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Part 12

 

 

Continue from Part 11

Halliday/Fougeroux; Raymond Leppard on authenticity

Continue of discussion from: Recitatives – Part 12 [General Topics]

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 11, 2004):
[To Neil Halliday] Thanks, Neil.

You might enjoy the following book, which was a required assigned text in a course I took once. I've reread it this weekend. Authenticity in Music by Raymond Leppard: Amadeus Press, 1988: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0571100880
Amazon has some excerpts visible at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0571100880

The book is, basically, a brief apologetic for a "vitalist" (if I may borrow a term from Taruskin) approach to music, firmly against a positivistic one represented by some of the scholarship (and "scholarly" performances) of the 1970s and 1980s. Leppard gets very defensive and vehement, fighting from the corner he's been backed into; and he avoids touching the topic of period instruments until his final three pages! I find it all amusing and thought-provoking, and entertaining; and he has plenty of good things to say. He also gives a survey of 20th-century listening habits, and revivals of older music, and the way all that has affected people's expectations today.

I disagree on a few of his particulars here and there, but overall I think this is well worth reading and re-reading. (My copy, with my scribbled margin notes from a dozen years ago, certainly reminds me of the parts I disagreed with back then...from a closer, more critical reading than I gave it this weekend!) His arguments do have plenty of holes in them, here and there, and he sometimes relies too heavily on truisms; but he still has some very important, and viable, things to say here anyway.

The most interesting chapter, IMO, is the one "In Practice" where he walks us through Gluck's "Orfeo", Monteverdi's "Poppea", and Händel's "Acis and Galatea" telling us what he as a performer would do with them (and indeed, has done with them). Here's his introduction before doing so:

"(...) I propose to examine the processes by which three important, but very different, problematic pieces of music may be approached and realized in sound. No single way will be proposed, nor any claimed as best or most desirable. There are always too many variables for that, usually starting with the evidence of the earliest performances in the composer's lifetime. The aim must be to show the music's vitality and meaning to a late-twentieth-century audience--there seems no point in preparing it for any other purpose--so that they may find an equivalent sense of value in it, made the more valuable by having persisted for several hundred years. My approach may illuminate for some, give courage to others, and offend a few. It will raise the eyebrows of those committed to purity and raise the level of venom in those predisposed to strike; but it is based on the actual experience of bringing these works to effective performance, and I stand by the methods and thinking that went into their preparation even if, because time has passed, I might change some details."

In the Monteverdi section soon after that, he reproduces a scene from "Poppea" in facsimile from Monteverdi's autograph, showing that it is all just voices and continuo. He explains the dramatic thrust of the scene. And then he presents his own written-out orchestration and realization of it, showing how he has deployed several different continuo groups along with string players, tempo markings, dynamics, etc etc...all with the goal of helping the music come alive, and (as far as possible) to discern Monteverdi's dramatic "intentions" and then put them out there for the understanding of a modern audience.

Quite an interesting exercise.

Bradley Lehman wrote (January 12, 2004):
< You might enjoy the following book, which was a required assigned text in a course I took once. I've reread it this weekend. Authenticity in Music by Raymond Leppard: Amadeus Press, 1988: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0571100880
Amazon has some excerpts visible at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0571100880

The book is, basically, a brief apologetic for a "vitalist" (if I may borrow a term from Taruskin) approach to music, firmly against a positivistic one represented by some of the scholarship (and "scholarly" performances) of the 1970s and 1980s. Leppard gets very defensive and vehement, fighting from the corner he's been backed into; and he avoids touching the topic of period instruments until his final three pages! >
...keep in mind that he's a mainstream musician, with a fairly big career in the 1950s to 1980s, and to him the "period instruments" and their players/scholars/builders are just a bunch of usurpers of his rightful territory (as he sees it). He also has some quite denigrating things to say about French style and French attitudes in general. And there are several other places in this book where he bashes museum-mentality, the positivistic quest to reproduce certifiably accurate conditions (which, to him, are merely a quaint look back at a past that is gone forever)...his goal is to allow the music to live today, for today's audiences, by taking its original spirit and effect as seriously as possible.

