Tristan und Isolde: Wilhelm Furtwängler - Who is the real Isolde ?

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RE: Tristan und Isolde: Who is the real Isolde ?

"In sonata form music - the opening movement of a Beethoven symphony, say - an exposition repeat should not differ, in any noticeable way, from the section that came before it."

Jane - my understanding about repeats is that the score might say exactly the same thing but there is nothing to say that it must be played in exactly the same way as the first time around. I have heard many instances where the repeat is played differently - very subtle but the difference is there, which adds enormously to the enjoyment of, and interest in, the performance.

What I am curious about is where you got this information that exposition repeats must be played in exactly the same way.

RE: Tristan und Isolde: Wilhelm Furtwängler -

Hi Jane. I've not listened to Perahia for a long time now, and I don't know his recording well. When I listened to it I remember having the impression that there was too much piano playing there, if that makes sense. I often find that interpreters try to "beautify" Bach when it is not really needed. That was the impression I had back then but perceptions change with time. I wil lgive it another go.

You should not find it hard to find Gould's Salzburg recording on the Web. Let me know if you need a pointer.

Sorry Amfortas for having temporally diverted the direction of your thread.

RE: Tristan und Isolde: Now the repeats (again)?!

Exactly, tjh. The score! I have said it before (in the relevant thread): If the repeats are clearly noted in the score, they have to be observed. Otherwise, we have a sort of (even if one can call it "legitimate") intervention, if not violation of it.

However, it has become a kind of another prerogative of the peformer to decide whether he/she has to observe them, at least in some cases. I was amazed to find out that the slow movement of the Violin Sonata Op.30, no.3 in G, played with all the repeats (notated by the composer), can reach the 10 minutes (normally it is played in 6-8 minutes) and the first movement of the Violin/Piano Sonatina in g minor by Schubert likewise.

Parla 

RE: Tristan und Isolde: Now the repeats (again)?!

It seems that whatever the starting subject, all roads lead back to Bach.  One day we should have a thread on the Goldbergs!

Chris A.Gnostic

RE: Tristan und Isolde: Who is the real Isolde ?

hewett_dick wrote:

Jane - my understanding about repeats is that the score might say exactly the same thing but there is nothing to say that it must be played in exactly the same way as the first time around. I have heard many instances where the repeat is played differently - very subtle but the difference is there, which adds enormously to the enjoyment of, and interest in, the performance.

What I am curious about is where you got this information that exposition repeats must be played in exactly the same way.

I didn't "get" it anywhere. It is just something I have come to believe from thinking about it over the years. A personal belief, if you want. Perhaps I should have added "in my opinion" at the end.

My reasons, briefly, are that mucking about with the repeat destabilises the structure and undermines the impact of the form. The line between the exposition and the development must be absolute, but if you add variations to the exposition repeat, you risk starting the development earlier. The ear tunes into the changes and experiences a difference. It becomes a kind of proto-development,thereby lessening the impact of the true development and weakening the overall impact. Not only this, but if we introduce changes into the exposition repeat, we risk making the symphony feel as if it is simply a succession of changes and this means that we also lose the essential homecoming drama of the recapitulation.

But as I said, it is just my personal understanding......

RE: Tristan und Isolde: - More repeats...

For the last Piano Sonata (no.21) by Schubert, there is a verey interesting divergence of views by two great pianists, namely Brendel and Badura-Skoda, on the nine transitional bars in the repeat of the exposition, leading to the development.

According to Brendel, these bars are not only superfluous but "positively dangerous"! His friend (as Badura-Skoda calls himself in relation to Brendel) disagrees, considering them as essential in transforming the whole picture and meaning of the Sonata. Needless to say that I share the view of the latter (who has performed it superbly, on various occasions and recordings, in full form and in total glory), since, on one hand, there is a minimal new material (in these nine bars) and, on the other, they are clearly notated by the composer.

