Eduard Hanslick keeps popping up in music history books and I'm wondering if there's a modern day equivalent.
It seems that Hanslick made Bruckner's life a misery and was wrong about him anyway. Is there such influence today?
Hurwitz is a crabby s.o.b. but I find myself agreeing with him more than half the time and he does try to provide back up, in terms of references to details of a recording or score, to his views - the lack of which is one of his ongoing criticisms of Gramophone reviewers.
There's quite a rant right now on Kathleen Ferrier on his site, for those who enjoy rants.
For all his annoying acerbity, so do I.
This is not the first time that the site has had a go at the sainted Kathleen.
If she was as bad as he says why did neither Bruno Walter or John Barbirolli spot it?
Good question, Troyen, but, I'm afraid it will remain unanswered.
Actually, it doesn't. He addresses that in his current update. Whether or not you agree is a different matter.
Well, sort of, as he has a dig at Walter's and Barbirolli's post-mortem comments either not knowing or choosing to forget the high regard that both conductors had for her.
Walter, I believe, accompanied her on the piano at the Edinburgh Festival and Barbirolli chose her for Orphee et Eurydice at the RO (the famous performance where her ongoing cancer caused her leg to break and she carried on).
Hurwitzer is like a dog with a bone on some musicians.
There is Norrington, Horenstein and Boult who, all regularly, come in for a shelling, although he praised Norrington's Beethoven cycle from Germany.
Also, any band or musician using authentic instruments or copies will, inevitably, get a low opinion and mark.
That's why it is always interesting to read his comments on recordings that either have a mixture or use the techniques of the HIP (as the Americans like to term it) movement on purely modern instruments.
I do not think any have received a 9/9, if that, but am happy to be proven wrong!
Yes, he doesn't like Norrington or Horenstein, but I wasn't aware he had a thing about Boult. He tends to get apoplectic when conductors play fast and loose with the score. I don't have much Norrington or Horenstein but the latter's Mahler 3 has always been one of my favourites. Coincidentally I played Boult's Tintagel this morning, probably my favourite performance of that work and one of Lyrita's best recordings. Boult was never bad, and almost always very good.
You forgot about Rattle, and I'm largely with Hurwitz there.
To be honest, I don't know what HIP is. I thought it was a starchy version of hep.
Hurwitz is actually more favorable than unfavorable to Boult. He doesn't like his Schubert 9th at all, nor his Beethoven or Rachmaninoff, and the Testament CD of Elgar 1, but has kind words to say about his interpretations of Mahler's 3rd and Brian's "Gothic," but of course the sound quality hampers both. His highest marks go to the Lyrita recordings and, without checking back to his web site to verify this, the VW recordings and Elgar choral works, among others.
He loathed the Brian giving it a 2/1.
I'm not surprised and I do not use it but it stands for Historically Informed Performance which covers the whole gamut but are Zinman's and Norrington's performances truly HIP?
They are on modern instruments.
Are Bruggen's HIP because his orchestra uses copies of original instruments although his take on the music is frequently anything but "historically informed"?
It's minefield out there and do not play near the canal!
I see what you mean - the Wikipedia entry on HIP has issues about citations, verification, cleanup and quality standards 'tagged since october 2008'. It seems that no one wants to stick their head above the parapet on that one.
'After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music'.
Aldous Huxley brainyquote.com
I'm still digesting that article but, generally, I would dissapprove of a professional 'ranting', but it does focus the attention on topics of 'artistic greatness'.
Quite right. He loathed it, but gave it a 3/3. I should have double checked the reviews before posting. Possibly I was thinking of Music International's review, or not.
Without making a meal of it, I quickly checked a couple of likely spots for Hurwitz reviews on Boult - VW and Holst. He gives the EMI Holst Planets high marks, 9 or 10 I believe, also the Boult recording of Job. Reviewing the old Decca Boult cycle of VW symphonies he gives the performances a 7. He's positive about Boult's conducting but criticises the LPO's playing, thinks they're a second rank orchestra. I haven't been through all the reviews of the last Boult cycle on EMI but I seem to recall he was lukewarm about it, found it underpowered.
Barbirolli, though, comes in for heavy fire and I can't say I disagree. I've always been mystified about the praise heaped on his recording of Mahler 5. On the other hand his recordings of the Elgar Cello Concerto and the VW/Elgar string pieces (Tallis etc.) are untouchable. A very hit-and-miss conductor.
As for the Ferrier piece, I happen to love the Walter/Ferrier Das Lied but I can't help wondering how much of our view of her is coloured by nostalgia and her tragic end. One of my enduring childhood memories is Ferrier singing 'Blow the wind southerly' on the radio, mum sitting there all teary-eyed. Hurwitz does have a thing about British reviewers and often overstates his case to make a point. His viewpoint, as well as being American, is that of an orchestral player. He loves stuff that's fun to play and is hyper-critical of either poor orchestral playing or self-indulgent conducting. He loves George Lloyd who's probably far more enjoyable to play than to listen to.
I can only speak about the English speaking press but I really don't think there is a living critic who carries as much weight as Hanslick. In part this is just a consequence of the modern era. I see a clear division between the critic and the reviewer; the later spends the vast majority of their time reviewing recordings, which is a very different art form that of the critic. In Hanslick's time critcs were very much arbitrators of power and prestige. The support of someone lik Hanslick could make a real difference to the career of a performer or composer.When was the last time society got excited about a composer on the back of critics words - Hanslcik in a sense was the Simon Cowell of his time (though he probably never support an artist for commericial reasons).
Most classical music writring I read today is short in length and thought. Again, partly this is due to the declining quality of edtorial support. Those critics who do still write in the long form do so rarely and often through blogs rather than print journalism. Jessica Duchen puts much longer versions of her articles on the web and to be honest people like Greg Sandow, Anne Midget and Norman Lebrecht probably have far bigger RSS readerships than thorugh the printed media they work for. Even the venerable Guardian, under the stewardship of pianist and classical fan Alan Rushbridger, try hard as it might, seems to struggle with the form. Tom Service is their main critic and while his interviews tend to be quite fawning the main problem is that he is always on the defensive - take for exapmple the new ongoing series about contemporary composers. Potentially very intersting and yet Service feels the need to address to dumb down by exploding myths about contemporary music.
I much prefer the style of a writer such as Alex Ross (or his predecessor once removed Andrew Porter). They have the skills to write in the long and short form and treat the reader as a lucid, inquiring adult, who came to the article because they are interested. One gets the feeling that Ross works veery closely within the music community and he thoughts always feel to be genuine and thought through, even when I disagree with him. Ross (and this seems a common editorial feature of the New Yorker) never seems to have excluded any composer with a dismissive swat - he takes the work to pieces, not the man or woamn behind the piece.
Someone mentioned Norman Lebrecht. I have very mixed feelings about Lebrecht. On one level his gossipy, highly opinionated writings are amusing and can be interesting, but on the other had the cavalier approach seems calculated and for effect. After a long period of reflection I finally sat down to read his book 'Why Mahler?' and I just am unable to pin down why I wince and smile in equal measure. I suspect the other probelm is Lebrecht's ability to somehow trun the spotlight on himself in most everything he writes about. He is like the Shakespeare actor who knows all the words, gives a heartfelt performance but the only recollection you have are the mannerisms.