Overall, it's a rather incendiary piece of polemic from a performer with strong convictions. And as I pointed out in earlier quotes from it, he knows in writing it he's going to get some people to flare up venomously.

< In the Monteverdi section soon after that, he reproduces a scene from "Poppea" in facsimile from Monteverdi's autograph, showing that it is all just voices and continuo. He explains the dramatic thrust of the scene. And then he presents his own written-out orchestration and realization of it, showing how he has deployed several different continuo groups along with string players, tempo markings, dynamics, etc etc. all with the goal of helping the music come alive, and (as far as possible) to discern Monteverdi's dramatic "intentions" and then put them out there for the understanding of a modern audience. >
...And in that setup of his written-out realization, of music that simply looks like recitative supported by whole notes and tied whole notes (i.e. just as plain recitative looks in Bach, 120 years later), here's his explanation of the way to read that basso continuo convention:

"The last major problem to consider before beginning to bring the work back to musical and theatrical life is that of the bass line. In the manuscript it is rarely figured to indicate the harmony and, unless the vocal line shows some rhythmic cohesion or pattern, it is written almost entirely in white notes that fill the bar. These do not mean necessarily that the notes are to be sustained for their full length, but that a note so indicated is the basis for the harmony for as long as it lasts in the manuscript. Where and when it stops or acquires further pattern to emphasize meaning would have been up to the continuo player, and is now up to the person who 'realizes' the work for public performance. The actual harmonies used can only be determined by someone who knows, from the madrigals, church music, ballets and every scrap of more fully-scored music for instruments or voices, what is likely. There is no short cut for the application of this sort of skill or knowledge."

That is: for Raymond Leppard (and, has been seen elsewhere, for continuo musicians and researchers of a more positivistic stripe--Dreyfus et al) the genre of recitative itself is the cue to take everything by circumstances of the particular performance that is being put together: to come up with something convincing, taking that supposedly "held" bass note only as a harmonic sketch. From these very beginnings of opera, in thefirst decade of the 17th century, the continuo-notation of white notes in the bass meant that same thing...right into Bach's church music 120 years later, and beyond.

It's a genre recognition, and this particular genre (voice in free rhythm, accompanied only by basso continuo) presents problems to be solved musically rather than through positivistic restrictions (giving musicians "permission" to do their jobs intelligently, only if enough evidence can be assembled).

Obviously, the secular-vs-church angle can be and has been hotly debated...do these conventions from Italian opera, already going on for a century, apply also to church music where it too uses recitative? But as for that basic content of recitative itself: that's what it is, a shorthand for doing something intelligent and effective in the circumstances, and a shorthand that allows quick changes--transpositions and whatnot--whenever practical considerations force a different approach. As Leppard points out, composition (i.e. the composer's intentions!) is from an assumption that the performers will be full collaborators in the realization of it: orchestration, improvisation, and whatever else is needed to bring it to life, serving as active assistants to the composer. The concept of an immutable work, perfectly and completely written out and not to be altered to circumstances by performers, is (as he points out, and gives the reception history for) a 19th century ideal, not an 18th or 17th century one. It stems from, among others, Wagner's idolizing views about Beethoven, in a published essay that has influenced many people.

The people who would say recitatives should be performed otherwise (i.e. mostly literally, as they see and interpret very conservatively from the page, like an immutably perfect work completely written out) perhaps simply don't bring to the question enough background from the 17th century, enough understanding where it all came from, enough understanding why it's written in the flexible manner it is. (How much 17th century music did Karl Richter perform, really? Did he ever once conduct an opera?) They bring a pseudo-positivistic reading to it (taking the score as a highly restrictive set of permissions to stay within someone's "intentions" for individual note-values), as opposed to a practical musical one (sparking the performer's imagination and experience to make the music as vivid as it can be, in the circumstances: the notation is a springboard, not a straitjacket).

