Schwarzkopf's.
Perhaps some people like such manners. I do myself.
Juan I. Cahis
2012-12-10 12:08:43 UTC
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Post by i***@gmail.com
Post by Mark S
Post by D***@aol.com
Schwarzkopf and Otto Ackermann. Angel/UK Columbia/EMI Mono. Circa
1953. People like Schwarzkopf's stereo remake with Szell circa 1965,
but I've sometimes suspected that that is only because it is a stereo
recording and perhaps they don't know or would never listen to a mono
one. Her singing in 1965 not only betrays the effect of years upon her
voice; some things are transposed down.
Really? I never noticed that. It's been forever since I listened to that
recording, which I no longer own. Does she actually transpose down an
entire song, or are a few phrases rewritten to lie lower in her range?
She transposes down an entire song - I think the second or third Wagner fan
How can be done this transposition down with the whole orchestra, where
they are many wind and woodwind instruments that they are related to a
specific key? Am I wrong? Are you sure?
--
Enviado desde mi iPad usando NewsTap, Juan I. Cahis, Santiago de Chile.
Christopher Webber
2012-12-10 13:59:01 UTC
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Post by Juan I. Cahis
How can be done this transposition down with the whole orchestra, where
they are many wind and woodwind instruments that they are related to a
specific key? Am I wrong? Are you sure?
I'm not entirely sure what you mean, so my apologies if this response is
irrelevant.

Certainly every professional musician will be used to transposition (in
this case downwards by a semitone) and won't find it a problem, even
reading at sight.

If you're thinking that some instruments have keys attached to their
names (e.g. the B flat clarinet) that of course does not mean that these
instruments can only play in one specific key, but that (for example) a
written C on a B flat clarinet sounds as a B flat. It is a notational thing.

All this of course makes no difference to the player's ability to
transpose what they see on the page, at sight. Particular keys may well
make a difference, however, to the ease of which certain instruments can
play them - and, noticeably, to the sound quality.
Mark S
2012-12-10 16:52:00 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Juan I. Cahis
How can be done this transposition down with the whole orchestra, where
they are many wind and woodwind instruments that they are related to a
specific key? Am I wrong? Are you sure?
I'm not entirely sure what you mean, so my apologies if this response is
irrelevant.
Certainly every professional musician will be used to transposition (in
this case downwards by a semitone) and won't find it a problem, even
reading at sight.
If you're thinking that some instruments have keys attached to their
names (e.g. the B flat clarinet) that of course does not mean that these
instruments can only play in one specific key, but that (for example) a
written C on a B flat clarinet sounds as a B flat. It is a notational thing.
All this of course makes no difference to the player's ability to
transpose what they see on the page, at sight. Particular keys may well
make a difference, however, to the ease of which certain instruments can
play them - and, noticeably, to the sound quality.
Ah, the musings of the amateur that totally miss the obvious.

It's really simple - if a singer wants a song with orchestra transposed into a key more favorable to their singing voice, new parts are written out for the orchestra in that transposed key. Happens all the time.

A situation where an orchestra would be called upon to transpose a song like "Fruhling" at sight would be extremely rare, and for many reasons.

First off, no conductor is going to assume that all 80 musicians have the same ability to transpose at sight. It's not a skill that's called upon with any regularity, so most musicians aren't going to be all that practiced at it. While it may be as easy task for a brass player who's counting rests most of the time and playing the occasional long note, it isn't so easy for the harpists, winds and strings who are looking at paying fistfuls of notes within a particular measure. These technically challenging licks need to be practiced to get them under one's fingers, as it were. To come in and tell an orchestra to play everything down a step isn't like asking a choir to do the same thing (in fact, I've sung with people who have perfect pitch who have been asked to sing a piece transposed down a step and it drives them crazy, as the pitch they're singing doesn't correspond to the pitch written on the page).

Second, considering the number of musical issues a conductor needs to address as SOP, adding a huge layer of the orchestra transposing at sight would be adding a ridiculous variable to the mix. Mistakes happen in rehearsal when orchestras are playing from parts they know well, because they're human. Imagine what would happen if they were suddenly asked to transpose everything.

Third, whenever one makes a downward transposition with an orchestra, one must account for the possibility that the transposition will take an instrument outside of its playable range, usually on the bottom end of the range. For instance, a written low G in the fiddles would be an unplayable note were the phrase containing that note taken down a step to an F. The note would need to be reassigned to another instrument, or the fiddles would need to play the note in a different octave. The musician tasked with writing out the parts in transposition would need to be aware of all of these variables and account for them. Imaging that the conductor would be required to address all of these issues during the 3 or 4 rehearsals alloted to prepare a performance or recording is silly.

