Matching the Hype!

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Your ideal Ring

Fair enough Jane. Let's just let it rest there.  For the record though, which actual recording of the Ring do you feel comes closest to fullfilling your criteria for the ideal Wagner performance?

Chris A.Gnostic

Tough question, Chris....

Tough question, Chris.....very tough.

I am not sure my ideal has been realised yet, but I think Karajan's Walkure come's pretty close, certainly as far as the singing goes. (Recording is a bit disappointing.) Sweet, lightish voices, especially in the women - too light, probably, for a lot of Wagnerites. Another recording with really lovely singing - the Kubelik Meistersinger (1967). Also Karajan and Barenboim's Parisfal........

I would struggle to name a Gotterdammerung I wholeheartedly love.........

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

Tough question, Chris.....very tough.

I am not sure my ideal has been realised yet, but I think Karajan's Walkure (with the BPO, John Vickers and Janowitz) comes pretty close, certainly as far as the singing goes. (Recording is a bit disappointing.) Sweet, lightish voices, especially in the women - too light, probably, for a lot of Wagnerites. Another recording with really lovely singing - the Kubelik Meistersinger (1967). Also Karajan and Barenboim's Parisfal........

I would struggle to name a Gotterdammerung I wholeheartedly love.........

Must have pressed the wrong

Must have pressed the wrong button!

I meant to add: Karajan's Walkure with the BPO, Vickers, Janowitz et. al.

Wow! That is something!..

Wow! Jane, you can always surprise me and not only.

I find quite difficult to touch upon all these issues raised in your last posts, but let's try. I find myself obliged to respond, since I happen to believe I belong -too- to these "highly cultured people who are otherwise passionately devoted to music -to Mozart, Bach and so on" (as Chris, I trust), but I cannot possibly see why Knappertsbusch, Keilberth, Kraus, Bohm or Solti were wrong and their singers simply...scream instead of singing.

I can assure you that my respect, love and appreciation for Solti's Ring has nothing to do with my age. Most of the music I listen is brand new recordings with, necessarily, new artists. However, in some cases, one has to admit that, in the past, something special, unique sometimes, happened.

So, you mentioned : "compare to other versions". Funnily, you said that to someone who has spent a small fortune to aquire almost any "well-recorded" recording from the 50s and onwards. So, "let's not pretend that it matches the very best modern recordings". Let's name them! So, Jane, name just few of them!

The issue about Nilsson, even if I wish to take it in any possible nice way, just annoyed me and surprised me. I happened to see her live and I can tell you that many singers will pray to have the clarity in every range of the Soprano register, with an amazing sustainability in power, prowess and passion. By the way, if there was a role that Nilson was identified with (more even than her Isolde) was that of Brunnhilde!

Nilsson participated, as Brunnhilde, in Solti, Kempe and Bohm's Rings along with some individual recordings of Walkure (Leinsdorf). After her, about two dozens of singers tried the role on record (Anne Evans, Jenifer Wilson, Catherine Foster, Deborah Voigt, Helen Traubel, Gwyneth Jones, Violetta Urmana, Nina Stemme, Petra Lang, Rita Hunter, Regine Crespin, Linda Watson, Eva Marton, Janine Altmeyer, Katarina Dalayman, Debora Polaski, Susan Bullock, Hildegsrd Behrens, Renate Behle, Irene Theorin and some I may forget). Out of them, Linda Watson appeared in the dubious Haenchen and the Thielemann's Ring from Bayreuth.

So, who out of those singers is the musically "ideal" for singing the role and Wagner in general? Besides, do we have a Brunnhilde of any considerable reputation?

By the way, Nilsson was considered -generally- as a (if not the) successor of Kirsten Flagstad. So, Flagstad screamed instead of singing as well. Likewise, Martha Modl, Leonie Rysanek and Astrid Varnay, who all happened to be again considered as the greatest female singers of Wagner's music.

In another part, Chris ask you to name at least an ideal Ring and, then, you admit that there is none. Then, you mention three different works, among them Karajan's Walkure, mostly because of Vickers and Janowitz. However, there is another individual Walkure with Leinsdorf, with Vickers in his prime and Gre Brouwestijn, a Sieglinde of the greatest musicianship, youthfully beautiful voice and a highly emotional rendering of the role. At the same time, you have a strong George London (instead of the rather flat Thomas Stewart) as Wotan and a LSO at its best, in a better (at least more lively) recording than Karajan's.