And, at times, they (especially some members here of this e-mail list) try to pin too much on the church/secular distinction, as an excuse, from a selective use of documents that argue for a sharper break than there probably was in practice. But recall that the Leipzig councils really wanted opera composers for the job, ahead of Bach...and that he did give them an operatic type of music--merely labelled differently--in fulfillment of his duties) I brought that up some months ago, summarizing an article by Ulrich Siegele in a book edited by John Butt; see below.

Yes, Leppard also has some things to say in this book about Bach cantatas, and the wisdom of performing them to suit current circumstances, so that they come across as strongly as possible. He's opposed to waiting until only the correct Sunday comes around on the correct date in the liturgical calendar for a performance to be, therefore, correct.

I think it's interesting to see these same conclusions reached (i.e. a free and musical approach to recitative) by a professional musician who is, at the same time, apparently against just about everything else in musicological positivism from the 1960s forward.

Anyway, don't just take my word for it; read this fun little book (only 80 pages, & takes hardly two hours).

======

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/9420
Date: Tue Mar 25, 2003 1:38 pm
Subject: Bach "in the right place at the right time"
In The Cambridge Companion to Bach (ed. John Butt, Cambridge University Press, 1997) there is an article "Bach and the domestic politics of Electoral Saxony" by Ulrich Siegele. I just read this on Sunday afternoon. He presents the background, the political hullabaloo, surrounding Bach's appointment to the Leipzig post. Whew, an eye-opener! One political party was trying to change the nature of the post itself (cantor vs Kapellmeister), while the other party submitted names, as a compromise...and Bach was the sixth candidate out of the seven on his party's list.... Given the possibly shifting nature of the post, would the candidate be allowed to hire a substitute for himself for parts of the job he didn't really want (in Bach's case, the classroom teaching of Latin)? That's the sort of thing they were debating.

======

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/5157
Date: Fri May 23, 2003 1:58 pm
Subject: Leipzig politics, Bach's position, Anna Magdalena, and Andreas Kuhnau
<< Copying had to be done at very short notice. The students were on holiday. Those who helped their cantor he probably had to pay.<<
< This is true. It is also possible that some of the copy work was paid for ‘in kind’: a ‘live-in’ student, or a student who simply received >music instruction from Bach. (...) It is amazing to note that the other members of the Bach family also rarely appear as copyists. We all owe a real debt of gratitude to Johann Andreas Kuhnau, (born 1703) who probably copied more parts than anyone (a very large number which I did not tally.) (...) What Bach needed at the time when the cantata parts had to be copied under the pressure of time was someone who could copy quickly and accurately. In Kuhnau he found someone who was gifted in this way and he used him over and over and over again with good results. >
Think about the situation from young Andreas Kuhnau's point of view. His uncle Johann (the most famous Kuhnau, the composer) had been the Leipzig Kantor from 1701 until his death in 1722. This Kuhnau was an institution.

And think about it from Anna Magdalena's point of view, her working conditions. (See below.)

First, some background of what the Bachs were getting themselves into:

In Ulrich Siegele's article "Bach and the domestic politics of Electoral Saxony" (The Cambridge Companion to Bach, a collection of scholarly essays edited by John Butt), the political situation is described. The officials needed to replace Kuhnau. It was the absolutist court party vs the Estates city party: regional government vs local government.

The absolutists fielded seven candidates, in two distinct groups (3 + 3, plus a local guy). "The candidates in the first group were academics and came from an operatic background; those of the second group were organists and non-academics. In presenting these two groups, the absolutists assembled two counter-images of cantors. With the candidates from an operatic background, they promoted a new aesthetic, giving precedence to international rank at the expense of the traditional music theory of the central German cantor. With the organists, they gave precedence to competent specialists who were exclusively musicians instead of being also school teachers." The absolutists preferred their opera candidates (Telemann, Fasch, and Graupner) over their organists (Petzold, Kauffmann, and Bach) and their local man, Schott. That is, Bach's own party put him sixth in preference among the seven candidates. [Siegele then explains this.] Against that, the Estates fielded five candidates.