Many commonly transposed pieces are offered by publishers as standard issues. For instance, Rodolfo's Act I aria in La boheme (Che gelida manina) is available from Ricordi in the original key, as well as in half-step and full-step downward transpositions. Those versions actually start 16 bars before the first measure of the aria, with the transposition accomplished by lowering the notes in the violins that lead into Mimi's "Cerca." Listen to any performance of Boheme from the Bing era at the Met and you'll hear the transposition, which was standard at the time. Opera houses that play Boheme regularly buy these parts because they're probably going to have a singer show up at some point who is more comfortable singing a high B-flat or B at the climax of that aria than the written high C.

It's really pretty simple and logical, if you think about it.
Mark S
2012-12-10 17:01:57 UTC
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Post by Mark S
Many commonly transposed pieces are offered by publishers as standard issues.
In the case of this particular transposition done for Schwarzkopf, I would assume new parts had to be produced from scratch. I don't think Boosey would have transposed parts published and available for the VLL.
Christopher Webber
2012-12-10 19:11:55 UTC
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Post by Mark S
new parts are written out for the orchestra in that transposed key. Happens all the time.
A situation where an orchestra would be called upon to transpose a song like "Fruhling" at sight would be extremely rare, and for many reasons.
Not so, Mark - I don't know what you're on tonight, but welcome to the
real world!

Perhaps it's different at the Met, but writing out a transposed complete
version of a single song (or hiring extra parts from extortionate
publishers) would be considered a complete waste of time and money over
here in Europe, especially in the rehearsal studio. It would mean extra
rehearsal budgets to correct written errors and undecipherable script.
Rather than that, any unplayable notes in the new key (if any) would be
swiftly sorted out on the fly by the musicians, with conductor
consultations as and when necessary (not that most conductors would
notice any small deviations) and they'd just get on with it.

I could give you countless examples from Spanish companies, too, where
the orchestral parts of zarzuela romanzas (arias, to you) are often
simply marked up at the top of the page as to what key they're to be
played in that night: and I can tell you that the orchestration for a
Vives or Sorozábal romanza can be every bit as complex as, say, one of
your Puccini scores.

As a matter of fact your Boheme example is a good case in point: I know
for sure we had a "Boheme" at the Proms a few years back where the
singer wanted to sing that half-tone down version of Rodolfo's aria -
and the orchestra of course simply transposed it at sight from the usual
point, during the afternoon rehearsal.

It's part of being a professional.

This Strauss song is not a standard "opera aria", and no published /
hireable transposed version exists as far as I know. Your "simple and
logical" response is sadly an idealistic fantasy, although amateurs of
course might need to follow your advice and write everything out in advance.
Mark S
2012-12-10 19:55:36 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Mark S
new parts are written out for the orchestra in that transposed key. Happens all the time.
A situation where an orchestra would be called upon to transpose a song like "Fruhling" at sight would be extremely rare, and for many reasons.
Not so, Mark - I don't know what you're on tonight, but welcome to the
real world!
Perhaps it's different at the Met, but writing out a transposed complete
version of a single song (or hiring extra parts from extortionate
publishers) would be considered a complete waste of time and money over
here in Europe, especially in the rehearsal studio. It would mean extra
rehearsal budgets to correct written errors and undecipherable script.
Rather than that, any unplayable notes in the new key (if any) would be
swiftly sorted out on the fly by the musicians, with conductor
consultations as and when necessary (not that most conductors would
notice any small deviations) and they'd just get on with it.
I could give you countless examples from Spanish companies, too, where
the orchestral parts of zarzuela romanzas (arias, to you) are often
simply marked up at the top of the page as to what key they're to be
played in that night: and I can tell you that the orchestration for a
Vives or Sorozábal romanza can be every bit as complex as, say, one of
your Puccini scores.
As a matter of fact your Boheme example is a good case in point: I know
for sure we had a "Boheme" at the Proms a few years back where the
singer wanted to sing that half-tone down version of Rodolfo's aria -
and the orchestra of course simply transposed it at sight from the usual
point, during the afternoon rehearsal.
It's part of being a professional.
This Strauss song is not a standard "opera aria", and no published /
hireable transposed version exists as far as I know. Your "simple and
logical" response is sadly an idealistic fantasy, although amateurs of
course might need to follow your advice and write everything out in advance.
The difference between your views and mine on this subject is that I have played oboe in professional orchestras and have played off transposed parts. The fact that you think the existence of such things is an "idealistic fantasy" is, well, an idealistic fantasy on your part.

You - as far as I know - haven't played in an orchestra. You haven't been a professional musician, which means that you're talking through your hat when you opine on what constitutes "part of being a professional." Your reply to me is an imagining of what happened in the situations you describe, which is to be expected as you've never been in the situation.

You overestimate the amount of work and expense that would be involved in writing out parts. Yes, there's some expense involved, but so what? That's a skill and an expense of doing the music business. It's certainly a smaller expense than is going overtime in rehearsal with professional musicians, something that could well happen if they are asked to transpose on sight.

