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Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
General Discussions - Part 13

Continue from Part 12

Gardiner Pilgrimage recordings

Ed Myskowski wrote (February 1, 2008):
Sandy Vaughan wrote (May 8, 2006):
SDG & Archiv series
>As Eric has indicated, the Archiv releases are a bit of a tangled web!
There is a useful tool on the monteverdi productions site, which you can use to search by BWV number to pick up the Archiv and SDG series.
(http://www.cantatafinder.com/en) So, for example, a search on BWV 66 brings up two results, the Archiv release from 2000 and the projected SDG volume 22. I've done a few searches on the Archiv semi-cycle, the results of which are below.<
[Data archived], with additional discussion, at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Gen11.htm

Belated thanks to Sandy for his detailed and useful post, and ongoing thanks to Aryeh for keeping the myriad of details available at our fingertips.

I did not pay sufficient attention to the original post, as I misinterpreted it to indicate that all of the Pilgrimage recordings would ultimately be releasesd as part of the SDG series, and I subsequently decided to subscribe to the series.

As I now interpret the SDG planned releases, there are several CDs from the Pilgrimage which will only be available on the year 2000 DG Archiv issues. There are also Archiv CDs which appear to be Pilgimage releases, but in fact are earlier studio recordings. That is not necesssarily a bad thing (other than the deceptive labelling), but I truly love the Pilgrimage performance recordings (subsequent editing and all?).

Perhaps Sandy is interested in giving us an update. If not, I will try to get to it. The key point is that from previous discussion, there are BCML members who are intereseted in collecting the Pilgrimage series. In order to make it complete, you may need some Archiv releases, starting to get old.

 

I think, perhaps a first . . . .

James Leslie Siebach wrote (February 24, 2008):
[To Aryeh Oron] There is a review in Musical Criticism, of John Eliot Gardiner's latest Pilgrimage Cantatas releases. (BWV 24, BWV 185, BWV 177, BWV 131, BWV 93, (BWV 1048), BWV 174, BWV 184, BWV 175, BWV 194, BWV 129):
http://www.musicalcriticism.com/recordings/cd-bach-5-0208.shtml

The review includes a first, so far as I am aware: a complaint that JEG. takes the tempi of certain movements too slowly. (I confess to laughing aloud at the remark.) And thus, the first CD receives only 4.5 stars.

"The choir steals the show again, in the next work, 'Ich ruf dir, Herr Jesu Christ,' BWV 177; unfortunately, I don't feel that either Stutzmann or Agnew deliver their arias with the same ease or pace in this piece (and the tempi are a little slow . . . .)"

I'm enjoying the commentary/discussions on the cantatas, of course.

Thank you.

 

(unknown)

John McStea wrote (July 28, 2008):
My first post on this forum, so hello everyone.

As SDG is Gardiner's own (presumably relatively shoestring) operation, I can understand it being somewhat irregular (as opposed to BIS, which is a "proper" record label, where it's harder to understand). Being a relative music ignoramus, I find Gardiner's notes quite interesting and informative, even though much of what he says goes over my head. He gives the performer's persepctive, whereas Prof.. Dürr in his book has the more scholarly approach. Anything that casts enlightenment on a great body of music is always welcome.

Cara Emily Thornton wrote (July 29, 2008):
[To John McStea] Welcome to our list! This site is 'liner notes to the nth degree and more', so I'm sure you will learn a lot. Here at least you can ask if you find something has gone over your head :)

 

Gardiner Bach Cantatas [MCML]

Peter Herwitz wrote (October 4, 2008):
I am currently on the fence about Gardiner's Bach Cantata series. Some of it is wonderful as in the disc with BWV 36, BWV 61, and BWV 62 while others such as the disc with BWV 140 and BWV 147 are pretty bad and it takes a lot(or a little) to make these Cantatas dull but Gardiner manages it. On the whole I like them but feel they are not comparable to Herreweghe for HIP and Werner or Richter for non HIP. I am interested in what others have to say about this series. Any comments will be appreciated.

 

NEW GARDINER

David Jones wrote (October 21, 2008):
I know I've been out of the loop, but all I needed to jump back into the fray is some fresh inspiration, and I found it in Gardiner's new Cantata Volume. Once again, Gardiner has proven himself a master of Bach interpretation. His tempi and phrasing, along with the near-instrumental clarity of his vocal ensemble make for transcendent readings of Bach. For us "flauto dolce" enthusiasts, BWV 46 is a veritable recorder fesitival and of course, Gardiner's recorder soloists are top notch, weaving their way around the sadly wailing lines of BWV 46's opening movement with heart-rending purity and grace. I am utterly astonished at the broad, otherworldly tempo Gardiner uses (and is able to sustain) in the opening half of the first movement; his instincts about tempo come into even sharper relief during the terrifying fugue. He does not rachet up the tempo and clip through the movement as others have done, but he slows down and even slightly stresses the dissonant harmonies and intervals. It's enough to send chills through you, and Jeremiah's sorrowful words become painfully clear. Perhaps no other conductor has so captured the fugues "terrific power and terrible grimmness" (Whittaker) like Gardiner. Theologically (those of you who separate Bach's art from his religion, do stop your ears for this brief point) the idea that God could be angry and wrathful is neither popular nor as clearly and succinctly understood as it was in Bach's day, but God's anger burns against those who abuse the poor and orphaned and widowed, those who perpetuate racism, those who miscarry justice in any way........