All five of the Estates candidates turned out to be unavailable. So were all three of the absolutists' opera candidates, and Petzold "was never taken into formal consideration." So, of the twelve candidates, only three remained: Kauffmann, Bach, and Schott. At this point, this far 'down the totem pole', the absolutist party made a motion to redefine the position as a musical directorship, and the Estates party made a counter-motion to field a new candidate (and keep the position defined as it was). "As a formal compromise, eacside withdrew its respective motion. In practice, this meant that the city party accepted the candidate presented by the court party, while the court party accepted the definition of the office supported by the city party." [Siegele then explains further how Bach was hired to this position with a concession: Bach was allowed to sub-contract the Latin instruction out of his own pocket, getting out of the academic duty.] "The absolutist party had indeed won its choice of candidate but had been unable to carry out the public and legal act of redefining the office. It was unsuccessful in establishing a music directorship as the new norm. The post remained very much the traditional, conventional one of cantor, which was filled just this once by a Kapellmeister. Bach's tenure in office was defined as an exception."

[Siegele then has sections about the various political controversies and professional squabbles that Bach and his next two successors had to deal with, in this ongoing two-party struggle over the next 30+ years.]

Back to the Kuhnaus. Johann Kuhnau had been the appointee of the Estates party, and he was there for 21 years; and before that he had been the Thomaskirche organist from 1684-1701. That is, Johann Kuhnau had already been a bigshot in Leipzig for 38 years, more than Bach's entire lifetime. Now, after an arduous process, the new guy Bach (who just turned 38) was brought in from the opposite party: a change of political regime, and the absolutists' own sixth choice out of seven. Bach got there only after nine other people had been struck from the ballots.

All this is not to say that Bach wasn't fit for his job, or that he wasn't good at it. Simply: his installation there was a BIG change of the status quo, and a grudging concession by the local government where they were overruled by the other party. Bach barely landed this job at all, and then only on his extraordinary qualifications and skill.

So, there was Bach as the new guy walking into a supercharged situation in spring 1723, and inheriting a set of colleagues and students who were accustomed to having things a different way. He showed up in this move to the big city with his new wife Anna Magdalena (aged 21), three sons and a daughter aged 13 and under, plus the newborn daughter Christiane Sophie Henriette. Busy man.

Extremely busy woman, too: having just given birth, Anna Magdalena became pregnant with Gottfried Heinrich during the first few weeks they were in Leipzig, and went on to have 11 more children during those Leipzig years. Busy, busy, busy. (*)

When the Bachs arrived in Leipzig, Johann Andreas Kuhnau was 19 (born December '03). He stayed around town for five years and then went off to become cantor in Grimma. What better way to learn the musical craft during those five years, than to work with the new guy (even if he was from the other side of the political fence from Uncle Johann)? Copying someone's music by hand, whether one is being paid for it or not, is a great way to learn how it works. (**)

That's a time-honored role of students: to do some of the teacher's "grunt-work" in current projects, whether it's for academic credit and/or pay and/or any other type of perquisites.

None of this tells us anything concrete about why Andreas Kuhnau did so much copying for Bach; but I think it at least gives us some interesting context to mull over.

Personally, I think the Bachs would have been deeply grateful for any type of assistance that came their way, whether it's taking care of children or copying music or whatever; and I think it's way out of line for anyone to chide Anna Magdalena for any messiness in her handwriting. I agree with Peter Bloemendaal: "I am convinced that Anna Magdalena does not deserve to be posthumously labelled as a sloppy, unreliable copyist of her husbands work. She deserves a lot of credit."


