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Yes, you're right, Chris. The wheel of fashion will crush me, as well.
Speaking of strong reactions etc - and a little hype - I don't suppose you have come across the new Figaro recording by Currantzis? It is on spotify (and some little bits on youtube). Anyway, for me it is simply out of this world, absolute, pure delight. Have a listen if you can. I would be interested to know what you think. It is worth reading about, too, if you don't know anything about it. A very unusual project in many ways.........Unlimited rehearsel time, a commune like orchestra in the Urals and a messianic conductor. Among other features, almost no vibrato in the women. I have never heard a Dove Sono like it. If you can get passed that, however, the precision of the orchestral playing is (I am tempted to say) almost without precedent.
By the way, I am glad you are still around. I do learn from these exchanges - and always come away with something to think about, even when I appear to be very dogmatic. I am considerably less combative in "real life"..........
I mean Currentzis - Teodor Currentzis.
Thanks for that last post Jane. Appreciated.
I think you just hit the nail on the head when you said that you are 'considerably less combative in "real life"....'. For some reason quite a few people writing here (and generally on the internet) write in a way that they would never consider if addressing a person face to face. I do try to make an effort not to write anything that I wouldn't be willing to say directly to the person or people I'm discussing with. Whether successful or not is of course another matter - and perhaps I'm more combative than you in "real life"!
I suppose I should try out the Figaro you mention, though your description of it does rather suggest it won't be my 'cup of tea'. I see it's already beginning to be 'hyped' though!
PS: I'm about to send a post to Luca, begging for the return of the 'Edit' button!
It is somehow encouraging that Chris and Jane find a more conciliatory tone to communicate.
Starting from Currentzis Nozze: This is a maverick Figaro! I got it, since I have almost any viable recording from the 50s and onwards and I believe this Opera is arguably the greatest Operatic masterpiece of Mozart. Even the cast is a sort of maverick singers. Kermes as Countess and a certain Mrs. Antonelou in the crucial role of Susanna! I have to admit it is a daring project. Of course, one who may be that "open-minded" might accept it as a brilliant maverick performance. However, I would never trade it for Kleiber and Della Casa or the early Karajan and the divine Seefried and Schwarzkopf or even the Muti and Solti brilliant renderings.
Besides, I do not see this trend that Orchestras, Conductors and Singers lead to a more lean, quieter and so refined Romantic approach. Of course, Bach up to the Mozart era lends itself to such an approach. It is also a matter of historical truth, after all. However, in the Romantic era -and for Wagner in particular- to be lean, quiet or refined (see smaller size orchestra and voices) is practically the impossible task. The orchestration of the Ring, for example, is enormous: eight horns, four bassoons, four trumpets, four trombones, four timpani (along with an array of percussions), six harps plus a good numbers of woodwinds. So, the only place where one can make a discount is to minimize the strings section with the inevitable result to make the Orchestra sound like...a band!
So far, the only effort to embark on a sort of period, leaner orchestral sound recordings has resulted in two endeavours of Der fliegende Hollander (the more recent with Minkowski, with the actual selling point the inclusion of the same name Opera by Dietsch).
All the other recordings by the likes of more devoted to the composer conductors (Janowski, van Zveden, Thielemann, even Gergiev) opt for the tradition. Big voices still exist and thrive (Kaufmann, Meier, Terfel, Moll, Salminen, Voigt, Polaski and, to some extent, Stemme and Urmana). The problem is that none (or almost) can estblish him/herself -to a great extent- as the authority in Wagner. Of course, Meier is an exception, followed -to some degree- by Kaufmann and Terfel. However, still, they cannot be the successors of the great names of the past nor to create a new tradition of the new authoritative interpreters of Wagner's Opus. Even Janowski's conducting seems a sort of "let's finish the job" approach. I have seen him live too. Almost flat! And, if you like a thinner, "elegant" Wagner, try Zagrosek (despite he use a full traditional orchestra, on Naxos). You will enjoy it.
So, another "hype" proved to be justified and in the Chamber Music domain: Beethoven's String Quartets with the Vegh Quartet. It had worked for quite a few generations at least of Chamber Music devotees.
OK, I tried this one out even though your precise description rang all the alarm bells for me! OK, it is all very sharp, precise - aggressive even. But what about charm, grace, .... and humour. And what about the very important class distinction so cleverly portrayed by Mozart. I have to say I couldn't listen to it right through, but when I went back to my beloved Kleiber I couldn't stop listening! So, not for me I'm afraid. I guess that's much the response you expected though!
I've been thinking a bit about the general title of the thread. If hyped means something like "extravagent or intensive publicity or promotion" or 'a deception carried out for the sake of publicity" (two dictionary definitions I found), then I think at least the second definition does not apply to anything we've discussed. Certainly I don't think the Tennstedt was ever over-extravagently publicised. The Solti Ring is a different case. Personally I'm inclined to think that it was the well-earned success of that recording that subsequently led to the hyping of many Solti recordings that deserved it less. Same for Karajan: on the back of some superb recordings was built an excercise in publicity that might well merit the word hype.
As for the Vegh's Beethoven that you mention Parla, almost the opposite seems to me to be the case. With very little publicity the performances have, over the years quietly become recognised as almost hors de combat. Certainly, even after all these years I enjoy them more each time I hear them.
Is the new Figaro over-hyped? Time will tell!
I know what you mean about the Currentzis lacking humour, Chris. It is a bit po-faced in places. I have got used to the laughter in Susanna's voice in other versions and did miss it in this one. To be completely honest, I would probably prefer a little more vibrato in places (!). When the singing is so completely uninflected, it is sometimes hard to find a distinct character in it - or a truly dramatic quality.
But I still think it is a wonderful recording - one I will keep listening to for some time.
I had a listen to your beloved Kleiber this week. Hmmm. Nothing wrong with it, of course, but it is pretty obvious that singing has changed a lot in the past fifty years or so.........I don't meant the quality, though you could argue that if you wanted. I mean the style and the character of it.
Well, as long as there is something out there for us all, it doesn't really matter..........
Chris, I mentioned Beethoven's String Quartets by Vegh, because, at least from the LP years, it has been the most promoted (more than the Italiano or the Hungarian, which it is now almost forgotten) as the "most outstanding", the "most modern approach" and some other "hype" style publicity stuff. Comparatively speaking and within the least publicised genre, the Vegh recording is the most reissued (I have at least three different CD versions) and praised with consistency. As you very correctly said, it has been proved quite worthy of all this "kind" of publicity has managed to get.
Interesting perspective Parla. Unless my recollection is faulty (could be!), the Veghs performances had a rather quiet arrival in the UK (on Telefunken LPs, if I remember right). The Italians were by then very much the favourite version of the critics (hyped, I'm not sure). But before that, when I was a student at University, the Hungarians were the ones on everyone's lips, in my circle at least. Before that it had been the Amadeus.
As you say the Hungarian Quartet's versions seem to have slipped below the radar. I still like their (later) recording very much though the sound on my CDs is rather harsh, as indeed it was on the original LPs. Perhaps there is a better transfer available now? All wonderful versions anyway!
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