Finally, it is not at all to my intention to be condescending as for your "taste". By all means, you are entitled to any views about anything. However, if you know that you belong to a "revisionist" group, you may contemplate the idea that, for the moment, you may belong to a minority. 

I feel extremely sorry I had to respond in such a lengthy way...

We may go to the original subject, sometime soon perhaps.

Parla

Wow! That is something!..

Wow! Jane, you can always surprise me and not only.

I find quite difficult to touch upon all these issues raised in your last posts, but let's try. I find myself obliged to respond, since I happen to believe I belong -too- to these "highly cultured people who are otherwise passionately devoted to music -to Mozart, Bach and so on" (as Chris, I trust), but I cannot possibly see why Knappertsbusch, Keilberth, Kraus, Bohm or Solti were wrong and their singers simply...scream instead of singing.

I can assure you that my respect, love and appreciation for Solti's Ring has nothing to do with my age. Most of the music I listen is brand new recordings with, necessarily, new artists. However, in some cases, one has to admit that, in the past, something special, unique sometimes, happened.

So, you mentioned : "compare to other versions". Funnily, you said that to someone who has spent a small fortune to aquire almost any "well-recorded" recording from the 50s and onwards. So, "let's not pretend that it matches the very best modern recordings". Let's name them! So, Jane, name just few of them!

The issue about Nilsson, even if I wish to take it in any possible nice way, just annoyed me and surprised me. I happened to see her live and I can tell you that many singers will pray to have the clarity in every range of the Soprano register, with an amazing sustainability in power, prowess and passion. By the way, if there was a role that Nilson was identified with (more even than her Isolde) was that of Brunnhilde!

Nilsson participated, as Brunnhilde, in Solti, Kempe and Bohm's Rings along with some individual recordings of Walkure (Leinsdorf). After her, about two dozens of singers tried the role on record (Anne Evans, Jenifer Wilson, Catherine Foster, Deborah Voigt, Helen Traubel, Gwyneth Jones, Violetta Urmana, Nina Stemme, Petra Lang, Rita Hunter, Regine Crespin, Linda Watson, Eva Marton, Janine Altmeyer, Katarina Dalayman, Debora Polaski, Susan Bullock, Hildegsrd Behrens, Renate Behle, Irene Theorin and some I may forget). Out of them, Linda Watson appeared in the dubious Haenchen and the Thielemann's Ring from Bayreuth.

So, who out of those singers is the musically "ideal" for singing the role and Wagner in general? Besides, do we have a Brunnhilde of any considerable reputation?

By the way, Nilsson was considered -generally- as a (if not the) successor of Kirsten Flagstad. So, Flagstad screamed instead of singing as well. Likewise, Martha Modl, Leonie Rysanek and Astrid Varnay, who all happened to be again considered as the greatest female singers of Wagner's music.

In another part, Chris ask you to name at least an ideal Ring and, then, you admit that there is none. Then, you mention three different works, among them Karajan's Walkure, mostly because of Vickers and Janowitz. However, there is another individual Walkure with Leinsdorf, with Vickers in his prime and Gre Brouwestijn, a Sieglinde of the greatest musicianship, youthfully beautiful voice and a highly emotional rendering of the role. At the same time, you have a strong George London (instead of the rather flat Thomas Stewart) as Wotan and a LSO at its best, in a better (at least more lively) recording than Karajan's.

Finally, it is not at all to my intention to be condescending as for your "taste". By all means, you are entitled to any views about anything. However, if you know that you belong to a "revisionist" group, you may contemplate the idea that, for the moment, you may belong to a minority. 

I feel extremely sorry I had to respond in such a lengthy way...

We may go to the original subject, sometime soon perhaps.

Parla

c hris johnson wrote:

c hris johnson wrote:

Surely, to state one's views on an artist (or indeed on anything else for that matter) may be polite or impolite depending on the way those views are expressed. Being abusive sincerely is still abusive isn't it.

I am struggling to make sense of this. Who, exactly, was Jane supposedly being impolite to? Nilsson? Members of this forum? The reading public? I don't get it.

All Jane did was say that she found Nilsson's voice to be ugly. Are we now claiming that it is impolite to say that a singer's voice is ugly? Aren't we all in the business here of making evaluative comments about recordings and performers? Whether Jane was entitled to claim her voice was "ugly" is a different matter, but I still don't understand how it can be said to be "impolite."