Brad Lehman [coincidentally, aged 38, with hands full taking care of one infant, not four other children...]

(*) How many manuscript parts can one person write out, neatly and in a hurry, while taking care of multiple children? And how much music can a player/composer/teacher/administrator produce while living in such a household? It's a wonder that these people got ANY work done beyond the day-to-day stuff.

(**) I knew a composition student who wrote out Beethoven symphonies by
hand: both to learn them, and to have a copy of them, as he grew up in a country where photocopying wasn't an option and scores were almost impossible to buy. This guy was a whiz with the pen and ink. This is still a skill worth cultivating, even in an age of computers.

Neil Halliday wrote (January 12, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thanks for mentioning Raymond Leppard, Brad.

His recording of Monteverdi's madrigal 'Hor che 'l ciel a la terra' is a glorious example of Leppard's work (non-HIP): http://www.dovesong.com/MP3/MP3_Monteverdi.asp

(unfortunately, as you can see, not accessible at present: I heard it some time ago). This example graphically demonstrates the wonderful results that can be achieved when ancient music is recreated in a modern idiom.
+++++++++++

When Leppard writes:
"These do not mean necessarily that the notes are to be sustained for their full length, but that a note so indicated is the basis for the harmony for as long as it lasts in the manuscript. Where and when it stops or acquires further pattern to emphasize meaning would have been up to the continuo player..."

he is certainly not advocating the short stabs ("disagreeable strokes") followed by silence, that we get from Koopman and Rilling in Bach's secular cantatas, for example.

The words "...is the basis for the harmony for as long as it lasts..." shows that Leppard has actual music (instrumental sound) in mind - NOT silence - regardless of whether it's a cello or a keyboard (or lute) which is realising the "harmony."

Notice he does not distinguish between the continuo players; in any case, a harpsichord, unlike a cello, can't sound a white note for its full indicated length, and he appears to be saying that whoever are the continuo players have total freedom as long as they create some harmony based on the indicated note, (and any figures that might or might not be in the score). They must "do something musically intelligent"!

I don't understand how you consider that Richter, for example, is operating under any kind of restriction that results from a "literalist" reading. The only continuo player in the this literalist tradition, who might be considered to lack freedom, is the cellist - Richter displays complete freedom in his realisation of the continuo organ keyboard. Likewise for the harpsichordist/organist with Rilling, in the church cantatas at least.

On the contrary, the 'shortened note' convention places all the continuo players in the same 'straight-jacket' - they all get to play one short note (cello) or chord (keyboard, lute) and nothing more, until a new note is shown in the score; as I said before, silence (from all the instruments) is not music. (Again, taking the Koopman/Rilling secular cantata recordings, as an example.) This is hardly a chance to display improvisatory skills, or "do something musically intelligent".

BTW, during my first perusal of the entire Rilling sacred cantata set, I observed that there is one (pretty certain it's only one) cantata, that demonstrates a secco recitative with short chords, HIP style. (I must write these things down; it might take some time to relocate it). And in fact the score is written in quarter notes with rests, dutifully followed by Rilling.

Any theories?

How about - the convention was not fixed in Bach's time, and Bach was experimenting with an alien style, in this particular church cantata. (The recitative concerned is not narrative, as in the SMP, for example, but is the usual didactic/philosophical exhortation seen in the sacred cantatas.)

I know you would have alternative theories, of course:-).


Modern instruments with principles of historical performance

Paul Dirmeikis wrote (January 29, 2004):
Johan van Veen wrote: < And as far as the use ofmodern instruments is concerned: there are ensembles which use modern instruments and try to play - as far as possible - according to the principles of the historical performance practice, sometimes quite convincingly. >
Yes. And among them, Enoch zu Guttenberg's "Orchester der Klangverwaltung", which suits exactly to your description. Once again, his SMP is fabulous.