If you haven't ordered the Gardiner yet, please please do.

Vivat 205 wrote (October 21, 2008):
< If you haven't ordered the Gardiner yet, please please do. >
While I can't glean all the messages from Bach's music others here do with remarkable frequency and ease, I can relay the news that fast on the heels of this issuance, there's another Gardiner Cantata set due out on October 29.

 

Gardiner Cantata Releases for annum 2009

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 10, 2009):
Does anyone have any idea of what we can expect in terms of release on SDG with John Eliot Gardiner's cantata cycle? I noticed BIS's series is moving along at a pretty fast clip too, they are now up to vol 41 I believe?

Thanks

Aryeh Oron wrote (January 10, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] A complete list of Gardiner's BCP series on SDG can now be seen at the pages:
Vols. 1-10: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec2.htm
Vols. 12-20: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec3.htm
Vols. 21-27: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner-Rec4.htm
The pages include both the 19 released albums (35 CD's) and the not yet released 8 albums (16 CD's).
I do not know what the release datare.

The SDG series in complemented by 4 albums which had been released by Archiv Production before the SDG series was launched.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Gardiner.htm [C-8], [C-9], [C-11], [C-12]

Julian Mincham wrote (January 10, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] In speaking to JEG at a recent conference, he confirmed that he has now recorded the complete set but he didn't say anything about release order. I guess that is down to the company?

I asked him what his view was of the congregation joining in the chorales (or not) an issue upon which he seems fairly agnostic. He said that he thought that they would have joined in 'spiritually' and maybe even 'at times' physically--more than that he didn't want to commit himself.

He gave, by the way, a splendedly erudite address in which, interestingly, he confessed a distaste for Telemann, so I guess we won't hear him recording much of his music.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 10, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:
> I asked him what his view was of the congregation joining in the chorales (or not)?an issue?upon which he seems fairly agnostic. He said that he thought that they would have joined in 'spiritually' and maybe even 'at times' physically--more than that he didn't want to commit himself. <
rolls eyes "Join in spiritually," what an absolute luke-warm, milk toast, non-answer. Beside what's the big deal about this issue, it's not like JEG is on the stand in a courtroom or testifying in the Senate about Bach chorales.

> He gave, by the way,?a splendedly erudite address in which, interestingly, he confessed a distaste for Telemann, so I guess we won't hear him recording much of his music. <
Not a shock to me. Don't get me wrong, because I absolutely love JEG's performances and recordings, but the man is a pompous ass, and I've never liked the nasty things he's said about Joshua Rifkin and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He's very much a prima dona.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 10, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
>He's [JEG] very much a prima dona.<
And as I recently cited from G. (Joe Green) Verdi: <La donna e mobile>.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 10, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Not a shock to me. Don't get me wrong, because I absolutely love JEG's performances and recordings, but the man is a pompous ass, and I've never liked the nasty things he's said about Joshua Rifkin and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He's very much a prima dona. >
He may well be ---but---please note that I did not pass on any judgments about whether he is a pompous ass or a prima donna or whatever-----just what he said!

The response above is interesting!

John Pike wrote (January 10, 2009):
[To Julian Mincham] Yes, I have Suzuki Vol 41 on order. The Gardiner series is due to finish in Dec 2010, the 10th anniversary of the end of the BCP.

Brach Jennings wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] I've heard he's quite nice, especially to students. He greeted a high school student after his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last March, and the student spoke very highly of him. Plus, he did that outreach series to kids during the Christmas Oratorio performances. I'm sure he's demanding of the musicians, but to put him on par with prima dona's such as Beecham or Karajan, isn't that a bit much?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 14, 2009):
Brach Jennings wrote:
< I've heard he's quite nice, especially to students. He greeted a high school student after his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last March, and the student spoke very highly of him. Plus, he did that outreach series to kids during the Christmas Oratorio performances. >
That's great he's nice to students and participates in those sorts of things. Obviously JEG has some social skills-- otherwise he couldn't put together a first class ensemble and do a worldwide tour with those musicians for a year. But I've known some people that have told me stories about JEG being pretty brutal with his sharp tongue (and as you will see below, these stories don't always involve JEG with performers). Why would these people make up such stories?

A friend of mine wrote to me about such a recent example: "It was during a Bach conference at Oxford organised by Reinhard Strohm. JEG uttered his distaste for late Baroque opera seria and said that the real dramatic composers of the Baroque era were Monteverdi (OK....), Schütz and Bach (I don't know what he said about Handel....). Not very nice in the presence of Strohm who is the world's leading scholar on Italian opera seria."

Personally, I've seen that side of JEG for myself, where on DVDs he has made some rather heavy handed remarks about other conductors or anyone that has a different understanding of how to properly perform Bach: first JEG complains about German approcaches to Bach because they downplay the dramatic elements, and they use entirely too large ensembles, because they aren't ..well authentic. But then Gardiner ridiculed any attempts to use boy's voices in Bach, calling it the "worst kind" of foolishness, justifying that by uttering some mumbo jumbo about boys voices today aren't the same as the 18th century. While JEG didn't mention N. Harnoncourt, I'm pretty sure that's who he had in mind.