Parla

RE: Tristan und Isolde

Personally, I can live with first half repeats, and I agree they're essential when there's lead-in music to the repeat. But second half repeats, eg in the otherwise excellent Mackerras late Mozart symphonies, drive me nuts, and it isn't easy to 'do a Jane' and exclude them, given a coda.

I'm not sure all of this thread has been about Tristan, but never mind all that. The important thing is I see Jane agreeing with Parla a few postings up. Will miracles (now was it 96 or 102?) ever cease?

RE: Tristan und Isolde: - More repeats...

Hello Janeeliotgardiner ,

I have some of Schubert’s piano sonatas played by Wilhelm Kempff, but this sontata is not part of that recording. I am curious now so I will probably get Brendels recording of Schubert ( Decca I think has the complete sonatas ) and Wilhem Kempff's complete cycle and see for myself( though it might be a wasted exercise as I will be actively looking).

Regards

Amfortas

RE: Tristan und Isolde: Who knows Schubert better ?

Yes, Graber, it is a digression to the "Isolde" question, but what a digression? Even "miracles" may happen!..However, in this case, I do not see any "miraculous" thing. To use Jane's words, we happened to agree on the "judgement" of Badura-Skoda and reject Brendel's. (By the way, I hapen to fully agree with every single word of this particular post of Jane's!).The big issue is to feel that we may be or become...friends, as Badura-Skoda calls Brendel (I'm not sure if the feelings are reciprocal though).

As for these significant (or not) "nine bars" of the last Piano Sonata, Brendel, in his "Musical thoughts and afterthoughts, London 1976), he asserts that "In the case of the B-flat Sonata, which is the most frequently lamented example, I am particularly happy to miss those transitional bars, so utterly unconnected is their jerky outburst to the entire movement's logic and atmosphere"!

Badura Skoda happens to disagree, claiming: "For me these uncanny nine bars, so totally different from the prevailing serenity of the opening, are like the intrusion of a menacing foreign element into this peaceful world, climaxing in that thundering trill in the low bass, so different from the very soft trills heard several times elsewhere in this movement. After those nine bars the re-entry of the main subject assumes a new meaning: Instead of the quiet atmosphere of a mild evening at the beginning, one now experiences the liberation of waking-up after a nightmare"!

Amfortas, of course, you may buy Brendel and Kempf's Schubert. They are both superb, in their own ways of approaching these glorious Sonatas. However, I truly suggest, to the extent it might be considered as a strong recommendation, that you should buy the double CD of Badura-Skoda (another very prominent pianist and great expert of Schubert's Piano Music) with the three recordings of this monumental Sonata, on three different magnificent instruments (a Fortepiano Conrad Graf Grand of the year of the Sonata, one modern Steinway Grand and a Bosendorfer Imperial of 1923). On the first two instruments, he used the repeats, on the last one, he omits them. This is a very fine production of the rather marginal German label Genuin.

As for your question, whether I would have picked up the missing bars, if I had not read Brendel's "admission", Jane has already given you the most appropriate reply. However, consider something much simpler: At the opening of the very well-known theme of the Fifth Symphony, the orchestration is given to the full body of the Strings and...the two clarinets! The question that really tortures many is: "why", what is their role, if they will be practically inaudible? So, can a conductor choose to omit them (to let them be silent), going against the score? In any case, practically, none would notice it!

Anyway, for the time being, let us have a nice weekend.

Parla

RE: Tristan und Isolde: Who knows Schubert better ?

parla wrote:

 At the opening of the very well-known theme of the Fifth Symphony, the orchestration is given to the full body of the Strings and...the two clarinets! The question that really tortures many is: "why", what is their role, if they will be practically inaudible? So, can a conductor choose to omit them (to let them be silent), going against the score? In any case, practically, none would notice it!

Anyway, for the time being, let us have a nice weekend.

Parla

The solution is simple: either reduce the number of strings (more in tune with Beethoven's orchestra) or double the clarinets so they can be heard, as this is what Beethoven intended.

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