Oldies But Goldies

SW Anandgyan wrote (January 31, 2004):
My second mono CD has arrived. The B Minor Mass (BWV 232) Herbert von Karajan II on EMI References.

Now I can contrast HIP with something.

Just as with the BBC Legends MBM recording with Enescu and Ferrier, this other document has that quality that appeals to me; in spite of the mammoth forces and maybe because of some slowish tempi, there is the abundance of appropriate softness.

While I listen to these Early Fifties recordings, I receive many hits of grace !

To return to recent albums with digitally recorded sound is a joy as for example the Magnificat done by Hans-Christoph Rademann and the Dresdner Barockorchester ( and most likely period-instruments ).

The Enescu, the von Karajan and the Klemperer are not desert-island recordings but for the sake of apprenticeship and pleasure they remain a tremendous provision.

So ...

Donald Satz wrote (January 31, 2004):
[To Sw Anandgyan] There's a fairly easy way to tell if it's period instruments or not. If the strings are acerbic and pungent, it's period - if they're sour, it's modern.

Sato Fumitaka wrote (February 1, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] I seem to understand the point. For example, the sound of Rachel Podger's baroque violin of the recording of "Sonatas & Partitas for Violin Solo" (2002) appears to confirm the view.

I am also impressed with the difference of the sound of the oboe as the period/modern instrument.

Jack Botelho wrote (February 1, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] The characterization of modern strings as being "sour" is one of the silliest characterizations I have ever read. Michael Praetorius reported that metal strung violins were reported to be "sweeter" than the gut string instruments in the early 17th century.

I do prefer period instruments by a long shot, though.

Jack Botelho wrote (February 1, 2004):
[To Sato Fumitaka] The Rachel Podger S&P (2-for-1 reissue on Channel Classics) is a fine recording!

Sato Fumitaka wrote (February 1, 2004):
[To Jack Botelho] Yep.. I did not reject the view that Pdger's recording was enjoyable. I simply refered to the sonority of the baroque violin heard in the CD's of her. It has a deep soft portion in the entire sound.

Jack Botelho wrote (February 1, 2004):
[To Sato Fumitaka] Most completely agreed!

Donald Satz wrote (February 1, 2004):
[To Jack Botelho] It may sound silly and I was exaggerating a little, but those are the parameters and tendencies my ears tell me to use - always works for me.

Jeremy Thomas wrote (February 1, 2004):
[To Jack Botelho] I struggled a bit with this too. I would be hard-pressed to distinguish between "acerbic" and "sour" for one thing. But some of my friends who prefer modern instruments would actually say the boot was on the other foot.

Oh well, I think each has something to offer which the other can't.

Peter Bright wrote (February 1, 2004):
Sato Fumitaka wrote: < I seem to understand the point. For example, the sound of Rachel Podger's baroque violin of the recording of "Sonatas & Partitas for Violin Solo" (2002) appears to confirm the view. >
Well, granted, it's a lovely reading, but on the other hand I would never class Grumiaux's sound on the solo violin works as 'sour'. 'Harsher' and more 'strident' maybe, but not sour...

John Pike wrote (February 1, 2004):
[To Jack Botelho] I much prefer playing on modern strings. The sound is much cleaner and, to my ears, more pleasing, but in the best hands, period instruments sound glorious.

My own violin was made in 1785 but has since been modernized with a modern length neck, for example.

Jack Botelho wrote (February 2, 2004):
[To John Pike] 1785! Wow! Please feel free to let us know the make of your instrument if you wish, John.

Jose E. Amaro wrote (February 2, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] Don make a good point in his definition of period performances from the string sound. Sorry for my poor english, apparently acerbic (period) and sour (modern) are synonymous.

John Pike wrote (February 2, 2004):
[To Jack Botelho] My violin was made by Richard Duke, the son of a more famous violin maker, also called Duke. It has been handed down to me through the family and makes a great sound.