When JEG approached Joshua Rifkin about approaches on how to record the cantata pilgrim tour in 2000 (I suppose in an effort to discuss the "one voice per part" theory), JEG called Rifkin "unreasonable." But that's just untrue because in every article, interview I've read or seen: Rifkin is polite, even-toned and never resorts to bitchy snarks like Dr. Christoph Wolff and Ton Koopman (they even oddly even made a few digs at Rifkin in their press conference about recording Buxtehude's music on Challenge Classics). I've written to Dr. Rifkin several times and I just can't believe he would be "unreasonable" about anything.

I admire all these conductors-- e.g. I try to buy JEG's recordings the minute they become available, and the same for Ton Koopman too, but I know they can be real stinkers too ;)

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 14, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote (just a snippet for reference):
>JEG called Rifkin "unreasonable." But that's just untrue because in every article, interview I've read or seen: Rifkin is polite, even-toned and never resorts to bitchy snarks like Dr. Christoph Wolff and Ton Koopman<
OTOH, <Nice guys finish last> (attrib. Leo Durocher). I guess me and Gardiner (and Karajan, for sure) need not worry about that fate, then.

I recently described Wolff (after listening to the clip at link provided by Kim) and from my very limited exposure, thusly: <he is a wonderful speaker (the clip is accurate), with an engaging personality and a keen sense of humor.>

I stand by that evaluation, but contrary evidence invited. And as for gossip, dont we love it? We are all human, no? Just mammals dressed up a bit (or sometimes not). I am reminded of that because I received an eMail from a local band, <Kallet, Epstein and Ciccone>, who have a lovely tune called <I'm a Mammal>, mostly about breast feeding at the Thanksgiving dinner table (not allowed at the writers in-laws place) but including the unforgettable rhyme:

<When I go out on a date, I just love to copulate, cause I'm a mammal!>

I first heard that while driving, I had to pull over to avoid a laughter accident. The only other time that ever happened to me was over Peter Schickeles Uncle Daddy.

Laughing to keep from driving, er, dying. Trying to drown out the voice of the inevitable Finis!

Stephen Benson wrote (January 14, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< But I've known some people that have told me stories about JEG being pretty brutal with his sharp tongue (and as you will see below, these stories don't always involJEG with performers). >
But none of the negative behavior described in these anecdotes displays anywhere near the degree of vitriol frequently exchanged even on this list. A lot of it [Gardiner's behavior, that is], frankly, sounds like reasonably expressed -- if not diplomatically stated, perhaps -- differences of opinion. I would guess that all this Gardiner-bashing in itself presents a pretty distorted image of the man. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to focus on his musical contributions?

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 14, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< A cute anecdote (not cute to the recipients, and perhpas apocryphal, comments invited) re Karajan: During rehearsals, he would hold up two fingers, directed to individual players, without stopping the music. The message was two weeks notice, you are fired. >
Furtwangler was known to slap orchestral players on occasion.

John Pike wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To Stephen Benson] I speak as a great admirer of Gardiner's recordings. My violin teacher has friends who have performed under Gardiner. I also once knew his former secretary. The stories one has heard are no exaggeration. People who perform under him respect his musical genius but many are very critical of his treatment of fellow human beings. It is one thing to enforce the highest standards; it is quite another to show blatant disregard for other peoples feelings. Some other conductors seem to achieve as good, if not better, results without all these antics. It is something he should work on, since it is an important skill in a conductor to enjoy good relationships with colleagues and to treat them all fairly. I agree that some of things that Gardiner has said about some of his conductor colleagues are unprofessional and unacceptable.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 14, 2009):
Doug replied to my post:
>Furtwangler was known to slap orchestral players on occasion.<
Perhaps the <two fingers, two weeks> anecdote was re Furtwangler, rather than Karajan, I read it in passing some time ago.

Another intriguing possibility is that it was a tradition, handed down from one leader to the next? Anyway, enjoy the chuckle, but do your own research.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 14, 2009):
John Pike wrote:
>The stories one has heard are no exaggeration. People who perform under him [Gardiner] respect his musical genius but many are very critical of his treatment of fellow human beings.<
I cannot recall the source, but I know I have read that he has brought a soloist to tears on more than one occasion. OTOH, consider Dougs comment re Furtwangler smacking folks (men only, one would hope, eh Jean?. I dont think gardiner has ever been accused of that. Everything is relative, especially when competition is fierce, and success elusive.

David Jones wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski] If being a hard ass produces the kind of luminous, learned, absolutely transcedental playing of Bach's works that he manages to churn out....(BTW I can't get past BWV 46. His recorder soloists are exquisite, the straight-toned "Baroque" bowing absolutely in tune, flawless intonation from the choir in the terrifying and thorny fugue......MY GOD) then as far as I'm concerned, he can treat them like shit. It's people who are assholes without producing any results that I have a problem with.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 14, 2009):
David Jones wrote:
< If being a hard ass produces the kind of luminous, learned, absolutely transcedental playing of Bach's works that he manages to churn out.... (BTW I can't get past BWV 46. >
Maybe you missed the part where JEG treats non musicians like shit, especially the examples I've posted? So it that OK in your opinion? How far does your logic apply before it becomes nonsense?

Besides, there are many fine conductors that have wonderful performances without being obnoxious (e.g. I've never heard any such stories from my friends about Susuki and his conducting Bach), so your "the end justifies the means" logic is pretty silly.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 14, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< Another intriguing possibility is that it was a tradition, handed down from one leader to the next? Anyway, enjoy the chuckle, but do your own research. >
Furtwangler also insisted that the orchestra tune and then sit motionless for a full five minutes before his entrance.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 14, 2009):
Stephen Benson wrote:
< I would guess that all this Gardiner-bashing in itself presents a pretty distorted image of the man. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to focus on his musical contributions? >
Well if you are interested in conductor hagiography, that's fine.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 14, 2009):
Furtwangler [was: Gardiner]

>OTOH, consider Dougs comment re Furtwangler smacking folks (men only, one would hope, eh Jean?.<
As soon as I wrote that and hit send, I realized: not to worry, there were no ladies to smack!