Your example of the Boheme at the Proms ignores the fact that the orchestra most likely had the transposed version of the aria sewn into their standard parts, ready to go if the tenor opted for the transposition. Why would it be otherwise when that transposition occurs more often than does the original key version?

BTW - I'm not saying that orchestral musicians are never asked to transpose at sight. I had to do that myself as far back as my high school days when I had to play English horn cues on my oboe, which required playing the written EH notes down a fifth on the oboe. It's not impossible or even difficult, even for the newish player. I'm just saying that in this case of Schwarzkopf - as in many other cases - the transposed parts get written out. Because in the end, it's the safest and cheapest way to insure things are done right, especially when you're asking the full orchestra to transpose.

In this instance, you would have been better off to have adopted a "why didn't I think of that?" option, rather than offering additional uniformed musings on the subject.

If you can provide facts or statements from orchestral musicians that support your musings, I'll happily concede the point, and be the wiser for it.

Your turn.
Christopher Webber
2012-12-10 20:39:52 UTC
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Permalink
Mark, there's no point bandying further examples and counter-examples,
as you seem determined to win a fight which you picked yourself. I'm not
rising further to your bait, as it's the Season of Goodwill, even to
"professional oboists"!

Suffice it to say that, having directed opera in many parts of the
globe, I've *seen* this happening more than once (quite aside from the
stories I've heard from my own musician and conductor colleagues and
friends). In fact, I'm sure it is only your own (admirable) modesty as
an orchestral musician which stops you admitting that you've had to
transpose at sight too, on occasion. And I'm sure you didn't need extra
rehearsal, or paid overtime, to do so.

Some of what you are suggesting, about transpositions of the Boheme aria
being "sewn into their standard parts", is amusing enough. I know of no
orchestra which employs professional seamstresses! The tenor here hadn't
told the management what he expected, and you'll have to take my word
for it that (1) there were no transposed Tiny Hands, whether Frozen or
otherwise, to be had even for ready money; and (2) the supernatural
powers of the BBC orchestra playing on that occasion certainly stretched
to five minutes of simple mental transposition in rehearsal and performance.

I'll content myself with putting this trifle on our "too difficult" list
for us to debate over that coffee, when you make it to London!
Mark S
2012-12-10 21:22:24 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
Some of what you are suggesting, about transpositions of the Boheme aria
being "sewn into their standard parts", is amusing enough. I know of no
orchestra which employs professional seamstresses!
Sigh.

Most music scores of any size have sewn spines/bindings. One popular type is known as "lay-flat sewn binding," which is used by Dover and other music publishers. Music that is "oversewn" tends to shut itself as it sits on the music stand.

What I was saying was that the Proms band could have purchased Boheme parts that already had the aria transposition included, or sewn in.
Christopher Webber
2012-12-10 21:36:25 UTC
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Post by Mark S
What I was saying was that the Proms band could have purchased Boheme parts that already had the aria transposition included, or sewn in.
Sighs redoubled. What *I* am (unsuccessfully) trying to convey to you is
the fact that I *know* they did no such thing. This by the direct word
of the Chorus Master on that (ultimately triumphant) occasion. OK?

Now you can fantasise around an event you know nothing about until you
are blue in the face, and good luck to you. And your knowledge of the
noble art of bookbinding is doubtless highly professional. Only please
don't expect me to agree with such a wacky hypothesis as your notion of
parts "sewn in" - a mere five hours before the performance. I really DO
wonder what you are on, Mark!
Oscar
2012-12-12 10:44:49 UTC
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I really DO wonder what you are on, Mark!
Cock-of-the-walk superior dance, tail feathers on display, taking time out of his busy day to dismiss and harangue you as 'the musings of the amateur who totally misses the obvious'.

'It's really pretty simple and logical, if you think about it.'

The man knows his IQ, if not necessarily his 'stuff'.
aesthete8
2012-12-14 11:25:00 UTC
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Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Any Youtube links that can be recommended?
Gerard
2012-12-14 13:19:00 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Any Youtube links that can be recommended?
Thousands and thousands of them.
wade
2012-12-14 16:01:45 UTC
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Post by Gerard
Post by aesthete8
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Any Youtube links that can be recommended?
Thousands and thousands of them.
why does everybody suggest listening to things on youtube? Does any of it have high enough quality of sound to make listening worthwhile?
Gerard
2012-12-14 16:13:54 UTC
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Post by wade
Post by Gerard
Post by aesthete8
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Any Youtube links that can be recommended?
Thousands and thousands of them.
why does everybody suggest listening to things on youtube? Does any
of it have high enough quality of sound to make listening worthwhile?
Some have. Very few even have some kind of "HD" quality.
But in most cases the "recommendations" are because of the supposed quality of
playing. Or because of being good examples (of something).
But not everybody suggests listening to those things.
Herman
2012-12-14 17:44:22 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
Post by Andy Evans
What are your most cherished recordings of these songs?
Any Youtube links that can be recommended?
I like the Popp / Solti / Chicago youtubes.
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