Jack Botelho wrote (February 3, 2004):
[To John Pike] An eighteenth-century instrument passed down through the family is a treasure to be very grateful for, and I'm sure is equalled in admiration by many on this list, including myself!

Other ancient and/or valuable instrument owners, we would love to hear from you!

Robert Sherman wrote (February 1, 2004):
I love Podger's Bach.

But..modern strings are necessarily sour? I dont know how anyone could listent to the Chicago Symphony's Messiah Overture and Pastoral Symphony and come away with that view.

Donald Satz wrote (February 3, 2004):
[To Robert Sherman] Pastoral Symphony? I don't think that's baroque.

John Pike wrote (February 3, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] I assumed he meant the pastoral "symphony" from Part 1 of Messiah...I think it's No. 12 or thereabouts...orchestra only, very beautiful.

Donald Satz wrote (February 3, 2004):
[To John Pike] Oh, THAT Pastoral - Messiah is a nice work.


Incompetence of experts?

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 16, 2004):
According to the opinion expressed at: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/12986
:
All the current set of Baroque specialists (whether performers and/or scholars), their fans, and their record producers are (1) incompetent, and (2) unaware of their incompetence. It's all just a ruse where everybody is hiding behind incompetence, i.e. against the careful and thorough research of a music fan who would prefer to hear things differently; and an elaborate plan to ruin the music.

Astounding.

I disagree, of course; but even the statement of that position so directly is, in itself, too astounding for a reasoned response.

Donald Satz wrote (February 16, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Personally, I find it amazing that in the year 2004 there are still folks blasting away at HIP matters. They may feel they are fighting the 'good fight', but I don't think there's anything to fight any more.To whatever degree there was a fight, the classical music audience declared some years ago that HIP wins in terms of its appeal and longevity.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 16, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] Well: popularity does not correctness make, in this or any other serious field of inquiry. But, I understand your point. And it seems that at least some of the dismay/chagrin here from the inveterate HIP-bashers is due to the fact that it is so widely accepted and popular...hence the attempts to dismiss it all as only a popularity contest with no believable substance to it.

Gabriel wrote (February 16, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Brad, what a very succint encapsulation of the bizarre view of Mr Braatz and his his fellow travellers!

Gabriel wrote (February 16, 2004):
[To Donald Satz] Absolutely!

Johan van Veen wrote (February 16, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Astounding? From this author? You must be kidding ;)

As bad as such a statement in itself is, it is a good thing when blatant arrogance is displayed shamelessly in public. Hopefully it will make even his staunchest defenders see sense.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 16, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen] Not kidding; the content of that opinion in the linked message still astounds me as much as it has ever done, over several years here.

It's that whole assumption: that when one personally dislikes something in preference, or sees that it has received a dismaying level of popular support, the automatic assumption that it MUST BE demonstrably wrong in some factual way, followed by a feverisindustrious (but autodidactic) attempt to demonstrate the problems. The basic fallacy in such thinking--and the length to which the enterprise is taken--is just astounding, in my opinion: that bizarre attempt to show that all the experts are not only wrong but blissfully/arrogantly unaware of their errors, next to the self-guided personal "findings" of someone who wishes the results were different.

Anyway, in the tone of discussions here, I've been trying to focus closely on the words that are said, the opinions expressed and the expectations they display, rather than anything personal of the people who put them out there. Words and actions, not people. (And, of course, in itself it's a "Historically Informed" reading of the discussion along with the link to the posting itself: trying to give a fair contextual reading to the text, just as is done in music, using all available clues for interpretation.) It doesn't do any good to belittle anyone's person when disagreeing with the ideas; it just makes a person defensive and gives a convenient excuse to disregard any disagreement with the ideas' content.

Especially in the past two or three weeks here: when I react to some factual or musical/interpretive point I disagree with here, I've been very careful to keep my objections pointed to the content, not an attack on anyone's person...I don't know if anyone has noticed that difference of focus yet, in my postings, but it's there. A read back through my recent postings should make that distinction clear. If I speak up to correct anything or offer a different perspective, it's to be taken as a reaction to the ideas that I believe are mistaken--not the people--as I'm trying to be careful in that distinction.