David Jones wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] um ok........that FELT like a personal attack but I'll try not to treat it as one. There is a long history of great conductors being tyrants, period.Who they are as individuals has NOTHING to do with their art. If it did, Wagner would be destroyed, as would Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and counless others. Part of this behavior simply goes hand in and with GENIUS.Unfortunately, geniuses habitually fail to realize that other people's synapses don't fire in the same way as their own, which creates friction............

John Pike wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To David Jones] I agree that there have been many tyrants in the musical world but genius is no defence for treating other people in an inhuman way. William Christie and Simon Rattle, to name but two, achieve excellent results without reducing their musicians to tears. It is simply not a necessary part of achieving good results. These people need to change their behaviour. Indeed, in an interview with BBC Music Magazine last year, JEG said that he thought he had mellowed a bit. All things are possible, and I bet he doesn't treat his wife, Isabella Sabata in the same way as his musicians or the marriage would not last.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 14, 2009):
David Jones wrote:
< um ok........that FELT like a personal attack but I'll try not to treat it as one. There is a long history of great conductors being tyrants, period. Who they are as individuals has NOTHING to do with their art. If it did, Wagner would be destroyed, as would Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and counless others. Part of this behavior simply goes hand in and with GENIUS. >
JEG is not a genius I'm afraid, while he's a great and talented conductor who had some lucky breaks and did good with those breaks, he's no genius. I save the word genius for people like Bach and Beethoven, Mozart, etc.

David Jones wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] wow. There are no living musical geniuses? that's a bit myopic don't you think?

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To David Jones] I never said that; what I did say was that JEG is not a genius. He's not even close.

David Jones wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] as soon as YOU do a cantata pilgrimage and I'm listening to recordings YOU'VE made, I'll be happy to agree with that assessment. The fact that we're even having this discussion about HIM says something about his stature.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 14, 2009):
David Jones wrote:
< as soon as YOU do a cantata pilgrimage and I'm listening to recordings YOU'VE made, I'll be happy to agree with that assessment. >
No you wouldn't.

:-)

John Pike wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Ok, friends. Let's stop this now and celebrate what we all agree on; Gardiner does make fine recordings indeed.

Stephen Benson wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] I never said the man was a saint.
I have yet to meet a man without faults.
All I suggested was a more balaperspective.
I guess I just don't understand the venom.

Joel Figen wrote (January 14, 2009):
Someone wrote:
>Verdi: <La donna e mobile>.
Which means, as written here, "The woman and piece of furniture."

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 14, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Furtwangler also insisted that the orchestra tune and then sit motionless for a full five minutes before his entrance. >
And then he'd come out and give a deliberately vague beat, so the spread attacks would make a massive sound. There was some interesting footage of Furtwangler doing that in the Teldec "Great Conductors" video/DVD. That same video has a quip by Gardiner saying that the word "conducting" is well-chosen, because it's like channeling electrical energy.

David Jones wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] let's find something else to talk about. This man's PERSONAL LIFE and PERSONAL CHARACTER FLAWS have NOTHING NOTHING to do with his talent or immense understanding of Bach. NOTHING!!!

Uri Golomb wrote (January 14, 2009):
David Jones wrote:
< let's find something else to talk about. This man's PERSONAL LIFE and PERSONAL CHARACTER FLAWS have NOTHING NOTHING to do with his talent or immense understanding of Bach. NOTHING!!! >
On the whole, I agree. I would differentiate, however, between two strands in this discussion. JEG's (or any other performer's) personal life, character and so forth are indeed off-topic, and I'd prefer that we steer clear from them. His publicly-expressed views, including his "on the record" rhetoric (in interviews, liner notes, published articles etc.) are another matter: what he says about Bach's cantatas, and performances thereof, is a viable topic for discussion here (again, so are the views of any other Bach performer), and this includes approval or criticism of these views, and of the manner in which he chooses to express them.

For me, Gardiner's liner notes for the Bach pilgrimage (which, BTW, you can download for free from the Soli Deo Gloria website) are among the strengths of that series: the most important reason to buy those CDs is, of course, the quality of the performances, but the notes on the cantatas are often insightful and a pleasure to read. I hope he'll write a book on Bach as well. On the other hand, I do agree with those on this list who felt uncomfortable with his wholesale rejection of rival schools of Bach performance (I also feel that his claims for historical authenticity are not nearly as strong as he makes out - but I don't reject his performances on that basis, only his rhetoric). For the most part, I try - and generally succeed - to ignore these issues, and focus on the truly intelligent things he has to say.

Winston Churchill reportedly said of Clement Atlee (his labour-party successor as Prime Minister), "He's a modest man with much to be modest about". Conversely, I think it's fair to say that Gardiner is indeed a proud man - but with much to be proud of.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 14, 2009):
Uri wrote (as usual, sanity comes from the expected sources):
>For me, Gardiner's liner notes for the Bach pilgrimage (which, BTW, you can download for free from the Soli Deo Gloria website) are among the strengths of that series: the most important reason to buy those CDs is, of course, the quality of the performances, but the notes on the cantatas are often insightful and a pleasure to read.<
I have independently expressed the same opinion in other places, so I might as well add my agreement here. The quality of the notes, and the production, (including cover photos, despite the disdain graphic specialist have expressed for them!) were factors in my deciding to subscribe to the entire series.

