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Ludwig Güttler
Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
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Güttler conducting Bach

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 23, 2003):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: < That is why I think that one should be somewhat informed about aomething before going into it. That is not tosay that I do not want uneducated ears to listen to Bach, but rather than picking out one recording or another, I think one should deal more "closer to home". In this case, I would mean Thomanerchor Leipzig recordings of the Kantaten (or other Saxon ensembles), Guetler or Schreier or Pommer for Secular works and Orchesterwerke, Kasstner and other Thomamenrorgelspieler for the Orgelwerke, etc. From there, I would recommend a "listen and compare" method. The one stipulation I also would place is that one should have a score in hand to compare the merits of the recording with the score. >
I very much enjoy Ludwig Güttler's conducting of the Brandenburgs, orchestral suites, and the A-major concerto for oboe d'amore (BWV 1055). Those are some of my favorite Bach recordings. But it has nothing to do with it being a Saxon ensemble, or any other geographical nicety. Geography isn't music. Musicianship is music. Güttler's performances sound well-prepared, lithe, spontaneous, attentive, and energetic: excellent musicianship. He and his orchestra have made some excellent recordings of Mozart symphonies also, and I enjoy them for that same reason.

On the second "stipulation" below: following along with the score "to compare merits" doesn't do any good unless one knows how to read it knowing 18th century notational habits, rather than projecting generic 20th or 21st century expectations into it. It can do more harm than good: causing excellent work to be dismissed due to a score-reader's naivete, and unremarkable work (wooden sight-reading) to be exalted as "great" just because it agrees with the untrained reader's own literalistic habits. [On the other hand, I do not expect a literalist to understand this point. Literalists are too sure that they know the only correct way to read a score, and too quick to blame musicians who recognize that music is music.]

Uri Golomb wrote (November 24, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote: < I very much enjoy Ludwig Güttler's conducting of the Brandenburgs, orchestral suites, and the A-major concerto for oboe d'amore (BWV 1055). Those are some of my favorite Bach recordings. But it has nothing to do with it being a Saxon ensemble, or any other geographical nicety. Geography isn't music. Musicianship is music. >
Further to this: The Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum was created because its founder, Max Pommer, was not satisfied with the Leipzig Bach tradition -- he thought Leipzig Bach performers have something to learn from non-Leipzig (indeed, non-German) historical performers! He says as much in a 1985 interview-article about changes in the Leipzig performance tradition

Stefan Mikorey and Franzpeter Messmer, "Neue Impulse: Die Leipziger Bach-Tradition im Wandel". FonoForum 29/6 (June 1985): 28-30 (Mikorey), 30-31 (Messmer).

Peter Schreier and Ludwig Güttler were part of the same trend: the attempt of musicians in Leipzig and Dresden -- the two cities held by many to be bastions of traditional Bach performance -- to incorporate some of the lessons of historical performance (while retaining modern instruments). These singers, players and conductors do not believe that being Saxons, in and of itself, made them authentic Bach performers. Georg-Christoph Biller, the current Thomaskantor, conducts "period" as well as "modern" instruments, and finds much value in performance practice scholarship.

If Saxon musicians themselves don't think that their hometown gives them unbeatable advantages in Bach performance, why should anyone else subscribe to that view?


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Last update: żNovember 24, 2003 ż22:20:46