Bradley Lehman wrote (February 16, 2004):
As an illustration of this point, consider the two recent postings by the same author: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/12954
there were a couple of minor points I disagreed with, with regard to the flatter bridge assumptions and the 'Bach would have done such-and-such differently in his notation...' line of thinking. But, at the time, I didn't feel it worth piping up about (and I had plenty of other things to do that day anyway); that guesswork by him looked harmless enough at the time. The bulk of that posting, the best part of it (in my opinion), was simply a citation of an article from a reliable reference source, New Grove; not really a problem.

But in the next posting as his own follow-up, http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/12972
he set out to "prove" that musicologist Peter Walls is incompetent to have written the New Grove article, has summarized another book incorrectly, yadda yadda yadda, that the standard musicological view is wrong according to his own findings, and according to his own reading of something else! There's the distinction: the author of these postings setting himself up as absolute judge of correctness, over the people who actually do the work in the field, and over the peer-review process that goes into publication of such scholarly materials. Wow! Along with that, the author's guesswork became a selective and misleading misrepresentation of the factual points of the topic: namely, violin bridges and bows and playing techniques. Hence, my reaction: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/12981
in defense of the field against such an enterprise, where the writer was trying to knock it all down....


HIP and modern music

Uri Golomb wrote (March 11, 2004):
In response to: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachRecordings/message/13326:

Thanks for your comment, Gabriel.

There has been a lot of talk about the influence of "modernism" and "post-modernism" on HIP -- the most recent, and probably most comprehensive discussion can be found in John Butt's _Playing with History_
(http://titles.cambridge.org/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521013585). However, I don't know if anyone has done the reverse -- i.e., examining the impact of HIP on composition. Given the fact that, as you stated, several 20th (and, by now, 21st century) composers have worked with period-instrument ensembles, and doubtless many others were influenced by them (and by the way they make us all re-think our views of older music -- which has always been a source of inspiration for contemporary music), there should be something interesting there!

Incidentally, one of the most touching moments in Andriessen's opera Writing to
Vermeer
is when he quotes, verbatim, a song-setting by Sweelinck, with the
singer accompanying herself on the harpsichord. The music is, of course, in an entirely different style from Andriessen's own -- yet it fits together incredibly well...

Gabriel Jackson wrote (March 12, 2004):
Uri Golomb wrote : < Incidentally, one of the most touching moments in Andriessen's opera Writing to Vermeer is when he quotes, verbatim, a song-setting by Sweelinck, with the singer accompanying herself on the harpsichord. The music is, of course, in an entirely different style from Andriessen's own -- yet it fits together incredibly well... >
I must admit I found Writing to Vermeer a bit disappointing musically, but the staging was astonishing.Did you see it in Amsterdam?

Gabriel Jackson wrote (March 12, 2004):
Uri Golomb wrote: < Given the fact that, as you stated, several 20th (and, by now, 21st century) composers have worked with period-instrument ensembles, and doubtless many others were influenced by them (and by the way they make us all re-think our views of older music -- which has always been a source of inspiration for contemporary music), there should be something interesting there! >
Thinking about, the absolutely straight, vibratoless sound that Andriessen and Steve Reich (among others) demand from string players and singers must have come from hearing period performances of early music - where else would they have heard such sounds? And the raucous soundworld of early Michael Nyman - I wonder if groups like Musica Reservata had a bearing on that? For my own part, the upwards transposition advocated by David Wulstan for Tudor music (and still practised - up to a point - by the Tallis Scholars and the Sixteen) made a huge impression on me; those endless soaring treble lines above the stave were/are terribly exciting (whether correct or not) and their effect is something i've often sought to revisit.



Continue on Part 13


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Last update: ýDecember 3, 2005 ý15:23:28