Julian Mincham wrote (January 14, 2009):
[To David Jones] I know I began this thread, with no idea where it might lead, with an email about JEG relating some of the views he had expressed about Telemann and other matters during and after an address he gave recently. Well, I'm sorry!

Can I now support those who suggest that we terminate it now? It really has become rather tedious.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 14, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:
>I know I began this thread, with no idea where it might lead,?with an email about JEG relating some of the views he had expressed about Telemann and other matters during and after an address he gave recently. Well, I'm sorry!<
The <Law of Unintended Consequences>, eh? No need to be sorry, however. That excess testosterone would vent one place or another. Just remember how much worse it was, before we recruited a few more ladies.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 14, 2009):
Conducting [was: Gardiner]

Is that fair, or sneaky, Julian? I think the problem is not the topic, but the <as hoc>, <ad hominem> nature of some of the attacks.

Bradley Lehman wrote:
>That same video has a quip by Gardiner saying that the word "conducting" is well-chosen, because it's like channeling electrical energy.<
One of the many reasons some of us (including Brad, for sure) insist on the special nature of live performances. At its best, that energy is a palpable presence involving conductor, players, and audience. No other experience in life quite like it.

David Jones wrote (January 14, 2009):
John Pike wrote to David Jones:
< I agree that there have been many tyrants in the musical world but genius is no defence for treating other people in an inhuman way. William Christie and Simon Rattle, to name but two, achieve excellent results without reducing their musicians to tears. It is simply not a necessary part of achieving good results. These people need to change their behaviour. Indeed, in an interview with BBC Music Magazine last year, JEG said that he thought he had mellowed a bit. All things are possible, and I bet he doesn't treat his wife, Isabella Sabata in the same way as his musicians or the marriage would not last. >
<> My point is all that has nothing to do with his music. We're talking about the man's characteristics as a person. From what I read, Bach himself wasn't the most even tempered man either.

David Jones wrote (January 14, 2009):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I know I began this thread, with no idea where it might lead, with an email about JEG relating some of the views he had expressed about Telemann and other matters during and after an address he gave recently. Well, I'm sorry!
Can I now support those who suggest that we terminate it now? It really has become rather tedious. >
fine by me! Let's talk about BWV 46! OMG OMG OMG OMG.........!!!!! I know it's not in the thread we're studying right now, but how many bought Gardiner's recording of this cantata, along with the other gems for the
tenth Sunday after Trinity??? I love recorders and BWV 46= recorder festival!!!!!

John Pike wrote (January 14, 2009):
David Jones wrote:
< what I read, Bach himself wasn't the most even tempered man either. >
Indeed, and I'd be the first to admit I have no desire to discuss these issues (or what a Zippel is, as in "Zippel Faggotist") on list.

I'm also very sorry i even mentioned Gardiner's wife. I hadn't heard those rumours and I certainly don't want to go down there.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 14, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote [Conducting]:
< One of the many reasons some of us (including Brad, for sure) insist on the special nature of live performances. At its best, that energy is a palpable presence involving conductor, players, and audience. No other experience in life quite like it. >
Anthony Rooley's book goes into that in great detail, from a Renaissance perspective: Amazon.com

Inspiring book.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 14, 2009):
BWV 46 [was: Gardiner]

David Jones wrote:
>I love recorders and BWV 46= recorder festival!!!!!<
I presume the writer is referring to <flutes a bec>, or more affe, <becs>?

Thomas Gebhardt wrote (January 14, 2009):
Kim Patrick Clow wrote:
< Completely agreed. It's also interesting that some of my German friends do not care for JEG's Bach performances at all, they much prefer Koopman and Susuzki. >
So, as a German Bach lover (and performer as well) I would support that: I much prefer Suzuki to Gardiner. I don't like Koopman's Bach cantatas too much, of the Dutch performers I'd prefer Sigiswald Kuijken's newer recordings with La Petite Bande (singers one voice to a part). I think it's amazing how perfect Suzuki's ensemble meets the German idiom (not only language which is well with others, too).

From time to time I also hear Gardiner - that's obviously fine musicianship and a perfect choir, but in my ears it sounds always "English"/"British" ... I haven't yet found out what it is, but it's not quite what I expect when I want to hear Bach.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 15, 2009):
Thomas Gebhardt wrote:
< From time to time I also hear Gardiner - that's obviously fine musicianship and a perfect choir, but in my ears it sounds always "English"/"British" ... I haven't yet found out what it is, but it's not quite what I expect when I want to hear Bach. >
I always keep a low profile when the Gardinerolatry begins because I have never liked Gardiner's overly-theatrical concept of Baroque rhetoric -- all those slashing dynamics and overdone articulation. His Monteverdi "Vespers" is just plain awful.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 15, 2009):
Quoting Douglas Cowling:
< I always keep a low profile when the Gardinerolatry begins because I have never liked Gardiner's overly-theatrical concept of Baroque rhetoric -- all those slashing dynamics and overdone articulation. His Monteverdi "Vespers" is just plain awful. >
Way back when his recording of the B Minor Mass (BWV 232) was new, on LP, I remember reading a review that described his dramatic holding-back in the "Confiteor...Et Exspecto" transition, and then the burst of energy when it goes to the fast part. Something about a troupe of cheerleaders.