Indeed, I remember quite a few of your posts (Chris) in which you expressed yourself in very strong terms about recordings and performers you didn't like. Rene Jacob's Figaro didn't seem to go down too well with you. Does that mean you were being impolite?

Unfortunately, I have the sneaking suspicion that what is really going on is this: when you criticise a performer it is not impolite, simply because you feel you are in the right. But someone else criticises a performer you happen to revere - Nilsson or DFD, say - it is impolite because it contradicts what you feel is the truth.

I could be wrong, but I honestly can't think of any other explanation.......

No Fasolt, sorry.  Criticism

No Fasolt, sorry.  Criticism is fine but:

if you write that you find Nilsson's voice ugly, no problem. You are entitled to your opinion.

If you write that Nilsson's voice is ugly, that is stating a matter of opinion as though it is a matter of fact. I would find that annoying regardless of whether I agreed with your opinion or not.

If you were to write, as Jane did "Birgit Nilsson, though supernaturally powerful and accurate, has a fabulously unattractive voice: something like a piercing, but highly controlled scream. Not singing, anyway." - that is stating an opinion as though it is a fact and is written in an offensive manner. That's completely unacceptable in my book.

In fact, if you look back quite a way you will see that Parla and I disagreed considerably about the merits of Solti's Ring (but not the recording). Our discussion was without rancour throughout.

In Jane's case, I find it the more upsetting because she often contributes extremely interesting, thought-provoking and well-argued posts. 

 

Jane, concerning your ideal recordings of Wagner, it's interesting that Karajan obviously shared your view, at first within reason, but later in his career he seemed to have an obsession with using voices two-sizes too small for the roles he proposed. There's a long list of such cases. Some singers refused his offers in order to protect their voices whilst, of those who succumbed to his demands several paid a heavy price in vocal damage. Crespin, Karajan's Walküre Brünnhilde, never sang that role again, I believe: she was a superb Sieglinde (for Solti and, even better for Kempe) but over-parted as Brünnhilde as she acknowledged herself: after Karajan she went back to Sieglinde. 

 

 

 

 

Chris A.Gnostic

Final word on this! I don't

Final word on this! I don't see how I was "impolite" or "offensive", either. It was strongly stated, but even so - hard to see the offense in that. Offense to whom? Your explanation seems to hinge on the fact I didn't add "I think" or "In my humble opinion". I don't usually attach such phrases to my opinions because they are, by and large, semantically redundant. Obviously, I am stating my opinions when I am stating my opinions. I don't ever claim my opinions have the imperious weight of fact, but stating them as such - as in "X has an ugly voice" - is simply a conventional way of expressing one's own views. The listener (or reader) can usually be relied upon to understand thatan opinion is being expressed. Otherwise, every paragraph would be clogged up with "I believes" and "in my views" and so on - inelegant stuffing which is rarely needed in intelligent company.

But back to the issue of "small" voices. My feeling - and this is only an opinion - is that the general taste is gradually shifting towards smaller lighter voices in all areas of the repertoire. Think what has happened to Mozart and Bach performances over the past forty years. Regrettable for many, perhaps, but a delight (and relief) to many others. The balance of taste has moved, quite clearly, away from heavy, powerful voices. Anyway, my feeling is that this is gradually happening elsewhere - even in Wagner. Period bands have only just begun to explore this repertoire, but they are doing so: orchestral textures become more transparent and the general volume or weigh of sound is much reduced. This allows for far lighter voices to be used (as they probably were in Wagner's day). How far it will go, I don't know, but I get the feeling we are at the beginning of a journey which will transform Wagnerian practice over the next thirty years or so. Just as many now find it impossible to listen to the big band Mozart recordings of the past, so it may well be that future audiences will struggle to understand the love many once had for the ultra powerful, wine-glass-shattering voices of Nilsson et all. In my humble opinion.......

Smaller voices, but....

Jane, the trouble is, the voices have indeed become smaller (see Parla's list of Brunnhildes) but the orchestras have not got any quieter. In a recording of course all things are possible, but in the opera house? I suspect I'm not going to live long enough to hear your dream fullfilled Jane!  In the meantime, not Solti but Knappertsbusch for me!  My favourite Brunnhilde on record is not Nilsson but Varnay, though I well remember my Dad tellling me that Varnay, Windgassen and Hotter (etc.) couldn't hold a candle to Flagstad, Melchior and Schorr.  Don't mock! Your time to become an old-one will arrive in due course!

Chris A.Gnostic

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