It was probably Opus magazine. Anybody else remember?

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 15, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>His [Gardiners] Monteverdi "Vespers" is just plain awful.<
As distinct from British awful?

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 15, 2009):
>From time to time I also hear Gardiner - that's obviously fine musicianship and a perfect choir, but in my ears it sounds always "English"/"British" ... I haven't yet found out what it is, but it's not quite what I expect when I want to hear Bach.<
Could it be that there is not quite as much smacking of the players in the English/British sound?

Bob Brennan wrote (January 15, 2009):
[To Stephen Benson] The 1994 video "The Art of Conducting" is recommended viewing?with regard to this topic. It shows many of the greats in rehearsal as well as in performance and every one of them is unique in his own way. It's interesting to me that Toscanini, considered tops among conductors by many, was quite dictatorial and had a "famous" tendency for roaring like a lion?when rehearsals were not going as he wished.

My overall take from seeing the video is that conductors are as varied as managers of sports teams, some of whom are more civil than others and who, in turn, show the same variances as humanity in general. Some are showmen, some are condescending, some have less patience than others. A few of the conductors, being interviewed, even admitted to their being less than civil at times.

Also interesting viewing is Gardiner's rehearsal of Bach's Cantata BWV 63, available on DVD. To me, having seen both of these, he comes across as just about the most polite of them all,?at least toward his musicians and singers.

John Pike wrote (January 15, 2009):
Gardiner's book on Bach

Uri Golomb wrote:
< I hope he'll write a book on Bach as well. >
The good news is that Gardiner has indeed writen a book about Bach. It is due for publication this September. We have discussed it on list before. I had heard that he was doing a fingerprint analysis of Bach manuscripts to see if further evidence for/against OVPP could be found but, as I said before, I'm not sure how fingerprint analysis will help; those manuscripts must have been fingered by countless people over the ages. I'll be interested to see what he comes up with since this simple fact must have occurred to him.
Amazon.co.uk

Robin Kinross wrote (January 15, 2009):
John Pike [Gardiner's book]: Amazon.co.uk
I would doubt Amazon's '20 September 2009', especially because the book isn't yet announced on the publisher's website. Publishers always know more about a book than the Amazon robots can know.

Gardiner has been writing this book for a long time. No wonder that it isn't finished yet -- being nasty to his players and other conductors is, after all, more than a full-time job. Like others on the list, I think his writing on the cantatas, and the whole 'pilgrimage' project, is terrific -- and a good reason to buy those CDs, preferably direct from the Monteverdi office and not from spooky Amazon.

John Pike wrote (January 15, 2009):
[To Robin Kinross, regarding Gardiner's book] I subscribe to the cantata series direct from Monteverdi.

I include the link merely to show that this book really is going to materialise. I have not pre-ordered it from amazon but will most certainly be buying it when it comes out.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 15, 2009):
Conductors

Bob Brennan wrote:
< It's interesting to me that Toscanini, considered tops among conductors by many, was quite dictatorial and had a "famous" tendency for roaring like a lion when rehearsals were not going as he wished. >
He was a famous screamer at rehearsals. Alas, his English wasn't all that good.

On one occasion in New York, he was screaming at a trumpet player.

"Nuts to you!" retorted the player and walked off.

Toscanini was enraged and called after him,

"And apologizing weeeel not help you!"

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 15, 2009):
Robin Kinross wrote [Gardiner's book]:
< Gardiner has been writing this book for a long time. No wonder that it isn't finished yet -- being nasty to his players and other conductors is, after all, more than a full-time job. >
"And being a pompous ass who had some lucky breaks because he inherited a lot of money and was able to hire the very best players in the world."

There, fixed that error. :-)

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 15, 2009):
Bob Brennan wrote:
> Also interesting viewing is Gardiner's rehearsal of Bach's Cantata No. 63, available on DVD. To me, having seen both of these, he comes across as just about the most polite of them all,?at least toward his musicians and singers. <
You're making the assumption that there wasn't anything edited out, I'm afraid.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 15, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
Robin (have you met Kim?) wrote:
>I think his writing on the cantatas, and the whole 'pilgrimage' project, is terrific -- and a good reason to buy those CDs, preferably direct from the Monteverdi office and not from spooky Amazon.<
I subscribe directly from Monteverdi for 2 simple reasons: 1. It's the earliest way to get the releases and 2. It's cheaper than paying retail, even with the currency differences. Amazon is a fine place to buy books and I have nothing but good experiences through them. Thanks for John Pike for posting the Amazon link (which is ususally based on information provided to them by the book's publisher anyway, so I don't see what the difference anyway).

> I exchanged a couple very cordial messages with Kim, in one of which he shared that he can identify with the Johnny Cash tune <A Boy Named Sue>. Funny, I never had any question as to Kims gender, nor do I about Rob(correction invited, but I very much doubt it is necessary). Sorry to inform you, dudes, but the testosterone shows through the words. <
Oh no apologies needed dood! But I am bothered you used our "cordial messages" (and some personal efforts oto locate a missing CD booklet for you), would serve as a weird pretext to make a passive agressive comment about me on list with something as personal as my name.

Sigh.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: S. Kuihken & La Petite Bande - General Discussions [Performers of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works]

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 15, 2009):
Robin Kinross wrote [Gardiner's book]:
< Gardiner has been writing this book for a long time. No wonder that it isn't finished yet -- being nasty to his players and other conductors is, after all, more than a full-time job. >
Isn't he also a nearly-full-time farmer?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2007/jan/28/foodanddrink.features5

John Pike wrote (January 16, 2009):
Gardiner (now partially OT)

All these e mails about Gardiner have encouraged me to do something really positive and buy some more of his splendid recordings. Last year, Erato reissued some of his Handel and Purcell recordings in 3 box sets (2x6 discs each of Handel and 1x8 discs of Purcell). They were available on MDT for just over £15 per box, an absolute bargain.

Despite my comments yesterday about his personality, I have to say that Gardiner remains my favourite interpreter of a very wide repertoire, from Monteverdi to Schumann (and now of Brahms as well), and certainly of Bach. His recent recording of Brahms Symphony No.1 and choral works by Brahms and Mendelssohn is brilliant. He is, simply, one of the most extraordinarily versatile conductors of our age. He may be pompous in some respects but, like Bach, he certainly knows how to let his hair down as well (what remains of it). He has done a lot of comic opera, especially French, to great acclaim, although I confess I haven't heard it, since it is not my personal cup of tea.

I think his BCP is superb. There may be polished performances around from the excellent Suzuki (and Koopman, although I haven't heard his recordings) and others, but I think Gardiner has the greatest sparkle and sense of dance, no doubt helped in part by the live recordings. I think his recording of the XO from Weimar at the beginning of the BCP is even better than his earlier outstanding recording.

Doug said yesterday that Gardiner's recording of the Monteverdi Vespers was "simply dreadful" or some similar expression. I humbly beg to differ. My view is that his recordings of the Vespers from St Marks, Venice is stunning, and I also love his recording of Orfeo.

Brad is correct, of course, about the farming. He has run the family farm in Dorset for a long time and gets stuck in. He has spoken in the past about arriving home after a concert in London to help a sheep giving birth. I understand that the famous later (?1749) Hausmann portrait of Bach, now owned by William Scheide at Princeton, used to hang in the family farm house in Dorset where it had been taken for safe keeping during the war. What a "prophetic" thing, given everything that has happened since.

Gardiner has received top honours from the UK, France and Germany for his outstanding contributions to the musical life of (and performances of the music of) those nations.

I have to disagree with Kim about one thing; despite faults in his personality, I think he is a genius.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 16, 2009):
John Pike wrote:
< All these e mails about Gardiner have encouraged me to do something really positive and buy some more of his splendid recordings. Last year, Erato reissued some of his Handel and Purcell recordings in 3 box sets (2x6 discs each of Handel and 1x8 discs of Purcell). They were available on MDT for just over £15 per box, an
absolute bargain. >
I will look for these in the United States! I'd like to snap them up! Thanks for mentioning it!

< I have to disagree with Kim about one thing; despite faults in his personality, I think he is a genius. >
That's fine with me John, we can agree to disagree--your post was wonderful, I essentially agree with just about everything you've said! I made clear in several previous comments that I absolutely adore JEG's conducting.

Thank you again for a great post.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 16, 2009):
John Pike wrote:
< Doug said yesterday that Gardiner's recording of the Monteverdi Vespers was "simply dreadful" or some similar expression. I humbly beg to differ. My view is that his recordings of the Vespers from St Marks, Venice is stunning, >
One of the reasons I bleep over most discussions of recordings is that they are notoriously subjective and personal, however, I will defend my critique of Gardiner's general approach to Baroque music which is exemplified by his Monteverdi Vespers. He frequently uses singers who employ a large Romantic technique: the opening simple plainsong of the Vespers is sung by a bass who sounds like he's singing the Grand Inquisitor. The delicate lines of the three tenors in "Duo Seraphim" are obliterated in a Three Tenors assault. Gardiner also introduces all kinds of sfzorzandi and accents which hit the syncopations in "Nisi Dominus" like incoming rockets.

Hmm, that's why I don't review records anymore.

John Pike wrote (January 16, 2009):
Gardiner (now TOTally OT)

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Gardiner also introduces all kinds of sfzorzandi and accents which hit the syncopations in "Nisi Dominus" like incoming rockets.
Hmm, that's why I don't review records anymore. >
Isn't it strange how tastes differ? I speak as a former member of a decidedly amateur choir to the professional director of a top choir, so I do so with considerable humility, but Gardiner's Nisi Dominus is one of my favourite things in that recording. Many years ago I performed in "Music for the Venetian Vespers" in Castiglione del Lago in Umbria, Italy. We had a great week rehearsing (with Nigel Perrin, a former King's singer) directing our hotch potch group. I played violin in some of the numbers and sang in others. We had some Monteverdi, Rigatti, Legrenzi etc. Wonderful stuff. I sang in the Nisi Dominus from Monteverdi's vespers and was keen to see how Gardiner did it when I got back home. To say it was light years better than our own effort would be an understatement. I agree with Doug's description of Gardiner's recording, but what I love is the way Gardiner creates some much rhythmic tension in the beginning and the "frustra vigilat" section and then lets it all dissolve into peace and tranquility at the end...a truly ethereal moment for me.

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 16, 2009):
Gardiner - Romantic Bach

John Pike wrote:
< I agree with Doug's description of Gardiner's recording, but what I love is the way Gardiner creates some much rhythmic tension in the beginning and the "frustra vigilat" section and then lets it all dissolve into peace and tranquility at the end...a truly ethereal moment for me. >
I agree that it's a lovely Romantic moment, but I don't think those dynamic effects were in Monteverdi's toolkit. The same question could be raised about Klemperer's recording of the SMP. It is an extraordinary technical feat with Romantic dynamics and rubati flawlessly executed. Listen to the opening chorus: it's positively Wagnerian! Alas, it's too far away from Bach's aesthetic to be acceptable. But oh, if only our modern HIP performers were as so carefully rehearsed!

Teri Noel Towe wrote (January 17, 2009):
John Eliot Gardiner, William H. Scheide, and the 1748 Haussmann Portrait

John Pike writes:
< I understand that the famous later (?1749) Hausmann portrait of Bach, now owned by William Scheide at Princeton, used to hang in the [Gardiner] family house in Dorset where it had been taken for safe keeping during the war. What a "prophetic" thing, given everything that has happened since. >
Your understanding is correct.

After they fled Silesia in the late 1930s, the Jenke family settled in England, and the 1748 Haussmann portrait was entrusted to the Gardiners for several years. Since 1953, it has hung in the living room of the Scheide house in Princeton, New Jersey.

On January 23, 2006, Bill and JEG met for the first time, after a fabulous all-Mozart concert that JEG conducted in Alice Tully Hall. It was a warm and an emotional occasion for them both, and I take pleasure in knowing that I helped to bring them together.

As it happens, I sat beneath the 1748 Haussmann portrait on Thursday, when I went to spend the afternoon with Bill and have dinner with him. He celebrated his 95th birthday on the 6th, and he is as sharp as the clicheed razor. Among other things, he and I discussed some exciting recent discoveries in Bach reception history.

At the moment, Bill also is actively involved in the preparations for the all-Bach concert that he and his wife, Judy, are sponsoring to celebrate his 95th. It will be given in Richardson Auditorium in Princeton next Friday evening, the 23rd, and it is a benefit for Centurion Ministries. Anyone who wants further information can find it at www.scheideconcerts.com.

John Pike wrote (January 17, 2009):
[To Teri Noel Towe] Many thanks for this. What great stories you bring to the list, Teri.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (January 18, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling, regarding Romantic Bach] Doug, I'm curious about what you mean by "acceptable". Are you merely saying that the Klemperer SMP is not to your taste or that of most contemporary listeners? Or are you saying that in some objective sense what Klemperer was doing was wrong?

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 18, 2009):
To James Atkins Pritchard, regarding Romantic Bach] I would never say that a beautiful performance such as Klemperer's is"wrong", just as I will always love Beecham's Messiah in which Jon Vickers makes "Comfort Ye" sound like Siegmund's "Spring Song" -- gorgeous.

But I would say that we draw closer to Bach's aesthetic when we respect the parameters of his performance practice, particulalr in matters of size of ensemble, tempi, dynamics and articulation.

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (January 18, 2009):
[To Douglas Cowling, regarding Romantic Bach] What you say makes perfect sense to me.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 18, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote [Romantic Bach]:
>But I would say that we draw closer to Bach's aesthetic when we respect the parameters of his performance practice, particularly in matters of size of ensemble, tempi, dynamics and articulation.<
I find that to be such a fine, concise statement that I gave it a minor ed. (not an Ed!) for archival purposes: particularly for particulalr. I am confident that is correct. Only on the third reading of my own sentence, did I notice a lower case i trying to sneak thru. Thru is a joke.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 18, 2009):
Bach on radio; Gardiner

A public service announcement, as the saying goes:
In just about an hour (8:00 AM EST, 1300 UT) at WGBH-FM 89.7 in Boston USA, but available at www.wgbh.org to share with the entire Planet Earth (aka third rock from the sun):
BWV 3, for second Sunday after Epiphany, in the concert performance from the Gardiner Pilgrimage series, Vol. 19, presented by BCML correspondent (last I heard) Brian McCreath.

A word to the wise is sufficient? It is snowing in Boston, it is early AM on the second day of a four day weekend, culminating in a day of historic importance (O'Bama Inauguration), and in this special instance, there probably will be little on more importance in my life than Bach and BCML. I will likely have an unusual amount to say, even for me. Those who think I already post too much may want to avert their eyes.

 

Continue on Part 14

John Eliot Gardiner: Short Biography | Monteverdi Choir | English Baroque Soloists
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Videos | Recordings of Instrumental Works
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Newsletters
Cantatas:
Cantatas BWV 106, 118b, 198 | Cantatas BWV 140, 147 | Cantatas BWV 11, 37, 43, 128 | Cantatas BWV 6, 66 | Cantatas BWV 72, 73, 111, 156 | Cantatas BWV 82, 83, 125, 200
Bach Cantata Pilgrimage:
BCP - Vols 1&8 | BCP - Vol. 6 | BCP - Vol. 9 | BCP - Vol. 13 | BCP - Vol. 14 | BCP - Vol. 15 | BCP - Vol. 21 | BCP - Vol. 22 | BCP - Vol. 23 | BCP - Vol. 24 | BCP - Vol. 26 | Bach Cantata Pilgrimage DVD | DVD John Eliot Gardiner in Rehearsal
Other Vocal Works:
BWV 232 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 244 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 245 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 248 - J.E. Gardiner | BWV 1127 - J.E. Gardiner
Table of recordings by BWV Number

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